Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Monday, November 10, 2014, 6:56 p.m. Entrance, Iikura Guest House
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Since assuming the office of foreign minister, I have set out strengthening Japan’s relations with neighboring countries as one of the three pillars of Japan’s foreign policy. And on the occasion of my recent reappointment, I regarded it a particularly important challenge for me to improve our relations with neighboring countries. From such perspective, the realization of a formal Japan-China summit meeting as well as foreign ministers’ meeting on the sidelines of APEC in Beijing was a significant achievement, marking an important step forward in improving our bilateral relations with China. Accumulating dialogue between the world’s second and third largest economies and stabilizing their relations benefit not only Japan and China but also the region and the international community. In Beijing, I also held talks with many other foreign ministers, including Secretary of State John Kerry. They had high expectations for improved Japan-China relations and valued the meeting as a positive development. Of course, the summit meeting is just a start and is not a goal in itself. A single meeting will not resolve all the issues. Nevertheless, we regard that the handshake and meeting between the two leaders sent an important signal for improving relations. Based on the achievements of the recent summit meeting and foreign ministers’ meeting, we would like to accumulate dialogue and cooperation between the two countries at a variety of levels and build stable Japan-China relations.
That is all.
Hoga, TBS: You stated that the summit meeting was a start. What do you envision as your next steps? Also, as far as I can tell from the footage of today’s summit meeting, President Xi Jinping had quite a stern expression on his face. The exchange seemed awkward compared to other summit meetings. What is your take on this?
Minister Kishida: First of all, we hope that this time’s summit meeting and foreign ministers’ meeting will serve as start for accumulating bilateral dialogues and cooperation in a variety of sectors. For instance, I remember that the two sides have already agreed to hold a meeting of the Japan-China Friendship Committee for the 21st Century among experts by the end of the year. It is important that we continue to steadily accumulate such opportunities for communication. As for your question regarding the stern expression, how I should put it, while there may be a variety of views on this, in any case, I believe the handshake between the leaders of Japan and China in front of the camera sends a signal to the people in the two countries, the region, and the entire international community watching it. Above all, what is important is the content of the meeting. The two leaders agreed that both countries would closely cooperate on the basis of our starting point of the mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests. This is very important.
Hoga, TBS: I have a question regarding the content of the meeting. I understand that both sides made relatively positive statements regarding the maritime communication mechanism. By around when do you hope to actually implement it?
Minister Kishida: Both countries shared the view for the commencement of a maritime communication mechanism. It was affirmed during the summit meeting that extensive discussions would take place at the working level. As such, it needs to be quickly worked out at the working level. The maritime communication mechanism is a very important mechanism for preventing unforeseen circumstances. It is therefore important that the mechanism is commenced as quickly as possible. I believe that instruction should be made to working level officials to quickly proceed with the discussions.