Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, November 14, 2014, 8:47 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Japan-China-Republic of Korea Trilateral Summit Meeting and Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
Kurihara, NHK: Yesterday at the ASEAN Plus Three meeting, not only Prime Minister Shinzo Abe but also Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye made comments hinting that she has intention to hold a Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting soon. There is also talk of holding a Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meeting ahead of this. What are the circumstances regarding the coordination for these meetings, and what prospect is there that they will be held?
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: To begin with, based on the Government of Japan’s standpoint of emphasizing dialogues, thus far we have attached importance to Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meetings and Foreign Ministers’ Meetings. At the Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that took place on November 8, I also proposed holding a Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meeting to Foreign Minister Wang Yi. And as you just pointed out, at the ASEAN Plus Three meeting that took place yesterday, Prime Minister Abe made remarks that he hopes to hold a Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meeting promptly, and wants to link it to a Japan-China-ROK Summit Meeting. I heard that President Park responded positively to that. If that is the case, I would like to welcome it. And regarding a Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting and Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, currently the ROK is the Chair country, so I am hopeful that positive efforts will be made, centering on the ROK.
Japan-China and Japan-ROK relations
Kurihara, NHK: In addition to such Japan-China-ROK frameworks, the fact that Japan will be able to achieve bilateral dialogues at the leaders’ level with China and ROK suggests that relations have suddenly become more positive recently. Minister Kishida, you position strengthening cooperative relationships with neighboring countries as one of the three pillars of diplomacy. How do you view this, and how do you analyze these recent developments? I would like to ask for your analysis and evaluation, please.
Minister Kishida: Where Japan and China are concerned, and where Japan-ROK relations are concerned, there exists difficult issues. However, the Government of Japan has claimed that because of the existence of difficult issues, dialogues are important, and particularly dialogues at a high political level are significant. Consequently, I believe we should welcome these attempts that are starting to be made to facilitate communication between the countries’ leaders. However, from here forward it will be essential to achieve tangible results while continuing to build up communication in various fields and levels and accumulating dialogue and cooperation. I greatly welcome such atmosphere in which these dialogues are proceeding, but I think we need to recognize this is just a start, and ongoing efforts need to be continued.
Future diplomatic schedule
Kurihara, NHK: There are various events on the diplomatic schedule which is said they may be held before the end of the year. At the same time, however, in Nagatacho there is a lot of talk that the House of Representatives may be dissolved. Assuming the House of Representatives is dissolved, what impact do you think it will have on the diplomatic schedule?
Minister Kishida: I consider diplomatic schedule can be referred to various things. However, for example, if you are talking about such a kind of diplomatic events as my foreign trips, currently nothing specific has been decided. Consequently, although at the moment there are a lot of reports suggesting that the House of Representatives may be dissolved, since nothing whatsoever has been decided, nothing would change in any way as a result of it.
Kurihara, NHK: The ROK (the Chair country for trilateral foreign ministers’ meetings) is suggesting a meeting could take place by the end of this year, but I imagine that would be difficult, given Japan’s political situation. What are your views?
Minister Kishida: As I said earlier, by all means I hope positive efforts will proceed, centering on the Chair country, the ROK. However, at present no specific schedule has been proposed or decided.
Matsui, Asahi Shimbun: If a Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting is held, understandably there is a strong expectation that a Japan-ROK Summit Meeting will be achieved. What prospect is there of a Japan-ROK Summit Meeting?
Minister Kishida: As nothing whatsoever has been decided yet regarding the date or timing of a Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting, therefore I think it is too early to start considering what might take place in combination with it.
Matsui, Asahi Shimbun: President Park appears to believe that when it comes to holding a Japan-ROK Summit Meeting, Japan should make an effort of some sort in regard to the comfort women issue. How do you intend to address the comfort women issue?
Minister Kishida: Various issues exist between Japan and the ROK, and thus far also, we have sought to exchange views and communicate at Director-General level talks. And this discussion will continue to take place in Director-General level talks. I by all means intend to strive to communicate at various levels.
Dissolution of the House of Representatives
Matsui, Asahi Shimbun: I have one election-related question. I would like to ask for your views, as head of a faction. If there is a snap election, do you believe it is justified? If so, in what way is it justified?
Minister Kishida: In the first place, the dissolution of the House of Representatives is the exclusive right of the Prime Minister, and so I consider matters such as whether or not to dissolve it and the justification for dissolution should be decided by the Prime Minister. I would like to refrain from commenting from my position. I am aware that recently there have been a large number of reports appearing to predict that the House of Representatives will be dissolved, and I am paying attention to it with considerable interest.