Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, November 21, 2014, 10:00 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets
Kamide, Freelance: In October it was decided in the Cabinet when to commence the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets, and under the present circumstances it will be enacted on December 10 during the election period. I would like to ask some questions about it. Prime Minister Abe clearly stated on commercial television programs the other day that “if this Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets leads to cases charging the press, I will resign.” He explicitly said that the Act is designed to fight terrorism and spying and so on, not affecting the general public. Though myself and other freelance journalists seem to be included in a category of people involving media according to statements in the Diet, there are general people or researchers who undertake various activities and gather information in regards to health issues, nuclear power or military bases. Are such activities regarded as news gathering activities? Am I correct in understanding that such general public will not be charged? Did the Prime Minister mean that in case such a thing happens he will resign? I would like to hear your views as well. Can you clearly state that where ordinary information-gathering is concerned the general public will not be affected in a negative way?
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I understand that the Prime Minister meant to say that freedom of the press and others is very important. And in response to your questions, I believe it is important for the Act itself to be appropriately enacted. If it is appropriately enacted, I also think it is impossible for concerns you have just raised to emerge.
Dissolution of the House of Representatives and general election
Saito, Kyodo News: My question concerns the dissolution of the House of Representatives and the general election. It is said that the point of contention in this snap election will be economic policies and the postponement of the consumption tax increase and others, but on the other hand, diplomatic and defense policy will of course also start to be debated as important themes from here on. That being the case, from your perspective, serving as Foreign Minister thus far, how will you highlight the Abe Administration’s diplomatic accomplishment up to now? And in the lead up to the election of the House of Representatives, how will you appeal the way of moving forward Japan’s future diplomacy?
Minister Kishida: It will be two years soon since the change of government, and during that time the Abe Administration has been pursuing foreign and security policies while presenting concepts such as diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map and proactive contribution to peace. We have explained these initiatives of Japan thoroughly to a large number of countries. I have a feeling that we have gained their understandings. Next year is a year of major milestones, marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of United Nations and the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. I certainly believe that Japan must confirm the path of a peaceful nation that it has followed in the 70 years since the war and demonstrate it firmly to the international community, while properly presenting our ideas and initiatives for contributing to the future.
Furthermore, the House of Representatives will be dissolved and a general election will be held, and I feel that stable and firm domestic politics is extremely important in order to move steadily ahead with foreign policy in such a way. I by all means hope that we can listen to citizens’ voices via this snap election again, and the administration can firmly obtain strength by taking citizens’ various opinions via the general election so that we will smoothly administer the affairs of state in Japan.
Hirayama, Independent Web Journal: I have a question in connection with it, concerning the dissolution of the House of Representatives.
The day before yesterday Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga mentioned that the approval for exercising the right of collective self-defense will not be a point of contention in the House of Representatives election. However, I believe the right of collective self-defense is probably a policy on which public opinion is divided, including its procedure of reinterpreting the constitution.
I would like to ask what your views are on whether or not approval for exercising the right of collective self-defense will be a point of contention in this election.
Minister Kishida: Regarding the collective self-defense, the Liberal Democratic Party has explicitly stated in its election pledges of House of Representatives elections and House of Councillors elections held up to now that it will make possible to exercise the right of collective self-defense. We have undertaken the elections while advocating it. A number of elections have been held based on such a pledge and the support of citizens has been obtained in the elections. That is what has taken place. Therefore my understanding is that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga made a comment based on such fact.
Regarding the right of collective self-defense, as I just said, various discussions including how to provide the legal system of security are expected to take place in the Diet from here forward. In terms of moving those discussions forward, I believe it will be very important for the administration and the ruling parties to secure firm momentum from citizens via the election.
Kurihara, NHK: My question concerns the next House of Representatives election. Prime Minister Abe said at a press conference on Tuesday this week that the line between victory and defeat of the election would be a majority by the LDP and Komeito, but following that, there was also talk of aiming an absolute stable majority in meetings of the ruling parties' secretary-generals and chairman of the Diet Affairs Committee.
What do you personally think the ruling parties’ or the LDP’s target should be in the upcoming election?
Minister Kishida: Regarding your question, you mentioned the target and the line between victory and defeat. I think the response will change depending on whether the question is taken to mean the target or the minimum line for victory.
While referring to such various views, I believe that I myself must make an effort as a member of the LDP. I would like to refrain from commenting on the minimum line for victory, the line between victory and defeat or the target, but I intend to make an effort as a candidate and as a member of the LDP, while taking such discussion into account.
Future diplomatic schedule
Nakagawa, Yomiuri Shimbun: I would like to put aside the election for a while. I think there are some important diplomatic events scheduled up until the end of the year after the dissolution of the House of Representatives. One of them would be the meeting of the foreign ministers of Japan, China, and the ROK, which have been agreed to realize. First I would like to ask the situation with the coordination of this meeting’s schedule? I would also like to ask about the schedule for Japan-ROK Director-General level talks, and what topics will be discussed?
Minister Kishida: With regards to a trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting and a trilateral summit meeting of Japan, China, and the ROK, I understand that we are in agreement to work toward the holding of these meetings. The ROK is currently the Chair country for the Trilateral Summit, so we hope the efforts toward holding the meeting will be continued centered upon the ROK. A specific schedule has not been decided at the current time, but we always have put importance on holding the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the Summit Meeting between Japan, China, and the ROK from the stand point of our country which values dialogue. I by all means would like to expect on the positive efforts toward holding of the meetings. With regards to the Japan-ROK Director-General-level talks, we have continued to work proactively on coordination to hold the talks. As a result, on November 27, the Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Junichi Ihara is going to visit Seoul and discuss a number of issues that exist between Japan and the ROK with Lee Sang-deuk, Director-General of the Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau at the ROK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Diplomacy with neighboring countries
Matsui, Asahi Shimbun: I want to ask you a question as the leader of the political faction that values diplomacy with neighboring countries. Precisely at the present time, a step toward improving diplomacy with neighboring countries has just been taken. Can I ask your thoughts on the current situation and what you think will be the challenges in the future?
Minister Kishida: Our relations with neighboring countries differ in various ways, depending on the country. There has not been much progress in the dialogue at a high political level between Japan and China, and Japan and the ROK, so I think developments in the dialogue in these bilateral relations should be welcomed.
However, we are currently still in the initial stage and we must continue to make concrete efforts for dialogue in various fields and on various levels in the future. I want tangible accomplishment by accumulating dialogue and cooperation in such a way. So my understanding is that we will be required to continue to make our efforts.
Dissolution and Election of the House of Representatives
Ichinose, Kyodo News: I would like to get back to the dissolution of House of Representatives again. According to opinion polls regarding the election of the House of Representatives we conducted on November 19 and 20, while 30% of the respondents answered that it is understandable why Prime Minister Abe announced the dissolution of the House of Representatives at this time, as many as 60% answered it is not understandable.
Opposition parties also point out that the dissolution is without a cause and ask for a reason of dissolution. How will you explain to such questions?
Minister Kishida: I remember that Prime Minister Abe stated in the press conference held on November 18 that he would appeal for the confidence of the people through the general election on whether to postpone consumption tax increase up to 10% by 18 months and to continue current economic policies in the future.
In addition to them, we currently have various major issues. How we will develop future energy including the restart of nuclear power plants. Furthermore, in our economic policies, we face a question whether or not we can complete the structural reforms and growth strategies.
Moreover, discussions on legal system of security at the Diet are expected in the future, and relations with neighboring countries, China and the ROK, have just begun to move but we still need to continue our efforts from now on. There exist many issues, as I said.
In order to confront such issues, I think it is very important in the election to listen to the people, gain encouragement by the people and get impetus to politics. Therefore, I would like to make this election a positive one.
Suzuki, Mainichi Shimbun: I would like to return to a diplomatic issue. On November 23, it will be precisely one year since China announced its Air Defense Identification Zone, which includes the airspace over Senkaku Islands. During this time, I think that the Government of Japan has continued to avoid conflict, but can I ask you once again to summarize the measures taken over the past year, and also about the current situation and issues that you think may arise in the future?
Minister Kishida: There exist various tense situations in the waters of the East China Sea, including the situation of the “East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone” that you referred to. Facing such situations, I have continued to say that dialogue at a high political level is vital. I have also said that communication on the ground including communication between defense authorities is particularly important in order to avert unforeseen circumstances.
Therefore, in the Japan-China High Level Consultation on Maritime Affairs, we have reached an agreement for the start of operations of the maritime communication mechanism between the defense authorities. Also, we have confirmed in the last Japan-China summit meeting to make efforts making progress at the working level. I hope that progress is made in this task and that such a mechanism starts to be operated at the earliest possible date.
I believe that we must securely stabilize Japan-China relations by continuing our efforts to communicate with China on such a variety of levels.