Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, January 6, 2015, 11:23 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
(1) Japan-United States foreign ministerial telephone conference
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Today, at 10.30 a.m., I had a telephone conference with Mr. John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, for 20 minutes. At the outset, Secretary of State Kerry congratulated the ruling parties’ victory in the recent general elections. He also thanked me for the present I sent on the occasion of his birthday on December 11, 2014, of a bench coat engraved with his name and also sake from Hiroshima.
We then reflected on the previous year and shared our recognition that Japan and the United States worked together on various regional and global issues and addressed in close cooperation global challenges such as the situations in the Middle East and Ukraine, climate change, ISIL, and the Ebola virus disease.
We also agreed that in this year, which marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, it is important that Japan and the United States, which have been allies since their reconciliation after the war, continue to contribute to regional and global peace and prosperity. On security, we agreed that in order to firmly decide on new content for the Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation we need to continue to resolutely advance the work required for this. Also, with regards to North Korea, I expressed Japan’s concerns about the recent cyber-attacks, which are a grave national security issue, and that we strongly condemn them and appreciated the United States’ firm response. We affirmed that we will continue to cooperate on our responses to this issue. Finally, we agreed to strengthen our cooperation on regional and global issues while communicating even more frequently than in the past.
(2) Relaxation of Visa Requirements for Chinese Citizens
Minister Kishida: From January 19, the relaxed visa requirements for Chinese citizens that were announced at the Japan-China Foreign Ministers Meeting in November will come into effect. These measures will first relax the requirements for applicants for short-term business purposes and for cultural or intellectual figures to obtain a multiple-entry visa; second, they will relax the requirements for individual tourists visiting Okinawa or one of the three prefectures in Tohoku to obtain a multiple-entry visa; and third, for applicants with substantially high incomes, they will abolish certain requirements for visiting the three prefectures of Tohoku and introduce a new multiple-entry visa.
It is hoped that these measures will further promote mutual understanding between Japan and China and help create an even stronger foundation for relations between the two countries’ citizens. These measures will also contribute to Japan achieving its goal of 20 million foreign tourists, as set out in the Government’s initiatives to promote Japan as a tourism-oriented country and vitalizing local economies.
(3) Dispatch of medical experts for the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease
Minister Kishida: As part of our measures for the Ebola virus disease, we have decided to newly dispatch two Japanese medical experts to Sierra Leone through the WHO. This will bring the total number of Japanese medical experts participating in the WHO mission to 13. Japan continues to provide ceaseless support toward eradicating the Ebola virus disease.
Diplomatic issues to be addressed this year
Fujita, Fuji Television: This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. On your third term in office, I would like to ask which diplomatic issues that you personally, Minister Kishida, would like to address this year?
Minister Kishida: This year marks various important anniversaries, that is, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (UN), and the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings. In this context, I want to firmly work on the three priorities I set out at the press conference when I was reappointed Minister for Foreign Affairs in the reshuffle of the second Abe Cabinet in September. They are promoting Japan’s relations with neighboring countries, addressing global issues, and strengthening Japan’s strategic public relations and communication to the world. Within these three issues, in the year that marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, I believe addressing global issues is very important in terms of showing Japan’s path as a peace-loving nation through making significant contribution to the international community. These include disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, climate change, the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and the U.N. World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. I believe that it is particularly important that Japan firmly addresses these sorts of issues and clearly demonstrates its contribution to international community.
Japan-North Korea relations
Fujita, Fuji TV: My question is concerning Japan-North Korea consultations. Reinvestigation of abduction victims started with a one-year limit and a half of that one year has passed. However, it seems that the diplomatic environment is becoming more severe compared to that of the beginning of the reinvestigation. Amid such a condition, do you have any plan to work for the solution of the abductions issue, such as taking a new measure?
Minister Kishida: Regarding the Japan-North Korea talks and issues of North Korea, while the investigation by the Special Investigation Committee has been ongoing, at present, specifics for their report have not been decided. The Government of Japan will continue to request the North Korean side to make an honest and immediate report. We have worked on the relationship with North Korea with emphasis on the principle of action for action under the policy of dialogue and pressure. We consider that we need to continue to make firm requests to North Korea under such a policy.
Maritime communication mechanism between defense authorities of Japan and China
Fujita, Fuji TV: Regarding the Japan-China maritime communication mechanism, it was reported that a director-level dialogue will be held in Tokyo in mid-January. Is such an arrangement being made now?
Minister Kishida: Concerning the Japan-China maritime communication mechanism, we would like to begin implementation of the mechanism at an early date and we are currently communicating with the Chinese side based on the previous Japan-China Summit meeting. At present, final decisions on schedule or other specific issues have not been made yet and we will continue with arrangements.
Fujita, Fuji TV: Do you mean that the dialogue will be held by end of this month?
Minister Kishida: We are still making arrangements. Final decision on specific schedule has not been made yet.
Statement by the Prime Minister on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II
Kurihara, NHK: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe disclosed yesterday that he would release a new statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. What do you think about it and did you talk about the new statement with Secretary of State Kerry this morning?
Minister Kishida: Firstly, concerning the talks with United States Secretary of State Kerry, as I have mentioned previously, we shared the view that in the year that marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, Japan and the US should work in cooperation on various global issues and we will make efforts to communicate more frequently. Regarding Prime Minister Abe’s statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, I understand that it would be precisely as the Prime Minister stated yesterday. I remember that the Prime Minister clearly stated that in terms of the recognition of history, his administration would continue to succeed the stance of the past cabinets as a whole and that he also touched on the fact that Japan has made significant contributions to the international community as a peace-loving nation during the past 70 years. I remember that he stated that he would also like to add in the statement what kind of contribution Japan would make to the international community in the future. Therefore, I understand such a statement will be released.
Kurihara, NHK: Did you touch upon the statement itself in your talks with the U.S. Secretary of State?
Minister Kishida: No. What we talked was the confirmation of the importance of closely coordinating with each other. We did not refer to the statement specifically.
Japan-United States foreign ministerial telephone conference
Matsumoto, Jiji Press: Did you discuss Prime Minister Abe’s visit to the U.S. in you talks with Secretary of State Kerry?
Minister Kishida: We did not specifically talk about schedule or other details. We did discuss that Japan and the U.S. must closely coordinate with each other on the 70th anniversary of end of the war and will confirm such coordination on various occasions. That is what we discussed but we did not talk about a specific schedule.