Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 10:37 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Hostage incident of Japanese nationals in Syria
Fujita, Fuji TV: I understand that you spoke at length with the Chief Cabinet Secretary earlier, but what sorts of things were discussed?
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: We confirmed the circumstances up to the present point and exchanged views.
Fujita, Fuji TV: Does that mean the Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau chief and Vice-Minister Saiki were also present at the meeting and confirmed the sequence of events up to now?
Minister Kishida: Yes, that is correct.
Fujita, Fuji TV: Were there any reports of new developments and others?
Minister Kishida: No, we confirmed the present situation, so nothing was reported anew.
Fujita, Fuji TV: At this morning’s Cabinet meeting, were any instructions issued by the Prime Minister?
Minister Kishida: Regarding the content of the Cabinet meeting, please check with the Chief Cabinet Secretary. I understand that the minutes of the meeting will also be open to public.
Fujita, Fuji TV: Yesterday the Prime Minister suggested there is a possibility that the situation could become drawn out.
Minister Kishida: Conversely there is also a possibility of that not happening and an immediate development occurring. In general terms, this incident could see an immediate development, or it could become drawn out. The instruction was to maintain a sense of tension, because the circumstances are completely uncertain.
Fujita, Fuji TV: What is the implication that you must be prepared even if things become drawn out?
Minister Kishida: This is completely uncertain. Since other parties are involved and it will be a result of our utmost efforts, and it is completely uncertain what the developments will be. In an event, the instruction given was to make efforts with a sense of tension in terms of attitude and in order to respond to various situations.
Fujita, Fuji TV: If the response headquarters on site continues using the same lineup of personnel, I imagine they will become exhausted. Is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs considering replacing or switching the headquarters’ personnel, for example, or adding personnel?
Minister Kishida: At present the headquarters has received various assistance from our diplomatic missions in the region and from this ministry, and at present we have no plans whatsoever of switching the lineup. We intend to continue to exert every possible effort.
Fujita, Fuji TV: ISIL is requesting that the hostage be exchanged for a prisoner condemned to death. Does Japan intend to lobby the Jordanian side regarding the conditions for the release of the (Jordanian) pilot and Mr. Goto?
Minister Kishida: The response headquarters on site is in Jordan, and we are in close contact. Regarding specific communications such as those referred to in your question, the fact is that this situation is also currently changing and so I think I should refrain from saying anything.
Kojima, NHK: Earlier you said the local lineup of personnel in Jordan will not be supplemented, but the fact is it has been half a month since State Minister Nakayama left for New York. Do you intend to continue to keep him on as head of the on-site headquarters, as he is now?
Minister Kishida: At present I am not considering any changes. We cannot predict how this situation will change from now at all, so at present I intend to continue to make an effort based on the present structure.
Makita, Kyodo Press: My question is regarding the details of the negotiation or securing of a communication route. Approximately one week has passed since the first video was uploaded and I would like to know the current status, whether it is still very difficult to secure a communication route or whether it is becoming easier.
Minister Kishida: We have been making our best efforts through various channels and routes. Concerning your question on whether such efforts are sufficient or not, I will refrain from speaking about details of the condition.
We will continue to make our best efforts using every route and channel that we have for the liberation of Mr. Goto.
Yamamoto, Sankei Shimbun: Mr. Toshihiro Nikai, Chairman of General Council of the Liberal Democratic Party, stated yesterday that a measure could have been taken to restrict his trip. He also expressed his recognition that a restriction on trips to dangerous areas by Japanese citizens has to be enhanced further. Do you have any new measures in mind on restrictions of trips within the framework of the current law?
Minister Kishida: We have been announcing evacuation warnings in the area currently in question and a message to refrain from traveling to the area since 2011. We will keep making our efforts so that our messages will surely be understood.