Press Conference by State Minister Yasuhide Nakayama
Thursday, March 26, 2015, 3:39 p.m.   Ministry of Foreign Affairs

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Impact of the incident of the violation of the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act on Japan-North Korea consultations

Kojima, NHK: Today, following Kyoto Prefectural Police’s arrests of suspects in relation to the illegal importation of matsutake mushrooms from North Korea, they searched the home of Ho Jong Man, Chairman of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon). Chairman Ho Jong Man told reporters that this incident might have an impact on Japan-North Korea relations. May I ask for your opinion on this, on what impact you think this incident might have on Japan-North Korea relations?

State Minister Nakayama: First, the position of the Government of Japan has not changed, that is we continue to strongly urge that the North Korean side make an honest and immediate report on the findings of the investigation in the Japan-North Korea consultations.

Watching reports by NHK, I am aware that a report claims that the purpose of the survey is to put pressure on North Korea. But my understanding is that the police conducted the search based entirely on the proper procedures.

Whatever the situation, the Government of Japan’s every effort will continue to be made for the return of all the victims of abduction to Japan.

Terrorist Attack in Tunisia

Kojima, NHK: If I may ask about a separate topic, today in the Committee on National Security of the House of Representatives, Representative Tamaki of the Democratic Party of Japan asked a question relating to the terrorist attack in Tunisia that resulted in the death of Japanese nationals. He revealed Ms. Yuki’s note which said that a Ministry of Foreign Affairs officer told her that she had the right to refuse requests for interviews. With regards to this, the Minister answered that Ambassador to Tunisia Juichi Takahara explained it was the decision of the person in question on whether to accept or refuse an interview. That was the answer today, but there seems to be a major difference in the tone between the answer of the Minister and the note of Ms. Yuki.In terms of the facts related to this, it seems that Representative Tamaki’s understanding is that she was advised to refuse interview requests. Could you please tell us whether or not this communication occurred?

State Minister Nakayama: It seems that only a part of Ms. Noriko Yuki’s note was extracted and made public, but in terms of the actual communication between Ambassador Takahara and Ms. Yuki about the requests for interviews, Ambassador told her that “You are free to accept requests, the decision is entirely up to you,” and he added that “You do not necessarily have to agree to requests for interviews.” The answer of Minister Kishida that you referred to explained the purport of the Ambassador’s remarks and I do not think that it is correct to say that the Ambassador advised her to refuse interview requests.

The Government of Japan has the deepest sympathy for those who have suffered loss in this incident and will take all appropriate measures to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals abroad.

Impact of the incident of the violation of the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Act on the Japan-North Korea consultations

Matsumoto, Jiji Press: If we could return to the matter of the compulsory search of the home of the Chairman of Chongryon, how do you see the outlook for Japan-North Korea consultations in the future? In particular, July is the one year deadline for the reinvestigation. I would like to ask whether you think there are any prospects for an honest and immediate report from North Korea in the near future.

State Minister Nakayama: It is dependent on the other party, but even when thinking of the starting point of this abduction matter, which is 7 cases involving 10 people, the fact is that much time has passed since the point in time when it was noted in the Police White Paper. I am aware of the reports the other day that the mother of Megumi Yokota made a heartfelt appeal at a concert for her return.

In this context, we strongly urge North Korea to quickly and thoroughly conduct the investigation and then immediately and honestly report its findings. This is the demand that we have made to North Korea on countless occasions in the past and the position of the Government of Japan has not changed at all. We will maintain this position and continue to do everything we can to strongly demand that the North Korean government reports in the manner we require. That is all I can say.