Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 8:46 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
(1) Extension of Actions against North Korea
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I understand that a separate announcement will be made on later by Mr. Yoshihide Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary, but a decision was made in a Cabinet Meeting today in relation to the actions against North Korea that are set to reach their termination date on April 13. It was decided that a ban on entry of North Korean ferries into Japanese ports and the prohibition of exports and imports with North Korea would be extended for two years, including exceptional measures which allow vessels to enter a Japanese port due to an exceptional circumstance from a humanitarian viewpoint.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will steadily implement such measures while coordinating with relevant ministries and agencies, and we will make every effort for the solution of the outstanding issues of concern surrounding North Korea such as the abduction of Japanese nationals based on the policy of “dialogue and pressure”.
Extension of Actions against North Korea
Fukai, TBS: It is still approximately two weeks before the expiration of the actions. Could you tell us the reason why the Cabinet decision was made at this time and what do you think about the fact that North Korea has not made a report on abductees and others yet? Minister Kishida: I understand that the decision was made at this time, before the expiration on April 13, on the basis of comprehensive judgment of various issues and various conditions surrounding this issue such as coordination with other ministries and agencies and procedures.
In addition, regarding the fact that no report has been made from North Korea, as you mentioned, I have not learned any specific actions as of today. The Government of Japan will continue to ask the North Korean side to do swift research and to make a report honestly and promptly.
Fukai, TBS: Sanctions were partially eased last year. Do you intend to implement additional sanctions such as banning visits by the leadership of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, in case North Korea would not make a report in the future?
Minister Kishida: I think we need to ceaselessly check and review such measures from a viewpoint of implementing the most effective measure for return of all the abductees to Japan. I will tackle with this issue from such a viewpoint in the future as well.
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
Fukai, TBS: My question concerns the AIIB. Today is the deadline for the founding members, and I would like to ask what stage the Government of Japan’s considerations are at regarding participation in the future, and what your thoughts are at the present point in time regarding what kind of response can be taken.
Minister Kishida: Regarding Japan’s standpoint on the AIIB , as we have been saying all along there are points that need to be considered, including whether it will be possible to establish fair governance, and whether carrying out lending that ignores debt sustainability will inflict harm on other creditors.
Thus far also, we have conveyed this awareness of the issues and presented the issues to the Chinese side, but are yet to obtain a clear explanation. Consequently, Japan intends to continue to work on the Chinese side while continuing to coordinate with the countries concerned, without being swayed by any specific deadline.
Takahashi, Bloomberg: My question concerns the AIIB. Yesterday, in an interview distributed in the Financial Times, the article suggested that Beijing’s Mr. Masato Kitera, Ambassador of Japan to China, said Japan too would probably participate in the AIIB by June. Has this comment been confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?
Minister Kishida: To begin with, I am aware of that report. However, it is not true that Ambassador Kitera made a forecast about Japan’s AIIB participation. The Government is focusing on points such as the awareness of the issues that Japan has raised and whether or not standards are met.
As I said earlier, we are not giving thought to a specific deadline and others.
Lee, Hong Kong Phoenix TV: This is a related question. Regarding the fact that today is the AIIB deadline and the Government of Japan will not be swayed by the deadline, does that mean that at the present point in time, the decision not to participate has not been made?
Minister Kishida: As I said earlier, we are conveying our awareness of the issues and presenting the issues to the Chinese side. So far we have not had any reply. Such a situation is continuing.
Amid that ongoing situation, we are aware that the deadline for founding members is approaching today but intend to firmly express our awareness and seek an appropriate response, without being swayed by this deadline in any way.
Military action in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and others
Kurihara, NHK: My question concerns the situation in Yemen, in the Middle East. Air strikes in Yemen by its neighbor Saudi Arabia and others are continuing, resulting in many victims and casualties, including internally displaced people. How do you view this situation and what sort of response will the Government of Japan take in the future?
Minister Kishida: The situation in Yemen is that after bringing Sana’a, the capital, the armed group from Houthis has been advancing into Southern Yemen since 25th March in pursuit of President Hadi, who has been evacuating from Sana’a. In light of such circumstances, Saudi Arabia and other countries have conducted airstrikes against Houthis’ installations upon the request made by President Hadi who represents the government of Yemen. That is my understanding.
We have received an explanation from the Government of Saudi Arabia that this military action by Saudi Arabia and others to halt any further violence, amid a situation the Yemeni government was unable to crack down on activities by the armed group from Houthis upon the request made by President Hadi who legitimately represents the government of Yemen. This is the explanation that the Government of Japan has received from the Government of Saudi Arabia.
In any event, the Government of Japan hopes this will lead to de-escalation of the situation. Furthermore, we will work towards the re-opening of the UN-led political transition process, with no Yemeni parties resorting to violence. That is the Government of Japan’s position.