Press Conference by State Minister Kiuchi Minoru
Thursday, April 9, 2015, 5:01 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
(1) Diplomatic schedule and other matters
Mr. Minoru Kiuchi, State Minister for Foreign Affairs: This is my first press conference in some time. Since last fall there has been a general election, and unfortunately also there was a terrorist incident regarding the murder of Japanese. Additionally, I have also travelled overseas on official business trips and had other engagements, and so this is in fact my first press conference in five and a half months.
There have been a variety of events on the diplomatic side recently, including the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai. Looking ahead also, next week the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held in Germany, and as you know, at the end of the month Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the United States. Furthermore, in May the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) will be held in Iwaki City. So there is a series of major diplomatic events approaching. As State Minister for Foreign Affairs I intend to continue to support Prime Minister Abe and Foreign Minister Kishida.
(2) Diplomatic Bluebook 2015
State Minister Kiuchi:Today I want to mention the Diplomatic Bluebook, which was recently distributed in the Cabinet meeting. Regarding the content of this Diplomatic Bluebook 2015, every year the Diplomatic Bluebook introduces international affairs and Japanese diplomacy that have taken place over the previous one-year period.
Primarily, it contains content that occurred up to the end of December 31 last year, but it also describes significant issues up to early this year, such as the terrorist incident regarding the murder of Japanese by ISIL.
Furthermore, as you know this Diplomatic Bluebook pertains to the milestone 70th year since the end of World War II, and so in the first chapter it looks back on Japan’s path as a peace-loving nation in the 70-year period since the war, during which Japan has made cumulative contributions while walking alongside the international community.
Additionally, as one step in strengthening communications offshore, we are scheduled to produce a full translation in English, a document of the same thickness, for the first time since the Diplomatic Bluebook 2006. Normally the English translation is a summarized version and is thinner, but we will work hard on the translation and produce a fully translated version, and will transmit information accordingly.
That concludes my simple report. If you have any questions, I am happy to answer them.
Matsui, Asahi Shimbun: My question concerns the AIIB. The situation seems to change day by day and even hour by hour, and I imagine that there is always new information and the situation is constantly being updated. But currently, from the part that can be clarified from the information Japan has obtained, can you please explain your understanding of the present situation and also once again, Japan’s approach at the current point in time?
State Minister Kiuchi: I am aware that there have been various reports on the stance of the Government of Japan in coping with the AIIB and on the figures. But generally about Japan’s response to the AIIB, it is true that the Government of Japan is conducting various examinations, but I would like to refrain from commenting on the content of individual reports.
Whatever the case, Japan has not changed its cautious position with regards to participation in the AIIB. I believe that we will continue to coordinate with the countries concerned and that we will urge China to ensure that the AIIB meets the requirements required for an international financial institution.
Also, the Government of Japan’s basic standpoint on the AIIB, as has been made clear on a number of occasions, is first, it must be clarified whether or not it is possible to establish fair governance, and second, whether or not carrying out lending that ignores debt sustainability would not inflict harm on other creditors. The Government of Japan’s position is that careful examination is required, including on these two points. So whatever the situation, at the current point in time we maintain a cautious stance with regards to participation.
We have raised these issues repeatedly to the Chinese side, but we have not yet obtained a clear explanation. While I am repeating myself, the Government of Japan will continue to coordinate with the countries concerned and urge China to explain these points.
Minister Kishida has also repeatedly stated this.
Matsui, Asahi Shimbun: Related to this, today I understand that the Liberal Democratic Party invited experts to a study meeting that will be held regularly in the future, and in it various opinions will be consolidated. So while of course I imagine that everyday within the Government there are various discussions and investigations, up to around June, but what specifically will the Government be doing? For example, I imagine that various meetings will be held and things will be done each day, but can I ask about what ideas there are for the specific methods of investigation?
State Minister Kiuchi: With regards to the point you just referred to, as was instructed by Prime Minister Abe, you are correct that presently within the Foreign Affairs Division and elsewhere of the Liberal Democratic Party various discussions are taking place on the form that the AIIB should take. As I previously mentioned, the Government of Japan is conducting various examinations on its response to the AIIB. These are the facts, but at the current point I would like to refrain from commenting any more on this matter.
But in any case, we receive a range of information from a number of viewpoints on a daily and even hourly basis, including on the advantages and the disadvantages of AIIB, so we are conducting these various examinations based on this information. This is the current situation.
Japan-North Korea relations
Nanjo, Sankei Shimbun: My question concerns North Korea. North Korea has launched a number of short-range missiles this month, and the atmosphere suggests its stance is also changing in various ways. At the end of last week there was also a notice from North Korea hinting that Japan-North Korea consultations may be suspended, which Japan protested, I believe. What has the Government’s response been since then?
State Minister Kiuchi: Regarding the North Korea issue, at present I do not have the documents concerning this with me presently, and so I would like to answer once I have confirmed the matter later. In any event, I am aware that there was such a notice from the North Korean side, but I would like to refrain from commenting on specifics here.
Matsui, Asahi Shimbun: My question concerns Japan-China relations. A short while ago Mr. Ji Bingxuan, Vice Chairman of a committee of the National People's Congress, began a meeting with members of the Lower House, and a meeting will be held tomorrow also. Where Japan-China relations are concerned, recently there has been a considerable increase in mutual visits by VIPs, and I would like to ask how you view this situation, and how you intend to pursue further improvements.
State Minister Kiuchi: Japan’s relationship with China includes such issues as the East China Sea, but the Government of Japan intends to make steady efforts at various levels in order to improve Japan-China relations.