Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, April 10, 2015, 9:15 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
(1) Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to Lubeck, Germany
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: From the outset today I have a total of three matters. Beginning with the first matter, I will visit Lubeck, the Federal Republic of Germany, from April 13 to 16 in order to attend the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
At this meeting I intend to carry out frank exchanges of views regarding urgent issues in international affairs, including the Ukraine situation and the Iran nuclear issue, among the G7 members, which share fundamental values.
Next year Japan will serve as the G7 chair country. I intend to make efforts in firm communication among the G7 members, and connect this to the G7 Summit in Japan next year.
(2) Holding of the 10th Japan-Republic of Korea Security Dialogue
Minister Kishida: The second point is that the 10th Japan-ROK Security Dialogue will be held in Seoul, ROK, on Tuesday, April 14. The previous Japan-ROK Security Dialogue, the ninth, was held in December 2009, so this is the first to be held in five years.
Following the recent Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held on March 21, coordination has been taking place toward holding this dialogue promptly. Japan and the ROK share strategic interests given the current security situation in East Asia. I expect that this dialogue will strengthen the relationship of cooperation between Japan and the ROK in the field of security, and contribute to the peace and stability of this region.
(3) Holding of the Japan-U.S.-ROK Vice-Ministerial Consultation
Minister Kishida: The third matter is the Japan-U.S.-ROK Vice-Ministerial Consultation, which will be held in Washington in the U.S. on Thursday, April 16. This consultation will take place between three officials: from Japan, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Akitaka Saiki, from the U.S., Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, and from the ROK, First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Cho Tae-yong.
At the Japan-U.S.-ROK Vice-Ministerial Consultation a broad exchange of views will take place on matters of common interest, such as regional affairs, including East Asia, and global challenges. I anticipate that this will be a meaningful opportunity to confirm trilateral coordination between Japan, the U.S. and the ROK. That concludes my three points.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to Lubeck, Germany
Kurihara, NHK: Regarding your attendance at the G7 meeting in Lubeck, Germany from April 13 that you mentioned earlier, what sorts of exchanges would you like to have at the meeting in connection with the AIIB, which recently, last month, three countries in Europe announced plans to participate in one after the other?
Minister Kishida: Japan is the only country from Asia that will attend the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and so Japan intends to appropriately discuss issues concerning Asia also, I believe. I understand that specific topics for discussion are still in the process of being coordinated.
Matsumoto, Jiji Press: Are you scheduled to hold bilateral meetings accompanying the holding of the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting? What stage is the coordination at between Japan and the U.S. in particular?
Minister Kishida: Bilateral meetings are also currently being coordinated. Because the time that each country will arrive in Lubeck will vary, presently the details are still being coordinated. I intend to undertake bilateral meetings as proactively as possible, and have issued instructions for meetings to be coordinated.
Visit to the Republic of Palau by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan
Kamide, Freelance: Recently, Their Majesties visited Palau. I would like to ask the significance of this visit for you as the Foreign Minister. Also, as a slightly different question but related to this, it is said that in recent years, Their Majesties and the Crown Prince have sent a very strong message about peace and damage in World War II; and that also, the Constitution must be protected.
So while there have been various approaches taken, it is said that the current administration has become a little distanced from peace, while there are also voices that can be read as indirectly criticizing the strengthening of military alliance. I appreciate this is a delicate matter, but may I ask your opinion on this?
Minister Kishida: First, Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan made an official visit to the Republic of Palau, from April 8th to 9th, to mourn and pay tribute to those who died in the war and pray for peace in this 70th year after the end of the war. Their Majesties have returned to Japan safe and sound.
During their stay in the Republic of Palau, Their Majesties, remembering the war dead and praying for peace, laid wreaths at the Monument of the War Dead in the Western Pacific. Prior to this, Their Majesties were received welcome from the President of the Republic of Palau and his spouse, as well as the President of the Federated States of Micronesia, and the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and his spouse, in order to further promote Japan’s friendship with these countries. I consider it to have been a truly significant visit. From my position as Minister of Foreign Affairs, if I am to mention something, I hope that this visit will strengthen even further the friendship with the above-mentioned three countries.
With regards to your second question, I’m afraid as I did not fully understand the specific point that you were talking, I will have to refrain from providing a concrete answer. I recognize that the desire for peace is extremely important.
Responsibility for the war and others
Nishinaka, Freelance: Currently, at the beginning of mentioning the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, you have emphasized that the attendees are a community with the same values, but when German Chancellor Merkel visited Japan recently, I imagine comments were made on how Japan is dealing with its history issue and the issue of responsibility for the war.
Moreover, a question was asked on this issue of responsibility for the war in the House of Councilors the other day by Diet member Yukihisa Fujita of the Democratic Party of Japan, on class B and C war crimes relating to the Koreans in the ROK and residing in Japan. Although Minister Kishida answered that this was a matter that pained his heart deeply, I think that addressing this issue of the awareness of history, including on individual issues and the comfort women issue, does not end with the Japan-ROK Treaty and that it is necessary to have a development that reflects the recommendations on human rights by the United Nations over this period. For example, if Japan basically shares the same values as Germany, then it seems necessary for Japan to once again face the issue of its responsibility for the war on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of its end. Can I ask your opinion on this matter?
Minister Kishida: I think that your question contained a number of elements. I am aware that German Chancellor Merkel talked about Germany’s response in the postwar period during her visit. But Germany and Japan took different paths in the postwar period and their situations were different, so I think it is difficult to simply compare them. I think sincerely facing the history is a very important attitude.
With regards to how to face with individual issues, for example, on the comfort women issue, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also repeatedly expressed that he is deeply pained to think of the comfort women who experienced immeasurable pain and suffering. I think such feelings are the same as his predecessors, and my feelings on this issue are exactly the same.
Japan considers that the comfort women issue has been completely and finally settled legally. In addition to this, we have established the Asian Women’s Fund, payed atonement money, implemented medical and welfare projects, and successive prime ministers have issued letters of apology. Japan continued to carry out these sorts of initiatives. I think that it is very important that such actions are evaluated based on a correct understanding of the facts.
Based on such correct evaluation, I think that Japan will continue to do everything it can to make the 21st Century a century without the violations of human rights.
Visit to Japan of Vice Chairman of a committee of the National People’s Congress of China
Matsumoto, Jiji Press: I would like to ask about Japan-China relations.
Currently, the Vice Chairman of a committee of the National People’s Congress of China is visiting Japan. That means that not only are Japan and China realizing inter-government exchanges, but also exchanges between their legislatures and lawmakers. I would like to first ask your reaction to this. Also, since the APEC Summit Meeting in November of last year, I want to ask whether you recognize Japan-China relations have been improving and also your impression of the current state of Japan-China relations.
Minister Kishida: First of all, as you mentioned a delegation of the National People’s Congress, headed by Mr. Ji Bingxuan, Vice Chairman of a committee of the National People’s Congress, is visiting Japan from April 8th to 11th, following an invitation from the House of Representatives. I understand that it is attending a Japan-China Parliamentary Exchange Commission with a delegation from the House of Representatives.
I think that it is very important to accumulate these sorts of exchanges and to develop Japan-China relations from a broad perspective. Within them, I believe that initiatives for exchanges between the legislatures and between lawmakers of Japan and China are extremely significant. With regards to the current state of Japan-China relations the Summit Meeting was held last year in November and both countries also held the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting at the Beijing APEC Meeting. Subsequently, dialogues and exchanges have been reopened in a variety of fields and on a number of different levels. This is the current situation. A Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was also held recently, on March 21. During this meeting both I and Mr. Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of China, agreed that it is still insufficient and even more work is required, although recent positive developments of Japan-China relations is now starting to occur. We certainly intend to continue to make our efforts to develop Japan-China relations in accordance with the mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.