Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, April 17, 2015, 8:45 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Northern Territories issue (President Putin’s comment)
Fujita, Fuji TV: President Putin appeared on a television program and commented that where the territorial issue and the Northern Territories are concerned, the ball is in the Japanese side’s court and Japan is the cause of the delay in the negotiations on the issue. How do you view that comment?
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: To begin with, it is not at all correct that the Japanese side is stopping the negotiations on concluding a peace treaty. Japan-Russia Vice-minister-level Consultations were held in February this year, and at that time the Japanese side actively raised and discussed the issue of concluding a peace treaty.
Prime Minister Abe and President Putin agreed in the joint statement issued in April 2013 on points such as accelerating negotiations on formulating a resolution to the peace treaty issue that is acceptable to both sides. I hope that the Russian side will also seriously approach the negotiations in line with the agreement.
Fujita, Fuji TV: There are some reports that a Japan-Russia Summit Meeting may be held in summer this year, when the Prime Minister visits Central Asia toward August or September. Is there a possibility that this comment by President Putin will affect Japan-Russia relations in the future?
Minister Kishida: Nothing has been decided yet regarding the schedule for the Prime Minister’s trip overseas. In any event, I hope that Russia will seriously engage in the peace treaty negotiations, in line with the joint statement of April 2013.
AIIB (Exchanges at the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and others)
Fujita, Fuji TV: I understand that at the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Germany the G7 countries agreed to continue to coordinate in connection with the AIIB. What sort of coordination do you envisage in the future?
Minister Kishida: At the G7 Foreign Minister’s meeting, the AIIB was also discussed as one part of the discussion on East Asia, and we agreed that importance must be attached to governance, and that the G7 will continue to coordinate. Even if there are differences in the respective standpoints, such as continuing to participate within the negotiations with the Chinese side or taking a position outside the negotiations, we intend to continue to approach China in collaboration with G7.
Japan-North Korea consultations
Fujita, Fuji TV: After North Korea mentioned that it will discontinue the Japan-North Korea consultations, that there have been some reports that Japan and North Korea remain in contact, including at the beginning of this month. Has there been a reply or a reaction of some sort from the North Korean side subsequently?
Minister Kishida: To begin with, I will refrain from commenting on the reports one by one, but the Government of Japan’s position remains unchanged, that is, to continue to work on the North Korean side to ensure that the special investigation committee’s investigation is undertaken swiftly and reports are made promptly and honestly.
Regarding North Korea’s response, the Government of Japan made a protest that the recent notification on April 2nd was unacceptable, but we have not received any specific response regarding that.
Japan-U.S.-ROK Vice-Ministerial Consultations
Nakagawa, Yomiuri Shimbun: Japan-U.S.-ROK Vice-Ministerial Consultations will be held on April 16 in Washington. It is expected that the United States will advise Japan and the Republic of Korea which are allies, to be friendly. How will the Government of Japan address improving Japan-ROK relations in the future?
Minister Kishida: First of all, the Japan-U.S.-ROK Vice-Ministerial Consultations were held on April 16. Although I have not received a detailed report yet, these consultations are the first vice-ministerial level consultations following a Japan-U.S.-ROK summit meeting in last March and a Japan-U.S.-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting in last August. I have heard that it was a meaningful meeting, the participants confirmed that we share strategic interests concerning global challenges, and we hold a strong commitment to peace and stability of the region.
In addition, I have also received a report that Japan and the ROK exchanged opinions, though I will refrain from mentioning the details. This year marks the 50th anniversary of normalization of diplomatic relationship between Japan and ROK. By all means, based on a broad perspective, we will make efforts for the development of the future-oriented bilateral relations.
Nakagawa, Yomiuri Shimbun: I think the ROK side has not changed its stance on the issue of comfort women. How did the Government of Japan deal with this issue?
Minister Kishida: Regarding the issues related to history, including the comfort women, the Government of Japan has made its utmost efforts. We will continue to hold persistent discussions with the ROK side.