Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 9:37 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Japan-North Korea relations
Fukai, TBS: My question concerns Japan-North Korea relations. Recently, I think the Japanese side has communicated its sense of regret to North Korea, but may I ask you about whether or not there has been a reaction to this from the North Korean side, and whether you think there is a need to hold government-level consultations between Japan and North Korea?
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: First, with regard to the initial reaction from the North Korean side, at the current point in time there has been no reaction. Whatever the case, I believe that the Government of Japan must strengthen our efforts to urge North Korea to take concrete actions at the earliest stage.
Next, at this point no detailed considerations are being made with regard to the need for concrete consultations and the schedule. We will continue to urge the North Korean side to take positive and concrete actions, and consider what the most effective approach for doing so would be.
Fukai, TBS: I have a related question. In September of last year, it was stated that the deadline would be around one year, and July of this year was mentioned. I think that there was a notification to Japan to this effect in the Japan-North Korea consultations in September of last year. Do you consider that a new report will be made around September?
Minister Kishida: As you pointed out, in September of last year I remember that there were remarks that it was considered that the period for the investigation by North Korea would take around one year. Yet, no specific deadline was confirmed between Japan and North Korea. I believe that while referring to these remarks, we must continue to urge North Korea to report the findings of its investigation honestly and promptly.
Meeting between then Japanese Ambassador to the United States Fujisaki and then U.S. Secretary of State Clinton
Kamide, Freelance: My question concerns an old topic, from around five years ago, when the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was in power. Recently, details have been published little by little regarding the fact that Hillary Clinton, when she was U.S. Secretary of State in 2009, used her private email address to send and receive emails related to official duties, which the Republican Party raised as a problem.
In December 2009, during the time of the Hatoyama Cabinet, the possibility of the relocation overseas of the Futenma Air Station was mentioned by Prime Minister Hatoyama and it became a major issue. The Japanese Ambassador to the United States at that time was summoned by Hillary Clinton, but there was heavy snow on the day he was summoned and practically all transportation had stopped. It was widely reported by the newspapers on December 23 that Secretary of State Clinton told the Ambassador that these remarks were regrettable.
But in actuality, rather than being summoned, there were exchanges beforehand with Assistant Secretary of State Campbell, and Secretary of State Clinton accepted the request for a meeting with the Ambassador, through secretary. The meeting seemed to be actually held by the Ambassador’s initiative, but it was widely reported that he had been summoned by Secretary of State Clinton.
The facts seem to be misunderstood and in actuality even the U.S. Government has stated that the Ambassador went to meet with Secretary of State Clinton, rather than being summoned. However, this has been hardly reported at all.
This became an extremely significant issue at the time. Prime Minister Hatoyama’s problem was that he promised that the facility would at least be transferred outside Okinawa Prefecture, but in reality that was not the case. As it was a major issue, while the relevant facts are now from a long time ago and it was the time when the DPJ was in power, does it not pertain to the reputation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs? Is it possible that you will launch an investigation? Is there any intention to do this? If there has been any recognition on these points, I would like to hear your opinion.
Minister Kishida: First, I am aware that it has been reported that the documents you referred to have been published. But as you mentioned, this occurred at a time when the DPJ was in power and I myself am not sufficiently aware of the facts from that time.
With regard to your question of whether we intended to launch some sort of investigation, this also pertains to exchanges that took place within the U.S. Government. As such, I believe the Government of Japan should refrain from commenting on this matter. Therefore, I will refrain from commenting on this.
Nakagawa, Yomiuri Shimbun: My question is concerning the future of Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) relations. The foreign ministers’ meeting produced a positive atmosphere. In addition, on the following day the leaders of Japan and the ROK attended ceremonies in both Tokyo and Seoul commemorating the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries. While a positive atmosphere was generated, there were many issues related to sites that Japan had nominated for inscription as World Heritage, albeit the end result was ultimately a good one. I believe there is a need to improve Japan-ROK relations in the future and I would like to ask you how you plan to proceed.
Minister Kishida: First of all, concerning the inscription of Japanese sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, we shared the view in the recent Japan-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting that we would cooperate so that the sites being recommended by two countries, the “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution” and the “Baekje Historic Areas,” are listed. Then, at the deliberation held in Bonn, Germany, we made arrangements to realize the aforementioned agreement between Japan and the ROK. This is a matter involving the ROK, as well as the other 19 committee members. We made careful arrangements to ensure that the sites would be listed. As a result, the sites nominated by Japan and the ROK were inscribed on the World Heritage List.
Japan and ROK are important neighbors and this year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries. I intend to continue to exert efforts to build a future-oriented relationship between our two countries. I will make continued efforts to ensure that this landmark year of the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations will be a meaningful one.
Peace and security legislation: Result of opinion polls
Kamide, Freelance: In the past few days, results of opinion polls have been released. A large majority of the respondents oppose the proposed peace and security legislation and opposition is steadily growing. The Government’s policy is to provide careful explanations about the legislation. What is your view of this?
Minister Kishida: Regarding the peace and security legislation, my recognition is that this legislation is for the protection of the lives and peaceful livelihood of the people, in light of the fact that the security environment surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly severe.
I understand that there are various opinions on the matter. However, I also recognize that it is a very important duty and role of politicians to make every effort to protect the lives and peaceful livelihood of the people. Therefore, I intend to continue to provide sincere and careful explanation to the people and gain their understanding.
The inscription of the sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution on UNESCO’s World Heritage List (issue of requisition)
Kojima, NHK: My question concerns the World Heritage issue. Some ROK media reports are suggesting that there was forced labor, and I would like to confirm whether the term “forced to work” has been confirmed between the Governments of Japan and the ROK. I assume it was confirmed in English, but could you explain this matter once again, please?
Minister Kishida: To begin with, the “forced to work” part that you refer to was used to describe the requisition that took place based on the National Requisition Ordinance at the time, and my understanding is it does not includes any new content.
This statement does not recognize that there was forced labor, but articulated the recognition that the Government of Japan has held hitherto. There is no change whatsoever to the position that the issues relating to property and claims between Japan and the ROK, including the issue of requisitioned workers from the Korean Peninsula, have been settled completely and finally by the Claims Settlement and Economic Co-operation Agreement of 1965, which was concluded on the occasion of the normalization of the relationship between Japan and the ROK.
Furthermore, through our diplomatic exchanges with the Government of the ROK, it is our understanding that the Government of the ROK has no intention to utilize the statement by the representative of the Government of Japan in the context of the issue of claims between Japan and ROK, which was confirmed at a high level.
Nanjo, Sankei Shimbun: You stated now that the ROK has no intention of utilizing the statement in the context of the issue of claims between Japan and ROK. However, to look at that another way, is it not possible to interpret this as a promise from the Government of the ROK not to utilize the issue of claims in the requisition problem in the future? Since I do not know the content of the high-level negotiations, could you please give your view on this?
Minister Kishida: In any event, the specific exchanges were diplomatic exchanges, so I must refrain from commenting. There is no change whatsoever to the position of the Government of Japan that the issues relating to property and claims between Japan and the ROK have been settled completely and finally. And the diplomatic exchanges were also made as I said earlier. I would like to refrain from commenting on each and every detail here today.
The outcome of Greece’s national referendum
Kurihara, NHK: This question concerns a different topic, Greece. A national referendum was held in Greece over accepting the European Union’s (EU) fiscal austerity measures, and the measures were rejected. There are statements suggesting that the Greek side will present a new proposal, and I think this is a problem that will have at least some impact on Japan also, even if not to the same extent as Europe and the United States. What are your views on this, and how will the Government of Japan respond?
Minister Kishida: I am aware of the outcome of the national referendum. I am also aware that the eurozone countries are awaiting the response of the Government of Greece after the national referendum result, and are seeking a responsible response.
Furthermore, although the direct relationship between Japan and Greece on the economic and financial fronts is limited, I understand that discussions have already taken place between the appropriate authorities of the Government of Japan and the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to ensure that nothing is overlooked in responding to the Greek problem. I know that the Prime Minister has given instructions to the Government and the BOJ to make close coordination and remain well prepared to deal with the issue. In any event, the Government of Japan recognizes that the stability of the eurozone and EU economies is important for the stable growth of the global economy.