Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, September 8, 2015, 9:10 a.m.   Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening remarks

Dispatch of an election observation mission and assistance with flood damage for Myanmar

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: We will dispatch an election observation mission led by Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar, to Myanmar’s general elections in November. We will support the holding of a free and fair election through dispatching the election observation mission and other efforts.

Furthermore, in light of the enormous flood damage suffered by Myanmar, today we decided to extend approximately 4 billion yen of grant aid for two projects. In addition, based on requests from the Myanmar side for the reconstruction of schools and the provision of water purification vehicles and well-drilling equipment, we will also move ahead promptly to prepare for the necessary support up to around 5 billion yen.

LDP presidential election

Kurihara, NHK: My question concerns the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presidential election. Recently Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was re-elected in an uncontested presidential election. I would like to ask your views on this, and how you analyze the process and background leading up to the uncontested election.

Minister Kishida: The unopposed re-election came about because President Abe’s three years of effort and his track record were appreciated, I believe. I intend to express my pleasure to the President. Personally, I am pleased with it as a Cabinet Minister in the Abe Cabinet.

Kurihara, NHK: On the other hand, some members from your Kochikai faction were saying they would support Ms. Seiko Noda, former Chairman of the General Council, which shows that at the very least there were some within the party who thought there should be an election campaign. What are your views on such comments?

Minister Kishida: Kochikai, our political faction, confirmed that we would approach the presidential election by uniting and working together, and would support the re-election of Prime Minister Abe. That was confirmed in various ways yesterday as well, and, in my view, unity was displayed.

Just as you pointed out, there were various views within the party. I think it is only natural that there should be free discussion and the exchange of a variety of frank views. It is important that the LDP also has breadth, I believe.

Mr. Maksim Sokolov, Russian Minister of Transport visits the Northern Territories

Kurihara, NHK: This question concerns a diplomatic matter. Mr. Maksim Sokolov, Russian Minister of Transport, visited Kunashiri Island. Dignitaries are visiting the Northern Territories one after the other, ignoring successive protests by the Government of Japan. How do you view this, and will the circumstances allow the coordination of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan this year and Minister Kishida’s visit to Russia before that? I would like to ask if there is still potentially some leeway, or if it is possible that the situation will return to that point.

Minister Kishida: The visits to the Northern Territories by a succession of dignitaries that you mention, including the visit by the Russian Minister of Transport, are incompatible with Japan's position. On September 7, yesterday, a protest was lodged over the Minister of Transport’s visit. We are paying close attention to moves such as this by the Russian side.

I intend to seek a constructive response, rather than unilateral moves such as these.

And regarding your question about my visit to Russia and President Putin’s visit to Japan, at present nothing has been decided with regard to those matters. I believe it is an issue we will continue to consider while comprehensively taking into account a variety of points.

LDP presidential election

Makita, Kyodo Press: With regard to the presidential election, Prime Minister Abe had been re-elected as President without a vote, and the election itself did not take place. There are opinion that it would be better from a medium- to long-term perspective for a debate to take place. What do you think about the fact that there will be no vote?

Minister Kishida: Naturally I think that, generally speaking, it is better to have a variety of debates. But as a result of decisions that take into account various factors including this point, there was no vote. Basically, I think Prime Minster Abe has obtained support from many party members for his three years as LDP president.

Chijiiwa, TV Asahi: My question is also about the presidential election. This is Prime Minister Abe’s second term as party leader, and his term will end after the next three years. You, Minister Kishida, have been mentioned as a potential candidate in the next presidential election in three years’ time. Although this is a very early stage, with an eye to three years in the future, may I ask if you might have the intention to run?

Minister Kishida: We are in a time where things change significantly with incredible speed, so I think it would be difficult for me to speak about three years in the future.