Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, September 25, 2015, 9:25 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
(1) Personnel affairs on senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: During the Cabinet meeting which was held a short while ago, personnel affairs related to senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), among other matters, were approved and decided. We reshuffled personnel to appoint people to posts where they can fully show their ability in view of their skills and experience, from the perspective of placing the right people in the right positions in order to ensure the optimal structuring of MOFA. Senior officials of MOFA have been reshuffled as follows: Mr. Kazuyuki Yamazaki, Councillor of the National Security Secretariat, was appointed as Deputy Vice-Minister; Mr. Takeo Akiba, Director-General of the International Legal Affairs Bureau, was appointed as Director-General of the Foreign Policy Bureau; Ms. Naoko Saiki, Director-General of the Economic Affairs Bureau, was appointed as Director-General of the International Legal Affairs Bureau; Mr. Kenji Kanasugi, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Japan in the Republic of Korea , was appointed as Director-General of the Economic Affairs Bureau; Mr. Takeo Mori, Deputy Director-General of the Economic Affairs Bureau, was appointed as Director-General of the North American Affairs Bureau; and Mr. Masaki Noke, Assistant Director-General of the Consular Affairs Bureau, was appointed as Director-General of the Consular Affairs Bureau. The above appointments will become effective on October 6.
Additionally, Mr. Kimihiro Ishikane, Director-General of the International Cooperation Bureau, was appointed as Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau; Mr. Takio Yamada, Director-General of the Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department, was appointed as Director-General of the International Cooperation Bureau; and Mr. Kazuya Nashida, Deputy Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, was appointed as Director-General of the Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department. The above appointments will become effective on October 16.
(2) Nomination of independent administrative agency presidents
Minister Kishida: My second point concerns the nomination of independent administrative agency presidents. I hereby announce that at the Cabinet meeting held a short while ago, in connection with the nomination of independent agency institution presidents, approval was made on the appointment of Mr. Shinichi Kitaoka as the next President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as of October 1, as well as the reappointment of Mr. Hiroyasu Ando as President of the Japan Foundation.
(3) Minister Kishida’s attendance at the United Nations General Assembly
Minister Kishida:The third matter relates to the schedule for my visit to Washington as well as the attendance at the United Nations General Assembly. I will visit Washington D.C. and New York from September 28 to October 2. I am scheduled to hold a meeting with Mr. Ash Carter, Secretary of Defense of the United States, in Washington D.C. on September 28, and sign the Agreement to Supplement the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement on Environmental Stewardship.
Following that, I will attend UN General Assembly-related meetings in New York, and intend to convey Japan’s determination to provide its knowhow and make every effort to tackle global challenges such as immigration and refugees, climate change, and disarmament and non-proliferation.
Furthermore, in addition to holding the first ever Japan-U.S.-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I am also scheduled to hold a Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and a Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Also I will seek understanding for Japan’s positions through meetings with the foreign ministers of other countries.
Fukai, TBS: The Russian side has announced that a Japan-Russia Summit Meeting is to be held at the UN General Assembly. What is the situation, and if the Summit Meeting is held, what is the outlook in terms of the topics that are scheduled to be discussed?
Minister Kishida: First, regarding holding a Japan-Russia Summit Meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, coordination is currently taking place toward holding it on September 28. Nothing has been decided yet in regard to other meetings. We are continuing to make arrangements.
Fukai, TBS: What sorts of topics will be on the agenda this time?
Minister Kishida: To begin with, based on the discussions that took place at the Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting the other day, I expect that there will be frank exchanges of views between the two countries’ leaders regarding the peace treaty negotiations, that is, in particular the territorial issue. Naturally, the leaders will also exchange views on other bilateral relations and international affairs, I believe. I hope that frank exchanges of views will take place between the two countries’ leaders, from a broad perspective.
Japan-North Korea relations
Fukai, TBS: While there is talk of Mr. Ri Su-yong, Foreign Minister of North Korea, attending the United Nations General Assembly, currently, after meeting with the Minister in Kuala Lumpur, my understanding is that an answer has still not been received from North Korea. So do you think you will make contact with him at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly or that you will seek some sort of report from him there?
Minister Kishida: Nothing has been decided at the current time.
Muramatsu, Asahi Shimbun: I have two questions about the Japan-North Korea talks. First, with regard to the personnel matters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that you mentioned in your opening remarks, it was decided today that Director-General Ihara is to be replaced. Can you please tell us the reason for this replacement when the first official report from North Korea has still not been received?
My second question is regarding the Japan-North Korea talks to date, including the unofficial talks. In relation to the 12 people officially confirmed as abductees by the Government of Japan, there have been reports, including by the Asahi Shimbun, that there have been internal communications that no new findings have been obtained that would overturn the investigation findings that 8 of the abductees have died and 4 did not enter North Korea. In that regard, can I ask how you intend to confirm the facts and advance the Japan-North Korea talks?
Minister Kishida: First, with regard to personnel matters, the decision you mentioned was made based on comprehensive consideration from a variety of viewpoints, including appointing the right person to the right position and also ensuring the continuity of policy. Secondly, with regard to the reports you referred to that the report from North Korea has been received, at this time, there is no such fact that we have received the report on the results of the investigation from the North Korean side. Going forward, I believe that we must first firmly see the outcome of the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in August. After doing so, we should then continue to consider how to effectively elicit a positive response from the North Korean side.
Agreement to Supplement the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement on Environmental Stewardship
Makita, Kyodo Press: My question concerns the Agreement to Supplement the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement on Environmental Stewardship. I assume key issues includes points such as how long in advance on-site inspections can take place and what their time period will be. May I ask what form these points will take?
Minister Kishida: We reached a broad agreement last year. In addition, regarding the details, we are making progress in the coordination of the relevant documents, and are close to signing the agreement. However, I must refrain from discussing the specific details and its content at the present stage. The relevant parties have been continuously working on the details since the broad agreement was reached last October, aiming at realizing the signing of the agreement as soon as possible, and we are finally signing it.
Japan-North Korea relations
Odanaka, Mainichi Shimbun: I would like to return to the subject of Japan-North Korea relations. The representative on the Japanese side has been replaced. In this context, while you mentioned that you wanted to confirm the response of the North Korean side based on the content of the August meeting, the official talks have become prolonged and seem to have stopped. Given this situation, may I ask how you intend to proceed and to move the matter forward?
Minister Kishida: Currently, nothing has been decided with regard to the official talks. First, we must see the response of the other party.