Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, December 8, 2015, 10:40 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
The outcomes of Prime Minister Abe’s visit to India
Watanabe, NHK: My question concerns the upcoming Japan-India Summit Meeting. On the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to India, there have been some reports on the possibility of India adopting Japan’s bullet train. What is the current situation between Japan and India concerning this matter?
Minister Kishida: In terms of the outcomes to obtain from the Prime Minister’s visit to India, we are currently coordinating with the India side, including on introducing the bullet train that you referred to. Therefore, as it stands nothing has been decided at the current time.
Japan-United States discussions regarding HNS
Watanabe, NHK: How are the discussions progressing between Japan and the United States regarding host nation support, at the present time? Please tell us about the present situation regarding the form in which an agreement seems likely to be reached.
Minister Kishida: Regarding host nation support, negotiations between Japan and the United States are currently under way. We have our relationship with the US side to consider, and the negotiations are under way now, so I refrain from commenting on their content; but we intend to continue negotiating steadily to ensure an appropriate agreement is reached. Thinking in common sense terms, this is an issue that must be reflected in the budget, so I think that negotiating with a view to completing the negotiations in time for the budget is a schedule that makes common sense.
Emergency humanitarian assistance in Syria
Toyofuku, Nishinippon Shimbun: I would like to ask about assistance in Syria. I understand that the official position of the Government of Japan has been to denounce the Assad regime’s use of military force to suppress its people and to suspend economic cooperation, etc. since May of 2011. However, various media outlets have revealed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have provided a total of 2.5 billion yen to implement a project to restore a thermal power plant under the control of the Assad regime. Please tell us whether or not you have ascertained the facts related to this project.
Minister Kishida: Given the current serious situation of the Syrian crisis, Japan is providing assistance through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the form of emergency humanitarian assistance that provides electricity with a view to assisting the people of Syria, who have been placed in a tough environment. This project has been implemented in order to provide such assistance. We have always provided this kind of emergency humanitarian assistance, regardless of whether or not it was in a region controlled by the Assad regime, and we have already publicly announced this matter. I believe that this kind of assistance has not changed at all from the policy that we have been following.
Toyofuku, Nishinippon Shimbun: I think that it is possible that the electricity will be used not only for humanitarian assistance, but also in military applications. Regarding this point, some observers have pointed out that this could play into the hands of the Assad regime…
Minister Kishida: Electricity is necessary for daily life, food is necessary for daily life, medical drugs are necessary for daily life, and I think humanitarian assistance is a valuable form of assistance.
Toyofuku, Nishinippon Shimbun: This is not contrary to the established position of the Government of Japan that calls for the resignation of the Assad regime…?
Minister Kishida: Japan’s position has not changed at all. This kind of humanitarian assistance is provided through the UNDP. I think this form of humanitarian assistance is a form of assistance that is understood by everyone involved, and is valuable assistance.
Toyofuku, Nishinippon Shimbun: Has the Government of Japan verified that systems have been put in place to ensure that the support is not put to military use in addition to the humanitarian assistance?
Minister Kishida: This is assistance through the UNDP, so I think that it is important for Japan to collaborate and cooperate with the UNDP to confirm how this assistance has been used. In any case, I think it is important that this kind of humanitarian assistance be provided in accordance with its original purpose.
The outcomes of Prime Minister Abe’s visit to India
Watanabe, NHK: There are various focal points in Japan-India relations, I think; and I imagine that one such focal point for the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit is the Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. Can I ask about the current situation, including the state of the negotiations?
Minister Kishida: We have been discussing with India for the Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, and as I previously stated, coordination is currently underway for all outcomes for the upcoming Japan-India Summit Meeting, including for discussions on the Agreement. Therefore, nothing has been decided at the current time.
The launch of the Counter Terrorism Unit - Japan
Ukai, TV Tokyo: I would like to ask one question about the Counter-Terrorism Unit. The Unit will be launched today with a staff of fewer than 50 people, but in comparison, overseas intelligence agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and MI6 have staff numbering in the tens of thousands. Can I ask if you think that the size of the current system will be sufficient? Or perhaps, do you want to raise it up to a level comparable to international agencies in the future?
Minister Kishida: I think that we must continue to establish systems and make efforts for intelligence collection in various forms. We are currently launching this system and making these efforts in a form that is specialized in collecting international terrorism intelligence. So within our overall intelligence collection, we are preparing the Unit as an approach in a form that specializes in international terrorism intelligence. When considering developments such as the recent terrorist attacks, I think it is an extremely important initiative. I think that naturally, we must continually make various efforts on our overall intelligence collection.
Ukai, TV Tokyo: But do you think it is large enough?
Minister Kishida: This is a brand new initiative that has only just begun. I think this is a challenge we must consider while keeping a close watch on the outcomes of the initiatives.