Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, December 11, 2015, 9:44 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Ukai, TV Tokyo: According to some reports, the Governments of Japan and the Russian Federation are coordinating to arrange a visit to Japan by President Putin of Russia, following next year’s House of Councillors’ election. Could you please tell us on the facts of those reports?
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: What you mentioned is not true. At the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting held on the sidelines of the G20 Summit last month, the leaders shared the view that they will continue dialogue at the leader level. I understand that we are therefore continuing to explore opportunities for dialogue between the leaders. In regard to President Putin’s visit to Japan, as both sides have already shared views on this, I consider we will be continuing our efforts to work out the appropriate timing. However, at present no specific timing such as the one you mentioned has been decided. There are no such facts to those reports.
Reduced tax rate
Ukai, TV Tokyo: The discussions on the reduced tax rate are coming to a close, and currently the ruling parties’ Secretary-Generals are holding discussions. Some of the comments being made about the reduced tax rate are concerning the effectiveness of the measures for low-income earners. There have also been views expressed that are critical of the fact that taxpayer money appears to be being used as a means of soliciting election cooperation for the ruling parties. I am well aware that as Minister for Foreign Affairs you are not directly in charge, but as a member of a ruling party, what approach do you think should be taken with the reduced tax rate, and the extent of its coverage?
Minister Kishida: As you noted, various views are being expressed about this reduced tax rate from various standpoints, and successive discussions have been held over a long period. I am aware that on that basis the discussions are at last coming to a close. However, since this is an important time at the culmination of those successive discussions, I do not believe it would be very appropriate for me, as a member of the Cabinet, to give any particular comment on this. I certainly believe it is important that in the course of those successive discussions a firm conclusion is reached that gains understanding of the people and the various relevant people.
Watanabe, NHK: My question concerns Japan-Russia relations. In regard to continuing to seek an appropriate time for President Putin’s visit to Japan, in terms of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ role in the process leading up to that, what format are you currently considering for the diplomatic schedule? Are you for example considering vice-ministerial-level talks or a meeting between yourself and Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia?
Minister Kishida: I understand that regarding the vice-ministerial-level talks, a concrete date or other details have not yet decided. Foreign Minister Lavrov’s visit to Japan has not yet determined either. Basically, the two leaders share the view that a visit to Japan by President Putin should be realized, and we are continuing to consider the most appropriate date for that. As part of this process, Foreign Minister’s visit to Japan or various meetings may be held. However, at this moment nothing has been decided.
The refugee issue
Abe, Asahi Shimbun: You touched upon the refugee issue during your speech the day before yesterday, Minister. You remarked that it was necessary for Japan to take the lead in the discussions in the future, and to expend a lot of energy on this matter. What do you think about this issue now, including the possibility of accepting refugees in the future?
Minister Kishida: The refugee issue is one of great concerns to the international community. As the G7 chair country next year and also as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Japan must take the position of leading the international opinion in various areas, and I think this includes firmly taking the lead on this issue. As we intend to lead the discussion, Japan must therefore work on the issue and obtain the understanding of the international community. However, the position and the role to be played by each country are different. In terms of what role is to be played by Japan and how we will work hard, I think that we must examine and discuss this issue and make our policy while observing the situations in other countries. I consider that based on this approach, Japan should take the lead in the discussion and implement initiatives as a nation.
Japan-U.S. consultations on Host Nation Support
Watanabe, NHK: My question is on Japan-U.S. relations, specifically on Host Nation Support. What is the current state of the negotiations between Japan and the United States for Host Nation Support and what are the prospects for an agreement?
Minister Kishida: Negotiations on Host Nation Support are ongoing at the current time. I would like the negotiations to be accelerated in line with the compilation process of the budget, but at the present time, no conclusion has been reached.