Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, December 15, 2015, 10:19 a.m.   Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Director-General level talks

Fujita, Fuji TV: Japan-ROK Director-General level talks are currently taking place. Ms. Park Geun-hye, the President of the ROK, is expressing the desire to settle the comfort women issue by the end of the year, but do the circumstances also give the Japanese side positive aspirations to reach some settlement?

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Japan-ROK Director-General level talks will take place today, December 15. Concerning the comfort women issue, at the recent Japan-ROK Summit Meeting, in light of the fact that this year is the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-ROK relations it was decided to accelerate the discussions with the goal of settling the issue promptly.

On the basis of this confirmation and instruction by the leaders, we must continue to make efforts, including the Director-General level talks. This is an extremely sensitive and difficult issue for both countries.

Consequently I think it is difficult to make forecasts, but based on the confirmation of the two countries’ leaders and their instruction, I by all means intend to have firm discussions take place at these Director-General level talks. The relevant parties of both countries must continue to make efforts, I believe.

Fujita, Fuji TV: Under the current circumstances, are the positions moving along in parallel or are concessions taking place? What is the current situation?

Minister Kishida: It is not so easy to evaluate the current situation in a few words. We have continued to hold discussions up to now, and based also on the content of those discussions, we will continue to make efforts.

Trial of the former Sankei Shimbun Seoul Bureau chief

Fujita, Fuji TV: My question concerns the indictment without arrest of the former Sankei Shimbun Seoul Bureau chief. The ruling is scheduled to be delivered as early as December 17. Is the Japanese side appealing in some way to the Government of the ROK in regard to this matter?

Minister Kishida: Regarding the point that you mentioned, thus far, I myself as Minister for Foreign Affairs have been making various appeals to Mr. Yun Byung-se, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ROK, and the Government of Japan has also been making appeals to the ROK side.

We have been expressing concerns repeatedly and at various levels from the standpoints of freedom of expression, freedom of the press and Japan-ROK relations, and have been seeking an appropriate response from the ROK side.

I understand that based on the present schedule the ruling will be delivered on December 17, and although time is limited the Japanese side will continue to take various opportunities to express concerns at various levels. We intend to seek an appropriate response from the ROK side.

Japan-United States consultations on Host Nation Support (HNS)

Abe, Asahi Shimbun: At the previous press conference Japan was still in the process of holding negotiations with the United States on HNS. What is the situation currently? What is the current state of the negotiations?

Minister Kishida: The negotiations are ongoing at the current time. However, I understand they are now reaching the final stage and expect that an announcement will probably be possible soon.

G7 Hiroshima Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Hasegawa, AFP: I think you also discussed this yesterday in Hiroshima, but I understand that you also suggested that the foreign ministers of other countries should visit Hiroshima’s bombsite on the occasion of the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Could you provide an outline of that again, please?

Minister Kishida: Yesterday I visited locations that were recommended by Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture for the occasion of the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Hiroshima. I mentioned this then, but I recognize that having the world’s leaders visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and see firsthand the reality of the atomic bombings is extremely important in terms of lifting international momentum for realizing a world without nuclear weapons. From that perspective, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will consider the events relating to the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting so that we can bring about a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park by the G7 foreign ministers in a natural way. That is what I stated yesterday.