Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, December 25, 2015, 10:25 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Foreign Minister Kishida to Visit the Republic of Korea
Watanabe, NHK: I would like to ask about your visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK). In your visit to the ROK at the beginning of next week, can you hope for specific progress on the comfort women issue or any other Japan-ROK issues?
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Regarding the relationship between Japan and the ROK, in November this year the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting was held. At the meeting, based on the recognition that the comfort women issue is having an impact on the development of Japan-ROK relations, the two leaders agreed to accelerate the consultations in order to conclude them as promptly as possible, bearing in mind the fact that this year is the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-ROK relations.
Building on this agreement at the Summit Meeting, director-general level talks were held between Japan and the ROK in November and December. Moreover, we are regularly reporting to and receiving instructions from the Prime Minister about these exchanges between Japan and the ROK.
Then, in addition to that, regarding my visit to the ROK that you referred to in your question, the coordination is currently underway. I myself am prepared to think hard, work hard and make every effort on the relationship between Japan and the ROK and the comfort women issue. That is the situation.
Watanabe, NHK: You said that the coordination is underway but is it acceptable to interpret entering the stage at which the coordination is underway to mean that because of recent developments in Japan and the ROK, for example the issue of the trial of the former Sankei Shimbun Seoul bureau chief, the issue of requisitioned workers, which can be seen as some sort of compromise from the ROK side, we have now entered that stage at which the coordination is under way?
Minister Kishida: Building on the agreement between the leaders of Japan and the ROK, and in response to the instruction to continue and accelerate the consultations, discussions were held between the diplomatic authorities of the two countries and these efforts have been continued. Moreover, we are working on coordination of the foreign ministerial visit.
Abe, Asahi Shimbun: You have said that coordination of the visit to the ROK is currently underway, but when you visit the ROK, what kinds of outcomes are you expecting?
Minister Kishida: We will continue our efforts to strongly implement the agreement between the leaders to accelerate the consultations in order to conclude them as promptly as possible. The visit is a part of these efforts.
Watanabe, NHK: That being the case, you say it is a part of those efforts, but as it will be a visit by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, what kind and degree of forward progress do you expect on the issues of concern?
Minister Kishida: It involves the other party, so at the present time I will refrain from making any comment.
Odanaka, Mainichi Shimbun: In some of the media there have been reports about the current situation regarding the comfort women issue, the expansion and enhancement of follow-up projects, and discussions about a fund, etc. Will you make any specific proposals when you visit the ROK this time?
Minister Kishida: It involves the other party, and we are currently engaging in consultations. The coordination is underway. At the current point in time, I must refrain from commenting on the details.
Odanaka, Mainichi Shimbun: Yesterday you held talks with the Prime Minister. Were there any instructions from the Prime Minister about what kind of policy to follow?
Minister Kishida: I have been regularly reporting to the Prime Minister on the relationship between Japan and the ROK and the comfort women issue. During this time we have received a variety of instructions from the Prime Minister. We have continued our efforts up to the present based on those instructions.
Chijiiwa, TV Asahi: About your upcoming visit to the ROK, are you going for negotiations or are you going with a final settlement in mind?
Minister Kishida: We have continued our efforts in response to the instruction to accelerate the consultations in order to conclude them as promptly as possible, as agreed between the leaders. Going forward, we will continue these efforts as before. This visit is one of these efforts.
Ukai, TV Tokyo: Do you mean that the forum of a Summit Meeting is suitable for a final resolution?
Minister Kishida: Nothing has been decided yet with regard to what will happen next.
Ukai, TV Tokyo: Do you mean that you are aiming to achieve a final resolution this time?
Minister Kishida: It involves the other party. I intend to make every effort to conclude the consultations as promptly as possible.
Watanabe, NHK: The ROK side was focused on conclusion of the negotiations within this year. Is the position of the Japan side that you can accommodate this development?
Minister Kishida: We have made efforts toward concluding the consultations as promptly as possible based on the points agreed between the leaders. Going forward we will continue these efforts.
Relocation of the Futenma Air Station
Kawachi, Kyodo Press: In relation to the relocation of the United States military’s Futenma Air Station in Okinawa, Governor Onaga claims that the suspension by Mr. Keiichi Ishii, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, of the governor’s cancellation of the approval for landfill is illegal, and he plans to file a lawsuit against the national government today. This means that we now have a situation in which the national government and the prefecture are suing each other. Could you please comment on how you view this situation and comment once again on the position of the national government?
Minister Kishida: I am aware of the reports that you referred to. However, I have not received any reports that this lawsuit has been filed yet. Therefore, I shall refrain from making any comment at this stage, before the lawsuit has been filed.