Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida

Tuesday, January 12, 2016, 8:31 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Opening remarks

Japan-U.S.-ROK Vice-Ministerial Consultation

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan: A Japan-U.S.-ROK Vice-Ministerial Consultation will be held in Tokyo on Saturday, January 16. This will be the second trilateral Vice-Ministerial Consultation between Japan, the U.S. and the ROK, following on from the first Consultation that was held in the U.S. in April 2015.

Prior to the second Vice-Ministerial Consultation, the Japan-U.S.-ROK Heads of Delegation Meeting of the Six Party Talks will be held in Seoul on Wednesday, January 13.

In light of the recent nuclear test by North Korea, through the series of Vice-Ministerial Consultations, I intend to confirm the close trilateral cooperation between Japan, the U.S. and the ROK on issues such as a response to North Korea.

North Korea’s nuclear test

Fujita, Fuji TV: In the wake of the nuclear test by North Korea, various developments are coming together in this way, and I think China and Russia are the countries that have the most influence on North Korea, but why have telephone talks with these two countries not taken place yet? And what prospect is there of talks being held in the future?

Minister Kishida: Telephone talks with China and Russia are being coordinated. Due to the weekend and the Diet schedule, and taking into account the other parties’ circumstances, we intend to continue to coordinate.

Fujita, Fuji TV: I imagine that various discussions are currently taking place at the United Nations in order to adopt a resolution, including sanctions, but is Japan prepared to strengthen its own sanctions?

Minister Kishida: Where future responses are concerned, to begin with we believe it is important to coordinate with the countries involved, including at the United Nations Security Council, where Japan is serving as a non-permanent member, and for the international community to address this problem in a unified manner, and so we intend to continue making efforts. However, alongside that, the Government of Japan also intends to make a resolute and determined response to North Korea, including considering taking its own measures. The Government will consider responses while keeping an eye on North Korea’s reaction and moves by the international community, I believe.

Fujita, Fuji TV: Which means that you are intending to consider how Japan will move once you have examined the UN resolution, although I understand you did not mean to set up the order?

Minister Kishida: As I just said, along with acting in partnership with the international community, the Government will also consider Japan’s responses, but in any event I think those considerations will be made while also keeping an eye on North Korea’s reaction, moves by the countries concerned and the international community’s reaction. At the present stage nothing has been decided yet.

Prime Minister Abe to visit Russia

Fujita, Fuji TV: This weekend, Prime Minister Abe made a statement hinting at the possibility of a visit to Russia this spring. In regard to the holding of a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting prior to that, usually in the lead up to a summit meeting, there will be a Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting to work out the details of the summit meeting. Is there coordination underway for such a meeting to take place?

Minister Kishida: We agree that we will hold ongoing talks with Russia in regard to a summit-level dialogue between Prime Minister Abe and President Putin. We will look at a range of opportunities for holding a summit meeting between the two leaders. However, nothing has been decided at present. In regard to holding talks at the foreign minister-level, while we recognize the importance of political dialogue, nothing has been decided at present.

North Korea’s nuclear test

Abe, Asahi Shimbun: On the weekend the United States flew a B52 strategic bomber over the ROK at a low altitude. China reacted by asking that tensions not be heightened, for example, but in terms of Japan’s position, how do you evaluate this action?

Minister Kishida: I am aware that in light of the recent nuclear test by North Korea, on January 10 the United States announced that a B52 strategic bomber had made a low-altitude flight in the vicinity of the Osan US military base in the ROK. Japan and the United States have been coordinating closely in connection with the recent nuclear test by North Korea, and during the Japan-U.S. Summit Telephone Talks held on January 7 also, the two leaders solidly reconfirmed that the United States is committed to defending Japan with every possible means.

The United States’ extended deterrence is essential to the peace and safety of this region. I view this flight to be an expression of the United States’ strong intention to play a part in the peace and safety of this region.

Japan-U.S.-ROK Vice-Ministerial Consultation

Chijiiwa, TV Asahi: In regard to the Japan-U.S.-ROK Vice-Ministerial Consultation that will be held in Tokyo on January 16, naturally the main topic of discussion will be of the recent nuclear test by North Korea. However, if that were not the case, I believe the major topics would be movements in the South China Sea and the strengthening Japan-U.S.-ROK trilateral relations on the back of the improved Japan-ROK relations. Could you please elaborate on what other areas will be discussed in the upcoming Vice-Ministerial Consultation?

Minister Kishida: At the Japan-U.S.-ROK Vice-Ministerial Consultation on January 16, I believe it is first important to exchange information and views on the recent nuclear test by North Korea, and to also confirm coordination among Japan, the U.S. and the ROK. However, I envision that in addition to North Korea, views will also be exchanged on other regional affairs. At present though, nothing has been decided on what will and will not be discussed at the upcoming Vice-Ministerial Consultation.

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