Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, January 22, 2016, 9:50 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
(1) Appointment of Government Representative and Ambassador in Charge of Japan-Russia Relations Chikahito Harada
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan: Today, at the Cabinet meeting, Mr. Chikahito Harada, the previous Ambassador to Russia, was appointed as Government Representative and Ambassador in charge of Japan-Russia relations. It has been decided to establish this post for the first time in order to move the Japan-Russia relationship forward.
We are putting Government Representative Harada in charge of high-level consultations between Japan and Russia, mainly regarding negotiations for a peace treaty.
Dealing with the Northern Territories issue and other Japan-Russia relations is one of our top diplomatic priorities, and I myself place great importance on the role of Government Representative Harada. I look forward to having Government Representative Harada make utmost efforts for further progress in the bilateral relationship.
(2) Lifting of sanctions against Iran
Minister Kishida: In light of meeting the “Implementation Day” for the final agreement on Iran’s nuclear issue on January 17, today consent was obtained in the Cabinet for lifting the sanctions against Iran, in accordance with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution.
Compliance with the final agreement is extremely important for strengthening the international nuclear non-proliferation framework and the stability of the Middle East. We are coordinating closely with the international community including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to support its steady implementation.
With the lifting of these sanctions against Iran as an opportunity, we hope to further develop the traditional friendly relationship with Iran that has existed thus far.
Lifting of sanctions against Iran
Chijiiwa, TV Asahi: My question concerns the lifting of sanctions against Iran. What is the significance for Japan in the future? Also, you recently visited, Minister, but will there be a visit by the leader of the Japanese side, including Mr. Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister?
Minister Kishida: The point of the “implementation day” is that the final agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue has reached the stage of implementation, and the fact is that sanctions will be lifted. But by all means, we intend to take this opportunity to further develop the traditional friendly relationship with Iran that has existed thus far.
We intend to advance the political relationship also through mutual visits of VIPs, as well as support activities by Japanese companies through the prompt conclusion of the Japan-Iran investment agreement, and the utilization of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
Regarding a visit by the Prime Minister, Dr. Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran, frequently extends an invitation, but at present nothing has been decided. An appropriate time will be considered from here on, I believe.
Regarding Minister Amari
Chijiiwa, TV Asahi: The issue of politics and money has come up regarding Minister Akira Amari. I would like to hear your views as a fellow Cabinet member supporting the Abe government.
Minister Kishida: Regarding the matter that you are referring to, Minister Amari himself stated at the House of Councillors Audit Committee meeting yesterday that he intends to soundly fulfill his responsibility to explain, to soundly investigate the matter. I intend to keep a close watch on the explanation by Minister Amari himself, and the outcome of the investigation. It is my belief that now is the time to first wait for Minister Amari’s explanation on the outcome of the investigation.
Foreign Policy Address
Chijiiwa, TV Asahi: You will be delivering the foreign policy address in both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. What do you intend to appeal to the people of Japan regarding foreign policy?
Minister Kishida: Regarding the contents of the foreign policy address, the basic idea is that this year, Japan is the chair country for the G7, is also a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, and the chair of the Japan-China-ROK trilateral summit, and TICAD VI is scheduled and will be held in Africa for the first time. It is my belief that this will provide a valuable opportunity for Japanese diplomacy to take the lead in the discussions in the international community. It is my firm intent to use this opportunity to promote Japan’s national interests and contribute to global issues. I shall be making an appeal on this basic idea. As for the specific contents of the foreign policy speech, I shall be talking about our relationship with various regions and countries from a global perspective, including the relationship with Russia, which I could not touch on properly in the speech that I gave at the Japan Institute of International Affairs the other day. I intend to appeal to the people of Japan so that they will have a firm understanding of the basic idea that I mentioned while taking up our relations with a wide variety of countries as I mentioned.
Lifting of sanctions on measures against Iran
Odanaka, Mainichi Shimbun: My question relates to the lifting of sanctions against Iran. Earlier you mentioned the investment agreement, and I understand that the goal is to seek approval for the agreement in the current Diet session, but my first question includes the current circumstances, the timing for the signing, whether there are any areas settled at that stage? Also, I imagine that entering the investment agreement will contribute to brisk economic activity, but the fact is that Japan has relinquished its rights at the Azadegan oilfield. Is there scheduled to be any move to reobtain those rights?
Minister Kishida: First, nothing has been decided yet regarding the signing and others. We hope to carry it out in the near future. It is being coordinated. And regarding the oil field rights you mentioned, I think this will be decided by the oil distributors and other companies concerned, based on an economic perspective. Nevertheless, the Government of Japan intends to extend the appropriate support for those companies’ activities, I believe.
Director-General Ishikane Meets with Representative of China, Ambassador Wu Dawei
Odanaka, Mainichi Shimbun: According to some reports, Mr. Kimihiro Ishikane, Director-General, Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, met with Mr. Wu Dawei, Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs, the People’s Republic of China, on the 21st. Can you tell us if the meeting took place, and if so, what was discussed?
Minister Kishida: Director-General Ishikane visited China in order to attend a meeting of the heads of the diplomatic missions. Using this opportunity, he met with Representative Wu and they exchanged opinions on the various situations surrounding North Korea’s recent nuclear test.
Flights of F22 aircraft to Yokota Air Base
Abe, Asahi Shimbun: U.S. military F22 fighters flew to the United States’ Yokota Air Base. These were not regular operations, so could you please tell us what the Government of Japan knows about the purpose of these flights and the operations?
Minister Kishida: With regards to the flights of the F22 fighters you referred to, I am aware that in total 12 fighters flew to Yokota Air Base. We received the explanation from the U.S. side that this was a temporary visit.
Director-General Ishikane visits the ROK
Morito, Yomiuri Shimbun: Relating to the previous topic, there have been some reports that Director-General Ishikane also visited the ROK and met with Mr. Lee Sang-deuk, Director-General of the Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau. Can you tell us if this meeting took place and if so, whether or not the comfort women issue was discussed?
Minister Kishida: I think the media reports many things. I also believe there is a range of communication between various parties, but at the present time I have no information on the matter you referred to.
Possibility of Minister Kishida visiting China
Lee, Phoenix TV: Minister, the other day you mentioned visiting China. What are the prospects of you visiting China?
Minister Kishida: I mentioned a visit to China the other day while expressing my understanding that Japan-China relations had been improving since the Japan-China Summit Meeting held in November of the year before last year and that visits by both countries’ respective foreign ministers were agreed upon at the Summit Meeting held last year.
In this context, there has been an agreement between Japan and China to hold a Japan-China high-level economic dialogue at an early stage of this year, and also Japan will chair this year’s Japan-China-ROK Summit Meeting, so premised on this situation a Japan-China-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held. With this communication between foreign ministers in mind, I expressed my willingness to visit China. Nothing specific has been decided, but as visits by the respective foreign ministers were agreed upon at the Summit Meeting, after it has been fully coordinated I believe we must think about a visit to China at an appropriate time, or at the earliest opportunity. This was the thinking that I expressed the other day and currently nothing specific has been decided.