Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, January 29, 2016, 9:50 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Issues related to North Korea
Kurihara, NHK: Satellite images showing movements that seem to indicate a launch is being readied at a North Korean missile launch site have been confirmed on private-sector websites. I would like to ask, what does the Government of Japan know about this at the present time? Also, looking ahead, how does the Government intend to respond?
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan: First, the Government has a strong interest in developments involving North Korea, and is endeavoring to gather and analyze information. However, for intelligence reasons, and taking the content into account also, I must refrain from revealing details. Nevertheless, bearing in mind the conduct of the Kim Jong-un regime thus far, I do not think it is possible to deny the possibility of further provocative actions, such as missile launches.
And as Minister, I am scheduled to hold a telephone talk with Mr. John Kerry, Secretary of State of the United States, immediately after this. The Government will continue to work closely with the relevant countries, including the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK), while first of all seeking self-restraint from North Korea. And the Government will also request that North Korea complies with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, but at the same time will take all possible measures to prepare for every situation, I believe.
Kurihara, NHK: On the other hand, debate on a sanction resolution is taking place at the UNSC in connection with North Korea’s recent nuclear test. Do you think these signs of a potential missile launch will have an impact on the discussion about this resolution, or on the length of the discussion, or will influence the timing of the adoption of the resolution?
Minister Kishida: I think I should refrain from mentioning any specific information, and I would also like to refrain from commenting on the impact. However, in regard to the UNSC resolution, various exchanges among the relevant countries are undertaken. At the United States-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held the other day also, I understand it was mentioned that both sides confirmed the necessity for a new sanction resolution. The Government of Japan also intends to respond proactively on the adoption of a new resolution, while continuing to coordinate with the relevant countries.
Fourth-longest consecutive-serving foreign minister
Odanaka, Mainichi Shimbun: I apologize for changing the subject, but tomorrow you will become the fourth-longest consecutive-serving foreign minister, in line with Mr. Yohei Kono, and the longest-serving foreign minister since the Heisei Era began. In December you again achieved results, such as the Japan-ROK agreement at the foreign ministers’ meeting, but how do you personally look back on your achievements thus far, and what are your aspirations in terms of the sorts of results you hope to achieve in the future?
Minister Kishida: Your question relates to my time serving as Minister for Foreign Affairs. If a foreign minister serves for a certain length of time, I think it is meaningful in terms of forming human relationships and accumulating various experiences, but a longer time is not necessarily better. As you might expect, it is the content that is important. I am aware that with international affairs there are various developments, and that the current circumstances are unclear. I intend to continue to do my job as Minister for Foreign Affairs with a sense of tension.
Kawachi, Kyodo Press: Minister, on the other hand you belong to a faction; you are the chairman of a faction within the Liberal Democratic Party, the leader of a faction. From that standpoint, looking ahead to the future and the so-called post-Abe era, how do you intend to increase your ability to convey your views?
Minister Kishida: A faction or policy group is a group that brings together like-minded people who share the same policies or intentions, and it creates very valuable human relationships, I believe. I will continue to attach importance to those activities as well. I also intend to firmly perform the duties that have been assigned to me as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Those are the two things I am currently thinking about.
Comfort women issue
Takita, Sankei Shimbun: Several days ago two former comfort women came to Japan and took part in activities such as an assembly calling for the agreement between Japan and the ROK to be annulled. I think this probably suggests that even within Japan, there are efforts to invite former comfort women to Japan. How do you view these developments in terms of consistency with the content of the agreement, which was to avoid accusing or criticizing one another?
Minister Kishida: I am aware there are people with various opinions about this Japan-ROK agreement on the comfort women issue. However, what is important is that the governments of Japan and the ROK confirmed that the issue will be finally and irreversibly resolved, and consequently, sincerely implementing the content of this agreement is more important than anything else, I believe.
Takita, Sankei Shimbun: In other words, moves by the private-sector are not all that…
Minister Kishida: An agreement was reached between the governments of Japan and the ROK. I believe it will be important to firmly implement that agreement.