Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 8:45 a.m.   Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening remarks

Japan-Russia Vice-Ministerial-level Consultation

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: A Japan-Russia Vice-Ministerial-level Consultation will be held in Tokyo on February 15. The Consultation will be held between Ambassador Chikahito Harada, Japan’s Government Representative, and Mr. Igor Vladimirovich Morgulov, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Thus far in 2016, Japan and Russia have been engaging in high-level dialogue, including the summit telephone talk in January and two telephone talks between myself and Mr. Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov, Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In light of this positive momentum, in preparation for future summit-level dialogue, Ambassador Harada and Minister Morgulov are scheduled to comprehensively discuss Japan-Russia bilateral relations, and exchange opinions on urgent international matters, such as North Korea and the situation in Ukraine. It is also expected to discuss negotiations for the conclusion of a peace treaty.

Japan-Russia Vice-Ministerial-level Consultation

Fujita, Fuji TV: I heard that there will be discussion of North Korea’s missile launch as an urgent issue at the Japan-Russia Vice-Ministerial-level Consultation. Is the Government considering sending some type of message to North Korea, such as a statement?

Foreign Minister Kishida: I would like to refrain from speculating in detail about the meeting’s outcomes at this point because the meeting has not been held yet. Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), and I believe it has a major role in UNSC consultations. I think it is very important to send a strong message to North Korea in cooperation with Russia.

North Korea’s missile launch

Fujita, Fuji TV: Switching topic, I think Japan obtained the support regarding the implementation of its own measures against North Korea in telephone talks with the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Could you explain the current state of coordination and your outlook on the timing of the disclosure of the measures?

Foreign Minister Kishida: Regarding Japan’s own measures, the Government as a whole is currently reviewing this matter from the standpoint of determining the most effective measures for Japan to take in light of the Prime Minister’s instructions, and towards resolving outstanding issues of concern including the abductions, nuclear and missile issues in a comprehensive manner. We intend to swiftly conduct a review, but nothing has been decided in terms of a specific deadline or a detailed schedule.

Fujita, Fuji TV: The United Nations is also conducting discussions on the adoption of a sanctions resolution at the UNSC. Does Japan plan to make any kind of appeal to China as a neighboring country?

Foreign Minister Kishida: China is a permanent member of the UNSC, and Japan is a non-permanent member of the UNSC. We are interacting with China on a variety of levels, and Mr. Akitaka Saiki, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, recently held a discussion with Mr. Cheng Yonghua, the Ambassador of China to Japan, inviting the Ambassador to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Government is making contact and sharing views at various levels.

Fujita, Fuji TV: It has been more than a month since the nuclear test and there has still not been a telephone talk with China. Are you making any coordination on this front?

Foreign Minister Kishida: A Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ telephone talk is not scheduled. Japan believes that dialogue with each of the various relevant countries is important.

Kawachi, Kyodo Press: Why do you think a Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ telephone talk has not been conducted since the nuclear test occurred? Do you believe it is necessary to pursue communication between the top leaders of Japan and China?

Foreign Minister Kishida: Regarding a Foreign Ministers’ telephone talk, Japan and China are already communicating at various levels. The door for dialogue is always open between our Foreign Ministers. I have heard that the Chinese side is very busy. We have not discussed the holding of a summit telephone talk or similar contact.

Kawachi, Kyodo Press: How about the necessity?

Foreign Minister Kishida: It is not being discussed.

Japan-Russia Vice-Ministerial-level Consultation

Watanabe, NHK: I would like to ask about the Japan-Russia Vice-Ministerial-level Consultation. You placed considerable emphasis on a stance of diplomatic engagement with Russia in your Foreign Policy Speech. How are you positioning the upcoming Vice-Ministerial-level Consultation from this perspective and should we assume that the meeting will cover the schedule for a visit to Russia by Prime Minister Abe and other schedules related to future diplomatic activities between Japan and Russia?

Foreign Minister Kishida: As I mentioned earlier, Japan and Russia have conducted a summit telephone talk and Foreign Ministers’ telephone talks this year, and we intend to conduct discussions within this atmosphere at the Vice-Ministerial-level Consultation and lay the groundwork for summit-level dialogue. Furthermore, regarding summit-level dialogue, we are already moving ahead with coordination for an unofficial visit by Prime Minister Abe to Russia prior to a visit to Japan by President Putin. However, nothing has been decided yet in terms of a specific schedule.

Watanabe, NHK: Will this topic be discussed too at the Vice-Ministerial-level Consultation?

Foreign Minister Kishida: As I already mentioned, we will make a comprehensive discussion between Japan and Russia. As noted earlier, we intend to cover various regional situations, negotiations for a peace treaty, and other topics.

North Korea’s missile launch

Kurihara, NHK: You stated earlier that a detailed schedule has not been set for Japan’s own sanctions. Is there some type of shared understanding within the Government of a specific deadline, that it might happen soon, or a rough outlook?

Foreign Minister Kishida: We are focused on swiftly conducting a review.

Japan-Russia Vice-Ministerial-level Consultation

Ishigaki, Jiji Press: Returning to Japan-Russia relations, I think the two countries resumed negotiations on a peace treaty last year. What is the reason for positioning this meeting as a Vice-Ministerial-level Consultation, rather than negotiations on a peace treaty?

Foreign Minister Kishida: I think it is important to engage in negotiations on a peace treaty at various levels using a variety of opportunities. Thus, I think it will be raised as part of the forthcoming Japan-Russia Vice-Ministerial-level Consultation.