Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, February 12, 2016, 8:50 a.m.   Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Opening remarks

Foreign Minister Kishida to visit Canada

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I will visit Canada from today through February 14. This will be the first visit by Japan’s Foreign Minister to Canada in 20 years in context of the bilateral-relations, and I intend to confirm our cooperative relationship with the Trudeau administration formed in November of 2015 in preparation for the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Ise-Shima Summit, which will take place just two months from now.

I once held a meeting with Mr. Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, at an international conference following his appointment in November of 2015. I aim on this visit to thoroughly discuss our bilateral relationship, regional conditions including a response to North Korea, and other global issues, and to build a personal relationship of trust.

This year in particular, as the country holding the G7 Presidency, Japan needs to lead the efforts for peace and prosperity in the international community. To that end, Japan intends to strengthen its ties with Canada as an important partner in the Asia-Pacific region with shared values.

North Korea

Toba, Nippon TV: I have a question regarding North Korea. The Government announced Japan’s own measures against North Korea two days ago. What are your thoughts about their effectiveness?

Minister Kishida: Japan has repeatedly urged North Korea to refrain from any provocations including nuclear tests or c missile launches. The abductions issue still remains unresolved. It is totally unacceptable that North Korea’ went ahead with its nuclear test on January 6and the missile launch. Japan has decided to implement its own measures in response, and it hopes that this action will contribute to adoption of a strong resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

While Japan introduced its own measures, the Republic of Korea (ROK) has also announced its own measures, and the United States is currently discussing in Congress the measures it will take. I expect the combined impact of these initiatives by various countries to deliver a strong and resolute message to North Korea.

Toba, Nippon TV: As you just mentioned, coordination among Japan, the United States, and the ROK has worked very well. There are media reports that a summit meeting of the leaders the three countries will be held in Washington D.C., at the end of next month. What stage is the coordination for the summit meeting at, and what is the significance of holding a summit meeting at this time?

Minister Kishida: I believe the media reports you mentioned on the possibility of a meeting being held next month may be referring to the Nuclear Security Summit, but there have not been any specific decisions on the schedule of the Nuclear Security Summit at this point. However, there has been solid cooperation among Japan, the United States, and the ROK with emphasis on coordination at the top-level. We intend to continue emphasizing such coordination, and will consider specific schedules in line with this stance.

Odanaka, Mainichi Shimbun: I have another question about Japan’s own measures against North Korea. I believe Japan lifted some of its own measures two years ago based on the agreement in Stockholm, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga stated in his press conference that Japan has no intention to abandon the agreement made in Stockholm. Could you explain how the stance of not abandoning the agreement would reconcile or fit with Japan’s decision to reintroduce or strengthen its own measures at this time?

Minister Kishida: In light of North Korea’s various actions up until now, North Korea’s repeated provocations and the fact that the abductions issue still remains unresolved are totally unacceptable. We have thus decided to proceed with our own measures this time. However, I have explained the importance of the principles of dialogue and pressure and action for action in our relationship with North Korea in dealing with abductions and other issues. From the viewpoint of the “dialogue” in dialogue and pressure, we are not closing the window for dialogue based on the agreement in Stockholm. That principle has not changed. This is how we address our relationship in terms of the abductions issue and the situation overall. As for the abductions issue, Japan intends to continue its efforts with the goal of having all abduction victims return home.

Odanaka, Mainichi Shimbun: Regarding the portion concerning continuing dialogue, official consultations between Japan and North Korea have been stopped for the past two years. Does Japan intend to review taking some type of action in relation to this?

Minister Kishida: What I am saying is that we are not closing the window for dialogue. I would urge North Korea to demonstrate a constructive attitude.

Odanaka, Mainichi Shimbun: So you believe the ball is in their court?

Minister Kishida: At any rate, Japan is not closing off dialogue.

Chijiwa, TV Asahi: There was initially a strong view that Japan’s own measures would come at the same time or after a UNSC resolution on sanctions. However, the actual outcome has been actions taken for measures, including those by the ROK and the United States, prior to a UNSC resolution. Please explain the background of this result.

Minister Kishida: I think your point is based on how the UNSC resolutions were adopted in the past. However, nothing had been particularly decided as to the timing of which might come first. I believe it is most important for the international community to join together in swiftly sending a clear and strong message to North Korea in response to its provocative actions of the nuclear test followed by the missile launch. Given that, individual countries are considering their own measures, and the UNSC is continuing to work towards the expeditious adoption of a strong resolution, as was confirmed in the press statement issued following the emergency meeting of the UNSC. In any case, I think it is important to deliver a clear message to North Korea through the combined impact of these specific actions.

Ishigaki, Jiji Tsushin: Has Japan communicated its policy to North Korea through diplomatic channels following the decision to strengthen its own measures, or is there a plan to communicate the policy?

Minister Kishida: Are you referring to the content of our own measures?

Ishigaki, Jiji Press: What you have decided…

Minister Kishida: I have not confirmed what has been carried out at the administrative level as of now, but it should of course be communicated.