Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, February 16, 2016, 9:08 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Report to Prime Minister Abe on Foreign Minister Kishida’s visit to Canada
Fukai, TBS: You were just in the Prime Minister’s office. What was the matter on?
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: It was a post-trip update. I provided Prime Minister Abe with a report on my visit to Canada.
Fukai, TBS: Did the Prime Minister say anything?
Minister Kishida: The Trudeau administration of Canada began in November last year. I reported that when the new government just started in Canada this was the first visit by Japan’s Foreign Minister to Canada in 20 years in context of our bilateral-relations, and that I had reviewed Japan’s position, situation of Asia, and other matters.
Prime Minister Abe asked several questions about the new administration, and we exchanged our views. This was the content of our meeting.
Fukai, TBS: I have a question regarding North Korea. The United Nations still has not prepared a sanctions resolution. Please explain the current state of progress.
Minister Kishida: We continue to receive various reports from there regarding developments. The relevant countries are still engaged in intense exchanges. While a conclusion has not yet been reached, the emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) a few days ago issued a presidential press statement that confirmed that the UNSC is aiming for swift adoption of a resolution, and we intend to continue our efforts aiming for the earliest possible timing.
Fukai, TBS: Do you sense that an adoption is fairly close?
Minister Kishida: I cannot say anything at this point. The relevant parties are aware of the urgency, and I am told that specific and intense exchanges are continuing.
Fukai, TBS: North Korea has stated that it is dismantling the Special Investigation Committee. What type of approach is the Japanese Government planning to take to resolve the abductions issue? Will the government request a resumption of the Special Investigation Committee, or is the government considering a different framework?
Minister Kishida: Firstly, the Government finds it very unfortunate that North Korea has officially stated that it is unilaterally abandoning the agreement in Stockholm, and that it has stated that it would halt the investigation and dismantle the Special Investigation Committee. We cannot accept these positions. The Government has lodged a protest to North Korea, and we have communicated to North Korea via the embassy route in Beijing that Japan does not intend to abandon the agreement in Stockholm and that it strongly urges North Korea to return all abduction victims to Japan.
However, we have not as of yet received a reaction to this message. We must consider our specific response as Japan while observing North Korea’s reaction. In any case, we must continue to thoroughly review what actions will be effective in order to encourage a constructive response from North Korea.
Kurihara, NHK: There was just a discussion about the UNSC consultations being stalled. What are the reasons for the lack of progress in these consultations and the stalled conditions?
Minister Kishida: Intense exchanges are continuing, not stalling. Moves are continuing although a result has not yet been reached. My understanding is that the consultations have not stopped. Each of the relevant countries has its own positions and views. While the various countries thoroughly understand the need to make efforts toward a swift adoption of a resolution, a conclusion has not yet been reached. This is my view of the situation.
Longest-serving G7 Foreign Minister, Hiroshima Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
Sakai, Nikkei Shimbun: This is related to the G7. Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of the French Republic, is leaving his post, which will make you the longest-serving G7 Foreign Minister and veteran. From this perspective, what type of discussions are you aiming for and what are your goals for the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in April?
Minister Kishida: The Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held in April, and the Ise-Shima Summit will follow. I was told that today marks 100 days until the Ise-Shima Summit. It is also less than two months until the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. We must accelerate our preparations in light of this schedule. For the Summit, I think it will be important to deliver clear messages on a wide range of areas, particularly problems facing the global economy amid recent growing uncertainty, diplomatic and political issues related to the Middle East and terrorism, as well as climate change, energy, and other global issues. The Government must accelerate its preparations for these discussions in addition to other preparations such as anti-terrorism measures.
For the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, it will be important to primarily discuss diplomatic and political problems ahead of the Summit. While various regional situations must be addressed, I would also like to send a firm message regarding global issues such as disarmament and non-proliferation in light of the meeting’s location in in Hiroshima. The Government intends to accelerate its preparations as regards these points.
Sakai, Nikkei Shimbun: What are your thoughts regarding being the longest-serving of the G7 Foreign Ministers?
Minister Kishida: I believe mutual trust and human relations are important factors in discussions at international meetings in order to conduct more robust interactions among a limited number of people. In the case of the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting it is eight people, comprising the seven G7 countries in addition to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
I will be serving as Chair at the meeting, and so intend to fully carry out this role by utilizing my experience as Foreign Minister and the human relations and trust I have developed during my time at my post.
Abe, Asahi Shimbun: You just mentioned human relations. While you have arranged a schedule to hold a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with Russia, you still have been unable to hold a telephone talk with China. Has anything changed regarding your goal of visiting the country in spring?
Minister Kishida: The Japan-China relationship is one of our important relationships with our neighboring countries, and I believe it is moving toward improvement on the whole amid repeated Summit meetings and other contacts. At the same time, many issues have accumulated. I believe dialogue is important in this context, and I consider dialogue at my level is also important. While nothing has been decided specifically, the Government intends to continue emphasizing dialogue at a variety of levels.
Sakamoto, Sankei Shimbun: I would like to confirm one point. On what day did Japan communicate its position to North Korea through the Beijing diplomatic route that it is not abandoning the agreement in Stockholm?
Minister Kishida: We have sent a message to this effect, but I would like to refrain from mentioning specifics regarding the exchanges.