Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Thursday, May 19, 2016, 11:21 p.m. Central Entrance Hall, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I just summoned Ms. Caroline Kennedy, Ambassador of the United States to Japan, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and lodged a protest against the extremely cruel and atrocious incident involving contemptible actions by an individual doing civilian work at the United States installation in Okinawa Prefecture. I expressed very strong regret and lodged a serious protest to Ambassador Kennedy and told her that the occurrence of such incident is outrageous and causes me strong indignation. Additionally, I strongly requested the fullest cooperation with the investigation that is currently taking place, as well as the enforcement of discipline and rigorous efforts to prevent the reoccurrence of incidents and accidents involving United States forces and people affiliated with the United States forces. In response, Ambassador Kennedy stated that the US Government is taking this incident very seriously and expressed her condolences and heartfelt sadness for the victim and her family. She also promised full cooperation in the investigation by Japanese authorities and explained that the United States intends to redouble efforts to ensure that this type of incident never occurs again. This is an inexcusable incident and I feel indignant at the incident. I would also like to express my personal condolences to the victim and pray for her peaceful repose. Cooperation from the United States is vital to ensure that this type of incident never occurs again, and I strongly requested that the United States promptly prepare effective and convincing measures to prevent reoccurrence. The Japanese Government also intends to take further steps to ensure steady implementation of effective measures aimed at preventing reoccurrence of incidents and accidents.
Reporter: I have a question about relations between Japan and the United States. We have recently seen events that symbolize the deepening of Japan-US relations, such as the laying of a wreath at the Cenotaph by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his visit to the Atomic Bomb Dome at the recent Hiroshima Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. What type of impact do you expect on Japan-US relations?
Minister Kishida: In any case, this type of cruel and atrocious incident is impermissible. The Japanese Government must request that the United States take steps to ensure that this type of incident never occurs again, and must also continue our own efforts to steadily implement measures to prevent a reoccurrence. Japan and the United States must work together to ensure that such an incident never occurs again.
Reporter: Ambassador Kennedy expressed sadness and promised to review measures to prevent reoccurrence and enforce discipline at today’s meeting. What is your view of this response by the United States?
Minister Kishida: The United States expressed today that it would make this type of response. The next step is to prepare the specific content and response. Japan urges the United States to make a detailed and convincing response.
Reporter: Construction work related to a relocation to Henoko in Okinawa Prefecture, meanwhile, has been temporarily suspended, and this initiative is currently under review by the Court and faces a tough situation. What are your thoughts on a potential impact on realignment of U.S. bases or how the incident might affect the realignment plan for U.S. bases?
Minister Kishida: Japan must call on the United States to make a sincere and thorough response considering the sentiment of the victim’s family and the people of Okinawa. Japan intends to closely monitor the responses by the United States.
Reporter: I think Okinawa is likely to request an explanation from the Government. Are you currently thinking about such an explanation?
Minister Kishida: I believe the Government needs to provide a thorough explanation of the situation, including initiatives by the United States. The Government intends to do this by utilizing a variety of opportunities.
Reporter: Similar incidents have occurred numerous times in Okinawa. While you mentioned earlier that Ambassador Kennedy offered words of sorrow, there was not an apology. Has the United States Government apologized since then? If not, what is your view regarding this point?
Minister Kishida: Ambassador Kennedy expressed her condolences and deep sadness to the family on behalf of the people and Government of the United States. She also noted a desire to express her own feelings to the family. This was the extent of specific statements today.
Reporter: So there was no apology. Are you saying that an apology was not given?
Minister Kishida: This was the content of the statements.
Reporter: The visit to Hiroshima by President Obama of the United States is approaching. The Government has been repeatedly emphasized the depth of Japan-US relations and the alliance between the two countries. What are your thoughts about the impact on the Hiroshima visit by President Obama?
Minister Kishida: Japan views a Hiroshima visit by President Obama as a historic opportunity to reinvigorate global momentum for creation of a world without nuclear weapons. Nothing has changed in this stance. Regarding Japan-US relations, Japan believes it is vital for both sides to continue working to advance this important bilateral relationship.
Reporter: I think there will be a Japan-U.S. summit meeting next week. Does the Japanese Government intend to discuss this issue along with the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement and matters related to U.S. bases in Okinawa at the summit meeting?
Minister Kishida: Japan’s first priority regarding this issue is to request a thorough response from the United States. This is the first and foremost priority in our minds.