Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 9:21 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Disappearance of a woman from Uruma City, Okinawa Prefecture
Reporter: I have a question about the incident involving the arrest of a man affiliated with U.S. military forces in relation to the abandoning of a corpse in Okinawa. Local people are very upset and are planning a major prefectural meeting of residents on June 19. Twenty years ago, after a similar incident, the administration of former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto ended up making a significant move about the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) Agreement. What are your thoughts about this situation and how the Government plans to manage it? Also, please give a concise explanation about how the Government intends to interact with Okinawa and regain its trust.
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: This was a brutal and atrocious incident involving a despicable act against a woman with a bright future, and it is very regretful. Japan lodged a strong protest to the United States and is calling for full cooperation with the ongoing investigation as well as enforcement of discipline for U.S. military personnel and people working with the U.S. military and effective measures to prevent reoccurrence. I think, first of all, efforts by the United States are important. Japan will confirm U.S. responses; at the same time, we also must cooperate and take actions to ensure that this never happens again. Japan and the United States must work on this together.
The response I just mentioned is important. Japan needs to thoroughly explain these responses, or those by the United States, to the people of Okinawa. I consider this is important. The Government intends to proceed with these efforts while also listening closely to the voices of the Okinawa people.
Reporter: On the response to Okinawa, Mr. Takeshi Onaga, Governor of Okinawa, requested an opportunity to meet with Mr. Barack H. Obama, President of the United States, who is visiting Japan tomorrow. Is there even a small possibility of this happening?
Minister Kishida: Coordination related to President Obama’s schedule is continuing, and I suspect that coordination will continue up to the last moment. While nothing has been decided, generally, national security is a topic for discussion between the governments.
Reporter: Regarding the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting with President Obama, the Japanese side has repeatedly made strong protests to the U.S. side and is requesting measures to prevent reoccurrence. What type of request or interaction do you expect in the meeting with President Obama?
Minister Kishida: Do you mean in relation to this incident? As I just mentioned, coordination related to the content of the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting is likely to last up to the last moment. However, this incident is very serious and is an important matter. I expect Japan will raise the issue in the meeting.
Reporter: Taiwan’s new administration has decided to remove its patrol boats from around the Okinotorishima Islands and intends to request a new dialogue framework. Please explain your thoughts on this stance.
Minister Kishida: I think this was just announced yesterday. The Interchange Association and the East Asia Relations Commission will be starting a dialogue on maritime cooperation between Japan and Taiwan. Japan hopes that this framework will lead to better understanding between Japan and Taiwan regarding maritime cooperation, and the Government of Japan intends to provide as much support and cooperation as possible.
President Obama’s Visit to Hiroshima
Reporter: I have a question about President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima. While the Government of Japan has taken a stance of not requesting an apology for the atomic bombings, there is still a debate as to whether dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki violated international law. Please explain your thoughts as Japan’s Foreign Minister.
Minister Kishida: The Government of Japan’s position is that dropping the atomic bombs took many lives and brought an extremely regrettable situation from a humanitarian perspective including subsequent disabilities. I am also aware that the Government’s stance is that dropping the atomic bombs does not comply with the humanitarianism that offers a conceptual basis of international law. Japan has explained this view on various occasions in the past. The relationship to international law that I just explained is the position of Japan.
Reporter: I think participation by atomic bombing survivors when President Obama visits Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is being reviewed. What are your thoughts on this possibility?
Minister Kishida: I would like to refrain from making specific comments at this stage because the visit is still being coordinated and U.S. views must also be taken into consideration. I am aware of the presence of various opinions. The Government intends to make coordination up to the last momentum while bearing such opinions in mind.