Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, July 12, 2016, 10:30 a.m.   Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Opening remarks

(1) Raising the warning level for Overseas Travel Safety Information in Juba, the capital of South Sudan

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Since July 7, the security situation in the city of Juba, the capital of South Sudan has rapidly worsened, due to a series of firefights between the government and anti-government forces and other matters.

In light of this situation, we raised the warning level for Overseas Travel Safety Information in the capital city of Juba from “Level 3: Avoid all travel (a recommendation to avoid travel)” to “Level 4: Evacuate and avoid all travel (a recommendation to evacuate).” With this, the warning level for Overseas Travel Safety Information for all the territory of South Sudan has become level 4 (a recommendation to evacuate).

Last night, both the Government of South Sudan and the first Vice President’s side issued orders to cease hostile action. We intend to call on both sides to comply with this and cease fighting immediately.

We also intend to continue to do everything possible to secure the safety of Japanese nationals while paying attention to the latest situation.

(2) Inspection by the “Task Force on Bolstering Safety Measures for Japanese Nationals Overseas”

Minister Kishida: In light of the terrorist attack in Dhaka, I ordered the inspection with Mr. Masakazu Hamachi, Parliamentary Vice-Ministers for Foreign Affairs, as the head of the state of implementation of the recommendations from the “Task Force on Bolstering Safety Measures for Japanese Nationals Overseas” that were announced in May last year regarding safety measures for all Japanese nationals overseas.

The first meeting will be held on July 15. We intend to conduct firm discussions based on the recent changes to the circumstances regarding the safety of Japanese nationals living overseas so that the report on the inspection can be made public in August.

(3) Establishment of the Cyber Security Policy Division

Minister Kishida: Today, the Cyber Security Policy Division was newly established under the National Security Policy Division of the Foreign Policy Bureau in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It is our intention to further strengthen coordination with other countries in the cyber sector and strengthen diplomatic efforts in order to lead the international discussions.

The situation in South Sudan

Reporter: You just said that the situation in South Sudan has become extremely tense. Could you tell us how many Japanese nationals are in South Sudan at this stage and whether their security has been confirmed?

Minister Kishida: As for the number of Japanese nationals there, there are about a total of 80 nationals, including embassy personnel, economic cooperation personnel from JICA and others who are staying there to support the reconstruction of South Sudan, in addition to the approximately 350 members of the Self-Defense Force engineering unit there.

As for Japanese nationals staying there, on July 7, the Japanese Embassy in South Sudan confirmed the safety of all the approximately 70 Japanese nationals staying in the city of Juba. Our Embassy also contacted the Self-Defense Force engineering unit dispatched to the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) and confirmed that the situation was in good order. The Embassy has continued to contact the Japanese nationals staying there and has confirmed that everyone is safe so far. That is the current situation.

Reporter: The Ministry of Defense is taking measures to dispatch C-130 transport planes to a neighboring country to bring them back safely. Could you tell us specifically how much time you believe it will take to bring them back safely to Japan?

Minister Kishida: First, the Government is considering all possibilities, including transportation by the militaries of other countries, for the swift and safe evacuation of Japanese nationals staying there, including the economic cooperation personnel. We are preparing overland transport by the Self-Defense Forces and the deployment of C-130 transport planes that the Self-Defense Forces possess to Djibouti while securing their safety.

There are many developments in the situation on the ground there, such as the call for a ceasefire from both sides, the President’s side and the first Vice President’s side. We must consider our response while firmly grasping these circumstances.

In any case, the safety of the Japanese nationals staying there is the top priority. We believe that it is necessary to go forward with the specific response with their safety as the foremost consideration while firmly confirming the situation going forward. Therefore, I believe that it is still too early to say what we will do in how many days, or to say anything about matters that have been finalized at this point in time.

Arbitration between the Philippines and China regarding the South China Sea

Reporter: My question concerns the South China Sea issue. The arbitration court is due to issue its ruling as early as this afternoon, and I imagine Japan’s position will be expressed as a statement, but does the Government of Japan perceive this ruling as an opportunity to reconfirm the importance of complying with international rules?

Minister Kishida: First, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands has announced that the tribunal will issue its final award on the arbitration initiated by the Philippines against China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), on July 12, today.

The Government of Japan supports the Philippines’ use of procedures under the UNCLOS aiming at peaceful settlement of disputes on the basis of international law, as such an action contributes to the maintenance and enhancement of the international order in the region based on the rule of law.

With regard to the matter of issuing a statement that you mentioned, nothing has been decided at present, but we believe that we must firmly encourage efforts such as a pursuit of cooperation with the countries concerned in order to realize the rule of law and the peaceful resolution of disputes through diplomacy.

Reporter: Are you preparing to hold your own press conference today following the ruling?

Minister Kishida: As I just explained, nothing has been decided at present with regard to the Government of Japan’s specific response and action, including issuing a statement and so on. We intend to firmly confirm the issuance of the final award.

Report of a no first use policy for nuclear weapons by the United States

Reporter: Mr. Barack H. Obama, President of the United States, is considering a no first use policy for nuclear weapons, according to a local report. I would, by all means, like to hear if you as Minister have any expectations with regard to this issue, in terms of nuclear disarmament.

Minister Kishida: To begin with, I also saw the report that you mentioned and am aware of it. However, I understand that the content of the report was that such a discussion was taking place. I do not think that the report suggested that the Government of the United States has reached any decision or that this policy has been decided. Consequently, at the moment I believe that I should refrain from commenting on it from my position as Minister. I intend to continue observing that discussion.

Arbitration between the Philippines and China regarding the South China Sea

Reporter: Where the arbitration between the Philippines and China is concerned, China has clarified its position that regardless of what sort of award is rendered, it does not intend to abide by it. Since it will be quite difficult to give the award compelling force, how will the award be made effective?

Minister Kishida: I am aware of the views and ideas expressed by the Government of China that you mentioned. On the other hand, my understanding is that the final award in the arbitration procedure for this case is binding on the countries to the dispute.

Results of the House of Councillors election

Reporter: The House of Councillors election took place last week, and I imagine that you also carried out election campaigning nationwide. Could you discuss how you view the results of this election, and although the election is not necessarily directly related to this, what impact do you think it will have on diplomacy going forward, and on the Liberal Democratic Party administration?

Minister Kishida: First, where the results of the election are concerned, I recall that the Prime Minister had also been saying that the line between victory and defeat in the election would be to gain a majority of the seats contested in this election. In other words, 61 seats, I believe. We achieved 70 seats this time, which means we substantially exceeded that line. I also heard that the LDP gained over 20 million votes under the proportional representation system. I believe that many citizens expressed their understanding of and endorsement to the LDP, and the ruling parties as well, through this election.

With regard to diplomacy, during the election period, I also spoke of Japan’s economic policies and political stability. I believe that through this election Japan has been able to demonstrate that it continues to remain firmly committed to its economic initiatives and political stability, even to the international community. We will firmly maintain Japan’s presence and voice in the international community while firmly promoting those initiatives. That is our view.

Arbitration between the Philippines and China regarding the South China Sea

Reporter: What sort of meaning is the Philippines-China arbitration that came up earlier likely to hold for Japan?

Minister Kishida: Japan has been advocating that it is important for all to follow the rule of law in the international community. Furthermore, Japan has been advocating the importance of peacefully resolving matters based on international law. Based on those views, we believe that the final award in this arbitration procedure is important, and as such, we intend to attach importance to this award.