Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, October 7, 2016, 9:39 a.m.   Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Opening Remarks

Holding a Japan-Russia Strategic Dialogue

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: In the Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting conducted during the United Nations General Assembly in September, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and I agreed that a Japan-Russia Strategic Dialogue will be held in order to make closer dialogue between the foreign authorities of Japan and Russia. Both sides arranged schedules based on this agreement and we have decided to conduct the Dialogue on October 13 in Moscow.

I hope that Mr. Shunsuke Sugiyama, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, who is representing the Japanese side, will discuss at a broad level pressing global issues and bilateral issues that both sides have strategic interests in with Mr. Vladimir Titov, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

Japan-Russia Relationship

Reporter: A spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented regarding the Northern Territories issue that four islands belong to Russia and there is no room to doubt Russia’s sovereignty related to the islands. What are your thoughts about this comment?

Minister Kishida: Nothing has changed in Japan’s position that the Northern Territories are inherent territories of Japan. Our fundamental stance of seeking a resolution of where the four islands belong to and conclusion of a peace treaty based on this point remains unchanged.

Reporter: Will Japan stick to its fundamental position about where the four islands belong to in the negotiations too?

Minister Kishida: Our stance is to clarify where the four islands belong to and to maintain the position that the Northern Territories are inherently territories of Japan, and Japan has not at all changed its policy of requesting that the four islands belong to Japan.

Reporter: Regarding Japan-Russia relations and positioning of the Strategic Dialogue, a Foreign Ministers’ meeting and a Summit meeting are expected, that is, two occasions before the end of the year. How do you see the Strategic Dialogue in the context of the Japan-Russia negotiations? What are you expecting?

Minister Kishida: The Japan-Russia Strategic Dialogue fundamentally aims for better communication between the foreign authorities of the two countries, and it will mainly discuss the North Korea problem, the Syria problem, and other international issues where both sides have strategic interests. I expect discussion of the bilateral issue as well. Thus, such discussion about the bilateral issue naturally touches upon the Northern Territories and peace treaty issues.

Yet such discussion is only meant to improve communication between our foreign authorities, focusing on international affairs, and I view the peace treaty negotiations as something separate.

North Korea situation

Reporter: Regarding North Korea, some media reports are suggesting that contact took place between North Korean authorities and Japan’s Foreign Minister officials in early September. Could you clarify the related facts?

Minister Kishida: I am aware of these media reports, but this did not happen. Japan intends to continue its effort for a return of all abductees based on an approach that combines dialogue and pressure and action-for-action as well as on the Stockholm Agreement.

Reporter: Is there a possibility that you are not ruling out a route of dialogue or contact in this process?

Minister Kishida: Some type of dialogue is obviously required in order to realize the return of all abductees to Japan. This is why Japan will not deny the Stockholm Agreement. Japan intends to apply firm pressure with the principle of dialogue and pressure and action-for-action.

Reporter: This is related to North Korea. North Korea’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement strongly criticizing the use of pressure on it. It aggressively warned the United States that it would confront a reality that causes it to tremble in the near future. The statement comes ahead of the anniversary of the formation of the Workers’ Party of Korea on October 10. Please explain your thoughts on the statement and others. Also, there is concern about new provocative behavior. What is the Government’s view and response at this point?

Minister Kishida: I am aware of the announcement of the statement that you mentioned. Japan continues to gather and analyze information on North Korea with keen interest. However, I would like to refrain from mentioning specific content in this venue. Japan intends to continue gathering and analyzing information while collaboration with related countries, and it must strengthen its vigilance and surveillance to deal with all possibilities.

Lengthening the LDP President’s Term

Reporter: The LDP is moving toward lengthening the party president’s term. Please explain your thoughts.

Minister Kishida: I am aware of earnest discussion taking place within the party. I have not heard about a conclusion yet, but welcome the fact that a lively discussion is taking place. I intend to pay attention to the direction of the discussion.

Reporter: Do you have an opinion about lengthening the term?

Minister Kishida: The discussion is continuing, and I intend to pay attention to the direction.