Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, October 21, 2016, 9:30 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Japan-US-ROK Vice-Ministerial Consultation and Japan-India Vice Minister-Foreign Secretary Dialogue to be held
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: A Japan-US-Republic of Korea (ROK) Vice-Ministerial Consultation will be held in Tokyo on October 27. While North Korea’s provocative acts continue, including yesterday’s failed launch of a ballistic missile presumed to be a Musudan intermediate-range missile, three countries’ vice-ministers will confirm that the three countries will cooperate closely, particularly in responding to the North Korea problem. Furthermore, on October 28 the 12th Japan-India Vice Minister-Foreign Secretary Dialogue will be held in New Delhi, India. A broad-ranging exchange of views is scheduled to be held ahead of the visit to Japan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.
Visit to China by the President of the Philippines
Fujita, Fuji Television: At a press conference, H. E. Mr. Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines, who is currently visiting China, declared a separation from the United States both militarily and economically. In terms of the security of this region, deterioration in the relationship between the Philippines and the United States will conceivably not be appropriate or good for Japan either, I believe. How do you view President Duterte’s comment?
Minister Kishida: President Duterte has made various comments, and his various comments are evaluated in various ways. Where Japan is concerned, President Duterte is scheduled to visit Japan next week, and I certainly believe it will be important to listen directly to him, and to communicate. As Minister, I am also scheduled to hold a dinner meeting with President Duterte on October 25, the first day of his visit. I intend to firmly pursue communication while speaking with him directly.
Morifuji, Yomiuri Shimbun: In his meeting with Mr. Xi Jinping, President of China, President Duterte agreed to reopen discussions on the South China Sea problem, and this can also be viewed as shelving the issue in effect. With President Duterte set to visit Japan, could you explain how Japan will bring up this South China Sea problem in the future, and how Japan views the agreement at the meeting with President Xi to reopen discussions on the South China Sea problem?
Minister Kishida: I am aware of reports indicating that China has revealed the arbitral tribunal award between the Philippines and China will be temporarily shelved, as you pointed out. In August I held a meeting with President Duterte in Davao City. I paid him a courtesy call and spoke to him directly. At that time we shared the view that we attach importance to the rule of law at sea. In any event, when the Japanese side welcomes President Duterte next week, it by all means intends to try to communicate firmly. As I said earlier, I will also have the opportunity to speak directly to the President at a dinner meeting and so forth. I will seek to communicate firmly. That is my intention.
Ichikawa, Jiji Press: At the meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Duterte, will Japan also ask to coordinate the response to China over the South China Sea problem?
Minister Kishida: As I said earlier, I believe thus far Japan and the Philippines have shared the view that the rule of law at sea is important. With regard to what sorts of exchanges will take place at the summit meeting next week, I think I should refrain from making any predictions about the content of the summit meeting from my standpoint as Minister. In any event, I believe it will be important to pursue solid communication between the two leaders. I hope that a candid exchange of opinions will take place.
Kobayashi, Asahi Shimbun: My question concerns the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). At the moment, I believe coordination with the opposition parties is not going well, and this situation arose out of a comment about steamrolling the bill that was made by Mr. Yuji Yamamoto, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. How do you view that comment? Also, aiming to enact the bill in the current Diet session will be quite difficult in terms of the timing of the vote on the bill, I think, but what are your views on the voting approach?
Minister Kishida: Firstly, with regard to Minister Yamamoto’s comment, Minister Yamamoto himself retracted that comment personally and apologized at the TPP committee meeting and publicly. And with regard to how the deliberation should be, essentially the decision will be made in the Diet. However, in other interests of having the TPP agreement approved, I believe the government must continue to carefully explain the agreement so it can be deliberated fully.
US Presidential Election
Geshi, Asahi Shimbun: I have a question about the US presidential election. The third debate took place yesterday, and Donald Trump mentioned Japan’s burden. Please explain your view of the comments.
Minister Kishida: The US presidential election race is still taking place. I would like to refrain from specifically discussing comments by one of the candidates from the standpoint of the government as well as my position as Minister. I would like to refrain from going into details any further.
Lengthening of the LDP President's term
Takigawa, NHK: I have two questions, though not on foreign affairs. Discussion of extending the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President's term is nearly finished, and it appears the six-year term will be lengthened. Please explain your view of this discussion. Also, you are considered a leading candidate as a post-Abe leader. Please describe policies that would you like to pursue, if you assume the post of President of the LDP.
Minister Kishida: My understanding is that discussions regarding the party president term are still continuing and an open discussion is planned too. Discussions are continuing, and I intend to monitor these developments. As to the other election-related question about what I would like to accomplish as party president, I would like to refrain from answering hypothetical questions.
Takigawa, NHK: What do you consider to be personal strengths and weak points as a Minister?
Minister Kishida: As a strength, politicians are involved with many things, and I am capable of making efforts to address all areas with a forward-looking attitude and taking a constructive approach. For a shortcoming, sometimes I might be overly careful and cautious.
North Korea Situation
Odanaka, Mainichi Shimbun: My first question is about the North Korea situation. You mentioned holding a Japan-US-ROK Vice-Ministerial Consultation. My understanding is that while the UN Security Council still continues discussions on sanctions, initially, it was pointed out that coordination on independent sanctions among Japan, the US, and the ROK was also important. What is being discussed now about this point and what is being considered? Additionally, you commented yesterday responding to questions about secondary sanctions at the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense of House of Councilors, stating that you would like to review this issue while referring to it. Specifically, where do things stand in a review?
Minister Kishida: Japan fundamentally continues to work in collaboration with related countries on adoption of a new resolution that contains new sanctions at the Security Council. Japan is also reviewing its options for independent sanctions at the same time. Regarding the content of the review, Japan is already implementing tough independent measures against North Korea. It is currently looking at all possibilities, including expansion of these measures and content covered in the exchange at the committee meeting that you just mentioned.
As to timing, Japan needs to select the most effective timing while taking into account circumstances surrounding adoption of a resolution by the UN Security Council, adoption of independent sanctions by other related countries, and other matters. The current status is that Japan still continues its review in light of these points.
Odanaka, Mainichi Shimbun: My other question has nothing to do with foreign affairs. The Japan Series starts tomorrow and the Hiroshima Toyo Carp from your hometown are playing for the first time in 25 years. . Do you have any expectation and words of encouragement for the team as a representative from the area?
Minister Kishida: It has been 25 years since my hometown team played in the Japan Series, but also 32 years, I think, since they won in the Japan Series. I hope to see the players strive hard to win the Japan Series and become the top team in Japanese baseball. I would like to cheer them with the entire local community. I believe they can become the top team in Japan.
Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty at the UN General Assembly
Takeda, Mainichi Shimbun: I have two questions pertaining to discussion of nuclear disarmament at the First Committee of the UN General Assembly being held in New York right now. The first related to the resolution to begin negotiations on a nuclear weapon ban treaty proposed by Austria, Mexico, and others. There are roughly 40 co-sponsor states, and the group is requesting Japan to approve it too. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are also making the same request. How does Japan plan to respond to these requests? The other question related to the resolution submitted by Japan. The United States and France abstained last year so this resolution did not obtain approval from any nuclear weapon states. Please explain the outlook for this year and your level of confidence.
Minister Kishida: Regarding the adoption of resolutions at the First Committee that you mentioned, various countries, including Japan, submit resolutions. Our first consideration is garnering as much support for the resolution that we submitted as possible. Obtaining the approval of nuclear weapon states is very important as you pointed out. Japan takes a fundamental position that it is not possible to achieve results in the effort to realize a world without nuclear weapons absent the cooperation of nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. We have repeatedly emphasized this approach. Japan is working to obtain approval of its resolution from as many countries as possible from this standpoint and is trying to secure cooperation from nuclear weapon states as much as possible. This is our main emphasis.
Regarding our stance toward resolutions submitted by other countries, we will assess them from the standpoint of realizing cooperation between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states as just explained. We intend to continue putting efforts into the expansion of support for our resolution first.