Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, October 28, 2016, 8:20 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
The passing of His Imperial Highness Prince Mikasa
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: It was with great compassion for the profound sorrow of the Imperial Family and other close family members of His Imperial Highness Prince Mikasa that I received the report that His Imperial Highness had passed away. I hereby wish to express my sincere condolences.
The First Committee of the UN General Assembly
Foreign Minister Kishida: Let me comment on the adoption of two resolutions by the First Committee of the UN General Assembly this morning, Japan Time.
In order to realize a “world without nuclear weapons,” it is indispensable to take concrete and practical measures one by one through cooperation between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states based on an accurate understanding of the humanitarian aspects of nuclear weapons and an objective assessment of the severe security environment. This is the fundamental position of Japan that I have repeatedly explained.
Based on that position, we at this session of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly strongly called on the international community to support our country’s resolution for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. As the result, approximately 110 countries including the United States—we are still counting—became co-sponsors for our country’s draft resolution, which was adopted with the overwhelming support of 167 countries. Both figures are larger than those of last year’s. We believe that this indicates that it is our country’s resolution that shows the realistic path to a “world without nuclear weapons” that both nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states should strive for under the international disarmament and nonproliferation system with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) at its core.
At the same time, as to a resolution seeking the commencement of negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, voting was also conducted on the draft resolution. After an extended, careful consideration, we cast our vote against it. The reasons for our opposition are that this draft resolution （1） does not correspond to our country’s fundamental position of aiming at a “world without nuclear weapons” by taking concrete and practical measures one by one and （2） further aggravates the confrontation between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states and widens the schism even as we face the increasing seriousness of nuclear weapon and missile development by North Korea. Regarding this assessment, look to the voting behavior of each country, where, for example, North Korea supported the resolution while none of the nuclear-weapon states supported it. Our view is that such voting behavior demonstrates such assessment.
On the other hand, this resolution seeking the commencement of negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, in the end, was adopted by majority vote. It is now certain that the negotiations on a treaty will be conducted next year. As for our course of action including whether or not we will participate in the negotiations, it will be considered by the government as a whole, taking into consideration future discussions on the details of the orientation of the negotiations as well as the orientation of the countries taking neutral position that we have collaborated with so far such as Australia and Germany. At this point in time, I would like to take part actively in the negotiations and firmly state what must be stated as the only country to have suffered atomic bombings and from our position of emphasizing cooperation between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states.
The First Committee of the UN General Assembly
Reporter: You said that Japan opposed the draft resolution adopted by majority vote seeking to conclude a treaty that will legally ban nuclear weapons. As Japan opposes the orientation toward a ban, I believe that it can be foreseen that there will be opposition from a nation that suffered atomic bombings. How does the government intend to secure understanding?
Foreign Minister Kishida: Japan’s actions and position have been consistent throughout. Our position is to emphasize cooperation between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states, and that is why we first and foremost continued our efforts to secure support for our resolution from as many countries as possible, from both nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states. As the result, more countries became co-sponsors than last year, many countries became co-sponsors including the United States, and many countries voted for the resolution. The situation is that we opposed the resolution to commence negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons precisely because we emphasize cooperation between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states. I said that if the negotiations begin, I believe that we should state what should be stated from our position of emphasizing cooperation between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states. I intend to firmly argue, explain in this manner that our position is thoroughly consistent from every perspective. That is my view.
General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) between Japan and the ROK
Reporter: Concerning the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), what is the policy of the Japanese Government concerning toward its adoption, including its sense of timing? Also, it is being pointed out that the political capital of Ms. Park Geun-hye, President of the Republic of Korea (ROK), is in decline. How does the government intend to go forward taking this into consideration?
Foreign Minister Kishida: Regarding the Japan-ROK GSOMIA, it is my understanding that the ROK government announced that it would resume negotiations with Japan. On this issue, we have continuously emphasized the importance of Japan-ROK cooperation, the importance of Japan-ROK cooperation on security issues. Japan-ROK cooperation is also important in responding to the North Korean nuclear weapon and missile issues, and it is the intent of our government to firmly go forward on Japan-ROK cooperation on security issues including the early conclusion of this agreement.
I am not in a position to say anything about the internal affairs of the ROK, but I firmly wish to accept the resumption of the negotiations with a positive outlook and go forward with cooperation in a substantive way. That is my view.
The First Committee of the UN General Assembly
Reporter: It seems that Japan and the United States took the same positions on a negotiation of a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons and the resolution on total elimination. Was there collaboration between Japan and the United States?
Foreign Minister Kishida: There are substantive exchanges, a variety of exchanges between Japan and the United States. We communicated closely with each other since we share the common, broad objective of aiming at a “world without nuclear weapons.”
Reporter: There are views that Japan opposed a negotiation of a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons as quid pro quo for support for the resolution to eliminate nuclear weapons. Do you have any comments on that?
Foreign Minister Kishida: We did communicate, but the assertion that there was a quid pro quo or the like is invalid.
Reporter: Last year, Japan abstained from the vote on the resolution to set up a working group, but this time, Japan did not abstain and instead expressed a clear position in casting a vote against the resolution. What was the reason for this? You just explained your reasons, but could you go over this point again? In addition, regarding Japan’s response this time, actually, as you pointed out, I should think that there is dissatisfaction brewing among non-nuclear-weapon states towards Japan, which is taking a gradual approach. Could you talk about this?
Foreign Minister Kishida: Essentially, from the fundamental perspective that specific results cannot be achieved unless not only non-nuclear-weapon states but also nuclear-weapon states cooperate, Japan, in order to aim at a “world without nuclear weapons” as the only nation that suffered atomic bombings, has been strongly emphasizing cooperation between the two sides. How things should be from this perspective, our efforts to secure support for our resolution, our response to the resolution concerning the commencement of negotiations on a nuclear weapons treaty, and our response to the negotiations going forward: I intend to strongly explain that our position has been consistent throughout from the position that I just explained.
I also explained that there were various points in the specific contents that we could not support based on this fundamental position, so we opposed it. As I already explained, the voting behavior of the respective countries, such as North Korea supporting the resolution on the commencement of negotiations on a nuclear weapons treaty and none of the nuclear-weapon states including the United States supporting it represent such evaluation. I intend to strive to secure understanding for the Japanese position from the people concerned by firmly pointing to these points and explaining them. That is my view.
Reporter: It has been pointed out that there is dissatisfaction with the deadlock in the step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament that Japan has been taking to date on such items as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). What is the Japanese Government considering as a step where there is likely to be progress?
Foreign Minister Kishida: Looking at how the CTBT, the early commencement of the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) negotiations, and last year’s NPT Review Conference were reinforces my view that there is much that needs to be done to reinforce this structure, and that momentum must be enhanced among the nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states as a whole. We must pour our efforts into the respective systems such as the NPT, FMCT, and CTBT instead of looking for specific points for engagement. Our country also emphasizes the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), a framework of 12 non-nuclear-weapon states. It is important to make firm, specific proposals through this framework as well. These various systems exist, and so do our efforts to date. In any case, in my three years and ten months, I definitely experienced at first hand the harsh reality that some groups of countries putting forth a claim achieves nothing without cooperation from both nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states. It is my intention to lead the international debate by securing the understanding of the large number of people concerned that we are undertaking the various efforts that I just explained after taking the utmost care to make the decisions on what Japan should be doing with regard to the various efforts on the basis of the firm conviction that that harsh reality is why we must undertake realistic and practical efforts emphasizing cooperation. In reality, there are a variety of circumstances, and some of the circumstances are highly complicated. However, I believe that it is very important to first and foremost explain the Japanese position by putting our position, our fundamental perspective at the forefront. So today, I explained that this is how we arrived at our position regarding the adoption of the resolutions at the First Committee of the UN General Assembly on this occasion.