Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Thursday, December 22, 2016, 9:45 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) Review of the past year and prospects for next year

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Since this is the final post-Cabinet meeting press conference for this year, I would like to take the opportunity to review the past year and present prospects for next year.

Japanese diplomacy bore important responsibilities in 2016, and I think we can summarize it as a year that demonstrated Japan’s presence in the world.

Japan sent a strong message toward a world without nuclear weapons as the chair country at the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and led the successful G7 Ise-Shima Summit. Additionally, visits by President Barack Obama of the United States and G7 foreign ministers to Hiroshima were realized. Japan’s presence in the international community has dramatically risen as a result of these foreign policy activities.

I think next year in 2017 would be “a year with possibilities of change.” Mr. Donald Trump will be assuming the US presidency in January. Mr. António Guterres will become the new Secretary-General of the United Nations. France, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Iran, and other countries will be holding presidential elections, and Germany will have federal elections. In China, the National Congress of the Communist Party, which takes place once every five years, will be held.

I expect Japan with its relatively stable political situation to play a leading role in the international community and hope to make further advances in Japan’s national interests. This is the spirit and resolve that I plan to take into the coming year in continuing my work.

(2) Visits to France, the Czech Republic, and Ireland

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs:I will be visiting France, the Czech Republic, and Ireland during January 5-11, 2017. I think cooperation with Europe, with which we share fundamental values, is increasingly important as the world confronts challenges to the international order based on rule of law and faces concerns about rising protectionism. Japan hopes to strengthen cooperation with Europe and ensure peace and prosperity in the international community by deepening collaboration in political and security areas and hoisting a flag of free trade.

Defense Minister Tomomi Inada and I will hold a 2+2 meeting in France.

In the Czech Republic, taking advantage of the 60th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations with the Czech Republic next year, I will hold a foreign ministers’ meeting between the country and Japan.

Japan is also marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Ireland next year, and I will attend a ceremony commemorating the anniversary and grandly celebrate the beginning of a memorable year.

South Sudan sanctions resolution

Reporter: A resolution to ban weapons trade with South Sudan is being discussed in the UN Security Council. Please explain Japan’s view and reasons for taking this view.

Minister Kishida: I would like to refrain from mentioning Japan’s final stance regarding the point you mentioned at this stage because discussions and debate are continuing.

Japan has joined discussions with the view that discussion should be made in consideration of whether applying sanctions to South Sudan would contribute to South Sudan’s peace and stability. Japan thinks it is important from this perspective to provide support for initiatives by the South Sudan government, such as cooperation for early deployment of a Regional Protection Force and efforts to improve conditions through holding national dialogue and other means. I conducted a phone conference recently with President Salva Kiir Mayardit of the Republic of South Sudan, based on this view, and Japan has also dispatched a special envoy of the Prime Minister. Japan is continuing its diplomacy efforts in this manner.

Japan is aware that some countries in the UN Security Council have a different view regarding this approach. We intend to continue explaining our view and participating in Security Council discussions as a Security Council member. The discussion is still underway, and we will continue our efforts.

Making contribution to UNESCO

Reporter: I have a question about UNESCO. The Japanese government had been holding back on making contribution to UNESCO, but some media reports are saying that it already made the contribution. Please explain the facts and the timing of the contribution.

Minister Kishida: Japan has made the contribution. I understand that the contribution was completed at the beginning of this week. Japan, as a responsible member, has endeavored to ensure that all UNESCO’s initiatives will promote friendship and mutual understanding among member countries, the original principle and purpose of the organization. Within this context, in regard to the Memory of the World Register for example, Japan thinks the formation of a review group under the International Advisory Committee (IAC) as decided unanimously by the executive committee in April 2016 and the ongoing progress for revision represents a major advance. Japan decided to make its contribution for this year of roughly 3.85 billion yen based on a comprehensive assessment of these factors, and has already made the contribution.

Minister Kishida’s aspiration for next year

Reporter: Next year you are turning 60 years old, and 2017 will be the Year of the Rooster. Please explain your aspiration for next year.

Minister Kishida: In starting the coming year as the Foreign Minister, I intend to continue to work hard in this role.

I have mentioned earlier about prospects for Japanese diplomacy next year. Among the G7 foreign ministers, I will surpass four years in office, but many will have changed during this year and next year, so the rest of the ministers will have been in office around one year. I believe from this standpoint that I have a responsibility to lead discussions in not only the G7 but also internationally.

As to the Year of Rooster, given this sense of responsibility, I aim to start the coming year in good health and spirits to carry through with a lively schedule internationally and in the National Diet.

Military exercise by ROK forces on Takeshima

Reporter: Media reports yesterday stated that ROK forces landed on Takeshima for training. Please explain your reaction and response.

Minister Kishida: I am aware of the media report. Japan cannot accept this training in light of Japan’s stance regarding Japan’s territorial rights over Takeshima. We are very much disappointed and Japan immediately made a strong protest to the ROK upon hearing this report.