Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, January 17, 2017, 10:20 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Issue of the statue of a comfort woman
Reporter: Prime Minister Abe will return from his overseas visits today. I would think explanations and other discussions following the recall of Ambassador Nagamine have already finished. Do you have an outlook for a return to duties?
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Nothing has been decided about the timing of a return to duties at this point. The Government as a whole, including the Prime Minister, will make a decision, based on an overall assessment of the matter.
Reporter: While I think the Ambassador already completed his explanation to the Prime Minister, are there plans for further meetings with the Prime Minister?
Minister Kishida: The Government as a whole, including the Prime Minister, will make a decision. We will make a decision based on a comprehensive assessment.
Reporter: Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se of the Republic of Korea (ROK) made comments to the ROK legislature encouraging removal of the statue in front of Japan’s consulate general in Busan. What are your thoughts about the comments?
Minister Kishida: I am aware of Minister Yun Byung-se’s comments. The Governments of Japan and the ROK agreed at the end of 2015 that the comfort women issue will be resolved finally and irreversibly. Installation of a statue of a comfort woman in front of Japan’s consulate general in Busan in this context is an undesirable development in Japan-ROK relations. Furthermore, I believe it is also problematic in light of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Many countries around the world highly appreciate the agreement between Japan and the ROK, and both the Japanese and ROK Governments have responsibilities to implement the agreement. My understanding is that the ROK Government also remains committed to implementing the agreement. I believe the comments by Minister Yun Byung-se that you mentioned are in line with this stance of the ROK Government.
Reporter: Does that mean you are taking a positive view of the comments?
Minister Kishida: My view is what I have just said.
Reporter: There is a move in the ROK aiming at installing a new statue in Takeshima. What is your reaction to this development?
Minister Kishida: Japan’s position is that Takeshima is an inherent territory of Japan in the light of historical facts and based upon international law. In light of this position, Japan cannot accept what you just mentioned.
US President-elect Trump
Reporter: The new Trump administration begins on January 20. Please explain your thoughts about the type of Japan-US relationship you hope to build?
Minister Kishida: Regarding the Japan-US relationship, the two countries have been working together, sharing fundamental values, over a period of 71 years since the end of World War II, and I consider that the Japan-US Alliance is the linchpin of Japan’s diplomacy and security policy. I also believe that the Japan-US Alliance continues to grow in importance in light of the current severe security environment in Asia.
Japan must build strong ties with the new Trump administration, based on the unwavering Japan-US Alliance, which has been built up over many years as I just explained. Japan intends to deepen and advance the Japan-US Alliance through the development of a robust relationship of trust with the new administration.
Disappearance of a Japanese student in France
Reporter: I have a question about the disappearance of the Tsukuba University student. I believe State Minister Sonoura has traveled to Chile. Please clarify the explanation given by the Chilean authorities and action that the Japanese Government intends to take.
Minister Kishida: State Minister Sonoura held meetings on January 16 (local time) in Chile with Foreign Minister Muñoz and National Prosecutor Abbott, and requested cooperation.
State Minister Sonoura explained the priority the Japanese Government places on the search for Ms. Kurosaki and a full investigation of the incident. He also noted that Japan has requested cooperation from Chile and France, and that the Ministry of Interior representative he met in France, which he had visited prior to Chile, commented that they will take all international means, including Interpol. Furthermore, State Minister Sonoura requested the continued cooperation of Chile. In response, National Prosecutor Abbott promised full cooperation in terms of Japan-Chile relations, complete cooperation in all processes related to extradition, and close cooperation with Japan and France. Foreign Minister Muñoz also promised to extend all possible cooperation. This is what has been reported to me.
US President-elect Trump
Reporter: I have another question about President-elect Trump. The Prime Minister mentioned yesterday at a press conference that he hopes to meet with Mr. Trump as soon as possible. How do things stand with arrangements? What is your outlook?
Minister Kishida: The Prime Minister made the comment you mentioned in light of the importance of the Japan-US Alliance, and in recognition of the need to have a close understanding between the leaders of the two countries and to deepen the relationship of trust between them. I think it is important to meet as early as possible. However, I am not aware of any decisions on a specific schedule yet. We intend to continue working on arrangements.