Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida

Friday, January 20, 2017, 9:55 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Issue of amakudari arrangement by MEXT

Reporter: The surveillance commission has been investigating the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) over the issue of arranging amakudari and will be releasing its results soon. What are your views on the issue of amakudari arrangement?

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: The National Public Service Act and other laws have strict regulations that forbid such arrangements. Obviously public bodies need to follow these laws.

Reporter: What are your thoughts about the MEXT case turning into a fairly major issue, in light of the provisions set out in these laws?

Minister Kishida: It is not appropriate for me in my position to comment on MEXT without knowing whether I am sufficiently aware of the situation. In any case, speaking in general terms, such non-compliance of the law is obviously unacceptable.

Reporter: There is talk that Prime Minister Abe might issue instructions to all ministries, agencies, and government offices to conduct investigations. Have such instructions been given? Secondly, if such instructions are given, how will the Ministry of Foreign Affairs deal with them?

Minister Kishida: Are you asking if instructions were given at the Cabinet meeting? Please direct questions about the content of Cabinet meetings to the Chief Cabinet Secretary. In any case, government officials in their respective positions must obviously fulfill their duties in line with the decided policy. Such legal non-compliance must be thoroughly addressed.

Japan-ROK relations

Reporter: I have a question about Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) relations. I believe Prime Minister Abe and you reviewed Japan’s policy going forward and other aspects yesterday. What type of response does the Government intend to pursue on this matter?

Minister Kishida: Yesterday, I met with the Prime Minister and updated him on the discussions that took place and the various issues that came up during the Prime Minister’s overseas trip, and I received his instructions. In any case, nothing has been decided regarding the return of Ambassador Nagamine. We intend to make a comprehensive decision.

Reporter: Some days have passed since the temporary return of Ambassador Nagamine, but the situation currently does not appear to be improving. Under these circumstances, some members of the Government are suggesting that an improvement in the situation depends not on Japan acting but on the ROK’s response. What is your view in this regard?

Minister Kishida: A decision has not been made regarding the Ambassador’s return. That is all.

Reporter: You consider that Japan should not actively respond to this issue?

Minister Kishida: A decision has not been made regarding the Ambassador’s return. That is all.

Inauguration of U.S. President Trump

Reporter: The incoming Trump administration is about to begin in just over half a day from now. I understand Japan has continued to work on arranging a summit meeting between Prime Minister Abe and President Trump as soon as possible. Please explain once again where the arrangements stand at this point.

Minister Kishida: President Trump’s inauguration ceremony will take place on January 20. The Japan-U.S. alliance is the cornerstone of Japan’s diplomacy and security, and it is vital to deepen and advance the Japan-U.S. alliance through forging trust with the incoming Trump administration based on ties steadily cultivated during the 71 years since the end of the war. I think a summit meeting should take place as soon as possible to maintain communications between the leaders of our countries. However, it is still being coordinated, and a specific schedule has not been decided yet.

Reporter: Some media reports suggest that the two countries will give up on January and hold the summit meeting in February.

Minister Kishida: Nothing has been decided. It is still being coordinated.

Japan-ROK relations

Reporter: The website of the organizing committee for the PyeongChang Olympics in the ROK refers to Takeshima as Dokdo. Is this true? Please explain the Government’s response.

Minister Kishida: I am aware of this matter. The content shown on the website of the organizing committee for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Games is unacceptable from Japan’s position regarding territorial rights to Takeshima and the name of the Sea of Japan. I disagree with the use of sports for political purposes and believe this case runs contrary to the spirit of the Olympic Charter of promoting mutual understanding.

Reporter: What type of response is the Government considering?

Minister Kishida: The Japanese Government explained its view regarding this matter to the ROK Government when we learned of it and requested an appropriate response.

Reporter: Was this a protest?

Minister Kishida: We requested an appropriate response.

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