Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 8:48 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Visit by Minister Kishida to Kumamoto and Fukuoka Prefectures
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Last year I visited Miyagi Prefecture and this weekend I will be going to Okinawathat I will visit Kumamoto and Fukuoka Prefectures with foreign diplomats stationed in Japan as the third round of the “Local to Global” Project on March 11 and 12, if circumstances permit.
This visit aims to support Kumamoto Prefecture as it works earnestly toward recovery from the Kumamoto Earthquake. I will also go to Fukuoka Prefecture, an entranceway to Asia, and hold a symposium at Kyushu University to discuss ways of communicating Kyushu’s attractions to Asia.
“Local to Global” Project
Reporter: You visited Miyagi Prefecture as the first round of the “Local to Global” Project and this time you will be going to Kumamoto Prefecture, which was also affected by a disaster. Please explain the purpose of selecting areas affected by disasters.
Minister Kishida: We hope to provide support to affected areas. This is an important aspect. We also want to create opportunities for ambassadors and other foreign diplomats from various countries stationed in Japan to visit disaster-affected areas and thereby boost their understanding of and support for affected areas.
Appointment of a New National Security Adviser
Reporter: I have a question about an appointment by the Trump administration. Mr. H.R. McMaster took office as the National Security Adviser. Please explain your reaction.
Minister Kishida: I am aware that Lt. Gen. McMaster has been selected as National Security Adviser, and hear that he is very experienced. Japan hopes to work with the new National Security Adviser to further strengthen the Japan-US alliance.
Reporter: One month has passed under the Trump administration, and personnel choices have caused some difficulties, such as the resignation of Mr. Michael Flynn, the former National Security Adviser. What are your thoughts about the situation?
Minister Kishida: I, as Minister, would like to refrain from commenting on organizations in the US. In terms of the Japan-US relationship, however, I believe the recent summit meeting and visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the US confirmed the unwavering nature of the Japan-US alliance and was a positive start to building a relationship of trust between the leaders.
I hope to continue working with State Secretary Rex Tillerson, who is my counterpart, on building strong trust and strengthening and deepening the relationship between our two countries.
Job Placement for a Former Diplomat at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
Reporter: Some media reports this morning indicate that a former male diplomat who is 64 years old and served as an ambassador to a country in Latin America received assistance in obtaining a job by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and has a position as a specially appointed professor at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Could you explain the facts related to this case?
Minister Kishida: I saw the media reports and I just requested confirmation of the related facts. I intend to thoroughly confirm the situation and I would like to refrain from commenting on it before the confirmation.
Reporter: You mentioned wanting to confirm the facts. Did you specify a timeframe or anything else in the instructions?
Minister Kishida: I just saw the media reports this morning too and currently do not have a full understanding of this matter. I have issued instructions to confirm the facts, but do not have any clear schedule yet of when it will be completed. I began by giving instructions to put full efforts into confirming the facts.
Reporter: This is an issue for MEXT if it arranged this placement. However, there is also a concern or possibility that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided information to MEXT. Will you be confirming this point too?
Minister Kishida: We are currently confirming the facts so it is not appropriate to discuss based on speculation at this point. We intend to start by confirming what happened.
Negotiation of a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons
Reporter: Japan did not attend the recent conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons preparatory meeting. Could you explain the reason and also indicate whether Japan will participate in actual negotiations starting next month?
Minister Kishida: The preparatory meeting handles preparations, and Japan did not attend because we plan to take specific action after confirming its official stance regarding whether to participate in the negotiation of a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons. Japan will firmly assess the situation and then proceed to make an official decision on its stance as a government.
In any event, we are gathering information about the content of the preparatory meeting. We hope to make a decision as the Government based on a thorough confirmation of the discussion content.
Reporter: I think you spoke positively that the Japanese Government should participate in the negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons when this was adopted last year. Do you still have this view?
Minister Kishida: Nothing has changed. I remember I said then that I wanted to fully confirm the situationand the Government would make its official decision, and I spoke of my view. That has not changed at all.
The Government will make a responsible decision after thoroughly confirming terms of participation and discussion content and proceed on that basis. We are currently confirming various aspects and will make a decision after this process is finished.