Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, February 24, 2017, 8:46 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
(1) Visit to Okinawa
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I will visit Okinawa for two days, tomorrow and the day after. In Okinawa, I will host a reception commemorating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Okinawa Liaison Office and share views with people in Okinawa about promoting the attractiveness of Okinawa as part of the second round of the “Local to Global” Project.
I will also use this opportunity to exchange views with Mr. Takeshi Onaga, the Governor of Okinawa, mayors of cities in Okinawa prefecture, and Lt Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, Okinawa Area Coordinator.
(2) Japan’s participation in the high-level FMCT expert preparatory group
Minister Kishida: The Secretary-General of the United Nations selected Japan to be a member of the high-level Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) expert preparatory group, which consists of 25 countries.
The FMCT is very important as a realistic and practical initiative toward creating a “world without nuclear weapons.” Japan intends to actively contribute to the discussions by this group, which includes both nuclear and non-nuclear states, with the hope that the discussions lead to the start of treaty negotiations and ultimately a world without nuclear weapons.”
Reporter: The Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) sent a letter requesting removal of the comfort woman statue to the City of Busan. Please explain your view of the letter and whether this response by the ROK Government is enough to justify a return by Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine.
Minister Kishida: I am aware that the ROK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it sent an official document to the related local government. I think it is important for Japan and the ROK to each take responsibility in implementing the agreement between our two countries. The ROK Government has been stating that its commitment to steadily implement the agreement has not changed. Furthermore, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se explained measures being taken on the ROK side in our recent Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Japan intends to continue to closely monitor responses by the ROK side and to steadfastly request implementation of the agreement.
Japan has not decided anything yet regarding the timing of a return by Ambassador Nagamine. We will comprehensively review various factors and make a decision accordingly.
Reporter: Is it your view that the Ambassador will not return until the comfort woman statue has been removed?
Minister Kishida: The timing of a return has not been decided. We will comprehensively review various factors and make a decision accordingly.
Reporter: You are wearing a badge today. Is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs planning some type of initiative for Premium Friday? Also, will you personally be doing something different than normal from 3 p.m. today in order to enjoy Premium Friday?
Minister Kishida: Premium Friday is a nationwide initiative involving the public and private sectors, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs intends to actively take part. The Ministry already encourages staff to leave as early as possible if it does not interfere with their work. I will also try to leave as early as possible, targeting 3 p.m., and hope to reenergize myself.
Reporter: Specifically, what will you be doing to reenergize yourself?
Minister Kishida: I intend to make good personal use of the time.
Reporter: Some media sources are reporting that a telephone talk took place with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after the Japan-US Summit Meeting in February. Please confirm the related facts and explain what was discussed if it did in fact occur.
Minister Kishida: Japan and Australia engage in a variety of efforts to improve our mutual understanding. However, I would like to refrain from going into the details.