Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, March 3, 2017, 8:46 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Comment by Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District of the Russian Federation Trutnev
Reporter: I have a question about the Northern Territories. Although Prime Minister Abe and President Putin decided to conduct joint economic activities in the Northern Territories, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister commented that Russia might unilaterally develop the Territories depending on the outcome of discussions. What is your reaction to this?
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I am aware of the comment. Following the summit meeting held in December 2016, the Japanese Government recently established the Joint Economic Activity Related Council to promote discussions with the close cooperation of each ministry. It has already been decided to hold discussions on joint economic activities and other matters at the vice-minister level on March 18. Japan intends to fully present its views in the discussions on March 18. We will steadily move forward with discussions.
Reporter: This type of comment seems to dampen the mood ahead of the start of detailed discussions on March 18. What are your thoughts?
Minister Kishida: There will be a meeting held on March 18 so I think it is important to thoroughly discuss matters at that time. Japan has launched the Joint Economic Activity Related Council and is prepared to engage in the discussions. We are ready to move forward with the discussion process.
Killing of Kim Jong-nam
Reporter: I have a question about the killing of Kim Jong-nam. I think the Japanese Government is also paying close attention to the incident. A man of North Korea nationality, the only North Korean detained, is being released today. This might interfere with efforts to work out what happened in the incident. What are your thoughts about this development?
Minister Kishida: Regarding the incident you mentioned, I am aware that the Malaysian prosecutors have filed murder charges against two suspects and also that they are releasing and deporting a North Korean suspect, as noted. However, this is fundamentally a matter related to the judicial procedures of another country, and I would like to refrain from making comments on behalf of the Japanese Government. Japan will continue to gather intelligence with interest while closely collaborating with related countries.
Reporter: I’d like to ask about the Moritomo Gakuen issue being debated in the National Diet. What are your thoughts about this issue? It has also been discovered that records about some consultations have been eliminated. What is your view of the Government’s approach to managing documents and accountability?
Minister Kishida: The Diet is still discussing this issue. I expect to hear explanations of various things in this discussion. That is as much as I would like to say at this point.
Reporter: Opposition parties are calling for questioning of unsworn witnesses. What is your stance on this request?
Minister Kishida: The discussion of this matter is still taking place. While the Diet will decide how it handles the discussion and other aspects, including questioning of unsworn witnesses, the discussion is still taking place. I expect explanations to be given in this process.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
Reporter: RCEP negotiations are taking place in Kobe until today. What type of results are you expecting?
Minister Kishida: This is the 17th round of RCEP negotiations. Japan continues to make efforts and intends to work toward a comprehensive, balanced, and high-standard agreement. I am aware of growing expectations toward the RCEP among the related countries, as ASEAN celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Japan will continue to cooperate with related countries while observing this trend.