Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida

Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 8:45 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Opening Remarks

Assistance in Response to the Famine Disaster in the Middle East and Africa

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: In response to a request from the United Nations, the Government of Japan plans to extend emergency grant aid of 26 million US dollars (about 2.99 billion yen) in response to the famine in six countries in the Middle East and Africa, namely South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Yemen, and Kenya, including 6 million dollars (690 million yen) for South Sudan, and swiftly provide assistance such as food, nutrition, health and WASH (Water and Sanitation).

Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Reporter: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be visiting Japan from tomorrow. What outcomes do you expect from the Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting? Also, the United States is currently taking steps to review its policy vis-à-vis North Korea, given that the threat of North Korea has risen to a new level. What points will Japan be emphasizing and what does it want reflected in the policy?

Minister Kishida: I am pleased that Secretary Tillerson is coming to Japan so soon after the inauguration of the new administration. I also think this is the right timing for Secretary Tillerson to visit East Asia, including Japan, in light of the increasingly difficult security environment in the region. Secretary Tillerson will make a courtesy call to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and then Secretary Tillerson and I will hold the Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. First I would like to hold a frank exchange of views on various matters, including the issue of North Korea, based on the outcomes of the recent Japan-US Summit Meeting.

As this is a meeting involving two sides, I would like to refrain from making any speculations. Nevertheless, I would say that preparations have been taking place at the working level to ensure that the meeting is meaningful.

Reporter: Does the fact that this meeting is taking place at the timing of a review of the North Korean policy have any important significance?

Minister Kishida: I have heard that the US Government is reviewing its North Korea policy. However, I am not aware of how far the review has progressed. I would also like to refrain from speculating on what might be discussed at our meeting. However, it is a fact that we are faced with a difficult security environment, and it is very important for Japan and the United States to promote frequent and in-depth mutual understanding.

Fortunately, this will mark my third face-to-face meeting with Secretary Tillerson in just over a month since the inauguration of the new administration. I hope to frequently promote mutual understanding at the foreign ministerial level in this difficult and changing security environment.

Japan-US Economic Dialogue

Reporter: I have a question about the economic aspects of the Japan-US relationship. It is being said that the economic dialogue between Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and US Vice President Michael Pence may take place as early as April. I imagine that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently making preparations. What is the status of the Japanese Government’s preparations and how will Japan try to lead the dialogue towards the desired outcomes?

Minister Kishida: Vice President Pence will visit Japan as early as April and engage in an economic dialogue with Deputy Prime Minister Taro at that time. However, the details and schedule are still being arranged. Regarding the content of the dialogue, vice-ministerial level officials from four ministries, including the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, recently visited the United States for preparation. There is still some time left so I think we must continue to make thorough arrangements. Nothing has been finalized regarding the content at this point.

US-China Summit Meeting

Reporter: I have a question about the US-China relations. US media sources are reporting that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit the United States and hold a summit meeting with US President Donald Trump, as early as April. As Foreign Minister, what kind of meeting do you think this will be?

Minister Kishida: I have not heard about any decision regarding the timing of a US-China Summit Meeting. I am not aware of this. Furthermore, I do not think it is appropriate for me to discuss this matter as it concerns the discussions of the leaders of other countries. Japan will be monitoring developments because the US-China relationship affects the entire international community.

Assistance in Response to the Famine Disaster in the Middle East and Africa

Reporter: In your opening remarks, you mentioned assistance for the Middle East. Please explain the aim or purpose.

Minister Kishida: There is a very strong sense of crisis in the international community about the famine disaster, including in the six countries mentioned earlier. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently made a special request in relation to this famine disaster. Japan decided to provide assistance in response to the famine disaster, based in part on this request.

Japan-ROK Relations

Reporter: I have a question about the relationship between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Activity for a presidential election is picking up following the court decision to dismiss President Park Geun-hye. Many of the leading candidates are critical of the ROK’s relations with Japan, including the Japan-ROK agreement. What type of approach or actions will the Japanese Government take in regard to the Presidential election?

Minister Kishida: I would like to refrain from commenting on the presidential election in my position as Foreign Minister because this is an internal matter of another country. However, the ROK is a very important neighbor that shares strategic interests with Japan. Japan must build stable ties with the existing administration and also the new administration following the presidential election. In this respect, we will be closely watching the developments in the ROK with keen interest.

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