Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida

Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 8:51 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Opening Remarks

Release of the White Paper on Development Cooperation 2016

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: At today’s Cabinet Meeting, I reported on the release of the White Paper on Development Cooperation 2016.

The feature theme of the 2016 White Paper is “The G7 Ise-Shima Summit and Development Cooperation Charter.” It places the spotlight on how Japan, the country holding the G7 presidency, sincerely addressed development and global issues faced by the world and led the discussions of the international community.

I hope that this White Paper further deepens the Japanese people’s interest in and understanding of Japan’s development cooperation and gains their further support.

Cabinet Decision on the Bill concerning Tero-to-Junbi-Zai (the Offence to Criminalize an Act in Furtherance of Planning to Commit Terrorism and Other Serious Crimes)

Reporter: Today, at the Cabinet Meeting, a Cabinet Decision was adopted regarding the bill concerning Tero-to-Junbi-Zai. Please once again explain the significance of passing this bill which has strong resistance from opposition parties.

Minister Kishida: As you noted, at the Cabinet Meeting today, the Cabinet approved the relevant domestic legislation necessary for the conclusion of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (the TOC Convention). The TOC Convention has already been concluded by 187 countries and regions. We consider it important that Japan becomes a State Party of the TOC Convention and combats organized crimes, including terrorism, as Japan prepares to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.

By enacting Tero-to-Junbi-Zai, which is necessary to conclude the TOC Convention, Japan will be able to prevent terrorism and other organized crimes. In addition, it will promote international cooperation and strengthen initiatives against international organized crimes, including terrorism, that is becoming more serious. We believe this has great significance.

Japan-Russia Relationship

Reporter: This past weekend, a variety of dialogues took place between Japan and Russia, including the vice-ministerial-level meeting on joint economic activities, a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and Japan-Russia “2+2”. There seemed to be some differences between the two countries over pressure on North Korea and issues related to China. What is your assessment of all of the meetings with Russia?

Minister Kishida: First of all, Japan and Russia are important players in the Asia-Pacific region and are also neighbors. Maintaining communications between our countries at a variety of levels not only fosters trust between the countries, but also contributes to regional peace and stability. We agreed at yesterday’s Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting to work toward the realization of a visit by the Prime Minister to Russia in late April. We intend to steadily accumulate results and proceed with the preparations for the Prime Minister’s visit to Russia scheduled for late April.

Indications of a Ballistic Missile Launch by North Korea

Reporter: While these consultations were taking place, North Korea once again warned about a future ballistic missile launch, as well as announced that it successfully carried out a test of a high-output engine, a rocket engine. What are your thoughts about these developments?

Minister Kishida: Media outlets are reporting on moves by North Korea as you mentioned. These repeated provocations are absolutely intolerable. Japan must continue to fully urge North Korea to comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and other commitments and refrain from provocations, while closely cooperating with the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and other related countries.

Japan must also fully stand ready to carry out advanced surveillance to deal with any situation. Japan needs to be fully prepared to protect the lives and livelihoods of its people.

Cabinet Decision on the Bill concerning Tero-to-Junbi Zai

Reporter: I have some questions about Tero-to-Junbi-Zai. I understand that the number of crimes which will be criminalized upon planning under Tero-to-Junbi-Zai has been reduced to less than half of those under the past bill. I would like to once again ask about the terms or logic behind this reduction. Additionally, I believe the Government submitted a written response in 2005 stating that the Convention does not allow to select the crimes which will be criminalized upon agreeing based on their contents. What are your thoughts about consistency with this written response?

Minister Kishida: As explained multiple times at committee meetings of the Diet, the Government has submitted a related bill necessary for the conclusion of the TOC Convention to the Diet several times. I believe it was three times. Various questions and concerns were raised about whether the law might apply to ordinary people. The government eventually failed to get the approval of the past bills. However, the importance of the TOC Convention is something that I explained earlier. The Government prepared a new bill that took into account how it should be structured and whether it could be further clarified so that it does not apply to ordinary people. This review led to consideration of the options in Article 5 of the TOC Convention. We also looked at how utilization of the option might enable clarification that the law will not be applied to ordinary people are not covered. Specifically, the review considered limitation of scope to groups that engage in organized crime through using the option and clarification that the law will not be applied to ordinary people. This approach also limited the scope of crimes which will be criminalized upon planning under Tero-to-Junbi-Zai.

The Government created this new bill in light of results from the various discussions conducted thus far and the review described above. This is the background to the Cabinet Decision today. The logic for the narrower scope of crimes, which will be criminalized upon planning under Tero-to-Junbi-Zai is what I just explained. In any case, this is an important bill in order to conclude the TOC Convention. The Government intends to continue its efforts toward passage of this bill.

Reporter: Is the Government standing by its original stance explained in the past written response?

Minister Kishida: Using the logic I just explained, past bills on this topic were defined using an interpretation of Article 5 of the TOC Convention in its main form. We prepared an entirely new bill this time. The current bill utilizes the Article 5 options that restrict its scope. As a result, the crimes which will be criminalized upon planning under Tero-to-Junbi-Zai are limited in comparison to the past bills.

Job Arrangement for a Former Diplomat

Reporter: I have a question about job placements for former officials by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). There have been a suggestion that a former diplomat from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) may have benefited from job placement. Media reports that MEXT will be giving a report to the Reemployment Surveillance Commission today. Has MOFA obtained results from its investigation?

Minister Kishida: The MOFA investigated the situation that you mentioned in response to the suggestion. We have not found any direct contact between the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and MOFA related to the subject case. The main point is what type of contacts took place between MEXT and MOFA. MEXT is also continuing its investigation ahead of an official announcement.

MOFA is still working on its investigation too because it addresses interactions between MEXT and MOFA. MOFA intends to disclose results after the final confirmation. We will continue its investigation.

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