Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, March 24, 2017, 8:43 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Japan-Republic of Korea Relations
Reporter: Some media sources are reporting that the Republic of Korea (ROK) plans to conduct military exercises in Japan’s territorial waters around Takeshima. Does Japan intend to protest or take any actions in response?
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: What you just mentioned absolutely cannot be accepted from the standpoint of Japan’s position regarding its territorial sovereignty over Takeshima, and is regrettable. Japan protested to the ROK side immediately after learning about this situation. We have already made a protest.
Reporter: You have explained that Japan will make a comprehensive decision on the return to the ROK of Mr. Yasumasa Nagamine, Japan’s Ambassador to the ROK. I think this type of activity by the ROK side factors in negatively. Could this result in a further delay of the timing of his return?
Minister Kishida: Japan is comprehensively reviewing various circumstances and will make a decision on the timing of a return of Ambassador Nagamine from this perspective, as I have been explaining for some time. We have not changed this stance. The ROK will be holding a presidential election on May 9. Japan will comprehensively consider various factors, such as the nature of the new administration, Japan-ROK and Japan-US-ROK cooperation in dealing with the North Korea situation, the importance of both countries fully implementing the Japan-ROK agreement, which has been well-received internationally, and the international obligation to implement the agreement, and other matters in order to reach a decision. We will continue our review.
Reporter: The election takes place on May 9. If you take into account the results of the election, are you suggesting that it might be difficult for the Ambassador to return prior to then?
Minister Kishida: We intend to comprehensively review a variety of points, including this aspect.
Moritomo Gakuen Situation
Reporter: Mr. Yasunori Kagoike, head of Moritomo Gakuen, provided sworn testimony yesterday. While the Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Diet Affairs Committee stated that the testimony finalized this matter, do you think the situation has been finalized with the testimony? Opposition parties are calling for sworn testimony from the spouse of the Prime Minister. What type of response do you think is appropriate?
Minister Kishida: Yesterday’s sworn testimony clarified the thoughts and statements of Mr. Kagoike. Today, the budget committee is holding a session. While I imagine that this matter might be raised at the session, the Government has explained its stance and views up to now and will give its explanations again if questions are posed.
Reporter: What about the spouse of the Prime Minister?
Minister Kishida: I think various points are likely to be explained.
Negotiation of a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons
Reporter: Negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons is taking place on Monday of next week. What will the Japanese Government do? Additionally, administrations, citizens, and atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki are daily calling for participation. What are your thoughts on the situation?
Minister Kishida: I have heard the various voices, and I intend to extensively explain Japan’s position if we decide to attend. However, the Government has not made a decision on its position yet. It is currently in the process of making a final determination.
Reporter: You initially expressed a policy of robust and proactive participation. What is the bottleneck making it necessary to spend so much time on a decision? Some media reports suggest that Japan is facing pressure from the US government. What is being discussed with the US government?
Minister Kishida: The key point is what will be discussed at the meeting. We are looking at the format of discussion and environment and whether Japan will have an opportunity to sufficiently explain its views. We are currently making a final decision on these points.
Reporter: Are you exchanging views with the US government?
Minister Kishida: Japan regularly seeks mutual understanding with the US government on a variety of matters.
Reporter: Are you discussing the response to this meeting?
Minister Kishida: Promotion of close mutual understanding takes place on a variety of matters.