Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, May 9, 2017, 8:44 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
North Korea Issue
Reporter: Regarding the issue of North Korea, China is calling for consultations through dialogue and Russia is calling for dialogue via the Six-Party Talks. U.S. President Donald Trump has indicated a willingness to engage in discussions under the right circumstances. Against this backdrop, there are media reports about secret discussions between the United States and North Korea in Norway. What is your view of these developments toward the holding of discussions, given the current situation in which the prospects of North Korea abandoning its nuclear program are low?
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I am aware of the various media reports on the matter that you mentioned. I am aware of them, but I would like to refrain from commenting on individual reports. With regard to the issue of North Korea, Japan has continually stated the importance of North Korea demonstrating concrete actions and resolve toward denuclearization in order to conduct meaningful dialogue. I believe Japan and the United States agree on this part. In any case, it is important for Japan and the United States to coordinate our policies, and Japan intends to continue to thoroughly maintain close communication with related countries.
Reporter: Do you think the Six-Party Talks proposed by Russia should be held right away?
Minister Kishida: I have continually stated that while Japan recognizes the Six-Party Talks as a meaningful framework, North Korea must demonstrate concrete actions and resolve toward denuclearization in order to conduct meaningful dialogue. This is as I have just explained. We are not in a situation now to immediately start the Six-Party Talks.
Reporter: Regarding the debate on constitutional amendment, Prime Minister Abe has mentioned that he hoped to see an amended Constitution put into effect in 2020, and he also gave instructions to accelerate the debate at a meeting of the Board of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) yesterday. There is a proposal to retain the first two paragraphs of Article 9 and add a third paragraph on the Self-Defense Forces. Some people think this approach might make it is easier to gain support from Komeito. What is your view of these discussions?
Minister Kishida: I think it is meaningful for people to present various opinions and views regarding constitutional amendment, in the sense that it encourages active debate. I expect debates to continue within the LDP and the Diet’s Commission on the Constitution. I expect discussions to be held based on what the Japanese people seek and what they need.
Reporter: Do you think Prime Minister Abe’s proposal is likely to gain support?
Minister Kishida: I think that various opinions exist and that the expression of such opinions is meaningful in terms of encouraging active debate.
Reporter: On a television program yesterday, Mr. Makoto Koga appreciated Prime Minister Abe’s proposal as one idea. You stated at a meeting held in fall 2015 as head of a political faction that the revision of Article 9 was not considered for the time being and that the Kochikai had strong attachment to the current Constitution. Please explain your view as head of the Kochikai on revising Article 9 and adding a third paragraph to it.
Minister Kishida: There are a variety of opinions. Article 9 has been a matter that the LDP has long discussed. The opinion you just mentioned has also been expressed. Various opinions exist. This is meaningful in terms of encouraging active debate.
Reporter: Has your view as head of the Kochikai changed?
Minister Kishida: Various opinions exist. My statement on the matter is as you have already noted.
ROK Presidential Election
Reporter: Voting in the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) presidential election is currently taking place. While we obviously do not know the results yet, what are your thoughts about the impact on Japan? Also, please explain once again the Government’s stance regarding the Japan-ROK agreement and whether or not you have an outlook for holding a Japan-China-ROK Summit meeting after the presidential election finishes?
Minister Kishida: The ROK is Japan’s most important neighbor that shares strategic interests with Japan. Japan is closely following the developments in the ROK with great interest.
Furthermore, I think cooperation and collaboration between Japan and the ROK is vital to regional peace and stability, including with regard to the issue of North Korea. A new administration will be formed and Japan hopes to cooperate with the new administration in a variety of areas, including the Japan-ROK agreement. Japan considers the steady implementation of the Japan-ROK agreement to be important.
Regarding the Japan-China-ROK Summit, Japan, as the Chair country, has been calling for the holding of the Summit. Japan will continue to make coordination with the relevant countries, including China, regarding the specific timing.