Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 8:48 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Ballistic Missile Launch by North Korea
Reporter: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will hold an emergency meeting on May 16 in response to the recent missile launch. Russia is also strongly criticizing the missile launch. What type of discussion will Japan seek at the emergency meeting? Are additional sanctions being considered? What do you envision as Japan’s role?
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I am aware that an emergency meeting of the UNSC is scheduled for the afternoon of May 16, local time. Prior to this meeting, the UNSC issued a press statement on the afternoon of May 15, New York time. We welcome the fact that a press statement has been compiled that strongly condemns the ballistic missile launches on April 29 and May 14 and calls on North Korea to refrain from further nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches. I believe the press statement demonstrates the united stance of the international community that it does not tolerate nuclear and missile developments by North Korea. Welcoming that this clear message was compiled, Japan will participate in the UNSC emergency meeting.
Japan views that it needs to continue to firmly maintain its basic stance of urging North Korea to exercise self-restraint and comply with relevant UNSC resolutions in cooperation with UNSC member countries and other relevant countries. However, regarding what specifically will be requested in this context, I believe it is necessary to refrain from speculating prior to the UNSC discussion. Japan will consider specific measures aimed at sending a clear message while carefully comparing and coordinating the measures with the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and others in cooperation with those countries. In any case, Japan will work with other countries to explore how the international community can demonstrate its readiness to address this issue with a unified and strong determination.
Reporter: Do you intend to directly approach the United States in response to the latest missile launch?
Minister Kishida: Japan approaches the United States at a variety of levels. Yesterday the two sides communicated with each other in a phone call at the level of National Security Council (NSC) officials. Additionally, I will have a telephone talk with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this morning after this press conference.
Formation of a New Faction in the LDP
Reporter: Yesterday the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) Aso faction, Santo faction, and Tengenkai announced that they will merge. They state that they intend to form two major factions within the party capable of undertaking the administration. Please explain your view of this development and how the Kochikai plans to be involved in or distance itself from this faction.
Minister Kishida: Regarding your question on how it will be involved, there is not any direct involvement because this was a merger of other factions. Faction mergers have few precedents, and I believe they are rare. I will be closely watching how it unfolds with interest.
Reporter: I think Minister Taro Aso was also hoping to include the Kochikai in this merger. Do you expect the Kochikai to continue operating on its own?
Minister Kishida: It is very important that factions compete with each other or at times cooperate in considering various political activities. It is important for us to build friendly relations by cooperating with other factions where we can. Nothing specific has been decided beyond that.
Ballistic Missile Launch by North Korea
Reporter: It is being reported that President Vladimir Putin of Russia commented that North Korea’s missile launch is not a direct threat to Russia. I would think it is important to send a strong message in collaboration with other countries at the United Nations (UN) and other fora. Against this backdrop, Russia stated that this is not a direct threat, suggesting that there is some difference in perception. Please explain what you think about this and whether Japan plans to approach Russia.
Minister Kishida: I have not fully confirmed the intent of this comment. That said, various efforts have continued to be made based on the recognition that this type of provocative act by North Korea poses a threat to the region and the international community as a whole. Russia is a permanent member of the UNSC and also a member of the Six-Party Talks. There has been discussion from before of the need for Russia, too, to act responsibly. We need to consider working together with Russia on this issue through channels such as the UNSC and UN. With this thought, Japan will continue to maintain communication through UNSC discussions and discussions in various international fora.
Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation
Reporter: I have a question regarding Japan-China relations. I would like to ask for your views, including the Japanese Government’s opinion on whether the international frameworks being advocated by China, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the “One Belt, One Road” concept, contribute to regional peace and stability.
Minister Kishida: The “Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation” completed its two-day agenda. I understand that meaningful discussion took place among the participants from various countries on key points related to contributing to sustainable regional development and other matters. Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai of the LDP attended the high-level meeting at this forum. In his remarks, he expressed his hope that the “One Belt, One Road” concept is open to all countries and is promoted as a high quality concept that meets international standards. I have been briefed that State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yoshifumi Matsumura made similar comments at a different speaking engagement. I think it is significant that Japan clearly expressed its view at this forum. Japan’s view, as indicated in the remarks I just mentioned, is that we hope the concept is open to all countries and is promoted as a high quality concept that meets international standards.
Regarding the AIIB, Japan maintains its existing policy of closely following the AIIB, with our attention on whether it contributes to sustainable development.