Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida

Friday, May 19, 2017, 8:53 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Special Grave Visits to the Four Northern Islands by Airplane

Reporter: Some media sources are reporting that coordination is taking place to begin grave visits in the Northern Territories by airplane for about 70 people from June 18. Please explain the related facts.

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: At the recent Japan-Russia summit meeting, an agreement was reached to realize special grave visits by former island residents by airplane. While coordination is taking place to conduct the visits on a day with good weather as soon as during June, there has not been a decision on the specific schedule at this point. We are still coordinating the visits while taking into account the wishes of former island residents, and intend to make suitable arrangements.

South China Sea Issue

Reporter: China and ASEAN have agreed on a framework for a code of conduct (COC) related to the South China Sea. There was no mention of making the framework legally binding. Please explain your thoughts on this issue.

Minister Kishida: My understanding of this is that the Chinese government agreed to a COC framework with ASEAN countries and made an announcement on the agreement. However, at this point the agreement has not been disclosed and its content has not been clarified. Japan has consistently upheld realizing the rule of law in regard to the South China Sea. The Japanese Government is calling on related countries to quickly formulate an effective COC based on international law and will continue to focus on this effort.

Japan-Republic of Korea Relationship

Reporter: I have a question about the Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) relationship. A special envoy of Mr. Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea, visited Japan and communicated to Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister, that the President would like to meet as soon as possible and resume “shuttle diplomacy.” Please explain how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs plans to proceed with related coordination and the timing. Also, a survey vessel was discovered in the area around Takeshima yesterday. What is your assessment of such an action by the ROK at this timing?

Minister Kishida: Mr. Moon Hee-sang, Special Envoy of the President of the Republic of Korea, and other delegates visited Japan and met with the Prime Minister. During this visit, there was an agreement to promptly hold a summit meeting and the two sides agreed to work together on the arrangement. While details have not been decided yet, I expect coordination to proceed through diplomatic channels.

Regarding the survey vessel, I do not know what the ROK’s intent was in this case. I am not in a position to provide an answer. It has been confirmed that the ROK survey vessel was putting a wire into the water or wandered around in territorial waters. Japan has repeatedly and strongly protested to the ROK side through diplomatic channels, explaining that it cannot accept Korean vessels wandering in the Japanese territorial waters or implementing maritime scientific surveys in Japan’s EEZ without advance approval from Japan, and has demanded that they immediately stop such activity.

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