Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Norio Maruyama

Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 4:33 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Dispatch of the Japan Disaster Relief Team in response to the Damages Caused by the Heavy Rainfall in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Mr. Norio Maruyama, Foreign Press Secretary: Today, May 31, upon the request of the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, the Government of Japan decided to dispatch the Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) Team to Sri Lanka in response to the damages from the floods and landslides caused by the heavy rainfall since May 24 around the Southern and Western areas of the country. The team will depart for Sri Lanka on June 2.

Upon the request of the Government of Sri Lanka, and in light of the friendly relations between Japan and Sri Lanka, Japan decided to provide emergency assistance to Sri Lanka for humanitarian assistance.

(2) Release of Results from a Survey on the Number of Japanese People Living Abroad and Japanese Companies with Overseas Operations

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Today, May 31, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released results from a survey on the number of Japanese people living abroad and Japanese companies with overseas operations.

As of October 1, 2016, approximately 1.34 million Japanese people are living abroad and Japanese companies have approximately 70,000 overseas sites. Both numbers are all-time highs.

The survey of the number of Japanese people living abroad is based on overseas living notifications submitted to Japanese consular offices in other countries. The Passport Act requires submission of the notification by people living abroad for three months or longer. This is important basic data for various tasks including the protection of Japanese people. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hence would like to call on Japanese people living or traveling abroad to submit notifications, to provide notifications when returning to Japan or moving to another country, and to register on the Overseas Travel Registration.

(3) Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, Study Tour for Ambassadors and Other Officials in Japan from Various Countries

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: On Thursday, June 8, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will organize a site visit to Joban Joint Power Co., Ltd.’s Nakoso Power Station and other facilities related to reconstruction of Fukushima, as well as a workshop on high efficiency, low emissions coal technology.

This Study Tour is aimed at introducing to the diplomatic corps the activities for building a model for realizing a hydrogen-based society, which is the policy goal presented in the “Fukushima Plan for a New Energy Society” announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in March 2016 during his visit to Fukushima Prefecture, and discussed at the first meeting of the “Ministerial Council on Renewable Energy, Hydrogen and Related Issues” in April this year. In doing so, this Study Tour aims to disseminate information about Japan’s renewable energy-related facilities and related advanced technologies to the world.

The Ministry organized the first Study Tour in August 2016. During this second Study Tour, in addition to the site visit to a power plant, a workshop on high efficiency, low emissions coal technology will be held in order to deepen participants’ understanding on the current situation of coal-fired power generation in the world.

At Onahama fish market, locally caught fresh fish will be served during lunch in order to highlight the safety and security of food from Fukushima to Ambassadors and other participants.

Explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan

NHK, Sakamoto: There was an explosion in an area where many embassies are located in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan. What is your understanding of the situation at this point?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Regarding the explosion, the Japanese Embassy in Afghanistan reported that it has confirmed the safety of all embassy staff and other Japanese people in Afghanistan. The Ministry established a liaison office chaired by the Director-General of the Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau upon receiving news of the incident from local staff. Furthermore, the local embassy has already established an emergency response headquarters. We will continue to endeavor to confirm the facts related to the incident and gather information.

NHK, Sakamoto: The explosion occurred near the embassies and in the month of Ramadan. Is it possible that this was an act of terrorism?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: We are currently confirming the facts.

Sankei Shimbun, Sugimoto: It appears that two people were injured. Do you have information about their gender, age, and other details?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Windows were shattered at the embassy and two Japanese employees incurred cuts and other light wounds. My understanding is that these are not serious injuries.

Sankei Shimbun, Sugimoto: Do you know their gender, age, or other details?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: I would like to refrain from providing any personal information in this venue.

Release of the Report by the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression

NHK, Sakamoto: The Special Rapporteur for the United Nations Human Rights Council prepared a report on freedom of expression in Japan and recommended that Japan strengthen the independence of its media. The report will be submitted to Session 35 that starts from June 6. What is the opinion of the Japanese Government and how does it plan to respond?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: My understanding is that the Japan visit report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression that you mentioned and the Japanese Government’s explanation and rebuttal are available on the website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. While the Japanese Government is currently reviewing the extent to which its opinions and rebuttals are reflected in the disclosed report, I would like to offer the following initial comments.

The Japanese Government utilized various opportunities to carefully explain to the Special Rapporteur its positions regarding media independence, involvement in history education, the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets, and demonstrations in Okinawa cited in the Special Rapporteur’s report. It is regrettable that a report that does not sufficiently reflect the Japanese Government’s position was released despite our careful explanations. The Government plans to continue dialogue with the Special Rapporteur and will also give full explanations at the United Nations Human Rights Council to ensure that the situation in Japan is properly understood.

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