Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, June 9, 2017, 8:48 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
(1) Special Grave Visit by Former Island Residents by Plane
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Through coordination efforts based on the agreement made at the Japan-Russia Summit meeting in April, an arrangement has been reached for a special grave visit to Kunashiri and Etorofu Islands by plane on June 18, if weather allows, with return on the same day. This will be the first time to conduct a grave visit in the Northern Territories by plane.
The visiting group will consist of about 70 people, mainly former residents of the Northern Territories and their families. Government attendees will be State Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobuo Kishi and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cabinet Office.
This arrangement came together and is being implemented from a humanitarian perspective of alleviating physical burden on former island residents, who are at an advanced age, as much as possible. Japan expects this type of cooperation between Japan and Russia regarding the Four Northern Islands to make a substantial positive contribution to concluding a peace treaty. We will continue making steady progress with discussions with an understanding of the earnest feelings of former island residents.
(2) Additional designation of individuals and entities subject to asset freezing measures based on the UNSC resolution
Minister Kishida: Today the Government of Japan will notify that it will additionally designate individuals and entities subject to asset freezing and related measures based on United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2356 unanimously adopted by the Security Council on Saturday (June 3), in response to North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches and other activities.
Japan will continue to closely collaborate and cooperate with concerned countries, including steadily implementing this resolution and ensuring its effectiveness to further enhance pressure upon North Korea.
North Korea Issue
Reporter: I have a question about the situation in North Korea. North Korea has launched a series of ballistic missiles recently, but yesterday launched surface-to-ship missiles, which differ from ballistic missiles. What is your view of the aim of this action?
Minister Kishida: North Korea has been continuing provocations since the start of this year. Such provocations are absolutely intolerable. I am not in a position to explain North Korea’s aims with certainty. We need to continue to work to gather and analyze information. We consider that North Korea may continue to engage in provocations. Japan will continue to maintain high-level surveillance and take steps in collaboration with the international community.
Special Grave Visit by Former Island Residents by Plane
Reporter: Please share some more details on the grave visit mentioned in your opening statement. You mentioned visiting the four islands. Please indicate whether you have confirmed the islands that will be visited and whether this is a one-time event or visits will continue from next year as well.
Minister Kishida: The airplane route for the grave visit this time will be departure from Nakashibestu Airport to Kunashiri Island and then proceeding to Etorofu Island. The same path will be taken on the return to Nakashibestu. We are currently finalizing the details.
Regarding what will happen from next year, our fundamental view is that the visits should continue from next year as well from the perspective of alleviating burden on former island residents who are getting older. While it is necessary to confirm the status of the arrangements with the Russian side, the two leaders have basically agreed to the grave visits by plane and I think it is important that they continue.