Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, June 16, 2017, 9:44 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Location for the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: At today’s Cabinet Meeting, I explained that Yokohama will be the location for the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICADVII), which will be held in Japan in 2019, and received the approval of the Cabinet.
The next step is coordinating the specific timing of the meeting with African nations.
A TICAD Ministers’ Meeting is scheduled to be held in Mozambique on August 24-25, 2017.
Passage of the Bill concerning the amendment of the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds, which will newly criminalize the preparation of acts of terrorism and other organized crime
Reporter: The bill concerning the amendment of the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds, which will newly criminalize the preparation of acts of terrorism and other organized crime was approved and passed yesterday. Please explain your thoughts on the passage and the outlook for ratifying the convention.
Minister Kishida: As I have explained on previous occasions, the bill concerning the amendment of the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds, which will newly criminalize the preparation of acts of terrorism and other organized crime is necessary in order to ratify United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), which has already been ratified by 187 countries and regions.
Japan has been requested to ratify UNTOC on several occasions, including in related UN resolutions and G7/G8 joint declarations.
Ratification of UNTOC is very important for cooperating with the international community to prevent terrorism and other organized crime ahead of time, particularly with growing focus on Japan from the international community with the upcoming Rugby World Cup Tournament and Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. I think it is significant that Japan has passed the bill that makes this possible.
The Government intends to ratify UNTOC as soon as possible following the passage of the bill.
Special Grave Visits by Former Island Residents by Plane
Reporter: The grave visits to the Northern Territories by plane will take place in two days from now. How do you expect the grave visit to contribute to advancing efforts toward concluding a peace treaty?
Minister Kishida: As you have noted, special grave visits to Kunashiri and Etorofu Islands by plane has been arranged for June 18, weather permitting, with return on the same day. This will be the first time that a grave visit in the Northern Territories is conducted by plane. The visiting group is expected to 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.
The arrangement and implementation of this visit has been made from a humanitarian perspective of reducing physical burden on the 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 contribute significantly towards concluding a peace treaty. We will continue making steady progress with discussions while bearing in mind the strong feelings of former island residents.
Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons
Reporter: Negotiations for a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons resumed in New York yesterday. The Japanese Government announced at the end of March that it will not participate in the negotiations. Please explain whether Japan will maintain this policy of not participating and its reasons for doing so.
Minister Kishida: Japan’s fundamental position on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is consistent. This consists of two important perspectives, namely advancing concrete and practical measures, and promoting close cooperation with both nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states.
The negotiations conference for a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, meanwhile, does not correspond to Japan’s position of placing emphasis on cooperation among the two sides, in the sense that it deepens the divide between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states. Japan believes that the conference may end up having the reverse effect of deepening the divide between these two sides. Our view on this matter remains unchanged.
Japan will continue to lead international dialogue in line with the fundamental position that I just explained of proceeding with the cooperation of nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states.
Reporter: While you have repeatedly explained Japan’s policy, some people are strongly urging the Japanese Government to change its policy stance, as seen in the recent visits you received from the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with requests to that effect. Do you think your aforementioned explanation has the understanding of the public?
Minister Kishida: The views of residents of the sites of atomic bombings and atomic bomb survivors hold great weight and the Government must listen to them carefully and take them into account. We all share the major goal of realizing a world without nuclear weapons and must continue to make efforts to achieve this from our various positions.
The Government’s role is also important in this context. There have been no inconsistencies in the Government’s role and initiatives. I believe it is important for Japan to consistently assert its stance as it leads the efforts of the international community.
Regarding these efforts, I recently attended the Preparatory Committee of the NPT Review Conference and my remarks were understood and appreciated by many participants. This response shows that Japan needs to continue emphasizing and maintaining these policies and initiatives. I intend to continue explaining Japan’s consistent policy to the international community and also within Japan.
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
Reporter: The annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is taking place in the Republic of Korea today. What is your view of this event?
Minister Kishida: Japan’s position on the AIIB is as I have constantly stated. Namely, Japan places importance on whether or not AIIB initiatives comply with international standards and contribute to the sustainable development of the international community. Japan will continue to monitor the situation.
Comments by Russian President Putin on the Northern Territories Issue
Reporter: Russian President Vladimir Putin commented in a TV program that national security issues must be addressed in order to resolve the Northern Territories issue. He also made a similar comment recently. What is your reaction to this comment and what is the potential impact on territorial negotiations?
Minister Kishida: Japan and Russia are continuing to seek to foster closer mutual understanding through summit meetings and other means. The Japan-Russia Summit Meeting held in April resulted in concrete progress on points of agreement between the two leaders confirmed in December 2016. The two leaders intend to continue holding constructive discussions toward the conclusion of a peace treaty.
Given this context, I would like to refrain from commenting on individual statements reported by the media and other sources. In any case, Japan will continue to persistently engage in negotiations based on a fundamental position of concluding a peace treaty that clarifies the attribution of the Four Northern Islands.
Kake Educational Institution Issue
Reporter: Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hirokazu Matsuno confirmed the existence of documents related to the establishment of a new veterinary medical school by Kake Educational Institution that he previously claimed did not exist, after it became evident through media reports. What is your view of the Government’s handling of this matter?
Minister Kishida: Regarding the response by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), I believe this was the result of MEXT, led by Minister Matsuno, thoroughly investigating the manner internally and responding appropriately to the matter.
I would like to refrain from making any specific comments in my position. However, my understanding is that this is an issue that the Government should address in an appropriate manner based on suitable actions by MEXT, the Cabinet Office, and related ministries and agencies.