Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 12:22 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Revisions to the Implementation Ordinance for the Act on Special Measures concerning Cargo Inspections etc.
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Today, the Cabinet approved a government ordinance that revises the Implementation Ordinance for the Act on Special Measures concerning Cargo Inspections etc. to introduce so-called “catch-all controls” that conduct even stricter regulation of the flow of goods between North Korea and the third party countries.
In light of the current situation of ongoing provocative behavior by North Korea, it is important to prevent transfers of related materials and technologies and reduce North Korea’s foreign-currency income in order to halt nuclear and missile developments by North Korea.
From this perspective, revisions to the government ordinance add to the list of items prohibited from being transferred to North Korea based on the UN Security Council Resolution and adopt so-called “catch-all controls” that will enable submission orders and other actions for items that are not clearly designated in regulation scope but have been judged to possibly contribute to nuclear and ballistic missile plans and enhancement of military operational capabilities.
These revisions to the government ordinance are very important in prevention of the transfer of nuclear and missile-related materials to North Korea and Japan intends to rigorously implement them.
Visit to the Four Northern Islands By the Joint Public and Private Research Team on the Joint Economic Activities
Hokkaido Shimbun, Mizuno: I want to ask about the dispatch of a joint public and private research team on the joint economic activities in the four Northern Islands started today. The team does not include Mr. Shunsuke Hasegawa, Mayor of Nemuro, a local city. Some local people are voicing concern that the Russian side might have rejected his involvement because of past comments about the Northern Territories issue and other matters. Please clarify the facts in this case.
Minister Kishida: The members of this public-private research team were selected through coordination with related stakeholders with the aim of having an appropriate composition in order to conduct thorough research and deepen the review of proposals from Japan and Russia.
The Mayor of Nemuro was not selected as a participant, as you noted, but experts in fisheries, tourism, retail, and other areas from Nemuro are taking part to confirm the economic potential of projects, the main purpose of the research. I expect the local viewpoint to be adequately reflected. The team was decided as the result of coordination with related stakeholders.
Reporter: Please indicate whether the Ministry of Foreign Affairs originally included the Mayor of Nemuro on the list because it wanted him to join or if he was not being considered from the outset.
Minister Kishida: This was decided as the result of coordination with related stakeholders. I would like to respect the results of this coordination.
Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons
Freelance, Kamide: I would like to ask about the legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons. The negotiations meeting at the United Nations is beginning. The Mayor of Hiroshima and numerous members of associations of atomic bomb survivors recently visited from Japan. I think it was 2-3 days ago when media sources carried photos of origami cranes placed at the vacant seats at the United Nations of nuclear-weapon states and Japan that are not attending the negotiations meeting, perhaps as an expression of protest or hope to adopt the legally binding instrument. Please explain your thoughts as someone from Hiroshima regarding this sentiment of associations of atomic bomb survivors and also whether it is absolutely certain that Japan will not return to the negotiations.
Minister Kishida: Firstly, the sentiment of the places that suffered atomic bombings and atomic bomb survivors that you mentioned is very valuable, and I take it very seriously. I believe these people and the Japanese Government share the major goal of striving for a world free of nuclear weapons. We must take action from our various positions to work toward the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. To this end, the Government has given serious consideration to how it should act within this context.
Regarding the negotiations on the legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons that you mentioned, Japan refrained from participating because the meeting could deepen divisions between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states given there were no participants from all the nuclear-weapon states or the neutral countries, such as Germany, Canada, and Australia, that have worked with Japan on nuclear arms reduction and non-proliferation.
Japan remains committed to an approach that emphasizes cooperation between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states. It intends to maintain a fundamental stance of realistic and pragmatic efforts within the context of cooperation between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states. It is precisely in this approach that it was possible to arrange the visit to Hiroshima by a sitting president of the United States, and to coordinate the visit by foreign ministers of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, which are nuclear-weapon states, to the place affected by atomic bombing and have them see the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on the occasion of the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. I also called for cooperation between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states at the recently held First Session of the Preparatory Committee of the 2020 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference. The Government intends to firmly maintain its stance of continuing efforts to realize a world free of nuclear weapons by engaging nuclear-weapon states, and plays a role in efforts to realize the major goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.
Freelance, Kamide: Nonetheless, what many people still say is that it is unfortunate and disappointing that Japan, the only country that has been hit by atomic bombings, is not attending. How do you explain this point to the Japanese people?
Minister Kishida: Because Japan is the only country in the world to have suffered atomic bombings during wartime, it must serve as a bridge to achieve cooperation between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states.
The depth of divisions between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states prevented the formulation of a document at the 2015 NPT Review Conference. It was a very serious situation. Japan is determined to promote realistic and pragmatic efforts within the context of cooperation between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states as the only country that suffered wartime atomic bombings in light of these difficulties. I believe it is vital for Japan to patiently and persistently pursue these initiatives. Japan aims to lead discussions of the international community given its responsibility as the only country that suffered wartime atomic bombings.
Nearly One Year Since the Terrorist Attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Asahi Shimbun, Sasakawa: Nearly a year has passed since the terrorist attack on a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh that claimed the lives of 20 people, including seven Japanese people. Please review the lessons learned from this incident. Also, while various efforts have taken place over the past year on safety measures to protect Japanese people, what further initiatives do you think are required?
Minister Kishida: It is deeply regretful that valuable lives were lost in the Dhaka terrorist attack in July 2016. With a strong conviction of ensuring that this type of tragedy never occurs again, the Government prepared a review report based on recommendations from the Review Task Force on the Recommendations of the Bolstering Safety Measures for Japanese Nationals Overseas in August 2016 and launched a network on overseas safety measures for small- and medium-sized enterprises and prepared a manual with Golgo 13 in accordance with this policy. Furthermore, it has strengthened safety measures for overseas educational facilities, students studying abroad, and short-term travelers.
Additionally, putting emphasis on dissemination of timely and appropriate information to Japanese people, “Tabi-Regi” has received registrations from about 1.32 million people over the past year, or roughly six times the amount registered in the first year.
Other initiatives, which address the need for reinforcement of safety measures for people involved in international cooperation projects, include making the Council on Safety Measures for International Cooperation Projects a permanent body, conducting training for safety and terrorism-related measures, and deploying equipment with safety features, such as bulletproof vehicles.
While the Government has taken these initiatives, the current reality is that the number of Japanese people and companies with overseas activities is steadily growing. The situation concerning terrorism in the world has been getting worse at the same time. Given this, MOFA and the rest of the Government must continue utmost efforts to secure the safety of Japanese people. The Government plans to continue to constantly review what needs to be accomplished while taking into account various conditions.
Seventh Round Meeting and Working Group Meetings of Japan-China High-Level Consultation on Maritime Affairs
NHK, Takigawa: I have a question about the Japan-China high-level consultation on maritime affairs. The previous meetings took place in China in December 2016, and I think it was agreed at that time to hold the next meetings in the first half of this year. Please explain where the arrangements currently stand. Also, key topics include gas fields in the East China Sea and the Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism. What type of results are you anticipating in these areas if the next meetings are held relatively soon?
Minister Kishida: The seventh round meeting and working group meetings of Japan-China high-level consultation on maritime affairs will be held in Fukuoka on June 29-30. These meetings take place as a periodic discussion mechanism related to the full scope of maritime issues between Japan and China. The meetings will involve opinion exchanges among maritime-related authorities from both countries on a broad range of issues that interest the two sides. I hope the upcoming meetings will strengthen trust between Japan and China and bolster cooperation.
Regarding the issues of the Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism and development of natural resources in the East China Sea that you mentioned, while I would like to refrain from clarifying details of the discussion at this stage, the maritime meetings will involve extensive exchanges of views on matters related to maritime affairs that interest the two countries, including the ones you mentioned. I am looking forward to improved trust and cooperation between our countries.
Update on Japan-European Union EPA Negotiations
NHK, Sato: I have two questions about the Japan-European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Dr. Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade, commented this week that she is ready to visit Japan for a meeting if it is necessary. Please provide an update on the current situation. My other question pertains to growing concerns that these negotiations might result in compromises on specific items that go beyond the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a recent mega-FTA. Please explain how you intend to approach this concern in the negotiations.
Minister Kishida: Regarding the first point, I spoke with Commissioner Malmström on June 21 by phone. We agreed to continue to engage in direct contact. However, I am not aware of any specific schedule for Commissioner Malmström to visit Japan at this point.
Although I must refrain from commenting specifically on the content of negotiations at this stage, intense negotiations have been taking place over the past two weeks between the chief negotiators and tough negotiations are continuing right now. I think it is vital to continue these negotiations taking into account the Japan-EU Summit Meeting at around the G20 Summit. Japan intends to continue negotiations with utmost effort based firmly on its national interests while also giving consideration to mutual sensitivities.