Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Norio Maruyama
Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 4:34 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Visits to Africa by State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishi, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Sonoura, and Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Takei
Mr. Norio Maruyama, Foreign Press Secretary: State Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobuo Kishi, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kentaro Sonoura, and Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Shunsuke Takei are visiting Africa and other locations this week, as well as last week. I will begin with a review of their trips.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Sonoura is visiting the United Arab Emirates, Republic of Mauritius, Republic of Kenya, Republic of Madagascar, and Republic of Mozambique from June 24 to July 1, and Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Takei is visiting the Republic of Zambia, the Kingdom of Swaziland, and the Republic of Namibia from June 26 to July 3.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Sonoura met with H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, in the United Arab Emirates on June 25. In the meeting, they discussed circumstances related to Qatar, and in addition to requesting consideration for the activities of Japanese companies, also discussed measures to strengthen positive economic relations as well as the “strategic partnership” between the two countries in a broad range of areas, including political, education, and cultural areas.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Sonoura made a courtesy call to H.E. Mr. Pravind Jugnauth, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius, on June 26. Additionally, he held a meeting with Amb. Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya, on June 27. He will visit Madagascar on June 28 and Mozambique on June 29-30, engaging in opinion exchanges with government officials in these countries. He also plans to meet with Ms. Nomaindiya Mfeketo, Deputy Foreign Minister of South Africa, during the return trip.
Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Takei visited Zambia on June 26-27 and made a courtesy call to H.E. Mr. Edgar Chagawa. Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia. He also held a meeting with the Hon. Mr. Harry Kalaba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zambia. He will visit Swaziland on June 28-29 and Namibia from June 29 to July 2, engaging in opinion exchanges with government officials.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishi visited the Republic of Uganda on June 22-23 and attended the Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees co-hosted by the Republic of Uganda and the United Nations. At the summit meeting, he explained Japan’s policy of comprehensive refugee assistance and its implementation in Uganda and announced about $50 million in assistance, including $10 million in new assistance, for Uganda.
These various visits aim to strengthen bilateral relations and significantly contribute to bolstering cooperation with African countries ahead of the TICAD Ministerial Meeting.
(2) Visits to Georgia and Armenia by Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Takisawa
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Georgia and the Republic of Armenia. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Motome Takisawa is visiting these two countries with the aim of further strengthening bilateral ties and bolstering cooperation in international forums.
He is visiting Georgia during June 26-28 and spoke briefly with H.E. Mr. Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia, and is meeting today with H.E. Mr. Mikheil Janelidze, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. He will visit Armenia during June 28-29 and plans to meet with government officials.
Both countries are located in the Caucasus region and are contiguous to Europe, Asia and the Middle East, giving them a very important geopolitical position. I think Japan’s contribution to stability and prosperity in this region is important to international society.
(3) Program to promote local municipalities by utilizing the Iikura House
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: On July 3, a Joint Reception will be held by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Governor of Fukuoka Prefecture at the Iikura House.
This reception is a program co-hosted by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and a head of local government to promote a variety of charms of local municipalities by utilizing the Iikura House as a venue. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) supports local governments for regional revitalization and promotion of the local economy, while taking in dynamic growth of overseas countries.
Guests will be entertained by the introduction of Fukuoka’s tourism and cuisine promotion program, the exhibition of traditional crafts and the performance of “KAGURA,” a new generation musical instrument developed by a company in Fukuoka (an instrument which can create music on PC monitors/screens by detecting performers’ body motions through moving images taken by a web camera). “Charm” of Fukuoka will be widely promoted to the diplomatic corps and foreign chambers of commerce stationed in Tokyo as well as the tourist industry.
Prior to the reception, seminars entitled “Seminars on the wonders of Fukuoka” will be held by Fukuoka Prefecture with the cooperation of MOFA on the same day at the Iikura House.
Taiwan’s Participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
Caixin Media, Masutomo: I have two questions. The first is regarding the fact that Taiwan’s Premier commented this week that Taiwan wants to participate in the TPP11 and I think the Japanese Government welcomed this suggestion. Related to this, could you give an update on progress in the Japan-Taiwan FTA negotiations, though they have not started yet, and the way in which they might be linked to the TPP 11. The other question is about the provisional release of Liu Xiaobo, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, by China following a diagnosis of late-stage liver cancer, another topic this week. What is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ view of this situation?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: You asked first about Taiwan’s participation in the TPP. The TPP is an open agreement that aims to expand a free and fair economic zone regionally and worldwide. The Joint Statement at the TPP Ministerial Meeting held in May confirmed a vision of expanding the TPP to include other economies that can accept the TPP’s high standards. From this perspective, Japan welcomes that various other countries and regions, including Taiwan, as you noted, continue to express interest in joining the TPP. Japan intends to take a leading role in discussions toward the early entry into force of the TPP, including a senior working-level meeting scheduled to take place in Japan in July, and to provide necessary information to Taiwan and other interested countries and regions.
Regarding the possibility of an EPA between Japan and Taiwan, this is related to economic collaboration between Japan and Taiwan. I think it is appropriate for Japan to move forward in a review of the format and other aspects in light of Japan’s fundamental position in relation to Taiwan as well as broad economic ties.
As to the other question about Liu Xiaobo, the Ministry is aware of the media reports. The Government, as it has consistently stated up to now, believes that freedom, respect for basic human rights, and rule of law are universal values in the international community. It is important that these values are guaranteed in China too. Japan will continue to closely monitor this situation with strong interest.