Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, June 30, 2017, 10:19 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Japan-EU EPA Ministerial Discussions
Reporter: I have a question about the Japan-European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations. Ministerial discussions start today. Important issues still need to be resolved for key items such as cheese and automobiles. What is Japan’s stance in the talks? Please explain your expectations.
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Negotiations by chief negotiators took place for three weeks in Tokyo on the Japan-EU EPA. Intense debates continued up to today. In this context, we intend to engage in ministerial meetings from today. We plan to make our fullest efforts while taking into account the Japan-EU summit meeting at the G20. It is difficult to say anything conclusive because the talks involve two sides. We naturally anticipate strong and tough exchanges. However, the Government will partake in the talks with utmost efforts from the standpoint of our national interests.
U.S. Independent Sanctions against North Korea
Reporter: I have a question about the North Korea situation. The U.S. decided to apply sanctions against Chinese companies and other entities. Please explain the response that Japan is planning.
Minister Kishida: Regarding U.S. sanctions against North Korea, my understanding is that on June 29 the U.S. announced that it will prohibit access to the U.S. financial system by a bank located in China and designated one entity and two individuals as being newly subject to sanctions on the basis of involvement in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to North Korea.
Japan views these measures as an indication of the resolute U.S. stance regarding North Korea, and strongly supports the actions. Japan plans to continue efforts to resolve the various concerns related to North Korea while collaborating with the U.S. and other related countries.
Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly Election
Reporter: The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election campaign is underway. Some issues have arisen with the comment by Ms. Tomomi Inada, Defense Minister, and questions concerning money related to Mr. Hakubun Shimomura, Executive Acting Secretary-General of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Yesterday Mr. Shigeru Uchida, former Chairman, commented on increasingly difficult conditions at the first regular meeting. Please explain how you intend to respond as a member of the Cabinet and chairman of a faction of the LDP.
Minister Kishida: My understanding is that Defense Minister Inada withdrew the comment because it could lead to misperception. Executive Acting Secretary-General Shimomura gave an explanation in a press conference. The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election is being held on Sunday and is hence coming to a close. I think the LDP must thoroughly acknowledge difficult conditions in this election as a ruling party and continue making efforts..
U.S. Independent Sanctions against North Korea
Reporter: Will the Japanese Government consider its own independent measures to coincide with the U.S. sanctions announcement? Please describe the Government’s response.
Minister Kishida: Japan recently introduced “catch-all controls” and it intends to continuously review and implement suitable responses in light of the situation. Japan supports the U.S. response, and must also continue to consider Japan’s own response based on actual conditions. Japan will continue to consider the most effective measures, while factoring in North Korean responses, from this perspective.
Local Ordinance Related to a Comfort Woman Statue
Reporter: The Busan city assembly of the Republic of Korea (ROK) is likely to pass today a local ordinance that calls for city management of a comfort woman statue in the city. This could make it more difficult to remove the statue. What is Japan’s response?
Minister Kishida: I am aware of the situation you mentioned. Japan and the ROK confirmed in their agreement of 2015 that the comfort women issue was finally and irrevocably resolved. Moves to maintain comfort women statues despite the agreement are incompatible with our stance. Japan has explained this stance to the ROK multiple times up to now. The Japanese Government will continue to use all available opportunities to communicate the importance of the implementation of the agreement to the ROK and request faithful implementation.
US-ROK Summit Meeting
Reporter: The US-ROK Summit Meeting takes places from today. While this is a meeting among other countries, collaboration on North Korea and other matters appears to be essential. What type of results are you expecting?
Minister Kishida: I understand that the US-ROK Summit Meeting will occur late at night on June 30 (JST). While I must refrain from commenting because this is an exchange among third-party countries as you noted, I think collaboration between Japan, the U.S., and the ROK is important in a wide range of areas, including the response to North Korea. Japan hopes that this Summit Meeting will confirm the importance of such collaboration.
Lack of a Sense of Urgency from a Long-running Administration
Reporter: This topic is similar to what was asked in the question related to the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly. Minister Inada’s comment is being called a sign of a lack of humility and sense of urgency from a long-running administration. You have been Foreign Minister since the start of the Abe administration. Do you think that officials are exhibiting a lack of humility and sense of urgency following four and a half years?
Minister Kishida: The Government has dealt with various issues over the past four and half years and tackled each with its fullest efforts. However, it is important for the Government to humbly respond to criticism regarding a lack of a sense of urgency in light of recent events. It must also continue efforts to ensure that its responsibilities are met.