Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida

Tuesday, July 4, 2017, 11:06 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

(1) The Ballistic Missile Fired By North Korea

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Summarizing various information at the current point in time, a ballistic missile was fired from the west coast of North Korea at about 9:40 a.m. this morning, and it is believed to have fallen into the Sea of Japan within our exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Ministry of Defense is currently analyzing the details.

This action is entirely unacceptable to Japan, and the Government immediately issued a serious protest against North Korea through the “embassy” route in Beijing, condemning the launch in the strongest possible terms.

As North Korea has persisted in making provocative actions by ignoring the repeated warnings from the international community, it is now time for increased pressure and not for dialogue. The United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 2356 was recently adopted. I have once again instructed the Ministry to closely cooperate with the U.S., the Republic of Korea (ROK), and other members of the international community while calling on China and Russia to play a further role, to strengthen pressure on North Korea and strongly urge North Korea to take concrete actions.

A Japan-U.S.-ROK Summit Meeting is also scheduled on the occasion of the G20 Summit. We will use this and other opportunities to thoroughly confirm cooperation.

(2) Visit to Belgium (Japan-EU EPA Negotiations)

Minister Kishida: I plan to visit Belgium from July 5 to 6, and meet with Dr. Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade, to discuss the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in Brussels.

Tough negotiations are continuing that take into consideration the discussions at the Ministerial Meeting held from June 30 to July 1. Although I cannot predict the outcome of the negotiations, I would like to negotiate with the strong desire to achieve agreement on fundamental elements of the Japan-EU EPA this time.

North Korea’s Ballistic Missile Launch

Reporter: Regarding North Korean missiles, there have been efforts to strengthen cooperation in the international community at the heads-of-state level between Japan, the U.S., the ROK, and other countries. What is the state of considerations for discussions or telephone talks at the foreign minister level?

Minister Kishida: Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation is extremely important, and thorough cooperation must be confirmed at every level. I would like to confirm cooperation at the foreign minister level as well. Telephone talks and other means will be considered depending on what has been determined to be necessary based on looking at the situation. However, at the present point in time, nothing specific has yet been decided.

Reporter: For the most current missile, the time until impact appears to have been much longer than in the past. How do you perceive North Korea’s capabilities and current level of improvement?

Minister Kishida: The state and capabilities of the current ballistic missile are now being analyzed by the Ministry of Defense. The Government must thoroughly evaluate the situation. In any event, I would like to refrain from commenting on specific details of that analysis, as it is being clarified from various viewpoints based on information gathering capabilities and other factors.

Reporter: The U.S. has implemented its own additional independent sanctions. What is the current state of Japan’s consideration of independent measures and what sort of approach is being considered?

Minister Kishida: Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation and Japan-U.S. cooperation are extremely important. The international community agrees that it is high time to be united to put pressure to North Korea. Thus, Japan must constantly examine what actions would be most effective while firmly assessing factors such as North Korea’s reaction. No specific measures have yet been decided, but as I have just mentioned, Japan will continue its considerations from the perspective of what action would be most effective.

Japan-EU EPA Negotiations

Reporter: In relation to the Japan-EU EPA, there will be ministerial consultations tomorrow and the next day and discussions at the head-of-state level. Given the various requests from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Komeito, and others, how do you think the conclusion will be reached?

Minister Kishida: Negotiations will take place with Commissioner Malmström in Brussels, taking into consideration the recent negotiation at the ministerial level, and all efforts will be used to reach a result with agreement on fundamental elements. We will be mindful of the sensitivities of both countries while endeavoring to achieve the very best result based on our national interests until conclusion.

Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly Election

Reporter: I have a question about the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election. The LDP suffered a major defeat. In addition, opposition parties are calling for deliberations when the diet is not in session. I believe acceptance of deliberations when the diet is not in session will also be required from within the ruling party as well, and the response is no doubt being discussed. As a minister, would you please give us your thoughts firstly on your reaction to this election and in relation to deliberations when the diet is not in session?

Minister Kishida: Firstly, the election results are considered very serious for the LDP. The Government and the LDP must accept the results, with everyone taking firm action to address the situation. We must work together to restore public confidence by taking firm action, including fulfilling accountability.

But deliberations when the diet is not in session will be a matter for the Diet to decide, so I must refrain from providing any specific comments from my position.

Formation of a New LDP Faction

Reporter: Yesterday, a new faction led by Mr. Aso was formed within the LDP, and it is now the second-largest faction within the LDP. At the press conference, Mr. Aso, the faction chair, stated he still did not know your thoughts on cooperation with the Kochikai faction, suggesting that he had not yet talked about an agreement. Do you plan to talk toMr. Aso about a union and about the concept of a large Kochikai?

Minister Kishida: A new faction has been formed. Unions with such factions have, at least in recent times, been unusual, so I am paying close attention. I will monitor the developments with interest.

Regarding the Kochikai, various initiatives have proceeded with the commemoration of 60 years since its establishment. A symposium will be held this evening. Confirming solidarity through such events is the most important aspect. I believe it is important to maintain friendly relations and cooperate with other factions. However, in terms of a merger, no specific decisions have been made at this point in time, as you stated.

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