Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Norio Maruyama
Wednesday, July 12, 2017, 4:40 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Inscription of “The Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region” on UNESCO’s World Heritage List
Mr. Norio Maruyama, Foreign Press Secretary: The Government of Japan is delighted that on Sunday, July 9, at the 41st Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee held in Krakow, Poland, a decision was made to inscribe on the World Heritage List “The Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region,” which Japan had nominated as a candidate for the list.
I am particularly pleased that all eight component parts of this cultural heritage have been inscribed. The Island of Okinoshima has continued to be a sacred place for worship since the ancient time, and the Munakata Taisha and the mounted tomb group have nurtured and passed along these beliefs. I believe this heritage was inscribed as a result of the Committee understanding and appreciating the fact that the component parts are integral in cultural and historical terms and that the beliefs have been continued without disruption from the ancient time to the present. I heartily welcome the new World Heritage site from Japan. In addition, I would like to once again express my respect to all the people who have preserved and inherited this precious cultural heritage along with the living tradition.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to promote overseas communication of Japan’s World Heritage sites, including “The Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region,” in cooperation with other relevant ministries and agencies, from the standpoint of highlighting the appeal of regional areas.
(2) Deposit of the Instruments of Acceptance of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, and the United Nations Convention against Corruption
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Today, Japan deposited the instruments of acceptance of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) with the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) and concluded this treaty.
The UNTOC is a very important treaty that has already been concluded by 187 countries and regions. Japan had been repeatedly asked to conclude this treaty in related UN resolutions and at the G7/G8 Summit.
It is highly significant that Japan concluded the UNTOC and became the 188th signatory amid heightened focus on Japan by the international community with the upcoming Rugby World Cup Tournament in 2019 and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.
Japan will further strengthen its cooperation with the international community on countermeasures against organized crimes, including terrorism.
Besides the deposit of the instrument of acceptance of this treaty, Japan also deposited instruments of acceptance of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea, and Air, and the United Nations Convention against Corruption that supplement the UNTOC.
Following the conclusion of these treaties, Japan will collaborate closely with the international community and work toward further enhancement of countermeasures against crimes related to trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants, and other transnational organized crimes as well as corruption by public officials and others, which is an international problem.
South China Sea Situation
Kyodo News, Uchiho: I have some questions about the situation in the South China Sea. It has been exactly one year today since the arbitral tribunal based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) rejected China’s claims to control the South China Sea. During this year, China has rejected the acceptance of the decision. In the meantime, the US has conducted Freedom of Navigation operations. Please explain your analysis of the situation in the South China Sea over the past year. Also, please describe what the Japanese Government will urge China to do in response to its ignoring of the decision.
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: As the Tribunal’s award is final and legally binding on the parties to the dispute under the provisions of UNCLOS, the parties to this case are required to comply with the award.
Japan has consistently supported the full respect of the rule of law in the sea. It has thus underscored the importance that all countries involved in issues related to the South China Sea work toward a peaceful resolution of the dispute based on international law.
Additionally, as previously explained, at the recently held G7 Summit, the G7 leaders stated that they remain concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and urged all relevant countries to pursue demilitarization of disputed features in the G7 Taormina Leaders’ Communiqué. This was expressed as the unified stance of the G7 nations.
The Japanese Government will continue to promote cooperation with related countries in ensuring the rule of law in the sea and work toward a peaceful solution. Furthermore, many bilateral Summit meetings took place on the margins of the recent G20 Hamburg Summit. At these meetings, exchanges of views took place regarding the regional situation and the situation in the South China Sea was discussed where necessary.
Regarding the relationship with China, the Japan-China Summit meeting held during the G20 Hamburg Summit included an exchange on maritime security in the context of discussions about the overall Japan-China relationship. In this exchange, the Japanese side made comments based on its view of the South China Sea. The Chinese side also expressed views based on its stance. However, I would like to refrain from discussing further details because this is a diplomatic exchange.