Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, July 28, 2017, 10:24 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Independent sanctions against North Korea
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: The threat posed by North Korea is growing as evidenced by its launch of an ICBM-class ballistic missile on July 4 and other actions. Additionally, North Korea has not demonstrated any concrete efforts to resolve the abductions issue, which is a top priority of the Abe administration.
Given that there is little hope of meaningful dialogue with North Korea, it is important to strengthen pressure to urge North Korea to demonstrate action toward denuclearization. Also, at the Japan-US-ROK Summit Meeting held on July 6, the leaders agreed to consider measures to increase pressure on North Korea through cooperation among the three countries. Given this context, the Cabinet decided today that Japan will add five groups, including two Chinese groups, as well as nine individuals to the scope of asset freezes and other sanctions as an additional independent measure, while continuing to collaborate with the United States and other countries concerned.
Japan continues to strongly urge North Korea to take concrete actions to resolve its nuclear, missile, and abductions issues, the latter of which is a top priority under the consistent policy of “dialogue and pressure” and “action for action.”
Independent sanctions on North Korea
Reporter: You mentioned the inclusion of two Chinese groups in the additional sanctions. Can you tell us the names of the organizations?
Minister Kishida: Notification will be given as the next procedure, and the names will be identified at that point.
Defense Minister Inada resigns
Reporter: Minister Inada decided yesterday to resign from her post as Defense Minister. Calls for her to take responsibility had risen among the ruling coalition too. Please share your thoughts as a member of the Abe Cabinet, including the timing, which is prior to the Cabinet reshuffling, and other aspects of her resignation.
Minister Kishida: While the resignation is regrettable, as a member of the Cabinet, I believe it is necessary to redouble focus, and sincerely and thoroughly address this situation. We will continue to address this with a sense of urgency.
Reporter: Some media reports suggest that you might also take on the duties of Defense Minister as a successor to Minister Inada. Could you please explain the facts?
Minister Kishida: I have long taken a stance of not commenting on personnel matters. The Prime Minister is the one who makes personnel decisions, so I would like to refrain from commenting at this stage.
Reporter: The opposition parties are calling for deliberations when the Diet is not in session regarding the cover-up of daily logs. What are your thoughts?
Minister Kishida: This is a matter related to the administration of the Diet. As a member of the Cabinet, it is not appropriate for me to comment on the administration of the Diet. I believe that it will be decided within the Diet, including Committees on Rules and Administration and Diet Affairs Committees.
Democratic Party Leader Renho resigns
Reporter: Ms. Renho Murata resigned from her position as leader of the Democratic Party. Please share your thoughts. Also, while a decision has not yet been made on whether to hold a leadership election, what type of debate are you anticipating?
Minister Kishida: In principle, in my position as Foreign Minister, I would like to refrain from commenting on the points you mentioned as they are matters for discussion within another political party.
Defense Minister Inada resigns
Reporter: Please describe your view of the explanations given by Minister Inada thus far and progress with the investigation into daily logs.
Minister Kishida: I think Minister Inada and the Ministry of Defense have made thorough efforts to fulfill accountability for the situation. However, various points have been raised. I believe it is important to humbly take these points and continue to maintain accountability.
Reporter: These defense-related disruptions are taking place at a time of heightened tensions regarding the situation of North Korea. What is your view of the continuation of this situation?
Minister Kishida: Japan continues to make utmost efforts to gather and analyze information related to the situation of North Korea. Although our assessment of the situation cannot be discussed publicly in this kind of forum, the Government must maintain a high level of readiness to protect the lives and livelihood of the Japanese people, and the necessary structure to deal with any eventuality.
Regarding various developments within the Government, it is important to humbly take and respond to the points that have been raised. At the same time, as I just mentioned, we cannot afford to relax, for even a single moment, our preparations and response for protecting the lives and livelihood of the Japanese people. The Government must continue to work as one to address the situation with a sense of urgency.
Reporter: Are you saying that there will not be any impact from the resignation of the Defense Minister?
Minister Kishida: It cannot be allowed to have an impact.
Reporter: In that sense, would it not be problematic if the post remained vacant for some time?
Minister Kishida: The Government as a whole, led by the Prime Minister, must respond appropriately, including with regard to this matter.
Detention of Japanese nationals in China
Reporter: I have a question regarding the release, yesterday, of four Japanese nationals who have been detained in China. Chinese media sources have been reporting the details. What explanation was given by the Chinese Government to the Japanese Government?
Minister Kishida: On July 27, the Government confirmed the return of two groups of two men, in total, four Japanese men out of the six detained in Shandong and Hainan provinces in March 2017. Japan is engaged in the necessary communication with the Chinese authorities. There are still those who are being detained. Given this situation, I would like to refrain commenting in more detail.