Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Norio Maruyama
Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 4:33 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Voting in the Lower House Election via Overseas Consulates
Mr. Norio Maruyama, Foreign Press Secretary: Starting from today, voting via overseas embassies and consulates will begin for the 48th House of Representatives general election.
This will be the 13th time that we have conducted this overseas voting since the adoption of this system in 1999. Voting will take place at 223 overseas embassies and consulates. The final day for this voting is decided by each overseas offices, and in the longest case, votes can be cast up to the 16th.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and overseas embassies and consulates are working to provide appropriate information regarding this election to Japanese people living abroad through overseas editions of major Japanese newspapers, local Japanese newspapers, websites, and other means.
Matsui, Asahi Shimbun: UNESCO is holding an executive committee meeting in Paris. Please explain the Japanese Government’s stance on what reforms should be made to the Memory of World, formerly known as the Memory Heritage program.
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Regarding program reforms, UNESCO’s Advisory Committee regarding the World Heritage will be held and have discussion on October 24-27. Japan will strive to ensure that the various activities covered in the meeting promote friendship and mutual understanding among member countries, which is the original mission and purpose of establishing UNESCO. Japan will respond appropriately, while assessing related developments from the aforementioned perspective.
Asahi Shimbun, Matsui: Some of the current applications are somewhat political in nature and historical opinions on them differ, such as materials related to comfort women or Nanjing. What is the Japanese Government’s view of the comfort women materials?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: I understand that various applications will be reviewed at the meetings and a final decision regarding whether to register these requests will be decided in light of deliberations at the International Advisory Committee meeting. While a variety of register applications have been submitted, Japan believes that certain applications run contrary to the original mission and purpose of establishing UNESCO to promote friendship and mutual understanding among member countries. This applies to those applications that you mentioned. Japan intends to respond appropriately while closely monitoring related developments.
Nobel Peace Prize
Ono, Asahi Shimbun: The Nobel Peace Prize was recently awarded to the non-governmental organization, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which contributed to the signing of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a Foreign Press Secretary’s statement on the award. However, it was released more than 48 hours after the award. It stated that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has the same goal as the Japanese Government but takes a different approach. Why did it take so long? Also, what is your personal view of the awarding of the prize to ICAN?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Starting with the latter question, while the efforts by ICAN take a different approach than the Japanese Government, the goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons is the same. I am pleased by the prospect of the awarding of the prize to ICAN contributing to spreading understanding for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation throughout the international community.
The Nobel Committee referred to North Korea’s nuclear development in the announcement of the award. North Korea's nuclear and missile development is an unprecedented, grave and imminent threat. We must work with the international community to maximize pressure, using all means, to change the policy of North Korea. Japan believes that realistic and practical efforts on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is essential in truly pursuing a world free of nuclear weapons, through cooperation with both the non-nuclear and the nuclear-weapon states, based on the clear understanding of the severe security environment, as well as the correct understanding of the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons.
In addition, the atomic bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have conveyed to the world the reality of the atomic bombings for the sake of realizing a world free of nuclear weapons. Taking this opportunity, I would like to once again express my respect for the longstanding efforts by the atomic bomb survivors and these two cities, which suffered atomic bombings, towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.
As for the timing of the release, I understand that we conducted the necessary reviews, and based on this, we issued this statement.