Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Norio Maruyama

Wednesday, November 22, 2017, 4:32 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Japonism 2018

Mr. Norio Maruyama, Foreign Press Secretary: At the Japonism 2018 Press Announcement held today with the attendance of parties involved in the planning of the event, the full program content and official logo of Japonism 2018, which will take place in France from July 2018 to February 2019, were unveiled.

Japonism 2018 is taking place in France as part of the 2018 portion of the Japan Expo, which will be held abroad to introduce various aspects of Japanese culture in 2018 and 2019 ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Japan has decided to implement the Japan Expo for 2019 in the United States and Southeast Asia.

Japonism 2018 consists of 50 programs, mainly conducted in Paris, with the aim of thoroughly communicating various aspects of Japan, including its culture and arts, as well as the diverse appeals of its local areas.

Through this initiative, Japan hopes to further promote amicable ties between Japan and France, communicate the appeals of Japan from Paris as a destination for tourists from around the world ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, encourage inbound tourism, and support the further dissemination of Japanese food, Japanese sake, and other Japanese products in other countries.

(2) Japan’s Friendship Ties Programs

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: JENESYS2017, the Japan's Friendship Ties Program, is currently hosting about 170 high school students and university students from the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, ASEAN countries, and Timor-Leste from November 23 to 29. The participants will form groups by country and visit Hokkaido, Tokyo, and Kanagawa Prefecture. They will tour related facilities and other sites, and interact with related parties and local people, based on the themes of Japanese culture and local heritage.

The program will also host about 130 high school students, university students, and adults from seven South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries from November 27, 30 professionals from five Mekong countries from November 28, and roughly 100 university students and others from Australia, New Zealand, and the six Pacific Island countries from November 29. Participants will visit Hokkaido, Aomori Prefecture, Miyagi Prefecture, Akita Prefecture, Fukushima Prefecture, Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture, Osaka Prefecture, Nara Prefecture, Hiroshima Prefecture, and Nagasaki Prefecture in their respective groups. They will tour related facilities and interact with Japanese students and others in the same age group based on the themes of industry, disaster prevention, culture, and peace building. The Ministry hopes to deepen multi-faceted understanding of Japan and actively promote Japan’s appeals through the program.

Eminent Persons Group for a Substantial Progress of Nuclear Disarmament

Asahi Shimbun, Kurashige: The first meeting of the Eminent Persons Group for a Substantial Progress of Nuclear Disarmament, which was established with strong support from former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, will be held soon. Please review again the Japanese Government’s aim and the message it hopes to send through it.

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Japan submitted a draft resolution to the United Nations General Assembly entitled “United action with renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.” Amid unprecedentedly severe situations posed to international disarmament efforts and the non-proliferation regime by North Korea’s nuclear and missile developments, and the emergence of differences in views regarding how to move forward in nuclear disarmament, Japan thinks it is vital to offer a realistic and pragmatic approach that can be pursued jointly by the international community through rebuilding trust and strengthening cooperation among all countries.

In light of this, Japan hopes to listen to the opinions of different people with a variety of viewpoints by holding this Eminent Persons Group, and examine potential ways in which Japan can serve as a bridge among nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states, based on the Group’s discussions.

Asahi Shimbun, Kurashige: I personally have witnessed how China reacts very sensitively whenever Japan emphasizes its suffering during the Second World War at international fora such as the United Nations. A Chinese professor will be attending the upcoming meeting of the Eminent Persons Group. I am interested in how the Japanese Government plans to manage the differences in the circumstances relating to each country. What are your thoughts?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: The fundamental purpose of the Eminent Persons Group is to bring together people with a variety of viewpoints and engage in frank exchanges of opinions at the meetings. I think it is very important to see whether a common approach to the issue can be found through these efforts. This is why we want to hear the opinions of these people.

NHK, Tsuji: I think the Eminent Persons Group is likely to prepare recommendations at the meeting and submit them to the NPT Preparatory Committee. The experts attending the meeting are obviously not representing their own governments. Amid the growing divide between nuclear-weapon states and the countries under their nuclear umbrella, and non-nuclear-weapon states, please explain in some more detail how this meeting, which will be attended by people who do not represent their countries’ governments, will enable Japan to serve as a bridge between the two sides.

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: The Eminent Persons Group obviously brings together experts from a variety of fields who hold different opinions on the subject and who do not represent their countries’ governments. This time the meeting will be attended by participants with views on disarmament and national security. Although they will not be speaking on behalf of their own countries, I think the circumstances faced by their respective countries will likely influence their ideas in many ways. At the same time, speakers will be able to distance themselves from their governments’ positions and engage in open discussions. From this perspective, I think it is very meaningful to invite many experts with wide-ranging backgrounds, including different nationalities and various academic affiliations, albeit not as representatives of their countries’ governments, to engage in such discussions.

NHK, Tsuji: While I agree that it is very valuable to engage in open discussion and have experts speak their minds, how does this help Japan to play a role as a bridge? I believe the Group will be submitting an outcome document to the NPT Preparatory Committee. How will this actually contribute to Japan serving as a bridge?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: In general, when comments are made on behalf of a country at international conferences, it can be difficult to find common ground among the various opinions because discussions are taking place based on the positions of each country.

In the case of discussions among experts, meanwhile, people can engage in more open discussions and distance themselves from their countries’ stances. This meeting will be attended by people with very extensive knowledge who are likely to offer a variety of opinions and knowhow on the subject, and Japan hopes that this activity might move the overall dialogue forward in any way possible.

NHK, Tsuji: How will the event be connected to the NPT Preparatory Committee’s meeting?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: The NPT Preparatory Committee will of course take into account such discussions when conducting its own review. Nevertheless, the Group’s discussions have yet to take place so I would like to refrain from speculating further on what types of discussion will take place.

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