Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Norio Maruyama

Wednesday, December 20, 2017, 4:36 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) U.S. Statement on North Korea’s Cyberattacks

Mr. Norio Maruyama, Foreign Press Secretary: Security of cyberspace is extremely important to ensure peace and prosperity of the international community including Japan.

In this context, on December 19 the United States announced that it denounces North Korea on the basis that North Korea was responsible for the cyberattack using the WannaCry malware in May 2017.

Japan has closely worked together with the international community including the United States on North Korean issues, including the areas of cybersecurity, and from the perspective of maximizing pressure on North Korea to alter its policy, Japan supports the announcement of the United States demonstrating its firm determination towards ensuring the security of cyberspace, and denounces North Korea’s involvement behind the “WannaCry” incidents.

Japan will continue to closely cooperate with the international community including the United States and make efforts in order to create and advance free, fair, and secure cyberspace.

(2) FY2016 Opinion Poll on US Image of Japan

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Japan has been conducting this opinion poll almost every year since 1960. For the “general public” group, telephone interviews were carried out with 1,005 adults aged 18 and over who live in the United States. For the “opinion leaders” group, telephone interviews were carried out with 200 people in leading positions in the fields of government, business, academia, the news media, religion and labor unions.
The image of Japan has been generally positive since the poll started. This was the first poll conducted since the inauguration of the Trump administration, and the results still showed favorable attitudes toward Japan and the Japan-US relations.

For example, the question “Is Japan a friend that can be trusted?” received positive answers from over 80% of respondents, just as in the previous fiscal year.

Additionally, regarding the question “Which country is the most important partner of the US in Asia?”, respondents gave Japan the strongest positive assessment among Japan, China, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Australia, and India.

More than 80% of respondents also answered positively this year to the question about the Japan-U.S. security arrangements. This topic continued to elicit a stable favorable assessment.

(3) Winter Safety Campaign for Overseas Traveling

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will implement the Winter Safety Campaign for Overseas Traveling from December 20, 2017 to January 21, 2018.

Travelers to overseas destinations are likely to increase during this period, particularly during the year-end and New Year’s holidays. Terrorism risk is also higher in the year-end and New Year’s period that includes Christmas and other holidays in succession, as seen in the vehicle attack at a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany in December 2016, the shooting attack at a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey in January 2017, and other incidents.

The campaign advocates “three steps before traveling abroad” to all Japanese people: 1) checking information about destinations on the overseas safety website, 2) registering on Tabi-Regi, and 3) when abroad, acting carefully and rationally with an “overseas mode” mentality of being ready for dangers that differ from Japan. Travelers should be particularly cautious at event sites and outdoor markets that attract large numbers of people.

Through messages on social media, passport center’s outreach, and other methods, MOFA will encourage further use of Tabi-Regi, MOFA’s registration service for overseas travel, and overseas safety website and raise awareness of safety measures when outside of the country.

(4) Japan’s Friendship Ties Programs

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Currently 98 Japanese-American university students and 60 selected high school students and university students from the United States are visiting Japan under the Kakehashi Project and 22 university students from the Republic of Korea (ROK) are visiting under JENESYS 2017. These are both friendship ties programs. Each group will visit Chiba, Tokyo, Nagano, Shizuoka, Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, and Okinawa Prefectures, based on exchange themes such as Japanese culture and archeology. They will tour related facilities, exchange views with related parties, and interact with local people.

We hope that participants deepen their multi-faceted understanding of Japan and actively promote Japan’s appeals through the program.

Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on North Korea

Bloomberg, Reynolds: I have a question pertaining to North Korea. Canada is to host a high-level meeting on North Korea on January 16, and media sources report that a representative from Japan will attend. Will Minister Kono attend?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: I am aware that after the US-Canada Foreign Ministers’ Meeting conducted on December 19 local time, the United States and Canada announced, as you noted, their intention to hold a meeting on North Korea among the foreign ministers of related countries on January 16, 2018 in Vancouver, Canada.

A variety of discussions has taken place about this meeting between Japan and United States, as well as Japan and Canada, including the recent Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. We consider that this meeting needs to be effective in terms of dealing with the North Korea issue, and will coordinate with the United States, Canada, and other related countries.

Nothing has been decided yet. Japan will consider its response to the meeting in light of whether it can be effective in addressing the North Korea issue.

Bloomberg, Reynolds: What factors will you assess to determine whether the meeting is effective in resolving the North Korea issue?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: In response to North Korea’s provocative actions, Japan consistently believes that it is very important to get North Korea to change its policies and that to this end it is important to increase pressure. Based on this fundamental position, we will assess how the meeting will be effective in addressing the issue.

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