Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Norio Maruyama

Wednesday, January 24, 2018, 4:47 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French Republic to Visit Japan

Mr. Norio Maruyama, Foreign Press Secretary: French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Le Drian will pay a working visit to Japan from January 26 to 29 upon invitation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On January 26, the Fourth Japan-France Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting is taking place with Foreign Minister Taro Kono, Minister Le Drian, Defense Minister Onodera, and French Minister for the Armed Forces Parly. The ministers are scheduled to discuss bilateral security and defense cooperation, regional situations, and other topics, and they are going to share understanding on the current security environment, and confirm concrete collaboration and cooperation. Furthermore, during the visit, Minister Kono and Minister Le Drian are holding the Seventh Japan-France Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue to discuss forwards enhancement of the “exceptional partnership” between our two countries.
Minister Le Drian participated in previous Japan-France Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meetings in his previous role as Minister for the Armed Forces, including the first meeting in January 2014, the second meeting in March 2015, and the third meeting in January 2017. This is the fourth meeting that he is attending.

Japan hopes to further deepen the Japan-France relations, including security and defense cooperation, under the “exceptional partnership” between the two countries, as we celebrate the 160th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year.

(2) Japan’s Friendship Ties Program

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Many young people from other countries are visiting Japan under the Japan Friendship Ties Program this week too. This week’s visitors include 145 high school and university students from the Republic of Korea (ROK), 129 adults from eight South Asian countries, 63 university students from 10 Pacific Island countries, 10 adults from the United States, and 15 high school students from Canada.

Additionally, 45 university students and young researchers from Malaysia and 20 university students from the ROK are going to visit from January 30. They are scheduled travel to various parts of Japan and engage in exchange with students from the same generation as well as local residents.

Through the program, it is expected that participants deepen multi-faceted understanding of Japan and actively promote Japan’s appeals.

China’s Revision of Air Routes in the Taiwan Strait

Central News Agency, Huang: The Civil Aviation Administration of China has started operating four air routes, including the M503 route that is extremely close to the median line in the Taiwan Strait, without any advance discussions with Taiwan on January 4. The Taiwanese Government is calling on China to hold discussions about this matter from the standpoint of air traffic safety and regional stability. What is the Japanese Government’s stance or opinion?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: I am aware of the announcement by the Taiwanese authorities. Japan’s longstanding position has been that ensuring the safety of private-sector aircraft is of the utmost importance. From this perspective, Japan hopes that the matter is appropriately resolved through dialogue among the stakeholders.

TPP11 and Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting

Caixin Media, Masutomo: I have two questions. First, yesterday, it was reported that the TPP11 will be signed on March 8. What is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ view of this development? Also, how does Japan specifically intend to engage the United States, which has already declared its withdrawal, and countries showing their interests such as the Philippines and the Republic of Korea (ROK)?

My other question is about the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting that could take place in April. For China, has Japan already proposed the meeting or sent an invitation to Premier Li Keqiang? Has China already given positive response? The meeting has been postponed multiple times thus far. Please explain the current situation, in relation to potentially holding the meeting in April.

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: First, regarding the TPP11, as you know, Japan has played a proactive role as a leading advocate of free trade, and intends to continue carrying out this role. From this perspective, while protectionism and inward-looking attitudes have emerged even in countries that led free trade in past years, Japan believes that free trade ensures the prosperity of the international community and that the open international economic order is extremely important. This is our firm belief. Japan therefore welcomes the recent agreement on the TPP11. We will continue promoting the TPP11, and, while the United States has withdrawn from the negotiations, we hope to create an environment that enables the United States to return as well.

Japan is the chair country for the Japan-China-ROK Summit Meeting and is coordinating with China and the ROK toward holding the next meeting fairly soon. The specific timing has not been decided at this point. While arrangements are currently being made, details such as the timing and other matters have not been finalized yet.

Framework of Mutual Advance Notification between Japan and China regarding Ocean Scientific Surveys (Naming of the East China Sea)

Freelance, Azumi: I have a question about the verbal notes between Japan and China for a framework of mutual advance notification between Japan and China regarding ocean scientific surveys from 2001. The press release document from that time used the term “East Sea” in regard to the marine area that appears to be the “East China Sea” in point 3. When I inquired about this with the China Division, the reply was that the Coast Guard used the “East Sea” expression at that time. I then asked the Coast Guard, and it explained that it had never once used this term and that it does not appear on any of its sea maps, and meanwhile, the International Hydrographic Organization has used “East Sea” in reference to the East China Sea area. It seems that the Japanese Government has another document from around the same time and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has two examples of documents using “East Sea.” Why was “East Sea” used in these documents even though East China Sea is the conventional name at least as far as I am aware? Please explain.

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: The “East Sea” term that you mentioned is used by the Chinese side in reference to the same marine area as the East China Sea. In light of this, both terms have been used conventionally between Japan and China. You mentioned that the document was a press release. This term appeared because it was a convention. Regarding whether Japan used this term in the past, examples exist in past sea maps and concluded treaties.

Freelance, Azumi: Are you saying that “East China Sea” is the general term in Japan, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs uses “East Sea” in diplomatic interactions?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: As I just explained, both terms have been used between Japan and China.

Freelance, Azumi: While it makes sense for China to use “East Sea” because this is its assertion, what would be the reason for Japan to intentionally use “East Sea”? East China Sea is the normal term in Japan. What is the purpose of using this term in this type of paper, which was released for Japanese citizens I suppose? There is also the well-known case of the ROK claiming that the Sea of Japan should be the “East Sea.” The “East Sea” expression does not sit well with Japanese people. Please address this point.

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: This had been conventionally used as a reference to the same marine area as the East China Sea in the past. We used this term in light of past convention. Today, however, it is not being used.

Freelance, Azumi: From when and until when was this convention used?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: I cannot accurately recall the details right now. However, this term was used in the Japan-China Fisheries Agreement of 2000.

Freelance, Azumi: Research at the Coast Guard found that “East Sea” only showed up in two public documents, namely this one and the Japan-China Fisheries Agreement in 2000, and the Coast Guard considered it to be an exception. For example, the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan does not have any cases of East Sea in sea maps, as mentioned earlier. East China Sea is the expression on maps. Why does “East Sea” appear in just these two examples?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: My understanding is that both terms have been used as a convention and these two documents were past examples of this.

Freelance, Azumi: This was an exchange of verbal notes. Agreement had been reached on a framework for mutual advance notification regarding the ocean survey rights issue at the Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held on August 28, 2000. The agreement substantially eased rules regarding ocean surveys contained in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. What was the reason for easing the rules?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Excuse me, but I do not have sufficient materials to give you an answer right now.

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