Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Norio Maruyama

Wednesday, February 14, 2018, 4:43 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Japan-Norway Summit Meeting

Mr. Norio Maruyama, Foreign Press Secretary: Norwegian Prime Minister Solberg is visiting Japan from yesterday through tomorrow. A Japan-Norway Summit Meeting is taking place today (February 14). This is the first time that the two leaders are meeting since the previous Summit Meeting at the G20 Hamburg Summit in July 2017. It is also the first visit by Prime Minister Solberg in her current position. The meeting aims to further strengthen bilateral economic relations, deepen collaboration in the Arctic and SDGs areas, and confirm cooperation related to North Korea and other regional situations.

(2) Japan’s Friendship Ties Program

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Many young people are visiting Japan from this weekend as part of Japan’s Friendship Ties Program. A total of 110 university and high school students will arrive from Canada and the United States under the Kakehashi Project and 112 high school students from Timor-Leste, Indonesia, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) will come under the JENESYS2017 project. With the aim of promoting mutual understanding between Japan and these countries, Japan hopes that the young people will enjoy the country’s appeal and deepen friendships with various Japanese people and then share those experiences with others in their lives after returning home.

Japan-ROK Agreement

Sankei Shimbun, Sugimoto: On February 13, the spokesperson for the ROK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented regarding the Japan-ROK agreement, “To truly resolve the problem, it is important to restore the honor and dignity of the comfort women victims, and related countries should make efforts to heal the emotional wounds.” While the comment did not directly mention Japan, what is your reaction?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Prime Minister Abe and President Moon Jae-in discussed the Japan-ROK Agreement issue at the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting this time. Prime Minister Abe explained Japan’s position, in clear and detailed manners that the Japan-ROK Agreement confirmed that it was the final and irreversible resolution, and the agreement is the foundation of the bilateral relations. That is our reaction.

PyeongChang Olympics

NHK, Ishii: Some media reports in the ROK assert that it is likely to cost about 300 million yen for the ROK Government to cover travel and other costs for North Korean participants in the PyeongChang Olympics and that this has already been decided. This would seem to violate sanctions. Please explain your thoughts on this matter.

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Japan has a favorable view of the South-North cooperation for the success of the PyeongChang Olympics that realized participation by North Korea in the Olympics. However, it is necessary to avoid actions that hinder pressure being applied to North Korea amid the current need for the international community to strengthen pressure on North Korea. In any case, there is close cooperation among Japan and the ROK, as well as Japan, the United States, and the ROK, on the response to the North Korea issue. Regarding this matter, Japan intends to coordinate the policy among Japan, the United States, and the ROK while receiving information from the ROK side.

NHK, Ishii: Does that mean you see the decision by the ROK Government as something that interferes with what Japan, the United States, and the ROK are trying to accomplish?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: At this point, we would like to have information sharing from the ROK side.

Ship-to-ship Transfers

NHK, Tsuji: Foreign Minister Kono requested cooperation in implementation of sanctions against North Korea again during his recent visit to Singapore. Media reports suggest that a Singaporean company owns the Dominica-flagged ship in the photographs of ship-to-ship transfers disclosed recently by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense. Has the Japanese Government determined who owns the Dominica-flagged ship?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Regarding the ship-to-ship transfers incident, Japan has expressed its concern to Dominica, which is flag state of Yuk-Tung suspected of engaging in ship-to-ship transfers, and other countries concerned. I would like to refrain from discussing any further details because this is a matter of diplomatic interaction.

NHK, Tsuji: I am not asking about the content of the interaction. Media reports state that a Singaporean company owns the Dominican-flagged ship. Do you know the country of the ship’s owner?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: It is my understanding that a private-sector database that handles ship-related information indicates an address in Singapore for the company that owns the Dominican-flagged tanker involved in the incident you mentioned.

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