Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Norio Maruyama
Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 4:35 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Syria Situation
Mr. Norio Maruyama, Foreign Press Secretary: We are gravely concerned that air bombing and shelling are continuing despite the fact that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted a resolution calling for a ceasefire of at least 30 days from all parties on February 24.
Japan is aware of the efforts by Russia for a temporary ceasefire. It is important that all related countries fulfill a constructive role in implementation of the UNSC resolution. Japan hopes that these efforts by related countries will stop the violence in Syria and improve the dire humanitarian situation.
Japan believes that the Syria crisis cannot be resolved by military means and requires pursuit of a political solution. Japan call on all parties to the conflict to halt military measures to enable humanitarian assistance and make efforts to advance a political process led by the United Nations.
Japan intends to collaborate with the international community toward a halt of all violence in Syria and improvement of the humanitarian situation.
We will continue to pay close attention to the situation.
(2) Japan’s Friendship Ties Program
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: The Japan’s Friendship Ties Program currently has 22 members in the education field from the Philippines, 20 members in the disaster risk reduction field from Vietnam, 72 high school students and others from the Republic of Korea (ROK), and 25 university students from the United States visiting Japan. These people are visiting regional areas and engaging in opinion exchanges about various topics.
We hope that these individuals who represent the futures of their respective countries will interact with many Japanese people through this program and then will actively share those experiences and Japan’s appeals with others after returning home.
Press Coverage of the European Ambassadors’ Meeting
Asahi Shimbun, Tajima: I have heard that the Foreign Minister’s instructions at the outset of the European Ambassadors’ Meeting will not be made public. Please explain the reason for making this non-public in contrast to past events. Also, even though I understand that the Foreign Minister’s comments at the reception will be disclosed to the media, please share your thoughts as Foreign Press Secretary on the reduction in media coverage opportunities compared to previously.
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: The Ambassadors’ Meeting is a valuable opportunity for ambassadors stationed in various countries and Ministry officials to communicate, and extensive review has been given to the operations from the standpoint of making the meeting more effective and efficient.
The Ministry decided to not have press coverage for the Foreign Minister’s instruction session at the latest Ambassadors’ Meeting in order to secure as much time as possible for opinion exchanges between the Foreign Minister and Ambassadors amid limited time.
Nevertheless, it is important to broadly communicate the Foreign Minister’s thoughts and the purpose of the Ambassadors’ Meeting to the general public through comments to media agencies. From this perspective, the Ministry has arranged an opportunity to cover the Minister’s comments at the reception hosted by the Foreign Minister after his instructions.
Submission of Proposed Amendment for the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China to the National People’s Congress
Kyodo Press, Fukuda: The Chinese Communist Party submitted to the National People’s Congress a proposal of revisions to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China that removes the term limit for the President. Lifetime control will be possible under the provisions following the revision. Please explain what type of relationship the Japanese Government plans to build with China amid advances in concentration of power.
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: I am aware of what you have asked through media reports. I would like to refrain from commenting on individual press reports because this is an internal affair of another country. Regarding the Japan-China relations, the Government maintains its stance of working together with China to comprehensively improve the Japan-China relations, particularly this year as the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Japan-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship. In any case, Japan will be closely following related discussions at the National People’s Congress.
North Korea Situation (Ship-to-Ship Transfers)
NHK, Tsuji: I have a question about ship-to-ship transfers. Ship-to-ship transfers were reported again yesterday, and I think four cases have been disclosed as of yesterday. Will Japan continue to disclose each incident as it occurs in this manner?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Japan intends to continue disclosures in this manner.
NHK, Tsuji: I believe the Japanese Government is also notifying the United Nations’ North Korea Sanctions Committee and contacting related countries each time. What is the purpose of making this type of disclosure?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: There is a common goal of complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Cooperation by a variety of countries is obviously necessary to realize this goal, and Japan believes it is necessary to have discussions with related countries in ensuring the effectiveness of the UNSC resolution.
In this overall context, Japan will proactively disclose the information based on our view that it is important to increase awareness of the occurrence of these incidents, especially actions violating the UNSC resolutions, and thereby stop these actions from taking place.
NHK, Tsuji: I believe a meeting of related countries is planned to take place to strengthen the crackdown on North Korea’s evasion of sanctions, including ship-to-ship transfers. What are you envisioning as the scale and content of this meeting?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: I would like to refrain from commenting on interactions with other countries. Japan believes what important is to closely collaborate with the international community, including the ROK, the United States, China, and Russia, on the common goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula mentioned earlier and ensure the effectiveness of UNSC resolutions.
Having said that, nothing has been decided at this point about the means of future initiatives.