Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Norio Maruyama

Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 4:32 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Japan-Palau Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Mr. Norio Maruyama, Foreign Press Secretary: Minister for Foreign Affairs Kono will hold a foreign minsters’ meeting with Ms. Faustina K. Rehuher-Marugg, Minister of State of Palau, tomorrow, March 15.

Minister Rehuher-Marugg is visiting Japan to attend the Senior Officials Meeting for the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting. This will be her first foreign minsters’ meeting with Foreign Minister Kono.

Palau is a neighboring country connected by the Pacific Ocean and an important partner that has historically close ties with Japan.

Japan hopes to strengthen our amicable bilateral relationship even more through the visit.

(2) Japan-Sri Lanka Summit Meeting

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Foreign Minister Kono held a meeting with Mr. Tilak Marapana, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, today, March 14. Prime Minister Abe will hold a summit meeting with H.E. Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka, tonight.

Sri Lanka, which is strategically located in the sea lane and is achieving steady economic growth, is a very important presence for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific area.

At the summit meeting, exchanges of views are scheduled to take place regarding the issues facing the international community, ways of strengthening the bilateral relations, among other matters.

Japan hopes that the visit by the President will further deepen the bonds and cooperative relations between our countries.

(3) Japan’s Friendship Ties Program

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: This week we are again welcoming many young people to Japan. This includes about 230 young people from nine ASEAN member states and Timor-Leste, 26 upper technical school students from Singapore, 30 high school students from Thailand, 23 high school and university students from Lao PDR, 32 university students and adults from Timor-Leste, and 83 young people from Mongolia under the JENESYS 2017 Program, 320 university students and others from the United States under the Kakehashi Project, 20 young adults from Europe under the MIRAI Program, and 28 adults from the Central America and Cuba group under the JUNTYOS!! Program.

Japan hopes that these people who represent the future will have various interactions with many Japanese people through these programs, and continue to actively communicate and share their experiences and Japan’s appeals after returning home with the people around them.

North Korea Situation

Kyodo Press, Fukuda: I have a question about North Korea. Amid arrangement of the Republic of Korea (ROK)-North Korea and United States-North Korea summit meetings, please explain the Government of Japan’s stance regarding a Japan-North Korea summit meeting from the standpoint of resolving the abductions issue.

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Japan considers that the first step is the continuation of close policy coordination among Japan, the United States, and the ROK ahead of the ROK-North Korea and United States-North Korea summit meetings. On this basis, Japan, the United States, and the ROK will proceed with initiatives to achieve a comprehensive resolution of the nuclear, missile, and the just-mentioned abductions issues while closely collaborating with each other. The Government of Japan will review its response from the perspective of the most effective approach within this context.

Kyodo Press, Fukuda: Staying on the same topic, the phrase that “Japan retains its policy of aiming for normalization of relations between Japan and North Korea” has started showing up in recent Government announcements. The Government used to simply announce that Japan is seeking a comprehensive resolution of the abductions, nuclear, and missile issues. Please explain the objective of talking about a goal of normalization.

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: This is just a reiteration of Japan’s fundamental stance in the context of coordination efforts ahead of the ROK-North Korea and U.S.-North Korea summit meetings.

Kyodo Press, Fukuda: It could be interpreted as interest in dialogue. Is that not the point?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Japan intends to review its response with the aim of finding the most effective way, especially for achieving a comprehensive resolution.

Document Management at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Asahi Shimbun, Tajima: The Ministry of Finance admitted to rewriting public documents in relation to the Moritomo Gakuen incident. Is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs planning to do anything, for example, to issue cautions internally regarding the handling of public documents?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: The creation, preservation, and management of administrative documents at the Ministry are conducted appropriately in accordance with the Public Records and Archives Management Act and other regulations. The Ministry provides guidance on the need to appropriately preserve documents as a core component of duties. For example, at seminars, instructions are given and efforts are made to ensure compliance with appropriate preservation, such as storing paper documents in a file cabinet that can be locked and electronic documents with suitable access rights. The Ministry will continue to properly store and manage documents and provide necessary guidance on this.

Asahi Shimbun, Tajima: So the Ministry is not planning any additional action following this incident?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: The Ministry has been appropriately handling these activities and will continue implementing suitable preservation and management and providing related guidance.

Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Yomiuri Shimbun, Yanada: A Japan-Russia foreign ministers’ meeting is scheduled to take place in exactly a week from now. With the strong prospect of a summit meeting taking place in May, please explain once again the results that the Government of Japan expects from this upcoming foreign ministers’ meeting between Minister Kono and Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov of Russia.

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Regarding the Japan-Russia foreign ministers’ meeting, when Minister Kono previously visited Moscow, the two sides agreed to give instructions to their respective working-level officials to strive to actively clarify jointly economic activities ahead of the potential summit meeting in May, and these efforts are currently taking place.

The foreign ministers are likely to engage in coordination related to the current situation and confirm where things stand and discuss what actions should be pursued next as preparation for the potential summit meeting in May. However, I would like to refrain from speculating about the content of the foreign ministers’ meeting at this stage.

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