Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Takeshi Osuga
Wednesday, August 29, 2018, 4:32 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Request to Japanese Nationals Not to Visit North Korea
Mr. Takeshi Osuga, Foreign Press Secretary: We understand that there are members of the press who wish to cover the events related to the 70th anniversary of North Korea’s founding on September 9 of this year.
Since February 2016, the Government of Japan has requested all Japanese nationals not to visit North Korea as part of the sanctions taken by the Government of Japan against North Korea. On August 29, we issued a reminder to the press to take appropriate actions in light of the purpose of the measures.
Payments to individuals and others who have addresses in North Korea are banned, except in cases where the payments are deemed ordinarily needed by those residing in North Korea for their stay in North Korea. For more information, please ask the Legal Office of the Ministry of Finance.
While the reminder that was sent out was addressed to the press, I would like to take this opportunity to once again request all Japanese nationals not to visit North Korea for any purpose.
(2) Core Group Meeting of the Eminent Persons Group on Africa
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Nippon Foundation will co-host the Core Group Meeting of the Group of Eminent Persons on Africa on August 31.
For this meeting, five former leaders of African countries who play a central role in the Group of Eminent Persons will visit Japan. Exchanges of views will take place in order to make recommendations regarding the issues Africa should address in the fields of African peace and security.
The Japanese side will be attended by former Prime Minister Mori and Chairman Sasakawa of the Nippon Foundation. The African side is expected to be attended by former President Chissano of Mozambique, former President Soglo of Benin, former President Mkapa of Tanzania, former President Obasanjo of Nigeria, and former President Mbeki of South Africa. Former Prime Minister Mori and former President Chissano of Mozambique are expected to serve as the co-chairs.
There will be media opportunities, and they will be announced as appropriate.
(3) Japan-Australia Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: Today, August 29, Minister for Foreign Affairs Kono held a telephone talk with Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, Marise Payne from 3:40 p.m. for approximately 10 minutes.
For more information, please refer to the press announcement which will be released shortly.
Press Conference by the Foreign Press Secretary
Asahi Shimbun, Tajima: As this is your first press conference as Foreign Press Secretary, I would like to ask a general question. Currently, a press conference by the Foreign Press Secretary is held once a week, while a press conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary is held twice a day. In this context and as this is your first press conference, I would like to ask what significance you attach to the role of Foreign Press Secretary.
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: I have just assumed this position on July 20 and am in the process of understanding and examining the meaning of my existence. With regard to your point, the Chief Cabinet Secretary holds a press conference twice a day, except for the summer, and the Foreign Minister holds a press conference twice a week. The question of what role the Foreign Press Secretary’s press conference should play in this context is one that I would like to give careful thought to going forward.
Asahi Shimbun, Tajima: As MOFA makes efforts to strengthen its external communications, are there any concrete measures you would like to take as Foreign Press Secretary?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: The overall goal is to strengthen our communications ability in diplomacy, and I will be considering what would be the most effective way of fulfilling my duties.
Kyodo News, Fukuda: You just mentioned that you will consider whether the once a week press conferences should be continued. Are you thinking of increasing or decreasing the number of press conferences?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: I stated that I would like to give thought to what role the once a week press conferences of the Foreign Press Secretary should play.
Kyodo News, Fukuda: Does that mean you will not give any particular consideration to increasing or decreasing the number of press conferences?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: Such matters will be considered within the overall context. As for the Foreign Minister’s press conferences, Foreign Minister Kono gave press conferences in this press conference room yesterday and at the end of July, and this was a different way of giving press conferences from before. I will consider what should be done overall to communicate effectively.
Request to Japanese Nationals Not to Visit North Korea
Kyodo News, Fukuda: The written announcement asks that appropriate actions be taken. What is meant exactly by “appropriate actions”?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: We would like to request that visits are not made to North Korea.
Kyodo News, Fukuda: You mean you would like members of the press not to visit North Korea?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: Yes, the members of the press as well as the general public.
Questions Regarding North Korea’s Detainment of a Japanese Traveler
Mainichi Shimbun, Tanabe: I would like to ask about a matter which came up in yesterday’s press conference by the Foreign Minister. The Japanese national has returned to Japan from North Korea. I believe MOFA was going to ask the Japanese national about the situation. Can you please give us an update?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: Due to the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from responding about the date, time, and details of the hearing.
Mainichi Shimbun, Tanabe: Does that mean MOFA still intends to conduct a hearing?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: It is exactly as was stated by the Foreign Minister yesterday.
Yomiuri Shimbun, Takao: I have a question related to the detainment of the Japanese national. Now that he has returned to Japan and his safety has been ensured to some extent, could you explain to us, as much as you can at this point in time, the process that led from his detainment to release?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: I am afraid but I would like to refrain from making any further comments on this point.
Asahi Shimbun, Kiyomiya: North Korea has identified the Japanese national as Tomoyuki Sugimoto. Can the Government of Japan clarify his identity?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: I would also like to refrain from responding to questions about his identity.