Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Takeshi Osuga
Wednesday, June 5, 2019, 4:30 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Dinner Reception to Mark the Launch of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Japan Chair
Mr. Takeshi Osuga, Foreign Press Secretary: Today, June 5, a dinner reception will be held in Tokyo to mark the launch of the Japanese research post, known as the “Japan Chair,” at IISS, a think tank in the United Kingdom. Minister Kono and others are scheduled to attend from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). In March 2019, MOFA made a donation to IISS to establish the Japan Chair at the Institute to research Japanese diplomacy and security policies. The researcher personnel selection is currently being conducted at IISS.
It is expected that the Japan Chair at IISS will serve as a hub for research on Japan in Europe, and lead to fostering positive sentiments toward Japan and Japan’s external communications.
(2) First Meeting of the Africa Business Conference
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: Tomorrow, June 6, the first meeting of the Africa Business Conference will be held at the Keidanren Kaikan. Based on the “proposals document from the private sector” adopted at the third TICAD7 Public-Private Roundtable Meeting (March 18, 2019), the Conference will be initiated as a permanent conference system by Japanese companies, related domestic government ministries and agencies, and government-related organizations with the aim of promoting trade, investment, and business relations between Japan and Africa.
The first meeting is scheduled to have high level attendees from government ministries and agencies including MOFA and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), government-related organizations, economic organizations, and other private companies, private organizations, and international organizations which are interested in business in Africa.
(3) Visit to Japan by a Group of Chinese High School Students for the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths 2019 (JENESYS 2019), an Exchange Program for Promoting Understanding of Japan
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: From June 11-19, a group of 100 Chinese high school students will visit Japan as part of JENESYS 2019.
During their stay, the students will attend a seminar themed on “volunteer”, and experience a disaster prevention volunteer simulation while visiting a disaster prevention center. In addition, they are scheduled to visit high schools in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area as well as high schools in Hokkaido, Kyoto, and Osaka, where they will deepen friendships with high school students and citizens.
The governments of Japan and China have set this year as the Japan-China Youth Exchange Promotion Year, and agreed to focus on the advancement of exchanges between youths of both countries. It is expected that the participants in this program will help each one of the attendees deepen his or her multifaceted understanding of Japan, and become active advocates of the Japan’s charms and Japan-China friendship.
Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Director-General Level Talk
Asahi Shimbun, Takeshita: The Japan-ROK Director-General Level Talk between the director-generals of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of both countries was held today. It seems that an exchange of views was held concerning the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula but a specific resolution has still not been reached. How does MOFA assess the current situation of Japan-ROK relations, and what initiatives do you think are necessary toward improving them going forward?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: Firstly, for approximately three hours from 11 a.m. today, Director-General Kanasugi of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau held a Director-General Level Talk in Tokyo with Director-General for Asian and Pacific Affairs of the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kim Jung han. They conducted an exchange of views regarding Japan-ROK relations in general.
During this, as you just pointed out, Japan’s position was again conveyed regarding the issue concerning former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula and it was mentioned that Japan has committed to arbitration based on the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation between Japan and the ROK, and it was strongly requested that it is the ROK side’s responsibility to quickly take concrete resolution measures. The ROK side provided an explanation of the Government of the ROK’s position regarding this point.
In addition, Japan requested again that the ROK lift its import restrictions on Japanese fishery products. Moreover, it was agreed to continue to aim for mutual understanding between the diplomatic officials of both countries, including the directors-general.
Kyodo News, Eto: Does that mutual understanding encompass everything including the issue of former civilian workers and food products?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: Yes, it is to continue to aim for mutual understanding regarding Japan-ROK relations in general.
30 Years Since the Tiananmen Square Incident
Kyodo News, Eto: In relation to relations with China, it has been 30 years since the Tiananmen Square incident, so can you please tell us your view on the current human rights situation in China?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: Minister Kono has also answered the questions regarding this yesterday. The Government of Japan’s position is that it is important that the universal values of the international community including fundamental human rights, respecting freedom, and the rule of law, be ensured in China. This position has been conveyed to China at opportunities including, for example, Prime Minister Abe’s visit to China in October 2018 and the Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in April 2019, and we have been encouraging positive movements by China.
Kyodo News, Eto: Yesterday, Minister Kono mentioned that he is encouraging the reopening of the Japan-China Human Rights Dialogue. Can you please tell us the significance of Japan encouraging the reopening of the Human Rights Dialogue, and whether you predict it can be done?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: The Human Rights Dialogue you mentioned was held alternately by Japan and China seven times starting in 1997. Unfortunately, it has not been held since it was held in 2011 in Tokyo. It is China’s turn to hold it next. Amidst this, we are raising the question with the Chinese side of holding the next dialogue, but nothing is decided at the present point.
Japan-ROK Director-General Level Talk
Asahi Shimbun, Higashioka: I would like to return again to the Japan-ROK Director-General Level Talk. Regarding the issue of former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula, you stated that the ROK side gave an explanation of the position of the Government of the ROK regarding establishing an arbitration panel based on the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation between Japan and the ROK, which Japan has been requesting. Can you please tell us about that a little more specifically? Have they answered that they would agree to establish an arbitration panel, they were considering it, or they would not accept it? Can you provide some details?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: I would like to refrain from discussing their reaction. Japan’s position is that we will continue to strongly request accepting arbitration.
Human Rights Dialogue
Kyodo News, Eto: With regards to China, although the outlook is unclear for the Human Rights Dialogue, what would be the significance of holding it?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: The dialogue had been conducted previously, and the Human Rights Dialogues are not only conducted with China. Recently, since the previous fiscal year, for example, Japan has held Human Rights Dialogues with Cambodia, Iran, and Myanmar. I believe it is highly significant to have discussions on awareness of the issues in an open manner mutually within direct bilateral relations.