Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Takeshi Osuga
Wednesday, July 24, 2019, 4:30 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Gratitude for the Messages of Condolences Regarding Kyoto Animation
Mr. Takeshi Osuga, Press Secretary: Many messages of condolences and encouragement have come from around the world regarding the Kyoto Animation arson incident that took place on July 18. In addition to condolences expressed to Prime Minister Abe from country leaders, many messages came from governments and embassies of foreign countries through social media. I believe this is proof that Japanese anime culture, exemplified by Kyoto Animation, has been widely accepted and loved around the world.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) would like to express condolences for the people who fell victim of this incident, and sympathies to all who were injured, and would also like to express heartfelt gratitude to everyone around the world who sent us messages.
Overcoming this tragedy, MOFA will continue to help further introduce the charms of anime culture, a major part of Japanese culture, to people around the world.
(2) Parliamentary Elections in Ukraine
Press Secretary Osuga: Japan welcomes that the parliamentary elections in Ukraine on July 21 were held in a generally free and peaceful manner.
The Government of Japan expresses its hope for the swift formation of the cabinet by the new parliament of Ukraine, and for further progress in the country’s various reforms under the new government.
(3) The International Issue Presentation Contest
Press Secretary Osuga: The 35th International Issue Presentation Contest will be held on October 5 in Tokyo.
This contest is implemented every year with the aim of deepening interest and understanding regarding Japanese foreign policies among university students from around the country who will shoulder the future of Japan, and increasing their abilities to be active in the international community.
The theme this year is “My proposals: Toward acceptance of foreign citizens and realization of a harmonious society,” and acceptance of participants’ applications starts today. The finalists of ten groups who pass the document review will give presentations for the final selection, and the top presenter will receive the Foreign Minister’s Award.
It is be possible to participate in teams from this time onward, so I would like students to challenge themselves while cooperating with their fellow students.
Airspace Violation by a Russian Military Aircraft near Takeshima
Asahi Shimbun, Higashioka: I would like to ask about the case yesterday of a Russian military aircraft flying over Takeshima in Shimane Prefecture and violating Japanese airspace. Firstly, I believe the Government of Japan is lodging a protest against the Government of Russia through the diplomatic route, but was there some sort of explanation from the Government of Russia?
Also, in the same way, I believe a protest was lodged against the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) through the diplomatic route regarding its military firing warning shots. Has there been any sort of explanation from the Government of the ROK? I would like to ask those two questions.
Press Secretary Osuga: With regards to Russia, director-level officials from MOFA lodged a severe protest with the Embassy of Russia in Tokyo and strongly requested prevention of its reoccurrence. I would like to refrain from commenting on the details of the discussion with the Russian side in response to this.
Also, with regards to the ROK, a director-level official from MOFA made a request yesterday to the Counsellor of the Embassy of the ROK in Tokyo. At the same time, the Counsellor of the Embassy of Japan in the ROK made a request to the division manager of the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is my understanding that the ROK’s reaction to Japan’s request was based on its own existing position.
Asahi Shimbun, Higashioka: There was an explanation from the ROK about its own existing position, but you refrained from commenting on the details of the discussion with Russia. Can you tell us whether or not there was some sort of an explanation from the Russian side?
Press Secretary Osuga: I would like to refrain from commenting on the details.
Asahi Shimbun, Higashioka: According to the Government of the ROK, the Government of Russia expressed to the Government of the ROK that the aviation by the military aircraft yesterday was regrettable, that a machinery malfunction caused an unplanned aviation into the airspace, and that Russia respects international laws and domestic laws of the ROK. You have just stated that you want to refrain from commenting on the discussion between Russia and Japan. But the ROK made such an announcement, so if Japan refrains from commenting on the details, only contents from one side will be announced. If possible, I would like to request again for you to tell us about the discussion.
Another question, Russia making statement about it being regrettable to the ROK side gives the impression that Russia ignored the boundary of Japanese territory. What are your thoughts on the response by the Russian side?
Press Secretary Osuga: Although I would like to refrain from commenting about the details between the Embassy of Russia in Tokyo and MOFA yesterday, the facts are not that the Russian side conveyed to us their regret over the issue. I would like to refrain from commenting beyond that.
Asahi Shimbun, Higashioka: What I have just askedwas about the Russian side conveying to the ROK side that it was regrettable and that unplanned aviation occurred due to a malfunction. What about this point?
Press Secretary Osuga: I am not in the position to directly know the discussion between Russia and the ROK, so I would like to refrain from commenting.
Kyodo News, Eto: You used the phrase “severe protest” for Russia and “request” for the ROK. Is it correct to understand that a protest was lodged in the same way with the ROK as with Russia?
Press Secretary Osuga: Yes, in the same way. A strong protest was lodged, and prevention of reoccurrence was strongly requested.
Possibility of a Visit to the Four Northern Islands by Prime Minister Medvedev of Russia
NHK, Koizumi: There are reports that there is a plan for Prime Minister Medvedev of Russia to visit Etorofu Island. What is your reaction to this and how will the Government of Japan respond?
Press Secretary Osuga: I am aware that such reports exist. We are currently gathering information, and an appropriate response will be made based on that. Generally speaking, a visit to the Northern Islands by a Russian government official would be incompatible with Japan’s position regarding the attribution issue.
NHK, Koizumi: Are there plans to lodge a protest in relation to this matter? Or has one already been lodged?
Press Secretary Osuga: Currently, we are earnestly gathering information. An appropriate response will be taken based on that, but currently we are in the information-gathering stage.
Airspace Violation by a Russian Military Aircraft near Takeshima
Asahi Shimbun, Higashioka: The Russian Ministry of Defence disclosed yesterday that joint surveillance activities were held for the first time by four Chinese and Russian long-distance bombers over the Sea of Japan. What are the views of the Government of Japan regarding such activities? Also, I can imagine that the aviation near Takeshima in Shimane Prefecture was a part of such activities, and I can also imagine that the aim was to stir up a confrontation between Japan and the ROK or weaken cooperation between Japan, the United States, and the ROK. What are your thoughts on those points?
Press Secretary Osuga: I am aware that there was such an announcement, but I would like to refrain from commenting because I am not in the position to comment on behalf of the Government of Japan about the intentions of the Government of Russia and the Russian military as well as the Government of China and the Chinese military.