Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary OHTAKA Masato

Wednesday, October 2, 2019, 4:42 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

Start of Medical Training for Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) Personnel by the United Nations and Japan

Mr. Ohtaka Masato, Press Secretary: I have one opening remark to make. With regard to PKO, from October 7 to 18 in Entebbe, Uganda, Japan and the United Nations (UN) will together conduct training for about 20 personnel participating in UN PKO to enable them to provide assistance for medical aid outdoors. In other words, it is training related to medical treatment. This will be implemented by the UN, but two medical officers from the Japan Self-Defense Force (SDF) will participate as instructors, and I have heard that instructors from other countries are also expected to participate.

Recently, the UN’s greatest issue is that while various missions are carried out and PKO personnel are also dispatched from developing countries, it has been pointed out that the capabilities of these personnel are not sufficient, and the number of casualties are considerably increasing in these PKO. The UN recognizes this as an urgent issue, and as Japan should be able to contribute to this, those in charge on the Japanese side has been coordinating in cooperation with the UN to enable maximum contributions by Japan. This is the outcome.

This is the so-called UN Triangular Partnership Project. Since Prime Minister Abe stated support for this project back in 2014, Japan has been actively promoting such efforts taking a leading role in the framework.

To cite data, as a result of what has been carried out so far, a total of 192 SDF personnel have been dispatched to work on capacity-building in engineering which is essential for swift development of PKO, without being limited to medical treatment capacity-building. Furthermore, a total of 292 PKO personnel have been trained and fostered in African and Asian countries. In this context, for this initiative, Japan will provide technological support through instructors for medical training this time, especially focusing on emergency measures, and conduct training for all PKO capabilities so that the number of victims can be reduced. That is all from me.

Explanation Regarding the Rising Sun Flag on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Website

Shukan Kinyobi, Uematsu: Two weeks ago, I asked questions about the statement regarding the Rising Sun Flag on MOFA’s website. Two weeks have passed since then, and nothing has changed in the explanation of the Rising Sun Flag on MOFA’s website. Currently, there is no written reason or details telling why an explanatory PDF regarding the Rising Sun Flag was published on the MOFA website in the first place. Therefore, I believe that probably none of the many citizens and foreign people reading the English version who see this can understand why MOFA decided to make the effort to publish a viewpoint about the Rising Sun Flag on its website.

In addition, two weeks have passed but nothing has been added from your explanation about the details that led to the publication. If this continues unchanged, does it mean you have absolutely no intention of providing an explanation to the citizens of Japan or foreign people? Will the explanation continue to be published without a change to the situation in which people do not know the reason? That is my question.

Press Secretary Ohtaka: You also asked about this before. As I have repeatedly stated regarding the publication method on the website, we are constantly reviewing everything. Regarding everything that is published including the website, various circumstances change and various views are expressed about them by Japanese citizens, from foreign people, from you in the press. Based on that, I stated that it was possible to make various improvements or add details.

As part of that, I stated that it was possible for various reviews to naturally be conducted about this matter. However, I do not believe this is a situation that needed to be changed or supplemented quickly in one to two weeks. You mentioned the understanding of Japanese citizens and foreign people, but as I explained about this, there are some people who make various points or see it as problematic. There have been some reports about this, and some people know about this. Conversely, due to the fact that a precise explanation of Japan’s Rising Sun Flag did not necessarily exist on a government basis until now, I think it is an important point how much this is based on tradition and culture. The current website page is based on the view that precise materials and information must be disseminated.

Missile Launch by North Korea on October 2

Asahi Shimbun, Ono: In regard to the missile launch by North Korea today, can you please tell us the current situation of MOFA’s understanding of the situation, the facts of the matter, and the response toward this including the situation of discussions with other countries?

Press Secretary Ohtaka: There have been various explanations at the Chief Cabinet Secretary briefing and press conferences, but to sum them up, analysis is currently being conducted on details including the type of ballistic missile launched – we can say ballistic missile. Comprehensive, technical analysis must be conducted based on the information necessary to know the missile type, so I would like to refrain from saying anything definite at the current point. In addition, it has been announced that the missile is presumed to have fallen within Japan’s exclusive economic zone about 350 kilometers north of Dogo Island, part of the Oki Islands in Shimane Prefecture. Its highest altitude was 900 kilometers and its trajectory is currently being analyzed. Please understand that other details are currently being analyzed.

In regard to cooperation with other countries, immediately this morning, Director-General Takizaki of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau held a telephone talk with U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Biegun. I heard that during the telephone talk, there was an exchange of various views regarding the missile launch and close cooperation was confirmed.

If I were to say anything further, it would be that although there is interest in the reaction by the international community and the movements of the UN Security Council, naturally Japan’s position is that the series of UN Security Council resolutions request North Korea to stop all launches using its ballistic missile technology. Our position is that it is extremely regrettable that North Korea’s ballistic missile launch this time violates these resolutions. Although I would like to refrain from speculating at this stage about the response of the UN Security Council going forward, there is no change to Japan’s position of closely cooperating with the international community, including the United States, for the continued complete implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Request to Convene an Emergency Meeting of the UN Security Council

Yomiuri Shimbun, Goto: You mentioned the UN Security Council. Is Japan considering requesting a convening of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council?

Press Secretary Ohtaka: I would like to refrain from discussing the details, but it is fine to understand that various discussions and consideration are being conducted on what to do going forward while cooperating with the countries concerned.

Role of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)

Mainichi Shimbun, Tadokoro: It is said that the Republic of Korea (ROK) is requesting information-sharing based on the GSOMIA regarding the North Korea issue. Once again, for the Government of Japan, what are your thoughts on the role and significance of the GSOMIA in such important security situations?

Press Secretary Ohtaka:To repeat what has been stated on various occasions about Japan’s position on the GSOMIA, if we consider the current security situation, Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation is needed now more than ever. Amidst this, Japan expects that the ROK will make a wise decision.

Back to Press Conferences