Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Friday, December 6, 2019, 9:58 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Shooting of a Japanese National in Jalalabad
Asahi Shimbun, NARAZAKI: I would like to ask about Dr. NAKAMURA Tetsu, who was the victim of a terrorist shooting in Afghanistan. A Statement by the Foreign Minister was issued last night, but can you please tell us again your reaction to this terrorist incident and your thoughts on support for his family and others? Also, please tell us if you have any thoughts on ensuring the safety of Japanese nationals.
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: As noted in the Statement by the Foreign Minister issued yesterday afternoon, I am deeply shocked and saddened that six people including Dr. NAKAMURA Tetsu were killed by a gun attack in Nangarhar Province, in eastern Afghanistan, on December 4. I would like to express my heartfelt prayers for the people who died and also my sincere condolences to their families.
Dr. NAKAMURA made great contributions in the fields of medical care and irrigation systems for the people of Afghanistan. Yesterday’s heinous act of terrorism took place against such a background. Japan resolutely condemns this act and hopes for the swift progress of the investigation by the Afghan authorities.
The family of Dr. NAKAMURA and people related to the Peshawar-kai left Japan for Afghanistan on an early morning flight today. In addition, in conjunction with this, from the perspective of protecting Japanese nationals, MOFA has dispatched one member of the overseas Emergency Response Team (ERT) to Afghanistan.
I understand that preparation is being conducted in the local area for the smooth transport of Dr. NAKAMURA’s body.
Currently, an evacuation warning of “Level 4: Evacuate and Avoid All Travel ” has been issued for the entire country of Afghanistan. I would like to take this opportunity to again request that Japanese people refrain from traveling to places for which MOFA has issued “evacuation advice for all residents”, regardless of their purpose.
In any event, MOFA will continue to exert all efforts to ensure the safety of all Japanese nationals who live or travel overseas.
Visit to Japan by President Rouhani of Iran
Sankei Shimbun, RIKITAKE: In regard to a visit to Japan by President Rouhani of Iran within this month, I believe that it is still being coordinated. I think that Japan is in a difficult position, precisely because it maintains good relations with both the United States and Iran. If a visit to Japan by President Rouhani is realized, what role would you like Japan to play?
Minister MOTEGI: Firstly, nothing has been decided at present regarding a visit to Japan by President Rouhani. Having that said, the level of tensions is rising in the current situation in the Middle East. I believe that stability in the Middle East is a major issue for the entire international community. I would like to firmly consider what role can be played by Japan, which is an ally of the United States and also has long-standing friendly relations with Iran, and to continue concrete diplomatic efforts.
Overseas Visits by Minister MOTEGI
Asahi Shimbun, NARAZAKI: Please tell us about your schedule for future overseas visits which has been decided at this point. Also, please tell us about your aims and expected results as much as you can now.
Minister MOTEGI: My schedule has not been completely set yet, but coordination is currently being conducted for visits to Sri Lanka and to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Spain. I have also been invited to visit Moscow, Russia by Foreign Minister Lavrov, so if various circumstances permit, I would like to visit Moscow in mid-December.
Visit to Japan as a State Guest by President Xi Jinping of China (Significance)
Yomiuri Shimbun, ABE: I would like to ask about the visit to Japan by President Xi Jinping of China as a State Guest next spring. It remains the case that there are some members of the ruling party in favor of and others against inviting President Xi to visit Japan as a State Guest based on matters such as the increasing severity of the situation in Hong Kong and successive intrusions into Japanese waters by Chinese government vessels. Can you please tell us again your thoughts on the significance of inviting President Xi to visit Japan as a State Guest?
Minister MOTEGI: There are certainly various unresolved issues between Japan and China, but in order to resolve them, I believe that it is necessary to encourage the Chinese side to take positive responses by having frank discussions at high levels between our two governments from a broad perspective. In any event, Japan will continue to seek mutual understanding at high levels, emphasize what should be emphasized, and strongly request the Chinese side to take positive responses to the unresolved issues.
Yomiuri Shimbun, ABE: In relation to this, at the recent meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense of the House of Councillors, Diet members of the Liberal Democratic Party indicated that they would like a careful explanation and provision of information regarding why President Xi will make a visit as a State Guest instead of an Official Guest. How will you respond and gain their understanding?
Minister MOTEGI: I will provide a thorough explanation.
President Trump’s Statement Regarding Japan Taking on More of the Cost Burden for the U.S. Forces Japan
Asahi Shimbun, TAKESHITA: I would like to ask about the stationing costs for the U.S. Forces Japan. President Trump disclosed that he had requested Prime Minister Abe to increase Japan’s share of the costs by saying, “You have to help us out here .” Is that true?
Minister MOTEGI: I am aware of the outline of President Trump’s statement. I believe that the stationing costs for the U.S. Forces Japan are currently being appropriately shared based on the agreement between the governments of Japan and the United States. The current Special Measures Agreement (SMA) regarding the burden of the stationing costs for the U.S. Forces Japan is in force until the end of March 2021, the year after next. At present, negotiations regarding a new SMA are not being conducted between Japan and the United States.
Asahi Shimbun, TAKESHITA: I believe that the negotiations you mentioned will start next year. What are your thoughts on what policy the Government of Japan will take for them?
Minister MOTEGI: I do not know if they will start next year. However, I believe that the next time negotiations are held, there will be an appropriate response based on the increasing severity of the regional security environment, Japan’s severe financial situation, and other matters.