Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu

Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 10:50 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Notification of the Entry into Force of the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement and the Japan-U.S. Digital Trade Agreement

Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to report on two matters. The first matter is that at the Cabinet meeting today, it was decided to notify the United States of the completion of the procedures under related Japanese domestic law regarding the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement and the Japan-U.S. Digital Trade Agreement. Based on this, it is planned for Japan to provide a notification to the U.S. side and to receive a reciprocal notification within today. The planned date for the entry into force of both agreements is January 1, 2020.

With the entry into force of the trade agreement between Japan and the United States, which cover 30% of the global GDP, and in conjunction with the TPP11 Agreement and the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which have already entered into force, a free economic sphere covering approximately 60% of the global economy will be created with Japan at its center. I believe that this is very significant.

In addition, the Japan-U.S. Digital Trade Agreement demonstrates high-standard rules in the area of digital trade which is expected to grow exponentially in the “data-driven” global economy. Going forward, Japan will develop Japan-U.S. economic relations that is one of the important pillars of the Japan-U.S. Alliance relationship in a stable manner as well as will play a leading role in improving and strengthening the free trade system.

(2) Visits to Sri Lanka, Spain, and Russia by Minister MOTEGI

Minister MOTEGI: The second matter is regarding my schedule for overseas visits. I will visit Sri Lanka from the day after tomorrow, December 12, to December 14. A new administration was recently inaugurated in Sri Lanka.

During this visit, I am scheduled to hold a meeting with Foreign Minister Gunawardena, who just assumed his position last month, regarding matters including strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation toward realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” I am also scheduled to pay courtesy calls to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Following this, I will visit Spain from December 14 to 17, where I am scheduled to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that will be held in Madrid. At the ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, in addition to discussions regarding matters such as strengthening the connectivity of Asia and Europe, I am planned to hold bilateral meetings with dignitaries from various countries centered on foreign ministers from Europe and Asia.

Furthermore, I will visit Russia from December 17 to 21. During my stay, I am scheduled to hold a Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov, who invited me to visit Russia, and have discussions centered on general bilateral relations between Japan and Russia including the issue of concluding a peace treaty. During my visit, I will hold a meeting of the Japan-Russia Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Issues with Minister of Economic Development Oreshkin. I am scheduled to hold comprehensive discussions regarding the economy as well as exchanges between Japan and Russia, and have an exchange of views contributing to the development of economic relations between our two countries.

I am scheduled to travel from Sri Lanka to Madrid without returning to Japan. After that, I am scheduled to temporarily return to Japan for half a day and then go to Moscow.

Volcano Eruption on White Island in New Zealand

NHK, YAMAMOTO: Regarding the volcano eruption that occurred yesterday in New Zealand, there are reports that no Japanese people were harmed, but what is the latest information known at present?

Minister MOTEGI: According to the authorities in New Zealand, a volcano erupted on White Island in northern New Zealand on December 9 at 2:11 p.m. local time, Japan time 10:11 a.m. It is my understanding that five people died, over 30 people are injured, and eight people are missing. I would like to express my prayers for the victims who passed away as well as my heartfelt condolences for the people who were affected and their families.

At present, I have not received any information that any Japanese nationals were affected, but work is being conducted for information-gathering at the Consulate-General of Japan in Auckland.

Shooting of a Japanese National in Jalalabad

Yomiuri Shimbun, ABE: The local police have arrested four people alleged to have participated in the murder of Dr. NAKAMURA in the shooting incident in Afghanistan. What is your reaction to this?

Minister MOTEGI: I am aware of such reports. It is my understanding that the Afghan authorities are currently conducting their investigation of the shooting incident.

Visit to Russia by Minister MOTEGI

Sankei Shimbun, RIKITAKE: You mentioned that you will visit Moscow earlier. You have already had two meetings with Foreign Minister Lavrov, but I believe that this will be your first full-fledged meeting with him as the person in charge of the negotiations for a peace treaty. Can you please tell us again your thoughts on what points you would like to advance negotiations with?

Minister MOTEGI: I have held Foreign Ministers’ Meetings with Foreign Minister Lavrov up until now using the opportunities of the United Nations General Assembly in September and the recent G20 Aichi-Nagoya Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, but time was limited. This time, I have a substantial schedule for a two-day visit to Moscow. Of course since I have plans to hold a discussion with Minister of Economic Development Oreshkin, I am not sure exactly how much time I have for the meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov, but I believe that I should have a considerable amount of time. At the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting in June, both leaders welcomed that the negotiations on a peace treaty were conducted energetically, under their determination to accelerate negotiations on the basis of the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration of 1956, as announced by both sides in Singapore, and shared the view that they would continue to advance the negotiations.

In addition, at the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting in Vladivostok in September, the leaders instructed the foreign ministers, who are in charge of negotiations, to advance joint work to find solutions acceptable to both sides. Amidst projects such as the joint economic activities and the grave visits by airplane being conducted, I hope to have specific discussions towards resolving the central attributions issue and to conclude a peace treaty with the progress on the negotiations in mind.

Stationing Cost for the U.S. Forces Japan

Nikkei Shimbun, KATO: I would like to ask about the stationing costs for the U.S. Forces Japan. At your recent press conference, you stated that the stationing costs for the U.S. Forces Japan are currently being appropriately shared based on the agreement between Japan and the United States, but President Trump has been requesting U.S. allies to increase their share of the burden, including defense costs. What is your recognition of the approach for the cost burden in relation to the general Japan-U.S. Alliance?

Minister MOTEGI: It is as I stated at my recent press conference.

Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Relations (Japan-ROK Director-General Level Policy Dialogue)

Dong-A Ilbo, KIM: The Japan-ROK Director-General Level Policy Dialogue is planned to be held between the authorities of Japan and the ROK at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) next week. It has been three years since the previous dialogue was held. Of course, I understand that the ministry in charge is METI, but I believe that the issue of Japan-ROK foreign policy is also related. What are your expectations for this consultation and what is your perception of it?

Minister MOTEGI: The Seventh Japan-Korea Export Control Policy Dialogue will be held. I expect that it will be a meaningful dialogue.

Tweet Concerning the Rising Sun Flag by the Government of the ROK

Yomiuri Shimbun, ABE: I would like to ask about the Rising Sun Flag. Posts have been uploaded to the official Twitter and Facebook accounts of the Government of the ROK asserting that the Rising Sun Flag is a flag of hatred and should not be used during the Olympic Games. Can you please tell us the Government of Japan’s position regarding the Rising Sun Flag and whether a protest was issued to the Government of the ROK?

Minister MOTEGI: The movement you mentioned is incompatible with Japan’s position and our efforts thus far, and I believe that it is extremely regrettable. Japan has issued an appropriate protest to the Government of the ROK.

Japan-Russia Relations (Negotiations for Concluding a Peace Treaty)

Asahi Shimbun, NARAZAKI: I would like to ask about Japan-Russia relations. I believe that you will discuss the peace treaty negotiations during your trip to Moscow. About one year has passed since it was decided in Singapore to accelerate negotiations in November 2018. Although you just assumed your position in September, what is your evaluation of the state of progress and sense of speed during the time that has passed?

Minister MOTEGI: As I stated before, the joint activities as well as initiatives such as grave visits by airplane are being advanced, and the peace treaty negotiations will be accelerated on the basis of the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration of 1956. The attributions issue will be resolved and a peace treaty will be concluded. It is my recognition that full-fledged negotiations will begin toward that.

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