Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary YOSHIDA Tomoyuki
Wednesday, September 2, 2020, 3:47 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Japan-Russia Relations (Japan-Russia Summit Meeting)
NHK, WATANABE: I would like to ask about Japan-Russia relations. There was a telephone talk on August 31 between Prime Minister Abe and President Putin. The MOFA press release as well as MOFA’s briefing on the day state that the leaders “confirmed continuation of the peace treaty negotiations based on the agreement between the two leaders.” What specifically does “agreement between the two leaders” refer to?
Mr. YOSHIDA Tomoyuki, Press Secretary: As you just stated in your question, Prime Minister Abe held a telephone talk with President Putin in the evening of August 31. As stated, the briefing following the telephone talk introduced that the leaders “confirmed continuation of the peace treaty negotiations based on the agreement between the two leaders.”
Prime Minister Abe has held frequent summit meetings with President Putin through now. He has held them 27 times. During the telephone talk this time, based on these communications with President Putin during summit meetings thus far, the importance of resolving the pending attributions issue was emphasized, and the leaders confirmed continuation of the peace treaty negotiations going forward.
Therefore, the “agreement between the two leaders” refers to those communications fostered during the 27 summit meetings thus far, various documents for confirmation, and other such matters.
NHK, WATANABE: In relation to this, is it correct to understand that it includes the agreement during the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting held in Singapore in November 2018 to hold negotiations on the basis of the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration of 1956?
Press Secretary YOSHIDA: During the telephone talk held for about 20 minutes, Prime Minister Abe of course communicated with President Putin, including about the fact that he will step down, while reflecting on his communication with President Putin thus far. As this is a matter of communication between summit leaders, I would like to refrain from commenting on what was specifically referenced or discussed during the 20 minute telephone talk. But as I just stated, please understand that the leaders confirmed negotiations based on the “agreement between the two leaders.”
NHK, WATANABE: In that case, if negotiations will be held on the basis of the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration of 1956, then MOFA has actually still not officially stated that it changed its policy. My impression afterwards was that MOFA changed its policy to a settlement in which Russia hands over the islands of Habomai and Shikotan as written in the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration of 1956. That perception also spread in reports and public opinion. During the telephone talk, was there not confirmation of holding negotiations on the basis of the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration of 1956 as agreed in Singapore?
Without that confirmation, then I do not know if it will be taken up again by the next prime minister. Is it correct to understand that there was a confirmation? Can you please elaborate on whether the “agreement between the two leaders” includes the content of the summit meeting in Singapore, which is actually perceived to be a shift in policy on the two islands?
Press Secretary YOSHIDA: I would like to refrain from commenting on what we think of how people perceived the agreement in Singapore in 2018. On the other hand, as I stated earlier, the “agreement between the two leaders” refers to matters based on all of the communications between the two leaders thus far, and I believe it has been explained.
Dispatch of the Third Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) Team in Response to the Oil Spill Off the Coast of Mauritius
NHK, WATANABE: In relation to Mauritius, there is a report that I do not fully understand. It is not clear if the Government of Mauritius is only seeking compensation from the Japanese side. This would be compensation from the Government of Japan to the Government of Mauritius in relation to oil spill. Has a ministry or agency from the Government of Japan become the point of contact to properly receive the request for compensation?
Press Secretary YOSHIDA: I have heard that there are reports in Mauritius that the Government of Mauritius asked for funding assistance in order to purchase fishing boats and other such purposes. There are also reports that this assistance will act as compensation. On the other hand, we have been communicating with the Government of Mauritius on what support Japan can provide toward restoration and recovery from the environmental destruction caused by this incident, including dispatching three JDR teams. It was agreed to dispatch the third team yesterday.
Therefore, with regards to the environmental recovery of Mauritius, and amidst the extremely severe socioeconomic situation taking into account the novel coronavirus, we would like to continue to communicate with the Government of Mauritius on what Japan can do that would be useful for Mauritius from a medium- to long-term perspective.
However, in terms of the connection with the matter in the reports, I believe that we should precisely sort out the thoughts and aims of the Mauritius side and what they want during our communication.
NHK, WATANABE: In that case, is it correct to understand that such an official request still has not come from the Government of Mauritius to the contact point, such as MOFA, of the Government of Japan?
Press Secretary YOSHIDA: Generally for official requests, various exchanges of views are conducted with the other country’s government based on the views of experts on what needs there actually are, during which there is confirmation on what is needed. Also, I believe that the general way of submitting a formal request is to submit it precisely as a document.
I believe that at the present point, the stage is currently of continuing to conduct such communication.
NHK, WATANABE: Do you mean MOFA?
Press Secretary YOSHIDA: In terms of the point of contact, it is basically MOFA and the JDR teams in Mauritius. It is fine for you to interpret it at being MOFA.