Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, March 1, 2013, 11:12 a.m.   Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  1. Opening Remarks
    • (1) Japanese domestic companies’ participation in F-35 Joint Strike Fighters production
  2. Japanese domestic companies’ participation in F-35 Joint Strike Fighter production
  3. Japan-Taiwan relations
  4. Japan-ROK relations
  5. Osprey flight training
  6. Japan-ROK relations

1. Opening Remarks

(1) Japanese domestic companies’ participation in F-35 Joint Strike Fighters production

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: In consideration of the significant role the participation of Japanese domestic companies in the production of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will play for the security of Japan, it was decided at the Security Council of Japan and the Cabinet Meeting today that the provision of domestically-produced parts to countries that are F-35 users shall be allowed as an exception to the Three Principles on Arms Exports.

A statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary on this matter will be announced at today’s press conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary.

2. Japanese domestic companies’ participation in F-35 Joint Strike Fighter production

Kurashige, Asahi Shimbun: I would like to ask you about the Chief Cabinet Secretary’s statement on F-35. In the first place, the then Chief Cabinet Secretary under the Noda administration already issued a statement comprehensively allowing the exception. Why does the Chief Cabinet Secretary need to issue a particular statement this time?

Minister Kishida: First of all, as of right now, the Chief Cabinet Secretary has yet to make his statement. I have heard that he is scheduled to officially issue a statement around noon today in a press conference. I think it would only be appropriate for me to give an explanation after the statement is made. I do not think it is right for me to provide a detailed explanation before that. If I were to explain, the previous statement that had been issued before the new system introduced did not assume the conditions of the system. I think that is basically the reason for making a statement today.

Kurashige, Asahi Shimbun: I understand that the Chief Cabinet Secretary plans to make his statement on the issues that the previous statement did not cover. The Three Principles on Arms Exports were originally designed to prevent the escalation of international conflicts etc. Do you believe that the decision this time is an exception of this concept?

Minister Kishida: That is why I referred to the decision as an exception a minute ago. I was asked why the Chief Cabinet Secretary will make his statement this time. My answer is that this is in response to the new system applied for F-35, which is something that was not imagined when the statement by the previous Chief Cabinet Secretary was issued during the administration led by the Democratic Party of Japan.

Kurashige, Asahi Shimbun: If we think of this as an exception, does that mean that we no longer need to secure prevention of escalation of international conflicts etc?

Minister Kishida: I believe that will exactly be discussed in the coming statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary. I would like to ask you to look at this statement, officially issued one. Based on that statement, we would like to ensure full accountability as the Japanese Government.

Saito, Kyodo News: I would like to ask a question in regard to F-35. I will not refer to the content of the Chief Cabinet Secretary’s statement, since it has yet to be made, as you have just said. I would like to ask my question based on what you have just explained.

As announced, countries that are scheduled to deploy F-35 include Israel. This means that it is theoretically possible that F-35 fighters equipped with Japanese parts manufactured by Japanese companies will be exported to Israel in the future. If this is the case, do you think Japan’s policy is compatible with the perspective of preventing escalation of international conflicts, as Ms. Kurashige asked you?

I have another question. Japan has strongly presented itself as a peaceful nation to the international community apart from the Three Principles on Arms Exports. I would like to ask for your candid opinion as to whether this new decision is consistent with such image of Japan?

Minister Kishida: The Chief Cabinet Secretary’s statement today is to answer the very question you asked by showing how we respond to those kinds of questions and how we think about the issue.

3. Japan-Taiwan relations

Lei, United Daily News (Taiwan): A preparatory meeting for the Japan-Taiwan fishery talks, which had been scheduled on February 28, was postponed. Was this done in consideration of the people of Okinawa engaged in fishery? Is another meeting planned next week?

Minister Kishida: I am aware that arrangements are currently being made on this issue. I have not received a detailed report on the schedule and I do not have information on why the meeting was postponed and when the next meeting will be held. I think this is an important issue which the relevant parties should continue to work on.

4. Japan-ROK relations

Matsumoto, Jiji Press: I would like to ask you about Japan-ROK relations. I think President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea has finished or almost finished her speech now. In the speech, she refers to Japan-ROK relations and says that Japan is required to actively change and responsibly act on the recognition of history and that the historical perpetrator-victim positions of the two countries will never change even if 1,000 years pass. How do you see President Park’s stance on the recognition of history vis-à-vis Japan? In addition, there has been some backlash on the ROK side against the foreign policy speech you made yesterday, especially the part on the Takeshima issue. How do you react to that?

Minister Kishida: First of all, on President Park’s speech, concerning Japan-ROK relations, I understand that she requested the Japanese Government to actively change and responsibly act when talking on the theme of Japan’s correct recognition of history.

First, I will explain how we see this speech. Despite the fact that the two countries are facing difficult issues, by taking advantage of the establishment of a new administration both in Japan and in the ROK, the two countries could pay attention to each stance. The Japanese Government will make efforts to continually develop future-oriented, multi-layered relations with the ROK. I believe this view was shared by the two countries when Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso made a courtesy visit to President Park the other day.

As for the backlash against my speech on diplomacy, the ROK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade lodged a protest to the Japanese Embassy in the ROK yesterday afternoon. Japan responded to the protest in a manner in line with the Japanese Government’s basic stance on Takeshima, answering that we could not accept the protest. However, we will make every effort to develop future-oriented, multi-layered relations with the ROK from a broad perspective, as I have just said.

Gomi, Tokyo Shimbun: There were reports in yesterday’s Korean newspapers that Mr. Yun Byung-se, who has been nominated as the next Foreign Minister, mentioned in a report submitted to the National Assembly that the most important country for the ROK’s diplomacy is the United States, followed by China and Japan as the second and third most important countries. Japan has repeatedly stated that the ROK is its most important neighbor and you also stated yesterday that Japan-ROK relations are crucial in dealing with North Korea. However, there is a view that the importance of Japan is declining in the ROK. What is your view on this gap in recognition?

Minister Kishida: First of all, I know that there were news stories on February 28 that he mentioned what you pointed out and clarified his stance. However, I am also aware that on the same day, February 28, Mr. Yun Byung-se himself mentioned at his confirmation hearing at the National Assembly that what had been reported did not reflect his intention and that prioritizing other countries in diplomacy was not appropriate. I also know that he referred to Japan as “an important neighbor sharing the basic concepts of democracy and market economy” and “a fairly important country in a strategic sense.” I think it is appropriate for me to refrain from commenting on each remark by a person who has yet to take up the position of Foreign and Trade Minister. In any case, our basic stance is that in spite of difficult issues, Japan would make efforts to develop future-oriented, multi-layered relations with the ROK by leveraging this opportunity or chance in which a new administration is being established in both countries, as I said earlier.

5. Osprey flight training

Fujimura, Chugoku Shimbun: There was an announcement yesterday that Osprey flight training would start on the mainland of Japan on March 6. Local citizens in related areas including Yamaguchi and Hiroshima Prefectures are expressing concern, and the Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture stated that it was quite regrettable that this training would be conducted without first gaining the understanding of local citizens in Hiroshima. What is your opinion on the matter?

Minister Kishida: Yesterday, U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) reported to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense that it would start low-altitude flight training from March 6 to 8 by dispatching three MV-22 Osprey aircraft from Futenma Air Station to Iwakuni Air Station. We are currently confirming detailed information, including the locations where the flight training etc is to be conducted. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested the U.S. side to comply with the agreement made by the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee on September 19, 2012, ensure maximum safety, and minimize the impact on local areas when USFJ conducts this training. We will continue to gather relevant information, including detailed confirmation, and call for the U.S. side to give due consideration for the locals.

6. Japan-ROK relations

Azumi, Freelance: I would like to ask you about the ROK. In relation to the Takeshima issue, there were reports that an organization in the ROK called the Small Local Sales Alliance started boycotting Japanese products on March 1. This organization handles 80% of the Japanese products distributed in the ROK and 600,000 people have participated in this boycott as of now. How do you see this situation, in which the Takeshima issue has triggered an economic problem?

Minister Kishida: I saw news reports on that. In spite of a variety of difficult issues, we believe that stabilizing Japan-ROK relations, which are critical bilateral relations between two neighbors sharing basic values and interests, is crucial for the interests of citizens in both countries as well as for peace and stability in the entire East Asia region. It is a fact that there exist various difficult issues. However, I believe that we are required to think from a broad perspective so as not to damage our overall relations. Also we have to create future-oriented, multi-layered and friendly relations. Issues like the one you just pointed out do exist, but I hope that we can overcome them and further enhance our important bilateral relations overall.