Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 9:17 a.m.   Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  1. International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
  2. Realignment of U.S. Forces Japan
  3. Situation of China
  4. Osprey flight training

1. International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

Nikaido, Asahi Shimbun: I would like to ask you about the international conference concerning the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons held in Oslo now. It is expected that this conference, which Japan is also attending, will adopt a chairperson’s summary concerning the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Japan relies on a nuclear umbrella. What is your position about this dilemma of nuclear weapons, and how will you work on this issue?

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: Japan is the only country that has ever experienced atomic bombings in wartime and therefore understands the cruel nature of nuclear weapons more than any other country in the world. The Government of Japan has dispatched an expert on radiation medicine and a survivor of the atomic bombing to contribute to the discussions at the conference.

For my part, as a native of Hiroshima and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I will actively work for nuclear disarmament. Specifically, we must proceed with realistic and specific efforts toward the realization of “a world without nuclear weapons.” I want to lead the international community through frameworks such as the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative. We all share the ultimate goal of realizing “a world without nuclear weapons.” The Government of Japan hopes to lead discussions on this through our specific approaches.

2. Realignment of U.S. Forces Japan

Matsumoto, Jiji Press: I would like to ask you about the Futenma Air Station issue. What is the progress of discussion at this point inside the Government concerning the timing of the landfill application for the relocation of Futenma Air Station? In addition, I would like to know whether or not either Prime Minister Shinzo Abe or you mentioned a specific time period for the landfill application to President Barack Obama during the Japan-U.S. summit meeting held recently. Likewise, please let me confirm whether or not you made any specific statements concerning this issue to State Secretary John Kerry during the Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ meeting.

Minister Kishida: First of all, nothing has been determined yet regarding the specific timing of the landfill application related to the relocation of Futenma Air Station. During the Japan-U.S. summit meeting, we agreed to advance the relocation of Futenma Air Station as well as the plans for the early return and integration of land south of Kadena. We confirmed these issues during the Foreign Ministers’ meeting too, but we did not talk about specific timing or other matters.

3. Situation of China

Nikaido, Asahi Shimbun: The National People’s Congress (NPC) of the People’s Republic of China has commenced, and there are reports that China’s defense budget will exceed that of the previous year. Please let us know what you have confirmed about these reports and what you think about such an increase in China’s defense budget.

Minister Kishida: As far as I have learned, China’s spokeswoman stated in a press conference held before the NPC on March 4 that the defense budget for fiscal year 2013 would be announced after discussion and approval at the NPC. In a break with previous years, no figure for this year’s defense budget has been released in advance. We continue to pay close attention to China’s defense policy and military forces.

4. Osprey flight training

Fujimura, Chugoku Shimbun: Concerning Osprey flight training over mainland Japan, which is scheduled to begin tomorrow, I have learned that the Government of Japan received a notification that the training will be conducted along the Kyushu route. What is your opinion of this? In addition, there is the possibility that the training will be held along another route depending on the conditions. Have you received any specific information about that?

Minister Kishida: Yesterday, we were notified by the U.S. Forces Japan that from March 6 to 8, three MV-22 Ospreys would fly from Okinawa to Iwakuni Air Station and that they would conduct low-altitude aerial exercises as well as night-time flight training in the Kyushu region. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested the U.S. side that they continue to observe the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee agreement of September 19, 2012, ensure safety as much as possible, and minimize the impact of this training on local people. We will continue to act resolutely to ensure that the U.S. Forces Japan makes every possible effort to follow through with all of this.

In terms of the flight route, there is a flight route called “yellow route” over Kyushu area in the Environmental Review created by the U.S. side last year, but according to the U.S., the training plan may be changed depending on weather and other conditions when training actually takes place. We have received the notification from the U.S.