Press Conference: Japan-Australia Foreign Ministerial talks (overview)

January 13, 2013

Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Fumio Kishida and Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator the Hon Bob Carr held a joint press conference on January 13 following their meeting.

1. Opening Statement

Minister Carr: I would like to welcome Japan’s new Foreign Minister Kishida in Australia for the conclusion of his first visit overseas as Foreign Minister. Mr Kishida had only been in the job two weeks before we spoke on the phone. And now we now weewece to face. Minister Kishida was very generous and thoughtful in extending to Australians his sympathies when the bushfires were raging. And of course we have a history - Australians and Japanese - of thinking of one another when disasters strike. We discussed Australiaother when disasters strike.Australians his sympathies when the bushfires were raging. And of course we have a erience. We spoke about your career; and the destabilising effect of the recent rocket missile launch by North Korea. We hope to be able to work closely with Japan where it comes to shaping a response on the Security Council to that unsatisfactory and illegal behaviour by North Korea. We discussed a range of other matters; Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Africa. Ity important Australia and Japan are aware of one another Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Africa. sely with Japan where it comes to shaping a response on thenal cooperation with the level of economic growth. We discussed a bit of strategic changes in the region. It’s a dynamic time with new administrations in Japan, Korea, the US and China. Itmportant Australia and Japan are awa but again, I express my thanks to our Japanese friends for being here, and so early in the life of the new Japanese administration. I thank them as well for the language used by Prime Minister Abe when he said - in announcing the importance of this part of the world - that Japan sees the need to cooperate with Asian countries like Australia. That for the language used by Prime Minister Abe when he said enal cooperation with the leve Minister.

Minister Kishida: I had the pleasure of visiting Australia following three ASEAN countries, and of having a meeting with Minister Carr. I would like to extend my gratitude for giving me a warm reception. First, I would like to express my heartfelt sympathy to the people of Tasmania and other areas who suffered from bushfires at the beginning of the year. The disaster reminded me of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the deep appreciation I felt for the warm friendship and support the people of Australia extended to Japan. Ever since the end of World War II, Japan and Australia have consistently maintained especially close relations in terms of economic and human exchanges, and both have been close allies of the United States and strategic partners with shared values and interests. Through this visit, I once again recognized the importance of relations between the two countries. During my meeting with Minister Carr, we exchanged views on issues of common interest, including the strategic environment of the Asia-Pacific region and global challenges, and held meaningful discussions on the strengthening of political, security and economic relations between Japan and Australia as well as the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in efforts to address international issues such as the United Nations and support for Pacific island countries. Minister Car just told you to the effect that both of us agreed on the United Nations and the support for Pacific island countries. On its part, Japan would also like to steadily work on these issues. Australia is a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council for two years starting this year. In the context of the Security Council, both sides agreed to closely cooperate with each other, including the holding of regular consultations in each other's capitals and in New York. In particular, both sides shared the view that North Korea's recent missile launch was evident clear violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and that it was important for the Security Council to take firm actions against the country. Moreover, it was reconfirmed that both sides would closely cooperate in promoting disarmament and nonproliferation initiatives. I hope that the two countries will strengthen cooperation in as many areas as just stated.

2. Questions and Answers

Question 1 (Greg Earl, a reporter for Australian Financial Review): Senator Carr, last week Kurt Campbell the US senior diplomat said that he was very concerned that the relationship between Korea and Japan had been undermined in the last year, and he urged Japan to concentrate on rebuilding that relationship which he said he was going to tell Japanese officials when he went to Tokyo this coming week. Ah, do you agree with his views, did you raise any of those sort of ideas with Kishida-san today? And could you outline what Australia’s position would be if Japan was to change some of the previous statements it’s made about historical issues on World War Two including the 1993 Kono Statement? And Kishida-san, could you explain to me, to us whether the new Japanese government is going to make some changes to its previous positions, for example the 1993 Kono Statement?

Minister Carr: Across the, er, the agenda of our talks, Australia and Japan were in emphatic agreement. Japan is our most important partner and friend in Asia and is our second most important trading partner. We are in remarkable agreement in the way we view the strategic challenges in the region. Both of us are allies of the United States, for example. We spent some time discussing the Korean peninsula. I said Australia will work closely with Japan when it comes to crafting a resolution in the Security Council that sanctions against North Korea given the destabilising impact of their recent missile launch.
At the time of that launch I expressed Australia’s solidarity with both Japan and the Republic of Korea faced with this illegal behaviour, condemned by the Security Council and contrary to resolutions of the Security Council, by North Korea. Therefore the overriding consideration here is to enhance security and peace in North East Asia. And that is helped if there is agreement and cooperation at the highest level between the Republic of Korea and Japan. Because both nations are such good friends of Australia’s, we look forward to a resolution of any differences between them, and on the issue of the Kono Statement of 1993, we acknowledge that that statement was an acknowledgement of an episode that is one of the darkest in modern history and we consider it in no-one’s interests that the acknowledgement be revisited.

Minister Kishida: Concerning the historical perceptions, Japan issued the Murayama Statement 50 years after the war - and 60 years after the war, the Koizumi Statement was issued. Prime Minister Abe has made it clear that he will follow on those statements. As with the 1993 Kono Statement, Prime Minister Abe is deeply pained when thinking of the comfort women who experienced immeasurable pain and suffering, a feeling shared by his predecessors. As for the relationship between Japan and the ROK, some difficult issues are occurring, such as the Takeshima dispute. However, we would like to value the stance of looking at this from a broad perspective and seek a peaceful resolution.

Question 2 (Tatsuya Yamashita, a reporter for TV Asahi): I understand that strategic challenges were discussed a lot during the meeting. In 2007, Prime Minister Abe issued the Japan-Australia Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation, but, six years later, the strategic environment has changed in the Asia-Pacific region. With China stepping up its activities around the Senkaku Islands, what can Japan and Australia do specifically to cooperate for regional peace and stability from a broad and strategic perspective without escalating the situation?

Minister Kishida: During our meeting, we discussed how to cooperate in achieving the common strategic objectives of securing regional peace, stability and prosperity, and, in that context, we exchanged views on relations with China. Japan is promoting a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests with China from a broad perspective, and will further strengthen bilateral cooperation and dialogue to address regional and global challenges. Japan expects China to play a constructive role for prosperity and stability in the region, and we shared this recognition with Australia. Despite major changes in the strategic environment of the Asia-Pacific region, Japan and Australia, being "strategic partners" with shared values and interests, have a track record of close consultations concerning security and defence issues. Japan intends to continue to do so in the future.

Minister Carr: Our priority with Japan is continuing to build a strong bilateral cooperation; our trilateral cooperation too with the United States. All this work is important not just on regional stability but of course on disaster relief. The benefits of this cooperation were demonstrated when, for example, in 2011 Australia was able to make a contribution following the disasters in Japan. We were the only country outside the US able to commit military assets to the region to assist Japan, and that was in the context of our strong bilateral and trilateral ties. We are fellow Asia-Pacific democracies, we are natural partners. Our relationship contributes to stability and prosperity in the region, and none of this - let me say again as I’ve said in the past - is about containment of China. We’re about strengthening our relationship with Japan and recognising that that can coexist with a strong, indeed, a strengthened relationship between us and China, and between Japan and China. International relations is not a zero sum game. China is also an important partner for Australia and for Japan. But our relationship - Japan and Australia’s - is very good and important on many fronts.

Question 3 (Rick Morton, a reporter for The Australian): Thank you Ministers. You mentioned trilateral relationships between Japan, Australia and the United States. What meaningful progress has been made on strengthening defence ties between those three countries? And is there any scope for security cooperation with India which is an idea that Mr Abe has supported in the past?

Minister Carr: There’s continuing talk between Australia and Japan where it comes to practical defence cooperation, with an emphasis on technology and science. But our priority with Japan is about building our relationship in the context of (1) our strong bilateral relationship, and (2) the alliance both of us have, the alliances we both enjoy with the United States. So, a trilateral, a context of trilateral cooperation as well. This has got implications, as I said, for regional stability, prosperity and disaster relief. We’re working to build our bilateral cooperation with India. I know Japan is doing the same.

Minister Kishida: The new administration of Prime Minister Abe attaches importance, first of all, to the strengthening of the Japan-U.S. alliance as the first pillar of the government’s foreign policy and, as the second pillar, to relations with neighboring countries in the region including Australia. Since the cooperation and partnership among Japan, Australia and the United States is very important, Japan intends to reinforce it. Japan has retained close relations with Australia in the security and defence areas through the “2 plus 2” and other consultations. We would like to strengthen that relationship by all means in a steady manner. We believe bolstering the Japan-U.S. alliance is the most fundamental of foreign policy and we will build neighboring-nation relations with major countries in the region such as India on a multilayered basis. Japan hopes to carry out its responsibility for the stability and prosperity of the region by building concrete cooperative relationships and multilayered partnerships with these nations concerned from a broad viewpoint.

Question 4 (Shinichi Sekine, reporter for the Asahi Shimbun): What are the outcomes and responses in summarizing your first overseas trip as foreign minister to the three Southeast Asian countries and Australia? Also, how do the countries you visited understand Japan-China relations, particularly Japan’s position with respect to the Senkaku Islands?

Minister Kishida: First, let me briefly summarize the outcomes. I visited the Philippines, Singapore and Brunei, and I held talks with Minister Carr in Australia today. The visits allowed me to have communication and establish relations of trust with the foreign minister of each nation I visited, which was very meaningful to strengthen bilateral relations. The Asia-Pacific region is a “growth centre” of the 21st century that leads the world economic growth. To secure stability and prosperity in this region is worthwhile itself and, in addition, it is bound to greatly benefit Japan that is seeking to incorporate benefits of the growth of the entire region. Through these visits, I believe I have been able to further strengthen cooperation with the ASEAN member countries and Australia, and establish the keynote of closer partnership between Japan and ASEAN. This is meaningful to maintain and ensure peace and stability amid the changing strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region. I explained Japan’s position to the countries I visited concerning Japan-China relations and the Senkaku Islands. I told them the Senkaku Islands are the inherent territory of Japan historically and in terms of international law and that there is no territorial issue to be resolved between Japan and China. I also explained that the relationship between Japan and China is a very important bilateral one. Japan and China are in mutually beneficial relations and Japan hopes to push ahead with concrete cooperation from a broad perspective. I explained about Japan’s stance of coping with the Senkaku issue calmly and managing Japan-China relations in a steady manner. While Japan is faced with the issue of the Senkaku Islands, ASEAN nations have various problems in the South China Sea. Considering that how to cope with China, which is trying to expand its territory by force is an issue of common concerns, I also explained this point. The countries I visited listened very attentively to me on Japan’s position.

(note) English utterance has been transcribed while Japanese utterance is a translation.

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