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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 27, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hagiuda (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER: I have a question about the Northern Territories Issue. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov commented at a press conference yesterday that conclusion of a peace treaty between Japan and Russia is not synonymous with resolution of the territorial issue. I would like to know the Government’s view of this comment because it expresses an opinion that differs from the stance of the Japanese Government that Japan and Russia should solve the issue of the attribution of the four northern islands and then conclude a peace treaty.

DEPUTY CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: In yesterday’s press conference, my understanding is that Foreign Minister Lavrov spoke about wanting to advance relations between Japan and Russia in a broad range of areas in the context of exchanges between Prime Minister Abe and President Putin. At the same time, the Japanese Government cannot accept the comments by the Foreign Minister regarding the territorial issue. Japan and Russia have not concluded a peace treaty because they have not resolved the territorial issue, as is widely known. The core point of negotiations on a peace treaty therefore is the attribution of the four northern islands, which is the territorial issue. Japan absolutely cannot accept the Russian assertion that the four northern islands became the territory of Russia as a result of the Second World War. Nevertheless, the Government retains our current policy approach of moving forward in relations between Japan and Russia in a way that contributes to Japan’s national interest through steady accumulation of political dialogue and addressing territorial negotiations in this context. Foreign Minister Lavrov has repeatedly made this type of comment. Precisely because this is such a difficult issue, Prime Minister Abe and President Putin have been holding summit meetings and building mutual trust and are continuing to meet with an eye toward dealing with this issue. Japan intends to continue making these efforts.

REPORTER: Staying on this topic, does the Government plan to lodge some type of protest to the Russian Government or make other contact in response to this comment?

DEPUTY CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: The Government is not considering a specific response to the comment because Japan’s position has already been clearly stated, but it intends to respond appropriately.


REPORTER: I have a related question. The TPP Ministerial Meeting and signing ceremony are scheduled to take place in New Zealand next month. What is the Government’s opinion on whether Minister Amari will attend these events, regardless of the content of tomorrow’s press conference?

DEPUTY CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: The New Zealand meeting consists of a signing ceremony for the TPP Agreement and a Ministerial Meeting prior to the signing at which important topics, such as how to handle new member countries, will be discussed. Considering the meeting’s importance, the Government thinks that it would be difficult to appropriately deal with these topics without the presence of Minister Amari who has been continuously involved with the TPP negotiations thus far. Preparations are currently proceeding with the intention of having Minister Amari attend, particularly in light of the planned attendance by Ministers from other TPP participant countries.


REPORTER: I would like to ask about Japan’s independent sanctions for North Korea. Some media reports are suggesting that the Government is considering such measures as a ban on reentry to Japan and expansion of the freeze on financial assets. Please explain the related facts.

DEPUTY CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: Our primary stance regarding North Korea is waiting for a Security Council resolution. Meanwhile, various debates are taking place on independent sanctions in the Party and other venues, and I am aware that these measures are being discussed as options within this context. The Government, however, has not reached any decision on specific content at this point because it is keenly interested in presenting a resolute posture toward North Korea in a collaborative manner with the international community.

REPORTER: My impression is that the Security Council resolution is taking more time than initially anticipated. What are your thoughts on this point?

DEPUTY CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: Yes, timing is an important factor for resolutions, and it appears that the draft is already being proposed to countries with the aim of promptly finalizing a resolution. My understanding is that Japan has already supplied comments, and the Government is interested in having members respond as quickly as possible.


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