Monday, July 30, 2012 (AM)
Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)
- The Northern Territory issue (Minister for Foreign Affairs Gemba's visit to Russia)
REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding the Japan-Russia foreign ministers' meeting. Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov of Russia stated at the press conference which following the meeting that Russian Government dignitaries will not refrain from making visits to the Northern Territories. What are the Government's thoughts on this? Also, how does the Government intend to deal with this issue?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I would like to speak briefly on Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba's visit to Russia. Minister Gemba held talks with Foreign Minister Lavrov and President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who respectively took time to have talks with Minister Gemba (on July 28). I understand this is the first time in ten years that a Japanese Foreign Minister paid a courtesy call on the Russian President. Both sides reaffirmed their shared view that the enhancement of Japan-Russia relations would be in line with the strategic interests of both countries. To this end, both sides concurred on the importance of concrete outcomes from cooperation, mutual trust between the two countries, and considerations for the national sentiment in each others' countries. Regarding the territorial issue, Minister Gemba once again clarified Japan's position that the Four Northern Islands belong to Japan, and substantial discussions took place in accordance with the agreement reached between the Japanese and Russian leaders in Los Cabos. Both sides agreed to continue to frequently carry forward discussions in a calm and constructive environment at various levels, including at the leaders', foreign ministers', and senior vice ministers' levels. The latest discussions made clear the fact that there are significant differences between Japan's and Russia's positions on the Northern Territories. I understand both sides confirmed that the recent Japan-Russia summit meeting was a "start" for exploring solutions which both sides would find acceptable through territorial negotiations.