In his first foreign policy address to the parliament, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida urged China to not take further actions that will escalate tensions between the two countries, particularly regarding the territorial dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. He also vowed to protect Japanese sovereignty over its territories.
Kishida stated that there is no territorial issue to be resolved since the Senkakus are under the administration of Japan. He expressed concern on how China‘s maritime assertiveness and military build-up could disrupt the peace in the region. In his first two months as foreign minister, Kishida has already faced a few crises, including North Korea’s nuclear test and the skirmishes in the East China Sea between Japanese and Chinese vessels. “I have felt firsthand the severity of the security environment surrounding our country. I, as a person in charge of diplomacy, intend to protect our country from the crisis and danger that threaten peace and stability in Japan and the world,” he said.
He stressed the importance of strengthening bilateral ties with Japan’s foremost ally, the United States, echoing the speech of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He also said that the relocation of the US Marine Corps base within Okinawa will push through in spite of staunch opposition from residents and politicians in the prefecture. Kishida tackled the North Korea issue and condemned the rocket launch in December and the nuclear test in February. He said they are seeking a “comprehensive solution” to the issues with Pyongyang, including the abduction of Japanese citizens from the 70s-80s. Other issues discussed in his speech are forming bilateral ties with Russia, establishing a special team to check on the whereabouts of Japanese nationals in trouble spots, and ratifying the international convention on settling cross-border child custody disputes.