(* This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only. The original text is in Japanese.)

Press Conference by Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura

Date: Friday, November 16, 2007, 9:28 a.m.
Place: Briefing Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  1. The Japan-China-Korea Three-Party Committee Meeting
  2. Establishment of the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) Secretariat
  3. Japan-China Relations
  4. Summoning of Former Vice Minister of Defense Moriya as a Sworn Witness
  5. Situation in Pakistan
  6. Iranian Nuclear Issue
  7. East Asia Summit Meeting (Support for the Environment)
  8. North Korean Issues

1. The Japan-China-Korea Three-Party Committee Meeting

Minister:
Provided the Diet grants approval, I will go to Singapore from Monday, 19 November until Wednesday, 21 November. I hope to attend the Japan-China-Korea Three-Party Committee Meeting. At that meeting I am looking forward to discussing trilateral cooperation and the regional and international affairs. Moreover, during that period the East Asia Summit (EAS) will take place with leaders or foreign ministers of 16 nations gathered, therefore I hope as much as possible to have individual meetings with the foreign ministers there. From our part, we believe that a stable, prosperous and open Asia is in line with the national interests of Japan, and we intend to strengthen our diplomacy vis-à-vis Asia to help the entire Asian region move in such a direction or to bear in mind the future such as East Asian integration.

Question:
You have said that during your three-day stay in Singapore you hope to proactively hold bilateral meetings. I suppose you hope to do that with China and the Republic of Korea. In the event that you do have a bilateral meeting with China in what manner will you approach the topic of the gas fields?

Minister:
If a bilateral meeting does take place with China, I do not think that we would not at all discuss the issue of the gas fields. However, I believe that rather than engaging in negotiations about that there, I would suggest, "It is regrettable that it goes too slow. Please make a political decision." Of course that would only happen in the event that such a bilateral meeting actually took place.

However, there will be the Japan-China-Korea Three-Party Committee Meeting as well as their leaders' meeting. I may quite likely attend the leaders' meeting. It has not yet been decided whether a separate Japan-China foreign ministers' meeting will be arranged in addition to that. At this point in time, I have not decided to have any individual meetings since I have not received approval from the Diet for this visit. In the event that the Diet does grant approval for this visit I hope to quickly make efforts to arrange some individual meetings.

Related Information (East Asia Summit)
Related Information (2007 Progress Report of the Trilateral Cooperation among China, Japan and ROK[PDF])

2. Establishment of the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) Secretariat

Minister:
This afternoon a TICAD IV Secretariat will be established. Along with the Hokkaido Toyako Summit to be held next year, TICAD IV is one of the most important diplomatic events of the coming year and therefore I very much intend to ensure that it succeeds.

Recently we see some progress in both the political and economic spheres in Africa and therefore at this time Japan intends to take the lead in the efforts aiming to create a framework for a robust Africa by gathering the wisdom and capital of the world together on this occasion. Japan intends to build on those results and tie them into the Hokkaido Toyako Summit. I am firmly committed to doing my utmost to ensure the fullest success of TICAD IV.

Related Information (TICAD)

3. Japan-China Relations

Question:
There have been some media reports suggesting that Prime Minister Fukuda will visit China from 27 December. What is the current state of preparation for that?

Minister:
Prime Minister Fukuda intends to visit China at the earliest possible opportunity however no concrete decision has been made about that yet. We are currently coordinating with a view to doing that either before the end of the year or after the New Year.

Question:
At the press conference given the other day by Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura, he stated his view that the gas field issue might have an influence on Prime Minister Fukuda's visit to China. From your perspective as foreign minister how do you view the visit of Prime Minister Fukuda to China in relation to the gas field issue?

Minister:
Naturally, I hope that the gas field issue would be resolved, or at the very least even if it has not yet been resolved for it to be heading in a good direction in a circumstance that Prime Minister Fukuda will visit China. Regarding whether or not it will exert an influence, the interpretation of "have an influence" differs depending on to what degree of influence we are talking about. Therefore I would prefer to refrain from commenting.

Related Information (Japan-China Relations)

4. Summoning of Former Vice Minister of Defense Moriya as a Sworn Witness

(See Japanese version.)

5. Situation in Pakistan

Question:
President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan stated that during this month he would step down from his position in the military and aim to hold general elections. Do you have any opinion on this?

Minister:
We have maintained a close eye on the situation in Pakistan. Steadily establishing democracy will create a foundation for the fight against terrorism as well as the fact that the establishment of democracy is of importance in its own right. I very much hope that things will proceed in that direction. We take a positive outlook on the prospects for the holding of general elections and of the president stepping down from his position in the military. However, when the general elections are held, even if those elections take place, unless the opposition candidates are given political freedom it will be doubtful to truly evaluate that as representing the establishment of democracy. I believe that there is a necessity for elections to be promptly held in a manner under which all candidates be granted the freedom to conduct political activities.

Related Information (Press Release)

6. Iranian Nuclear Issue

Question:
A report was issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stating that more than 3,000 centrifuges started to operate in Iran. Do you have a comment on that?

Minister:
I believe that it is important for the international community to come together and send a message and for Iran to follow that message. It is extremely unfortunate that Iran is not sufficiently complying with the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, which are the embodiment of that unified message issued by the international community. I very much hope that Iran will comply with that message.

According to the report issued by the IAEA, there are some elements indicating that a certain degree of praise is worthy while there are other areas where the efforts are still lacking. I very much hope that Iran will take steps so that it can receive a positive evaluation on all of its efforts, and not merely praise for a certain degree.

Related Information (Japan-Iran Relations)

7. East Asia Summit Meeting (Support for the Environment)

Question:
At the East Asia Summit Meeting Japan is reportedly prepared to pledge 200 billion yen in support for the environment. In fact has the number been decided upon?

Minister:
Prime Minister Fukuda will make a concrete proposal and right now I understand that coordination regarding that proposal is in the final stage.

Question:
Besides the specific amount have other details of that proposal been decided?

Minister:
Currently concrete coordination is being undertaken to follow through on the decision to proactively provide assistance for the environment. Please let me leave it at that for today.

Related Information (East Asia Summit)

8. North Korean Issues

Question:
Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill of the United States stated that it would be difficult to remove North Korea from the list of nations sponsoring terrorism before the end of the year. How does the Government of Japan or the Minister for Foreign Affairs see the current situation on the removal of North Korea from that list?

Minister:
This is something to be decided by the United States and I believe that whether or not the United States will remove North Korea will primarily depend on the progress that North Korea makes in denuclearization. Furthermore, in that process the United States has openly announced, as well as stated directly to Japan, that it will give consideration to the state of progress on relations between Japan and North Korea, including the abduction issue. I believe that the United States considers this issue on this background. Practically speaking, progress has not been made on relations between Japan and North Korea, including the abduction issue. As such, from Japan's perspective we are calling on the United States to refrain from removing North Korea from the list of nations sponsoring terrorism.

Question:
Will this point be one of the focuses during the Japan-US Summit Meeting this time?

Minister:
I do not know how Prime Minister Fukuda will phrase his words but I do understand that this issue will also be touched upon.

Question:
Is it correct to understand that when the United States speaks of progress being made in the denuclearization, that together with disablement of nuclear facilities the content of what is declared by North Korea will also have a bearing on whether or not to remove it from the list?

Minister:
I believe that it is natural that everything North Korea has promised to do before the end of December will be considered.

Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)

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