(* 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: Tuesday, July 1, 2008, 10:50 a.m.
Place: Briefing Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  1. Japan-Brunei Economic Partnership Agreement
  2. North Korean Issues
  3. G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit
  4. Dispatch of Self-Defense Forces Officials for Peacekeeping Operations in Sudan
  5. Senkaku Islands

1. Japan-Brunei Economic Partnership Agreement

Minister:
At today's Cabinet meeting, a decision was made for an exchange of official documents to bring the Japan-Brunei Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) into effect. These official documents are scheduled to be exchanged today and the Japan-Brunei Economic Partnership Agreement will come into effect as of July 31, 2008. Once this agreement takes effect, it will be Japan's seventh EPA.

Related Information (Japan-Brunei Economic Partnership Agreement)

2. North Korean Issues

Question:
Regarding the Heads of Delegation Meeting of the Sixth Round of the Six-Party Talks concerning North Korea's nuclear issue, what are your current prospects for the holding of such Meeting?

Minister:
Nothing concrete has been set. Currently, each country involved is examining the declaration. Around the time when each of the member countries completes their examination the Heads of Delegation Meeting will take place and a decision will need to be made on matters such as the modalities for the verification. After that has taken place, verification will be implemented. As the United States has said, this is not a process of trust, this is a process of verification, and therefore, we must thoroughly verify the content. To give you an idea of what we mean by verification, the ultimate goal is to abandon all nuclear weapons and nuclear programs. This content is already outlined thoroughly in the Joint Statement of the Fourth Round of the Six-Party Talks (Beijing, September 19, 2005) which was adopted several years ago. At the time when the declaration was submitted, China, the Chair of the Six-Party Talks, repeated that this goal had been agreed upon by the six parties, which includes North Korea, and China referred to the ultimate goal, therefore, it is absolutely necessary for us to thoroughly conduct verification, including examination of whether the declaration contributes to the ultimate goal.

Question:
Is there an idea to hold a Ministerial Meeting in the event that the Heads of Delegation Meeting of the Six-Party Talks is held and agreement can be reached on a methodology for verification when the third phase has been entered into? What do you think about that?

Minister:
I do believe that it is possible that a foreign ministers' meeting could be held, but at this time nothing has been decided. Currently, no concrete schedule has been settled upon.

Question:
Given that the concrete and practical content will be settled at the Heads of Delegation Meeting, what is the significance of having the foreign ministers gather now?

Minister:
The significance is that an opportunity will be provided for the foreign ministers of all the countries involved to confirm what has been decided and then to promise the message to conduct the verification earnestly.

Question:
Earlier today, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave a speech in which he said that from a humanitarian perspective, he called for a forward-looking approach to providing food assistance to North Korea. If you have been informed of what he has said, could you please explain your views on that, and once again, could you please explain what your views are on the provision of humanitarian assistance to North Korea?

Minister:
I have absolutely no knowledge of what United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said in his speech. In my contact with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, nothing at all about that topic was discussed. Furthermore, regarding humanitarian assistance, right now, it is clear that we do not view that the situation exists to allow us to implement that.

Question:
It is likely that the Six-Party Talks will take place some time after the G8 Summit. Regarding Japan-North Korea consultations, you would like to hold those as quickly as possible, but regarding the actual projection for holding those, do you absolutely aim to hold those, for example, during this month?

Minister:
I would not say that I want to absolutely do that, but I think they should be held as quickly as possible.

Question:
Do you want to hold Japan-North Korea consultations some time during the 45-day period, in view of achieving a certain degree of progress?

Minister:
To be very clear, as quickly as possible, we want to see a meaningful investigation launched. As far as exactly what will be done to "conduct an investigation with a view to finding survivors and returning them to Japan" and how it will be ensured, there is a need for us to discuss these details with North Korea as quickly as possible.

Question:
Would it be practically difficult to hold the Heads of Delegation Meeting in advance of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit? Naturally some Heads of Delegations must attend the G8 Summit.

Minister:
Concretely speaking, nothing has been decided as of now and therefore I cannot say anything at all, but I can tell you that I do not think there is a very high possibility that the meeting will take place in advance of the G8 Summit.

Question:
I suppose that Japan is also giving concrete consideration to the declaration submitted by North Korea for the Six-Party Talks. What is Japan's view on the content?

Minister:
Naturally, we are carefully verifying the content of the declaration. Once a thorough verification has been completed and I have received a report on that, I will talk to you about all points I am able to share with you, but I expect that some points will be unable to be shared.

Related Information (Six-Party Talks on North Korean Issues)
Related Information (North Korean Nuclear Issue)

3. G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit

Question:
I understand that at the upcoming G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit the agenda will include consideration of whether or not the framework of the G8 should be expanded to include participation by other countries. Can you give me some more facts about this point?

Minister:
I am not aware of that. In the event that such a discussion was going to take place then it would have been normal for the discussion to come up at the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Kyoto. However, it did not at all come up, including in any casual talks. It is indeed a fact that there are some parties who hold the view, but such a topic was not only part of the official agenda at the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Kyoto but absolutely nobody spoke to me about the topic in any bilateral talks or in any casual conversations or in any other situations. I can tell you for certain that it will not be an official part of the agenda at the G8 Summit but I am not sure that any particular head of state will not bring that up at any time. However, the possibility of that happening is quite low.

Question:
In general terms, what is Japan's position on expanding the framework of the G8?

Minister:
No such discussion has been raised in Japan. Nobody has ever referred to such a view. At least, Japan has not been advancing the position of expanding the framework.

Related Information (G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit)

4. Dispatch of Self-Defense Forces Officials for Peacekeeping Operations in Sudan

Question:
A decision has been made to dispatch Self-Defense Forces officials to the headquarters of the Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) in Sudan. Can you tell me your views on this as well as whether or not you think that dispatch will be expanded? In the region some hope that Japan will send a defense battalion in the future, but can you tell me whether or not you are looking to expand the dispatch?

Minister:
At the current point in time, a decision has been made to dispatch personnel to work at the headquarters, but not only has nothing else been decided on that matter, but even more than that, currently no concrete consideration is being made of that. Given that Japan is a "Peace Fostering Nation," various consideration, not only limited to Sudan, is being given to what we can do, but currently, specifically for the situation in Sudan, we are not giving any consideration.

Related Information (Japan-Sudan Relations)

5. Senkaku Islands

Question:
Has Japan conveyed its views to Taiwan and China in response to the protest made by them against an aerial surveillance of the Senkaku Island carried out by some members of the Diet of Japan, including a member of the House of Representatives Mr. Yukio Edano?

Minister:
Yes, that has already been conveyed. Given that the Senkaku Islands are sovereign Japanese territory, we cannot accept such protests. That is all.

Related Information (The Basic View on the Sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands)


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