(* 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, August 29, 2008, 10:45 a.m.
Place: Press Conference Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Regarding the Death of Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa
- Kidnapping of a Japanese National in Afghanistan
- North Korean Issues
- Incident involving Chinese-made Frozen Dumplings
- Situation in South Ossetia, Georgia
Today, the Government of Japan took a decision to dispatch as a Special Envoy Mr. Tetsuro Yano, Member of the House of Councillors, in order to participate in the State Funeral for President Mwanawasa of the Republic of Zambia, which is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, September 3, and to convey condolences to the representatives of the Government of Zambia and to the bereaved family of President Mwanawasa. Special Envoy Yano will leave Japan on Monday, September 1, and is expected to participate in the State Funeral for President Mwanawasa, which is scheduled to take place in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, on Wednesday, September 3.
Does the government intend to provide any additional travel advice calling for voluntary restraint on traveling to Afghanistan and entering that country to undertake activities on the part of members of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and other organizations that are engaged in activities for humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan?
The government will continue its ongoing policy of recommending that Japanese nationals evacuate from all parts of Afghanistan. Regarding some experts dispatched by JICA, we have given guidance that if they absolutely must travel there, then they do so only after paying careful attention to fully ensuring their safety. Regarding non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as far as concerns those NGOs to which the government provides funding, we have arranged to have their Japanese workers depart from Afghanistan and continue their local activities through remote operations. Regarding the Peshawar-kai, it is run by individuals who have an extremely high commitment to undertaking humanitarian activities and that organization does not receive any capital funding from the Government of Japan, and therefore they carry out their own activities based on their own judgment. Under these circumstances, I hope they will consider their prospects with mutual exchanges of information. Concerning the workers of JICA, too, I hope that they will seriously consider seeking optimal arrangements in any given situation, instead of blindly deciding on across-the-board withdrawal or recklessly staying on site.
North Korea has announced that it has halted efforts to disable its nuclear facilities. What is your view on that? Furthermore, please explain what influence that will have on Japan-North Korea relations.
Regarding the halting of the disablement activities, that is something that I am concerned about. Japan intends to coordinate closely with the other five countries in order to get North Korea to agree to advance efforts to decommission those facilities as quickly as possible, and we intend to urge North Korea to do so. Regarding the influence that this will have on Japan-North Korea relations, this is not something for which we can clearly say whether or not this will have an influence. The Government of Japan intends to make every effort to ensure that this does not have a negative influence on the relations.
Do you think that the halting of the disablement activities will have an influence on the new investigation on the abductees?
No, that will not happen. Japan and North Korea both share the same understanding regarding the new investigation. The investigation that will take place in order to solve the abductions issue as far as we view the situation, in other words an investigation undertaken in order to discover survivors and return them to Japan by an authoritative investigation committee established for that purpose, and a confirmation on the part of the Japanese government that the investigation has begun, are necessary for us to implement the things that we promised on our side.
Regarding the issue of poisoned Chinese-made dumplings, initially in June when the similar incident occurred in China, the Chinese side did inform Japan of that and also requested that the information not be made public. However, now the Chinese side has made a new request that the information be properly made public, and that is why public notification of that information was made. How do you interpret the change that took place on the Chinese side?
Until now, Japan has urged China in various ways and on my last visit to China, I spoke directly about this to Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. In response to that, he said to me that he would see to it that dialogue could take place between the concerned divisions from both countries. My understanding of how to interpret the fact is that now the Chinese public safety authorities have spoken about this to the Japanese Embassy in China and this matter reflects the fact that dialogue has been advanced little by little. The fact that the Chinese side chose to inform the Japanese side about a food poisoning incident that took place in China in July indicates that China has disclosed information that can be viewed as contradicting the announcement that was made by the public safety authorities in China, and my understanding is that a decision must have taken place at a high level in China that this problem should not be allowed to remain out of public view. Our understanding in this regard was that at the end of January, dumplings would not be allowed to be distributed in the market, and I can highly praise the fact that recently the Chinese side once again conveyed to us that it would not allow for distribution of poisoned dumplings in the market. Furthermore, I hope that the Chinese side will undertake a thorough investigation that will lead to a clarification of what actually took place.
Please tell us: what is the difference between the Kosovo conflict and the situation in Georgia?
Rather than talking about the differences with an event that took place in the past, I think that now the international community is seeking to preserve the territory of Georgia, and the international community will be discussing the safety of the region of South Ossetia. As such, the fact that the Russian Federation has unilaterally recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia is contrary to the six principles of the Ceasefire Agreement and therefore we have just now conveyed to the Russian side our feeling that this is extremely regrettable.
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