Press Conference by the Press Secretary 9 March, 1999

  1. Statement of Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi at the demise of His Highness Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Amir of the State of Bahrain
  2. Visit to Japan of His Royal Highness Jean, Grand Duc of Luxembourg and Her Royal Highness Joséphine-Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
  3. Visit to Japan by United States Policy Coordinator for North Korea, William Perry
  4. Status of measures imposed by Japan on North Korea in response to the missile launch by North Korea
  5. Official Development Assistance (ODA) from Japan to countries in Asia
  6. Status of Consul Shuji Shimokoji
  7. Visit to countries in the Middle East by State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura
  8. Visit to Japan by President Eduard Shevardnadze of the Republic of Georgia

  1. Statement of Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi at the demise of His Highness Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Amir of the State of Bahrain

    Press Secretary Sadaaki Numata: Good afternoon. I would first like to refer to the demise of His Highness Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa Amir of the State of Bahrain. Upon learning of the sudden demise of His Highness, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi issued a statement on 7 March in which he extended to the members of the family of His Highness and the people of the State of Bahrain our most sincere sympathy and condolences. He also expressed our high appreciation for the late Amir's great contribution to Bahrain's current prosperity and to the stability in the Middle East and the Gulf region for a long period of 37 years, since he succeeded to the throne in 1961. His Highness was also a very good friend of Japan who visited Japan in 1991. Prime Minister Obuchi also expressed our hope that the people of Bahrain, under the leadership of His Highness Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the new Amir of the State of Bahrain, will continue to uphold the late Amir's will in pursuing further developments of Bahrain and in making further efforts for the stability in the Middle East and Gulf region and for the peace in the world. A number of leaders and VIP's from various countries have been visiting Bahrain to express their condolences. In the case of Japan, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura was traveling in the region. Actually he was traveling through the Republic of Turkey, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was while he was in Saudi Arabia that we learned the sad news of the passing of the late Amir of Bahrain. State Secretary Machimura changed his travel plan. He was to go to the United Arab Emirates, but actually the leaders of the United Arab Emirates as well were going to Bahrain to express their condolences. Our Government appointed State Secretary Machimura as a special envoy to express our condolences to the new Amir and the people of Bahrain. State Secretary Machimura went to Bahrain and yesterday morning, that is Bahrain time on the morning of 8 March, called on the new Amir to express our condolences, that is the condolences on behalf of the Japanese Government and also the condolences from His Majesty the Emperor of Japan and Their Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, who visited Bahrain in 1994. He also conveyed the condolences from Prime Minister Obuchi as well. The new Amir expressed his appreciation for this expression of condolence and warm feeling from Japan. That is my first announcement.

    Related Information (Japan-Bahrain Relations)
  2. Visit to Japan of His Royal Highness Jean, Grand Duc of Luxembourg and Her Royal Highness Joséphine-Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg

    Press Secretary Sadaaki Numata: My second announcement concerns the visit to Japan of His Royal Highness Jean, Grand Duc of Luxembourg and Her Royal Highness Joséphine-Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. Their Royal Highnesses will be visiting Japan from 3 to 12 April and they will stay in Japan as State Guests from 3 to 9 April. For the remainder of the stay, Their Royal Highnesses will be traveling to Kansai, Osaka and Kanazawa and will be departing from Kansai International Airport on Monday, 12 April. During their stay, Their Royal Highnesses will make a State Call on Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress, and Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress will host a State Dinner in honor of Their Royal Highnesses. The Prime Minister and Mrs. Obuchi will host a dinner in honor of Their Royal Highnesses. We welcome this visit very sincerely and we believe that this will further strengthen the friendly relations that exist between Japan and Luxembourg. I might also mention that the Grand Duc of Luxembourg has been to Japan five times before; in 1979 as the guest of the Foreign Ministry; in 1989 to attend the funeral of the late Emperor Showa; in 1990 to attend the Enthronement of His Majesty the Emperor; in 1990 in his capacity as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC); and also in 1998, with the last visit being in connection with the Nagano Olympics. Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress visited Luxembourg in 1983 when they were Crown Prince and Crown Princess. Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress also made a stopover in Luxembourg in 1997 on their way to Latin America, that is the Federative Republic of Brazil and the Argentine Republic. There is indeed a very close relationship between our Imperial Family and this Royal Family of Luxembourg. In the course of his stay, His Highness will also, in addition to the events that normally go with a State Visit, have the opportunity to talk with a number of economic and business leaders. He will also have the opportunity to visit some regions, including Yamanashi, while they are based in Tokyo, as well as Osaka and Kanazawa, that I mentioned. His Highness will be accompanied in fact by Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Jacques F. Poos, as well as Director-General Yves Mersch of the Central Bank, as well as a number of economic and business leaders from Luxembourg. That is my second announcement.

    Related Information (Japan-Luxembourg Relations)
  3. Visit to Japan by United States Policy Coordinator for North Korea, William Perry

    Q: With Secretary Perry in Japan completing his review of North Korean policy, what specific concerns does Japan have concerning North Korea that it would like to be included as part of this review?

    Mr. Numata: United States Policy Coordinator for North Korea, William Perry, the former Secretary of Defense of the United States of America, I think we referred to him as Secretary earlier, is here for the second time. He was here in December. He is in the process of preparing his report to President William Jefferson Clinton of the United States of America. The last time he was here in December, he was primarily in a listening mode to listen to our views and listen to our concerns and so forth. His visit this time -- he will be arriving late this evening I understand, and he will be meeting Prime Minister Obuchi, Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka and Director-General Hosei Norota of the Defense Agency in the course of tomorrow. His visit this time will be a continuation of that visit. To the extent that former Secretary Perry, on his way to Japan, has been to the People's Republic of China, Taiwan and the Republic of Korea, we will be naturally interested in hearing his views about what he may be contemplating in the context of his report to the President. That will cover a whole range of issues including the suspected nuclear sites and missiles and so forth. From our point of view, there are several issues of particular interest to us. The ones that I have mentioned already, that is the suspicion about the nuclear sites which is now intensely being talked about between the United States and North Korea in New York -- as I understand it, that consultation is still ongoing, the whole question of missiles and the need to resolve this question of missiles and the whole question of how we approach North Korea as we try to work closely together with the Republic of Korea and the United States. There is a whole wide range of issues in which we are interested and I think we will try to make the best possible use of the time available to exchange views with him on these points. From our point of view, I might also mention that our consistent stance towards North Korea is to take a firm attitude towards these matters of serious concern, not only to Japan but also to the international community, and for that reason we have held the question of food aid and the resumption of our normalization relations in abeyance. Indeed, we have suspended them for the time being, but at the same time, it does not mean that we will try to keep the door entirely shut to North Korea. We have been sending the message to North Korea that if there is a constructive response from North Korea on these matters of concern to the international community in the sense of their trying to dispel these concerns with respect to the missiles or suspected nuclear sites or a constructive response from North Korea on some of the pending issues between Japan and North Korea, including the question of suspected abduction cases, we will be prepared on our own part to engage in dialogue and to improve our relations with North Korea. That is our basic stance. There has so far not been a sort of forthcoming response from North Korea to this appeal from us. Some explanation of this position on our part may also be included in our conservations with former Secretary Perry.

    Q: Has there been any feedback from Mr. Nakayama's visit to North Korea? Is he back yet?

    Mr. Numata: No. Mr. Masaaki Nakayama is there on his own initiative. If I recall correctly, I think he may be arriving in Beijing some time in the course of this afternoon or he may have arrived there, but he is not back in Tokyo yet. That is all I know.

    Q: The concerns of the US and Japan are very similar. One possible difference would be the emphasis that Japan places on the abductees. Does Japan plan to raise this in talks with Secretary Perry and would Japan like to see this included in his review?

    Mr. Numata: If there is a difference, the difference arises from the fact that to the best of our knowledge, there are no comparable abductees from the United States. I mentioned earlier that while we do not intend to keep the door closed to North Korea, in order for us to be able to work in a positive way, in terms of engaging in dialogue and to improve our relations and so forth, it is necessary for the internationally shared concerns to be dispelled, but also for there to be some constructive movement with respect to these matters of particular concern to us. In explaining our stance towards North Korea, it is possible that some reference may be made to this source of particular concern to us, but beyond that, I do not think that I should try to second guess what our principals may be saying.

    Q: There is some talk that Japan will try to discuss with Perry having a guarantee that Japan will not be a target for a second missile firing from North Korea. What is your response?

    Mr. Numata: We do attach very great importance to the question of the development, production, testing and deployment of missiles by North Korea. That is a matter that we have been emphasizing in the context of our close coordination with both the Republic of Korea and the United States. The United States has also taken this point on board. So it is a matter of shared concern and to the extent that it is a shared concern, it may come up again.

    Q: Can it be confirmed that it is true?

    Mr. Numata: I am saying that the subject may very well be addressed in the same way that it has been addressed before. Having said that, I think it is fair to say that it is only North Korea which can make the decision not to launch another missile. It is very difficult to exact any kind of assurance or guarantee from the United States about North Korea's actions, but we can confirm our shared concern about this with the United States.

    Q: Is Japan receptive to this idea of broadening the Agreed Framework?

    Mr. Numata: Broadening the Agreed Framework? How do you mean?

    Q: By putting together a bigger package that would not only include the suspected nuclear weapons program but would also include missile proliferation?

    Mr. Numata: I am not quite sure what you mean by broadening the Agreed Framework. Are you talking about this general approach taken, especially by the Republic of Korea, which consists of two main points, that is first deal with the immediate concerns about their nuclear development and missile development and so forth, but at the same time, to try in the longer term, to put an end to the situation of the virtual Cold War on the Korean peninsula. In that context, they have been talking about this policy of engagement and a comprehensive approach and so forth. Do you have that in mind or do you have something a little more specific?

    Q: I was thinking more in terms of another broad package that would include missile proliferation in which North Korea would give up its missile program in exchange for something from Japan, the United States and South Korea.

    Mr. Numata: It is a bit difficult for me to comment because I am not quite sure either about the authorship of that concept or about the details of that plan, but having said that, let me make a couple of points. The first is that the Agreed Framework does continue to be possibly the only viable and realistic framework with which to dissuade North Korea from following the path of nuclear development, and it is for that reason that we have decided, despite the missile launch, to resume our cooperation to the KEDO program. That is point one. But at the same time, the missile launch, the question of missiles, is a matter of very serious concern to us and there is no abating of the concern on our part. For that reason, we continue to attach importance to that issue. Precisely how this concern may be approached in the context of our relationship with North Korea, and also in the context of the trilateral cooperation and coordination between Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States, is a matter of ongoing discussion. At this point I do not think I can try to offer any shape or form to what may emerge out of this.

    Related Information (North Korea's Missile Launch)
  4. Status of measures imposed by Japan on North Korea in response to the missile launch by North Korea

    Q: After the rocket launch, Japan announced a number of measures of freezing food aid and the cancellation of some charter flights. Are those measures still in effect, or have they been eased?

    Mr. Numata: They continue to be in place. The only exception is our cooperation to the Korean Peninsula Development Organization (KEDO) project. As you may recall, shortly after the launch of the Taepdong missile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nonaka announced that we will be holding in abeyance our cooperation to the KEDO project. Journalistically, it was called a "freeze" on the KEDO but that has been -- what is the past participle for freeze -- defrozen. That has been "defrozen" as you know. As I said earlier, the possible food aid and the resumption of the normalization negotiations are still under suspension. However, I hasten to add that while these remain in suspension, we have been emphasizing to the North Koreans through our parliamentary interpolation and elsewhere, that if there are constructive responses from North Korea on these issues of suspected nuclear sites, missiles and abduction cases and so forth, we will be prepared on our side, to engage in dialogue and to try to improve our relations.

    Q: Japan is concerned about the science program of North Korea. At the same time, North Korea is concerned about the Japanese cooperation with the United States on TMD. Why is it okay for Japan to develop this, but it is not okay for North Korea to develop its science?

    Mr. Numata: If the question is phrased in that manner, I wonder if you are not going to have some problem about whether the egg comes first or the chicken comes first. I am inclined to feel that in this particular case, the chicken came first in the missile launch, and when there are such dangers around us, I think it is natural for us to explore ways in which to defend ourselves for these possible threats.

    Q: You mean they started it?

    Mr. Numata: I did not say it in so many words, but I think you get the point of my metaphor.

    Related Information (North Korea's Missile Launch)
  5. Official Development Assistance (ODA) from Japan to countries in Asia

    Q: Some of your conditions for aid to Cambodia are political and military-related. Do the same conditions apply to Vietnam, India and Pakistan and Indonesia?

    Mr. Numata: That is a tough question. Let me see if I can break it into components and try to respond to them. First, with respect to the Kingdom of Cambodia, I do not know whether I agree with your characterization of our conditions or our concerns being described as military. As you know, we did pledge assistance amounting to about US$ 100 million in the context of the Consultative Group on Cambodia and that is US$ 100 million out of the total pledge by all the donor countries of US$ 470 million, that is more than 20%. That in itself indicates our very positive intention to help the new Cambodian Government achieve stability and achieve development of that nation. But in looking at the challenges that the new Cambodian Government is faced with, there are some areas of priority and one such area of priority is the question of the demobilization of the people in the military to the extent that they are now freer of conflicts in that country. One of the priority areas in terms of the Consultative Group would be precisely this question of demobilization which does raise the question of what sort of jobs we might give to the demobilized soldiers. So that is one element in the context of our aid to Cambodia. Political? Yes, to some extent, because we would like to see the democratic process -- the recent election which has given birth to the new Cambodian Government has been a democratic process and we certainly would like to see this kind of democratic process further take root in Cambodia and we would like to help them. At the same time, one other challenge that they face is the challenge of governance or the reform of their government machinery, administrative reform and so forth. That in a way may have political implications. That is also another priority. Those are the areas which immediatley come to my mind in terms of the priorities that we assign to Cambodia, but those are also the reflections of the particular circumstances that exist in Cambodia. On that basis, I doubt if I can draw a direct parallel between the Cambodian case and the Indian and Pakistan case. However, in the case of Indian and Pakistan, for reasons well known to you, in the wake of the nuclear testing by the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, we have laid down certain benchmarks which we wish to see fulfilled so that we can resume our bilateral commitment of new aid to India and Pakistan. With respect to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and other countries, I think I will go back to sort of basic positions regarding Official Development Assistance (ODA) in general and that is in the ODA Charter, we have been saying for quite some time that in extending ODA to those countries, we take into account such factors as the conditions that exist in the recipient countries with respect to the development of weapons of mass destruction, arms export, democratization, human rights and the committment to market economy and so forth. These factors apply to all the recipients of ODA, so I think those general yardsticks would apply in the case of Vietnam and other countries. These yardsticks do apply with respect to India and Pakistan and other countries as well.

    Related Information (Japan's ODA)
  6. Status of Consul Shuji Shimokoji

    Q: Regarding the former consul-general to Vancouver, do you know what day he will be back in Japan? When and what sort of penalty is expected?

    Mr. Numata: The short answer to both your questions is "no." I do not know when Consul Shuji Shimokoji will be arriving. We expect him to be back in Tokyo as soon as he is finished dealing with whatever leftover business that he would have to deal with in Vancouver. However, I do not know the precise date yet. With respect to your second question, when he returns we will need to talk to him to hear from him exactly what happened. Whatever decision we will be arriving at with respect to his career, will be decided on that basis. So it is a bit premature to try to predict what may happen.

  7. Visit to countries in the Middle East by State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura

    Q: Concerning Mr. Machimura's visit to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, do you have information on the results?

    Mr. Numata: Somewhat sketchy at this point, but let me see what I have. I thought you might ask that question, so I checked. Your are particulalry interested in Saudi Arabia?

    Q: And the UAE.

    Mr. Numata: State Secretary Machimura did not go to the United Arab Emirates because his trip was cut short because he went to Bahrain. Regarding Saudi Arabia, as I said, my read-out is a bit sketchy. What I have is some read-out of his meeting with His Highness Crown Prince Abdullah. As you know, Crown Prince Abdullah came to Japan in October last year and met Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress as well as Prime Minister Obuchi. There was a message of friendship from Prime Minister Obuchi in the form of a letter which was handed to him. State Secretary Machimura congratulated His Highness the Crown Prince on the centennary of Saudi Arabia since its nation building. State Secretary Machimura noted the remarkable progress being made in the bilateral relations between Japan and Saudi Arabia, especially since the visit by His Highness the Crown Prince to Japan. There is progress being made on the basis of the Joint Declaration and the Cooperation Agenda signed by His Highness the Crown Prince on the occasion of his visit. His Highess Crown Prince Abdullah, for his part, said that he regarded Japan as his most esteemed and venerable friends. That was expressed in Arabic, but the English translation is, according to this reporting cable, "the most esteemed and venerable friends." His Highness the Crown Prince also felt that there is certainly more that can be achieved in expanding the bilateral relations between Japan and Saudi Arabia and in that context, State Secretary Machimura referred to his own experience of having served as Minister of Education. He said that in expanding the cooperative relationship between Japan and Saudi Arabia, he felt that areas such as human resource development and education are also important. I think those were the main points. There was apparently also some reference to the question of the Arabian oil company in the context of State Secretary Machimura expressing the hope that the negotiations will be concluded soon between the parties concerned. Those are the feedbacks as of now. He will be arriving this evening so hopefully we should have a somewhat detailed read-out when he returns.

    Related Information (Japan-Middle East Relations)
  8. Visit to Japan by President Eduard Shevardnadze of the Republic of Georgia

    Q: What is your valuation of the Shevardnadze visit?

    Mr. Numata: I have not got the documents with me. There are a number of documents issued and we do feel that although President Eduard Shevardnadze of the Republic of Georgia is a very well-known personality to Japan because he came to Japan several times, I think it was four or five times, when he was Foreign Minister of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), he was here in a new guise. We do feel that it was a very important visit, especially given the fact that we do attach importance to cultivating our friendship with the countries in what we call the Silk Road region, of which Georgia is a very important part. Through these documents that we issued, perhaps called a Joint Statement, some documents on a new aid committment to Georgia, I think we managed to lay the basis for a very successful relationship to come. Any further questions? That will be the end of a quick tour around the world for the moment.

    Related Information (Japan-Georgia Relations)

Back to Index