Press Conference 20 April 2004

  1. Follow-up question concerning cooperation with the French Republic
  2. Questions concerning self-responsibility in terms of security situation in Iraq
  3. Questions concerning supposed statements made by officials of the Defense Agency
  4. Questions concerning involvement of United Nations in Iraq
  5. Question concerning Japan's security arrangements
  6. Question concerning property in Samawah of the Self-Defense Forces
  7. Questions concerning travel advisories for Iraq
  8. Question concerning visit to Japan by Executive Director of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) Charles Kartman

  1. Follow-up question concerning cooperation with France

    Q: In this sort of cooperation, do you have any further cooperation expected with some other French organizations? Are you discussing and working on any other NGOs these days about such kinds of cooperation?

    Mr. Takashima: The Japanese Government has been discussing how to cooperate for the assistance for Iraq with the French Government.

    One of the main projects will be assistance to rehabilitate the national museum in Baghdad which is underway now. If I am not mistaken, this is the second project. The discussion will continue and we would be happy to cooperate with the Government of France as well as the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and other governments. If there is any appropriate project to be implemented, we will do that.

    Q: Those projects are in the humanitarian assistance plan. Do you have any other projects or expectations of more cooperation between Japan and France together on the issue of security, for instance?

    Mr. Takashima: Not that I know of because security is something that is not included in the talks going on between Japan and France in terms of assistance for Iraq.

    Q: Nevertheless, there were discussions undertaken between Japan and France, I suppose, for eventually considering organization or formation of the police force. Is that not correct?

    Mr. Takashima: In terms of police training and empowerment, it is still the agenda of the discussion between Japan and Germany mainly. As far as France is concerned, my understanding is that they are more interested in providing cultural as well as humanitarian assistance.

    Related Information (Japan-France Relations)
  2. Questions concerning self-responsibility in terms of security situation in Iraq

    Q: More globally, after the hostage crisis that you have had in Japan, there is a lot of concern among various nations about the notion of individual responsibility that has been criticized by the Government or by officials of this country. Can you explain or describe what exactly this means, individual responsibility in the case of humanitarian missions of NGOs? What is your understanding?

    Mr. Takashima: Before going into that, I would like to reiterate that to provide the necessary rescue operation, whatever the form may be, for Japanese nationals in peril abroad is a main mission and responsibility of the Government. Based on that notion, we did our best to rescue those five Japanese nationals trapped in Iraq as hostages or captives.

    The term of self responsibility which is expected to be borne by the Japanese nationals abroad is a kind of common sense we expect to see all nationals to have when they go abroad, since their personal safety cannot be guaranteed by the Japanese Government when they are outside of the country. We hope that they will take necessary precautionary measures not to become entangled in the kinds of difficulties and dangers that threaten their lives.

    In terms of the situation in Iraq, we have been issuing a number of travel advisories calling for Japanese to stay away from Iraq because of security reasons. If Japanese nationals dare to go into Iraq, then they have to take utmost care of themselves, as a self-responsibility to protect themselves and to stay away from any sort of danger.

    Q: Do you have at this moment a clear assessment of how many Japanese NGO officials or journalists are in Iraq?

    Mr. Takashima: In view of the fact that those five Japanese were captured by armed groups, we believe that it will make any Japanese nationals who might be in Iraq unsafe if we disclose the number of the Japanese staying in Iraq at this moment. Therefore, we have decided not to disclose any figure.

    Related Information (The Issue of Iraq)
  3. Questions concerning supposed statements made by officials of the Defense Agency

    Q: I have a question related to a recent statement made by some high-ranking officials from the Defense Agency at a press conference and stated two things. One was that it was important to reconsider the notion of collective defense. The other notion is that it is expected for the involvement of the United Nations (UN) in Iraq to greatly help the Japanese SDF in their humanitarian work. Do you have any comment on these two points which were raised by Defense officials?

    Mr. Takashima: We have been saying that UN involvement is essential to bring about success in the work toward Iraqi reconstruction and rehabilitation. As such, we welcome UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's recent announcement of his idea of creation of a necessary framework of administration before the handover of sovereignty from the coalition forces to Iraq is implemented. We also welcome UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's statement that the UN will play an important role in the reconstruction of Iraq.

    Furthermore, we also appreciate the statement made by President George W. Bush of the United States of America and Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom after their meetings recently in Washington, DC that the UN should play an essential role in Iraq. It seems that things are moving towards what we have been advocating. We would like to give full support to the United Nations and other governments as well as to the people of Iraq to reconstruct their nation with the help provided by the various nations.

    As to your first question, I did not quite catch it. Could you please repeat it?

    Q: It is about collective defense and maybe reconsidering the view of defense. The notion of collective defense has been a subject of discussion for a long time in Japan and there are questions today that maybe the SDF do not feel comfortable with the present framework in order to be able to act. What is your comment on that?

    Mr. Takashima: I am not aware of any governmental officials, including those of the Defense Agency, having stated that collective defense would be desirable.

    My understanding on collective defense is that it is one of the subjects being discussed within the study group at the National Diet. We would like to see the outcome of discussion which is now underway.

    Q: According to a Kyodo dispatch from last night, "the top commander of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) said that Japan will have to clear the ban on collective self-defense in order to play a further role in international military missions." That was a comment made by Admiral Koichi Furusho who raised the constitutional issue as a future challenge for Tokyo. As we know, Japan has the right to collective self-defense under international law. This is a basic principle, but you cannot practice it due to constitutional limitations. Could I have your comment on that? Where are we heading to from this point? It looks like it is a necessity now for Japan to move in its own direction on the Constitution?

    Mr. Takashima: The Government's position is very clear. Legally speaking, we have the right to collective defense, but we are not allowed to exercise it. Since that policy is there, we follow it. Whether that policy will be amended or modified, that has to be done by the legislative branch. Currently, the National Diet through its own study group is making necessary considerations for a possible amendment of the Constitution of Japan. We have no comment on what the legislative branch dictates.

    Q: Do you have an official impression that those discussions in Parliament with all the parties involved, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and others, have been targeted and have some schedule, like that we are talking about next year?

    Mr. Takashima: I would like to refer you to the legislators themselves because these are the things that have to be handled by them. The administrative branch of the Government keeps to implementing the existing policy.

    Q: Do you regard this statement of those high officials from the Defense Agency as a way to accelerate the processes of legislative work?

    Mr. Takashima: There have been a number of public opinion surveys or opinions expressed by scholars, members of academia or the legislative branch or media. My understanding is that there is some sort of current tendency of these issues being discussed in appropriate sectors of the Japanese society. We would like to wait to see the outcome of those discussions and the studies.

  4. Questions concerning involvement of United Nations in Iraq

    Q: Precisely on the point of United Nations involvement in Iraq, some observers wonder if it would not finally justify a moral problem of your participation to this operation in Iraq which is led by basically the United States. Do you regard as a moral problem your participation in Iraq reconstruction providing that it was not allowed by the United Nations yet? Is there a moral point in that you are aware of?

    Mr. Takashima: Actually, the reason why we dispatched our Self-Defense Forces to Iraq was simply because it was decided by the Government of Japan by law, which was approved and legislated by the Diet. It was our own decision and we are confident that our decision was a correct one. What we have been doing and what we are doing in Iraq is for the sake of the Iraqi people. We are actually providing very essential assistance in humanitarian and rehabilitation work there. There is no moral question at all on that.

  5. Question concerning Japan's security arrangements

    Q: In that case, does the aid provided to Iraq for reconstruction include the fact that it was for your troop security in the hands of Dutch troops or even US troops? You have put your faith in security controlled by those troops. Do you have the guarantee that in other situations and other concerns such as the North Korea crisis or whatever, you would also have the assistance be provided by the United States if great danger happened to Japan?

    Mr. Takashima: I think you are talking about two different stories and two different subjects. As far as Iraq and our Self-Defense Forces in Iraq are concerned, the SDF is not there for combat operation or to fight but simply to provide humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to the Iraqi people. However, due to the situation in that part of Iraq, the minimum necessary measures to protect themselves have been given to them. That is the reason why the SDF are there instead of unarmed NGO officials or unarmed Japanese businessmen. We believe that the Self-Defense Forces with the necessary measures to protect themselves would be an adequate form of Japanese assistance to Iraq with adequate manpower.

    It is true that security is provided by the Dutch as well as the British or sometimes by the US troops there. It was so arranged and we are confident that if something happens, the protection will be provided by the forces, primarily by the Dutch but also, as I said, other forces. That is based upon arrangement and also upon the fact that the Japanese forces do not have any strong defensive capabilities.

    About North Korea or other possible attack from outside forces against Japan or against Japanese territory, we have a security arrangement with the United States. Based upon the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States of America (Japan-US Security Treaty), the United States will provide us necessary protection along with the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. We think that there will be no problem in having that sort of joint operation if something happens.

  6. Question concerning property in Samawah of the Self-Defense Forces

    Q: One last question related to acquisition of land for the Self-Defense Forces in Samawah. I understand that you have been in discussion with some local people in Iraq to acquire those lands. On what terms were those lands granted or bought? Do you have an assessment of the figures of the costs?

    Mr. Takashima: The negotiation was done by the Self-Defense Forces on the spot with the landlords, the local residents. My understanding is that it was not an acquisition but it was a contract of leasing the land.

    Q: Do you have the numbers?

    Mr. Takashima: I do not have any figures on that.

    Q: Which legal process is this under? Is it under the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) process, the former Iraq laws? What is the framework of this contract?

    Mr. Takashima: My understanding is that it was a commercial arrangement.

    Q: Signed where?

    Mr. Takashima: Signed in Samawah between the officials of the Self-Defense Forces and the landlords.

    Q: Under which framework? Which law since there is no law?

    Mr. Takashima: It was a contract.

    Q: How many tribes have been contacted for assisting the Self-Defense Forces in Samawah so far? There was talk about 40. Is that correct?

    Mr. Takashima: I do not have any exact figure, but my understanding is that the officials of the Self-Defense Forces there as well as representatives from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs have already been in touch with the leaders of the tribes in that region. Many of them expressed their welcoming feelings vis-à-vis the Self-Defense Forces and the Japanese presence.

  7. Question concerning travel advisories for Iraq

    Q: I understand that Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi told reporters this morning that in light of the kidnappings, the Foreign Ministry may consider stricter measures aside from the traditional travel advisories. What did she mean by stricter measures? And how will the Foreign Ministry go about considering such measures? Will it consult with outside experts?

    Mr. Takashima: I am not sure whether she used the word strict. I might say a more appropriate word is more effective measures.

    It has become apparent that those five people were not following advice provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in terms of the Iraqi situation. We believe that more effective measures have to be taken so that Japanese people whatever the reason may be do not go there in the light of the current situation.

    Q: How perhaps, from your understanding, could the Foreign Ministry go about considering this? Which departments would be involved?

    Mr. Takashima: Various ideas have been floating, but there has been no final decision yet.

    Q: Various ideas within the Ministry and also outside.

    Mr. Takashima: That is true.

  8. Question concerning visit to Japan by Executive Director of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) Charles Kartman

    Q: Amb. Charles Kartman of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) is scheduled to arrive today and meeting with Foreign Minister Kawaguchi tomorrow. What would Japan like to address during the talks with Executive Director Kartman?

    Mr. Takashima: The Japanese side is hopeful that we will be able to have a useful exchange of views in terms of the KEDO project because we have to find appropriate measures to close down the construction activities there. The KEDO activities had to be halted, so how to continue doing it and how to implement it is the issue at hand. As the person in charge of the secretariat of the KEDO operations, as Executive Director, Mr. Kartman will surely give us the necessary information and we will give him our own ideas.

    Q: Does the recent story by nuclear scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan that he was shown nuclear weapons in Pyongyang perhaps make this matter more complicated?

    Mr. Takashima: We are aware of that press report. We have been in touch with the Government of Pakistan. They have promised to provide us the information they obtain from Dr. Khan.

    I would like to stop there because this is a very sensitive issue and I am not at liberty to give any detailed information.

    Related Information (The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO))

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