Press Conference 15 February 2005

  1. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations on the assassination of the former President of the Council of Ministers Rafic Hariri of Lebanon by terrorist bombings
  2. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations on the situation in Togo
  3. Upcoming visit to Japan by His Majesty Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin ibni Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia and Her Majesty Tengku Fauziah Abdul Rashid, the Raja Permaisuri Agong of Malaysia
  4. Grant assistance for Bhutan and Tajikistan
  5. Questions concerning North Korean issues
  6. Question concerning upcoming meeting between Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of the US
  7. Follow-up questions concerning North Korean issues
  8. Question concerning United Nations (UN) Security Council reform

  1. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations on the assassination of the former President of the Council of Ministers Rafic Hariri of Lebanon by terrorist bombings

    Press Secretary Hatsuhisa Takashima: Good afternoon and thank you very much for coming to the briefing. Today, I would like to make several announcements before I take questions.

    Firstly, the statement on the situation in the Republic of Lebanon.

    The Government of Japan condemns the assassination of the former President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) Rafic Hariri of Lebanon by the terrorist bombings that occurred in Beirut on 14 February. Mr. Hariri visited Japan four times while he was in office and contributed greatly to the strengthening of the bilateral relations between Japan and Lebanon. I extend my sincere condolences to the bereaved families and heartfelt sympathies to the injured. Terrorism cannot be justified for any reason. Japan renews its firm condemnation against such terrorist attack.

    Related Information (Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the assassination of the former President of the Council of Ministers Rafic Hariri of Lebanon by terrorist bombings)
  2. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations on the situation in Togo

    Mr. Takashima: The next one is on the statement on the situation in the Togolese Republic.

    Japan is concerned about the situation in Togo after the demise of President Gnassingbe Eyadema on 5 February.

    Japan pays respect to the efforts being made by the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) concerning the present situation in Togo and strongly hopes that such efforts will lead to an early and peaceful settlement in compliance with the will of the people in Togo.

    Related Information (Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the Situation in Togo)
  3. Upcoming visit to Japan by His Majesty Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin ibni Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia and Her Majesty Tengku Fauziah Abdul Rashid, the Raja Permaisuri Agong of Malaysia

    Mr. Takashima: The next announcement is about the visit of the King and Queen of Malaysia.

    His Majesty Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin ibni Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, and Her Majesty Tengku Fauziah Abdul Rashid, the Raja Permaisuri Agong, will pay a visit to Japan from 6 to 13 March 2005, and will stay as State Guest from 6 to 9 March 2005.

    During their stay in Japan, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Raja Permaisuri Agong will make a State Call on Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan. Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress will host a State Banquet in honour of the visitors from Malaysia.

    The Government of Japan sincerely welcomes the visit of the King and Queen of Malaysia, which will further strengthen the friendly relations between Japan and Malaysia.

    Related Information (Visit to Japan of His Majesty Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin ibni Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia and Her Majesty Tengku Fauziah Abdul Rashid, the Raja Permaisuri Agong of Malaysia)
  4. Grant assistance for Bhutan and Tajikistan

    Mr. Takashima: The next one is about the assistance for the Kingdom of Bhutan and the Republic of Tajikistan.

    The Government of Japan today decided to provide grant assistance of up to 567 million yen or US$5.40 million to Bhutan. This assistance will be used to purchase machineries and equipment for the construction of rural roads and reconstruction of main road bridges in this Himalayan mountain country.

    Also, the Government of Japan today decided to provide grant assistance of 480 million yen or US$4.50 million to Tajikistan for the project to improve the medical equipment of the national hospital.

    Also, the Japanese Government today reached a technical assistance agreement with Tajikistan. Japanese Ambassador to Tajikistan Yuichi Kusumoto today signed the bilateral agreement on technical assistance with Tajikistan in Dushanbe, the capital of this nation. From Tajikistan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Talbak Nazarov signed the agreement. With this signing, Japan will be able to provide technical assistance through the dispatch of specialists and senior volunteers and also accept trainees from this nation more freely so that Japan will contribute further more for the economic and social development of Tajikistan from now on.

    Related Information (Japan-Bhutan Relations)
    Related Information (Japan-Tajikistan Relations)
  5. Questions concerning North Korean issues

    Q: Last Thursday, North Korea announced publicly that it has nuclear weapons. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-Moon of the Republic of Korea (ROK) said he believes that it is a ploy or tactic for negotiations. That in fact, North Korea would return to the Six-Party Talks, that this is just a way to leverage the negotiations with the United States of America (US). What is Japan's view on this? Does Japan think it is a tactic on the part of North Korea?

    Mr. Takashima: Firstly, the Government of Japan deeply regrets the North Korean issuance of this kind of statement which is totally against the will of the international community and also, it is totally against the interest of North Korea itself. The Government of Japan will continue to try to bring about the Six-Party Talks as soon as possible so that this issue will be discussed in an appropriate manner and in a forum.

    Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura is planning to visit Washington for the discussion of this issue with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of the US. However, the final arrangement for this meeting is still being negotiated. Also, this issue will be discussed at the two-plus-two meeting in Washington, and its final arrangements are being made right now. I expect that this two-plus-two meeting will be held during the coming weekend.

    Q: What do you think about the ROK view? Do you think it is a ploy?

    Mr. Takashima: In the past, North Korea has issued various statements in which they have flip flopped their statements. Therefore, we do not know to what extent this statement of their possession of nuclear weapons and also expansion of nuclear arsenals or warehouse they use has true meaning. This might be a tactic, this might be the truth. We still do not know whether it is true or not. The most important thing is that the Six-Party Talks are held as soon as possible, and North Korea should accept the strong desire of the international community to attend the Six-Party Talks.

    I am not in a position to interpret what they have said because what they say sometimes contradicts with their previous statements.

    Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)
  6. Question concerning upcoming meeting between Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of the US

    Q: When Foreign Minister Machimura goes to Washington to meet with US Secretary of State Rice, what does he hope to achieve from that meeting? Also, do you think it is now necessary for Japan, the ROK, the People's Republic of China and the US to all discuss how best to approach the North Korean issue?

    Mr. Takashima: If this meeting is materialized, this would be the first occasion for the Japanese Foreign Minister and the newly appointed US Secretary of State to meet with each other and discuss various issues. One of the major topics will be North Korea. They will certainly coordinate their policies toward North Korea. The Government of Japan believes that it is of utmost importance to have continuous close coordination and consultation amongst the US, ROK and Japan on North Korean issues.

    Related Information (Japan-The United States Relations)
  7. Follow-up questions concerning North Korean issues

    Q: Could you tell us if Japan, US and ROK are willing to hold talks among ministerial leaders to discuss how to make North Korea participate in the Six-Party Talks?

    Mr. Takashima: My understanding is that this is one of the ideas for the coordination of our policies, but nothing has been materialized or decided yet. As I have said, policy coordination and close consultation among those three countries have been continuing and will be continuing.

    Q: Could you confirm an unconfirmed report that ROK Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon is planning to come to Japan next week to meet with Foreign Minister Machimura to discuss the Six-Party Talks?

    Mr. Takashima: I do not have any information as such. I cannot confirm or deny it.

    Q: Is there any move to arrange a meeting between Japan and China at the ministerial level?

    Mr. Takashima: Foreign Minister Machimura has already expressed his wish to meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Zhaoxing of China during a mutually convenient time, but nothing has been decided yet.

    Q: Of the five nations involved in the Six-Party Talks, China obviously has the most influence on North Korea. They could put pressure on North Korea. Do you think it is now time for China to add pressure, that China should take a firmer stance toward North Korea?

    Mr. Takashima: The Government of Japan appreciates the effort of the Government of China to organize the Six-Party Talks in the past and in the future. My understanding is that a delegation of the Chinese Communist Party will be visiting Pyongyang. We hope that this kind of effort and activities of the Chinese side will persuade North Korea to attend the Six-Party Talks as soon as possible. The Six-Party Talks is the most important venue for the resolution of North Korean nuclear issues.

    Q: Do you have any details about that delegation?

    Mr. Takashima: That is the only information we have.

    Q: Do you know when they are going?

    Mr. Takashima: I cannot say but not in the distant future as far as I understand.

    Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)
  8. Question concerning United Nations (UN) Security Council reform

    Q: I have a question about Japan's bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations (UN) Security Council. The Government of Japan will have many opportunities to meet with the leaders of countries in Central and South America this year, including at the ceremonies taking place next week. Could you tell us how Japan will try to earn the support of Latin American countries for its bid to win the permanent seat on the UN Security Council? As far as I know, many of the Latin American countries have not clearly stated whether they support Japan's bid or not. How does the Japanese Government plan to win their support?

    Mr. Takashima: The Government of Japan will take every opportunity to advocate its candidacy to every member nation of the United Nations, including Latin American countries. This year will be a very important year for the relations between Japan and Central American countries because this year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with many of those countries, and a summit meeting between Japan and Central American countries will be held in August 2005. As you have said, there will be various ceremonies, meetings and celebrations. Through those opportunities, we will let the Latin American countries know our strong intention to become a permanent member of the Security Council. We will also explain the reason why we are eligible to become a permanent member of the Security Council.

    Related Information (Japan and the United Nations)

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