Press Conference 8 March 2005

  1. Japan's assistance for the Palestinians through the UNDP Trust Fund for the Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People
  2. Presentation ceremony of fire engines in Samawah, Iraq
  3. Question concerning anti-secession bill proposed by the Chinese Parliament
  4. Questions concerning Official Development Assistance (ODA) to China
  5. Questions concerning Japan's ODA policy
  6. Questions concerning possible visit to Japan by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of the United States of America (U.S.)
  7. Question concerning cancellation or postponement of visit to Japan by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-Moon of the Republic of Korea (ROK)
  8. Question concerning visit to Japan by President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation
  9. Question concerning situation in the Republic of Lebanon
  10. Question concerning visa waivers for Taiwan

  1. Japan's assistance for the Palestinians through the UNDP Trust Fund for the Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People

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

    The first one is about Japan's assistance for the Palestinians.

    The Government of Japan has decided to implement three projects through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to assist the reform efforts by the Palestinian Authority and improvement of living conditions in the Palestinian Autonomous Areas.

    The first project is to support the development of guidelines for medical waste management including collection, transfer and disposal of waste in the West Bank and also for capacity-building of the Environmental Quality Agency and Ministry of Health of the Palestinian Authority.

    The second one is to support the works on reviewing and amending property tax legislation. Legal experts will be invited to the Ministry of Local Government to carry out cooperation that will contribute to increasing the revenues of local autonomous bodies specified in the "Reform Action Plan for Local Government" which Japan formulated.

    The third one is to support the capacity and institutional building of the Palestinian Authority. Thirty-four Palestinian experts residing overseas will be invited to come to the Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of National Economy, and the General Personnel Council, which are the central bodies implementing Palestinian reform, to cooperate in technology transfer.

    These three projects will cost about US$1.9 million in total.

    Related Information (Japan-Palestinian Authorities Relations)
  2. Presentation ceremony of fire engines in Samawah, Iraq

    Mr. Takashima: The second announcement is about the delivery of fire engines to Iraq by utilizing Japanese emergency assistance.

    The delivery of 70 fire engines bought by the Ministry of Interior of Iraq using emergency assistance from the Japanese Government totaling 2,200 million yen or US$22.0 million has started. The first 20 fire engines have already arrived in Iraq, and six of them were presented recently to the fire departments in the Governorate of Al-Muthanna which includes the city of Samawah.

    The remaining 50 fire engines are now under shipment from Japan and will be delivered to Baghdad around early April.

    Related Information (Presentation Ceremony of Fire Engines in Samawah, Iraq)
  3. Question concerning anti-secession bill proposed by the Chinese Parliament

    Q: The Chinese Parliament is considering an anti-secession bill that allows military force to head off any independence bid by Taiwan. What is your reaction to this?

    Mr. Takashima: We are aware of the parliamentary debate in the People's Republic of China on this proposed bill. The system as well as the legislative procedure are different from ours so I would like to refrain from making direct comments on their procedure.

    In general, I would like to reiterate Japan's position which is that we would like to see the Taiwan issue be resolved peacefully and diplomatically through dialogue between the two sides.

    Related Information (Japan-China Relations)
    Related Information (Taiwan)
  4. Questions concerning Official Development Assistance (ODA) to China

    Q: Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura said this morning that he hoped Japan and China can reach a broad agreement on the future policy of Japan's aid to China by the end of this month. Can you go into a little bit more detail about, for example, whether Tokyo and Beijing will seek an agreement which includes timeframe, by when Japan will possibly terminate its yen loans to China?

    Mr. Takashima: First, let me correct you on one point. What Foreign Minister Machimura said this morning at his press conference for the Japanese press was not to reach or obtain a conclusion by the end of this month. "By the end of this month" meant that by the end of the Japanese fiscal year that ends this month, an actual detailed program for the next fiscal year starting from 1 April would be finalized. Therefore, by then, we would know in much more detail what sort of yen credit as well as other Official Development Assistance (ODA) would be provided to China for the coming fiscal year. This would help us have a better idea for the future of Japanese ODA to China.

    Now, the discussion between the Japanese and Chinese Governments on the future of Japanese ODA to China has started and it is now going on. We would like to see this issue resolved in a cordial and friendly manner, in a way in which both sides can agree and accept. Since the talks are still underway, I would like to refrain from going into detail. The main focus is of course the yen credit from Japan to China. Because of China's economic development, we foresee a time when China will find it unnecessary to get Japanese yen credit at some point in the future.

    Q: I think Foreign Minister Machimura said if the Japanese Government was to give direction to the future discussions between Japan and China over the China bound ODA policy. Did he meant that the two governments are seeking to reach an agreement or a broad consensus about a timeframe?

    Mr. Takashima: Of course, we would like to find a way to have what one might call a soft-landing of this issue. When and how is still being discussed, and I cannot predict one way or the other.

    Related Information (ODA by Region (East and South East Asia))
  5. Questions concerning Japan's ODA policy

    Q: A few years ago when the Republic of Yemen was accused of importing Scud missiles from North Korea, Japan announced then that it might review or take action regarding its ODA to Yemen because Japan does not allow countries that are recipients of ODA to be involved in arms import or development and so on. However, we see that for East Asia, a different principle is applied. You give the Republic of India, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and China ODA despite that fact that these three countries are openly developing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and making test missiles. Why is your ODA policy different for Arab countries compared to that for East Asian countries?

    Mr. Takashima: There is no difference in ODA policy as far as Japan is concerned. We would like to see the ODA be provided for peaceful purposes, and we would like to see the money be used to improve the living condition of the people and to upgrade the economic condition in the recipient countries. Therefore, we have some guidelines for when we consider to whom and to what extent the ODA would be provided from Japan. Each individual item would be dealt separately, and therefore, I would rather like to refrain from making comments on each case.

    In the case of Yemen, when the suspected North Korean-built SCUD missiles were delivered to Yemen, we thought that we should know whether the money provided by Japan as ODA had any connection with the purchase of those missiles. Further than that, I do not have any updated information so I will stop here.

    Q: With China, India and Pakistan, you have the same issue with regard to whether a part of your ODA is going to their arms development programs. What is your comment on this issue?

    Mr. Takashima: When India or Pakistan conducted nuclear explosion tests, we applied a certain kind of moratorium on providing new ODA to those countries and so forth. Therefore, it depends on the situation and we decide on a case-by-case basis.

    Q: So it is a case-by-case policy, not a comprehensive policy?

    Mr. Takashima: As I have said, there is a guideline and the guideline has to be applied universally. Of course, when we apply those guidelines, we consider the general circumstances as well as the other factors involved. From that point of view, I used the word "case-by-case basis."

    Related Information (Japan's ODA)
  6. Questions concerning possible visit to Japan by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of the United States of America (U.S.)

    Q: Reports from today state that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of the United States of America (U.S.) will be in Japan for a few days from 18 March. Can you confirm this report? If so, what will be discussed in her meetings with Japanese leaders?

    Mr. Takashima: We are consulting with the U.S. Government on the possible visit of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The invitation was extended by Foreign Minister Machimura when he visited Washington and met with Secretary of State Rice last month. We hope that this visit would be materialized sometime in the not too distant future.

    When and if Secretary of State Rice visits Japan, the general situation of this area, especially the North Korean situation, would certainly be discussed, along with other issues, especially bilateral issues, transformation of U.S. Forces overseas and other issues related to Japan-U.S. relations. However, we have to wait for the final decision on this possible visit.

    Q: Will the Taiwan Strait issue be discussed during the visit of Secretary of State Rice to Japan?

    Mr. Takashima: When the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (SCC) Meeting or so-called "2+2" Meeting was held in Washington last month, the so-called common strategic objective was included in the Joint Statement that was issued afterwards by the foreign and defense ministers of both countries. In this Joint Statement, they expressed their wish to see the Taiwan Strait issue be resolved peacefully and diplomatically and China play a constructive and responsible role in international issues. This is an expression of the wish of Japan and the U.S., and attention will be paid by both sides on this issue. Whether or not the Taiwan issue will be raised when the possible visit of Secretary of State Rice is materialized, that remains to be seen. We do not yet know what sort of agenda would be actually set for her visit.

    Q: Concerning China's anti-secession bill which could be endorsed next Monday, how do you think it will affect cross-strait relations?

    Mr. Takashima: As I have said, we would like to see this Taiwan issue be resolved peacefully through negotiations and the negotiations or dialogue be resumed as soon as possible. We hope that this bill will not hinder the possibility of the early resumption of the talks.

    Related Information (Japan-The United States Relations)
  7. Question concerning cancellation or postponement of visit to Japan by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-Moon of the Republic of Korea (ROK)

    Q: The Republic of Korea (ROK) has postponed the visit by its Foreign Minister to Japan possibly over the Takeshima Island issue. What is your response to this? When do you expect that visit to be resumed?

    Mr. Takashima: We are aware of the announcement made by the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on this cancellation or postponement. We hope that this visit will be materialized. The details of the visit had not been finalized yet, and therefore, there was a kind of an ambiguous part in the plan of his visit to Japan. As for when this visit will be realized in the future, as far as we are concerned, at this moment, we have no idea when this will be done. This will be renegotiated between Japan and the ROK.

    Related Information (Japan-Republic of Korea Relations)
  8. Question concerning visit to Japan by President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation

    Q: Since the visit to Japan by President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation has been postponed for several times, how are the arrangements for the visit going now?

    Mr. Takashima: Negotiations are still underway between Japan and Russia, and both sides are talking about the possible agenda as well as the date of the visit. A decision has not yet been made on the exact date of the visit so it still remains to be seen.

    Related Information (Japan-Russia Relations)
  9. Question concerning situation in the Republic of Lebanon

    Q: Do you have any comments on the latest developments in the Republic of Lebanon?

    Mr. Takashima: We are aware of the meeting between President Bashar Assad of the Syrian Arab Republic and President Emile Lahoud of Lebanon at which the decision was made about the redeployment of Syrian troops in Lebanon toward the border areas. We hope that this redeployment will be the first step toward the full implementation of the United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1559. So far, we are paying full attention on the move of the Syrian side. As the first step toward full implementation, we appreciate Syria's decision to move their troops toward the border areas. As I have said, this should become the first step toward full implementation, that means, full withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. We hope that this move and arrangement would lead to the full settlement of the Lebanese question and contribute fully to the further advancement of the peace process in the Middle East.

    Related Information (Japan-Lebanon Relations)
  10. Question concerning visa waivers for Taiwan

    Q: Press reports state that the Japanese Government will issue a visa waiver for Taiwanese tourists during the 2005 World Exposition but not for Taiwanese leaders. Can you confirm this report? Who are the five people?

    Mr. Takashima: First, from 11 March, the visa waiver for tourists from Taiwan for short-term visits to Japan during the time of the 2005 World Exposition will be implemented. Therefore, Taiwanese tourists will be able to come to Japan without applying for a visa.

    As for the dignitaries or high-ranking government officials and so forth, we have already said that we would consider in an appropriate manner whether or not we would accept their visits. There is no set list of their names or positions. We would consider it on a case-by-case or person-by-person basis.

    Q: There is no list of the five people?

    Mr. Takashima: I do not know of such a list of five people as you have mentioned.

    Related Information (Taiwan)

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