Press Conference, 27 October 2006
- Statement by the Press Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the adoption of the Draft Resolution on Nuclear Disarmament
- Third round of the Japan-Brunei Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)
- 19th Joint Committee on Japan-Germany Science and Technology Cooperation
- Visit by the Japan-Bhutan Friendship Parliamentarians League to the Kingdom of Bhutan
- Ambassador Tatsuo Arima to attend Sixth International Conference of New or Restored Democracies in the State of Qatar
- 10th Meeting of the Austrian-Japanese Committee for the 21st Century
- Third Round of the Japan-Chile Policy Dialogue
- Protest to the Embassy of the People's Republic of China with regard to the illegal entry into Japanese territorial waters by Chinese nationals
- Follow-up questions concerning the illegal entry of Chinese nationals into Japanese territorial waters
- Question concerning the Government's position on the possibility of Japan acquiring nuclear weapons
- Questions concerning the proclaimed nuclear test by North Korea
- Questions concerning Japan's role in combating North Korean counterfeiting of US currency
- Question concerning reports that Japan assisted the US in rendition of terrorism suspects
I. Statement by the Press Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the adoption of the Draft Resolution on Nuclear Disarmament
Assistant Press Secretary Noriyuki Shikata: Good afternoon. Thank you for coming. Let me start the press conference.
First, an announcement of the statement by the Press Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Government of Japan welcomes and highly values the fact that its draft resolution on nuclear disarmament, which is titled "Renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons" was adopted on 27 October, New York time, at the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly by an overwhelming majority. In this year's resolution, in particular, there was a paragraph condemning the nuclear test proclaimed by North Korea on 9 October. Japan believes the political will of the international community was again expressed in this resolution, following Resolution 1718, adopted on 14 October.
Since no substantial agreement was achieved at the 2005 review conference of the parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in May 2005 and there still remain nuclear issues with both North Korea and Iran, the situation surrounding nuclear disarmament continues to be challenging. In this kind of situation Japan, as the only nation in the world to have suffered atomic bombing, inspired by the strong national sentiment calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and based on its basic position that places great importance on aiming at a peaceful and safe world free from nuclear weapons through the steady continuation of a practical and incremental approach, submitted this draft resolution.
Japan intends to pursue its various diplomatic efforts to maintain and consolidate the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime based on the NPT.
Mr. Shikata: Next there are a couple of press releases, announcements, and holding of different meetings, including the Third Round of Japan-Brunei Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) from 30 October until 2 November.
The 19th Joint Committee on Japan-Germany Science and Technology Cooperation is held today. The Japanese chair is Mr. Takeshi Nakane, Director-General of the Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department, and the German side is headed by Mr. Christoph Ehrenberg, Director-General of the European and International Cooperation in Education and Research Department of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Mr. Shikata: The Japan-Bhutan Friendship Parliamentarians League is visiting the Kingdom of Bhutan from 28-30 October, headed by former Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura, who is chairman of the League. They will be attending the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as well as paying a courtesy call to His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, King of Bhutan.
V. Ambassador Tatsuo Arima to attend Sixth International Conference of New or Restored Democracies in the State of Qatar
Mr. Shikata: Ambassador Tatsuo Arima, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan, is attending the Sixth International Conference of New or Restored Democracies that will be held in Doha, State of Qatar, from the 30 October. Ambassador Arima will be presenting Japan's efforts in the field of democracy or helping democratization, and exchange ideas for how to promote international cooperation in this arena.
Mr. Shikata: The 10th Meeting of the Austrian-Japanese Committee for the 21st Century will be held next Monday and Tuesday in Vienna, the Republic of Austria. The Japanese side is represented by Senior Advisor to the Board of Toyota Motor Corporation Mr. Yoshio Ishizaka, and they will be discussing energy issues and the roles of Japan, the US, and the European Union (EU) in the international arena.
Mr. Shikata: Next Tuesday there will be the Third Round of the Japan-Chile Policy Dialogue, to be held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Japanese representative is Director-General for Latin American and Caribbean Bureau, Mr. Akira Miwa and from the Republic of Chile, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Albert Van Klaveren is attending.
VIII. Protest to the Embassy of the People's Republic of China with regard to the illegal entry into Japanese territorial waters by Chinese citizens
Mr. Shikata: Lastly, let me refer you to the communication from Mr. Kenichiro Sasae, Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Embassy of the People's Republic of China this morning with regard to the issue of Hong Kong activists and others entering Japanese territorial waters in order to illegally land on the Senkaku Islands. Mr. Sasae clarified the Government of Japan's position that the Senkaku Islands are the inherent territory of Japan, and in spite of repeated warnings, the fact that those activists entered the territorial waters is extremely regrettable, and he registered a protest and requested no recurrence of this kind of case.
Minister Kong mentioned that he would report to Beijing. He explained the Chinese position on this issue, and mentioned that the Japanese demand is not acceptable. However, he mentioned that the Chinese Government wants to cope with this issue in a calm manner.
IX. Follow-up questions concerning the illegal entry of Chinese nationals into Japanese territorial waters
Q: On the Hong Kong activists intending to go to the Senkaku Islands, could you update us on the latest of what is happening?
Mr. Shikata: My understanding is that they entered a contiguous zone and passed into territorial waters; however, they decided to change direction and are now heading back to Hong Kong. That is our understanding.
Q: Do you have any details of the reported encounter between the vessel and the Japan Coast Guard? Apparently, we have heard, they fired water cannons and the Coast Guard bumped the intruding vessel. Do you have any details on that?
Mr. Shikata: Actually, I do not have details. I am aware of that report, which I believe did not result in any kind of casualties on either side. I do not have the details about what actually happened and how it happened.
Q: When you say contiguous zone, what does that mean?
Mr. Shikata: Contiguous zone, as I understand it, is a contiguous zone vis-a-vis territorial waters. Beyond territorial waters there is an extra zone, 12 nautical miles, I believe, that the Japanese authorities have authority to control or give warnings in.
Q: So as far as you know, they did not go beyond that contiguous zone?
Mr. Shikata: I believe that they had entered territorial waters, passing through the contiguous zone. At the time that Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso was having a press conference this morning, we were aware of their entry into the contiguous zone, but not yet territorial waters. After that, my understanding is that they entered territorial waters.
Q: Do you know how close they actually got to making landfall on the Senkakus? What was the closest that they got?
Mr. Shikata: I do not have that information.
Q: So now that they are out of the contiguous zone and heading back to Hong Kong, are they basically out of reach of the Japanese authorities?
Mr. Shikata: That is my understanding.
Q: Apart from launching a strong diplomatic protest, what else does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs plan to do?
Mr. Shikata: If the ship or activists return to Hong Kong peacefully, there is no reason for escalation of this issue.
X. Question concerning the Government's position on the possibility of Japan acquiring nuclear weapons
Q: On another topic, US Ambassador to Japan James Thomas Schieffer today made some remarks about the nuclear issue in Japan, basically saying that there is no need for Japan to pursue its own nuclear weapons because it would not be a deterrent and it is under the US umbrella, etc. I am wondering if you can clarify the Government position, because Foreign Minister Aso has said, while not coming out and advocating nuclear weapons for Japan, that there is nothing wrong with having a debate on the issue. The Prime Minister has said if there is debate, it is a foregone conclusion that nothing is going to change. Any response to the fact that the US Ambassador actually raised this issue in a public speech?
Mr. Shikata: I have not read the speech itself, but I expect that Ambassador Schieffer clarified the US commitment to the US-Japan alliance, which was also done when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Tokyo. The US Government has clearly announced its commitment to the US-Japan alliance, so we do not have any doubt about it: our alliance is in very sound shape, and from our viewpoint, the US-Japan alliance is essential to securing Japan's security and the maintenance of security in the region.
As far as the discussion about the possibility of Japan possessing nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made it clear that there is no change whatsoever in the Three Non-Nuclear Principles, and he also has mentioned that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its formal organs will not discuss this as a policy issue. I believe Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki has mentioned something along the same lines. Foreign Minister Aso has been saying that we will stick to the Three Non-Nuclear Principles, and I believe his intention is, as far as the discussion of those issues in public fora or things like that, there is freedom. In that respect, Mr. Aso does not intend to suppress those kinds of discussion.
Q: I believe that there is or was a meeting among Government officials on concluding whether North Korea did actually carry out a nuclear test. I was wondering if the Government of Japan has reached this conclusion.
Mr. Shikata: Actually, we have been looking into this issue for many days. We have reached a stage that it is very likely that it was an actual nuclear test conducted by North Korea, but we have not yet quite reached the final conclusion.
Q: What is making it hard to conclude?
Mr. Shikata: We are concerned, when it comes to the final determination by our Government, that we need to be able to prove that there was a nuclear test. We think that is very likely indeed in this case, but when it comes to proof, we need evidence. What we are saying is that we have some evidence, but we cannot say it was 100%.
Q: On another topic. Minister of Finance Koji Omi today expressed Japan's willingness to cooperate with the US on countering the North Korea counterfeiting of the US $100 bill, so-called "supernotes." He said that there had not actually been any discussion with the US, which was surprising to the US officials who I talked with, who said there had been many talks about this. What can Japan actually do?
Mr. Shikata: We share the concern of the Government of the US that illicit production of money was taking place, especially with regard to the US dollar. Of course, there are US dollars circulating in this country too, and we think that it is a very important responsibility on our side to closely cooperate with the US Government, because this could be a source for North Korea to procure weapons of mass destruction, which could undermine the Northeast Asia security environment. I am not referring to specific meetings, but both police forces and both treasury authorities have been working closely and will continue to do so.
Q: On another topic, there was a Kyodo report out today quoting a book in which it made some reference that Japan had allegedly participated in US renditions of terrorism suspects. Have you heard anything about that?
Mr. Shikata: I do not know about that.
Q: I will ask about that one next week. More news will come out later today.
Mr. Shikata: Thank you.
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