Press Conference, 7 November 2006

  1. Visit to Japan of Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana
  2. Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Katsuhito Asano to Attend a Special Executive Board Meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO)
  3. Visit by Ambassador Tatsuo Arima to the State of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the Syrian Arab Republic
  4. Launch of negotiations for Conventions for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income with the United Arab Emirates and the State of Kuwait
  5. Grant Aid to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
  6. Arrival of 200 Chinese High School Students to Japan as Part of the Japan-China 21st Century Exchange Program
  7. Questions concerning the Importing of Beef from the United States (US)
  8. Questions concerning the Meeting between Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso and US Treasury Deputy Secretary Mr. Robert Kimmitt
  9. Questions concerning the Visit to Japan by the Foreign Minister of the Republic of the Sudan

I. Visit to Japan of Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana

Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon. Let me just make a couple of announcements before I take your questions.

From the Republic of Ghana, President John Agyekum Kufuor is scheduled to visit Japan from 9 to 11 November.

Related Information (Press Release)

II. Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Katsuhito Asano to attend a special Executive Board meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO)

Mr. Taniguchi: Next, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Katsuhito Asano, together with Senior Vice-Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Keizo Takemi are now in Geneva and are scheduled to stay there until Thursday, 9 November, to head the Japanese delegation to a special Executive Board meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO), which is going to elect its next Director-General. As you know, the Government of Japan has proposed Dr. Shigeru Omi, the incumbent Regional Director for the Western Pacific of the WHO for the next Director-General.

Related Information (Press Release)

III. Visit by Ambassador Tatsuo Arima to the State of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the Syrian Arab Republic

Mr. Taniguchi: Ambassador Tatsuo Arima, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for the Middle East, is now visiting the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the Syrian Arab Republic from 5 November, which was Sunday, through Saturday, 11 November. He is meeting officials from the Israeli Government, the Palestinian Authority, and Government of Syria to talk on issues about the Middle East peace process.

Related Information (Japan-Israel Relations)
Related Information (Japan-Palestinian Authorities Relations)
Related Information (Japan-Syria Relations)

IV. Launch of negotiations for Conventions for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income with the United Arab Emirates and the State of Kuwait

Mr. Taniguchi: There are a couple of other items. The next is about the launch of negotiations for Conventions for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income with the United Arab Emirates and the State of Kuwait. The first formal negotiations with the Government of the United Arab Emirates will be held from 13 to 15 November in Tokyo, and those with Government of Kuwait will take place from 27 to 29 November, also in Tokyo.

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V. Grant aid to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Mr. Taniguchi: The Government of Japan has decided to extend grant aid of up to 23 million Japanese yen to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to help support a project called the Project for the Water Supply in Afar Regional State.

Related Information (Japan-Ethiopia Relations)

VI. Arrival of 200 Chinese High School Students to Japan as Part of the Japan-China 21st Century Exchange Program

Mr. Taniguchi: The only other thing is about the fourth group of Chinese high school students visiting Japan on the 21st Century Exchange Program. It is the short version, and approximately 200 students, including a couple of teachers, as before, are visiting Japan from 14 to 22 November. The group is scheduled to visit places like Ibaraki, Saitama, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi, and as previously they are going to spend at least two nights at host families' homes. They are scheduled also to visit at least two high schools, in places like Osaka.

Related Information (Japan-China Relations)

VII. Questions concerning the Importing of Beef from the United States (US)

Q: About the US Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, who said Friday that he will press Japan to remove any age limit on imports of US beef, what is the Government of Japan's reaction to that, if there has been any, and if up to now there has not been any, is there any announcement that is going to come out today or tomorrow?

Mr. Taniguchi: About beef?

Q: Yes, about the demand by the US Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Johanns, on Friday to lift any age limit to US beef imports.

Mr. Taniguchi: I know there have been concerns such as that from the US side, but it has been just a couple of months since the ban was lifted, and it will take a little bit more time for Japanese consumers to gain a full degree of confidence in the imported beef from the United States. I also think it will take consultation processes between the two Governments about what is to be done next.

Q: Are you saying that there has not been an official reaction yet to this demand that Japan remove all age limits?

Mr. Taniguchi: To the best of my knowledge, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have made no official remarks about his statement or views.

Q: And none is planned soon? No statement is planned soon?

Mr. Taniguchi: I do not think there will be any, anytime soon.

Related Information (Japan-U.S. Relations)

VIII. Questions concerning the Meeting between Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso and US Treasury Deputy Secretary Mr. Robert Kimmitt

Q: I believe that US Treasury Deputy Secretary Mr. Robert Kimmitt is meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso later in the afternoon. I was wondering what could possibly be talked about during their discussions. Could it be about the sanctions against North Korea?

Mr. Taniguchi: There must be a wide range of issues to be discussed between Foreign Minister Aso and Mr. Kimmitt. Mr. Kimmitt is a veteran Treasury official, having dealt with many financial issues. I believe he used to be a member of the US Department of the Treasury under the former Bush Administration.

The Chinese currency has long been a subject discussed intensely between the Government of Japan and the US Government, but normally the currency issues are issues that no official of the Japanese Government is openly allowed to talk about. That said, I should say when they discuss currency issues, Ministry of Finance not MOFA plays a leading role. I would therefore imagine that the issues that have been discussed mainly between the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of the Treasury of the US are, obviously, what is to be done in terms of financial sanctions against North Korea, and what is going on in terms of the counterfeiting that the North Korean Government has been known to get engaged in, and other fraudulent activities and how to tackle those activities conducted by the North Korean Government. Obviously those will be points that both Governments should and are going to discuss.

Related Information (North Korean Nuclear Issue)

IX. Questions concerning the Visit to Japan by the Foreign Minister of the Republic of the Sudan

Q: The Sudanese Foreign Minister was in town this week for some meetings. Do you have information as to what was discussed, and whether Japan placed any demands on Sudan about the situation in Darfur?

Mr. Taniguchi: The Government of Japan has paid a lot of attention to the Sudanese peace process, and through the UN organizations and independently as well, the Government of Japan has tried to help support the peace process in Sudan, which was one of the most tragic killing fields n the 1990s. Apart from that, I have not been updated on the issues you raised, as to what issues were discussed between the Foreign Minister of Sudan and his counterpart here.

Q: He came here, I guess, in the wake of this conference in the People's Republic of China, between the Chinese Government and the African countries. Has the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued any statement about that conference? There has been some concern that China is going into the continent without regard to any political reforms or human rights issues, but just as a way to cozy up to these dictators to extract natural resources from the continent.

Mr. Taniguchi: When it comes to aid policies, the Japanese Government has long put emphasis on core values such as human rights. The Government of Japan is going to stick to that principle, namely that an oppressive regime cannot get equal treatment from the Government of Japan. There is a clear distinction between well-governed countries and countries that are running oppressive regimes when it comes to Japan's aid policies and what sort of relationship the Government of Japan is willing to cultivate.

Related Information (Press Release)


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