Press Conference, 14 November 2006

  1. Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso at the 43rd Japan-US Business Conference
  2. Launch of Economic Information Sharing Mechanism of the Asia-Pacific (EiSMAP)
  3. Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso to Attend the 18th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting in the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
  4. Announcements available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website
  5. Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Republic of Lebanon and the Co-operative Republic of Guyana
  6. Follow-up question concerning EiSMAP
  7. Questions concerning the International Response to North Korea's Alleged Nuclear Tests

I. Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso at the 43rd Japan-US Business Conference

Mr. Taniguchi: Good afternoon. I will take the liberty to speak on such matters as Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso's speech he delivered yesterday. Please note that Foreign Minister Aso stands out in the number of speeches that he has delivered as Minister for Foreign Affairs since he took up his current position.

The newest one is the one he read for the 43rd Japan-US Business Conference that took place yesterday at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. It has already been made available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website in English, the language he used.

Foreign Minister Aso emphasized among many other things the importance of competition for the Japanese economy, which is going to come together with foreign direct investment. Together with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Foreign Minister Aso reiterated how important it would be for Japan to invite as much investment from abroad as possible.

Interestingly, he also mentioned specifically the names of companies such as Boeing of the US and Toray of Japan in order to emphasize the close technical cooperation in building what is called "Dream Liner" aircraft. That is about the speech Foreign Minister Aso delivered yesterday.

Related Information (Remarks by Foreign Minister Aso)

II. Launch of Economic Information Sharing Mechanism of the Asia-Pacific (EiSMAP)

Mr. Taniguchi: Another interesting initiative that Japan is launching is something called Economic Information Sharing Mechanism of the Asia-Pacific (EiSMAP). The idea for EiSMAP originally came from Professor Sawako Takeuchi, the acclaimed academic, who emphasized that it would be very important for member nations of this region to share as accurate information as possible with each other. This (EiSMAP) is basically a study group with an idea to grow it into a permanent portal site, internet-based, to share and disseminate economic information. That is about EiSMAP; please pay attention to how this will evolve.

Related Information (Chairman's Statement)

III. Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso to Attend the 18th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting in the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

Mr. Taniguchi: A couple of other things are already uploaded on the website, including an announcement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs' visiting the 18th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting. He is actually on his way to the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam at this point.

Related Information (Press Release)

IV. Announcements available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website

Mr. Taniguchi: Also on the website are the remarks by Foreign Minister Aso at the 43rd Japan-US Business Conference, which I already mentioned, and a release on the "Assistance for Social and Economic Rehabilitation of Former Opium Poppy-growing Communities--Alternative Livelihood Development in Lao PDR" Project.

Also there is one about the visit to Japan of the Minister of Trade of the Commonwealth of Australia, Mr. Warren Truss, and also a notice is there about the dispatch of a UN Security Council mission to Afghanistan, and another one on the presentation of the report by the Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance, and the environment.

V. Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Republic of Lebanon and the Co-operative Republic of Guyana

Mr. Taniguchi: In addition to these, let me just give a couple of items about economic cooperation and official development assistance (ODA). Number one, emergency humanitarian grant aid for the Republic of Lebanon. Number two, debt relief measures in the form of cancellation of debt for the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, of which the total amount of debt to be cancelled is about US$591,000.

Related Information (Press Release)
Related Information (Japan-Guyana Relations)

VI. Follow-up question concerning EiSMAP

Q: Sir, I did not get the part about EiSMAP. This is a proposal that Japan laid out just this year?

Mr. Taniguchi: There was a seminar jointly held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Kyoto University of late; there, the proposal was officially given to the members joining from other countries to that forum. This is a proposal initiated here within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and by Professor Takeuchi among others, but it has now gotten endorsed by other governmental bodies, such as the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and other Ministries. The idea has gotten very favorable responses from the participating nations and economies. This is supposed to become a reliable source of economic information, macro as well as micro, for the Asia-Pacific region.

Related Information (Chairman's Statement)

VII. Questions concerning the International Response to North Korea's Alleged Nuclear Tests

Q: On North Korea, in the US there is informal talk that plans are being floated that 19 Foreign Ministers in APEC would be meeting for a separate discussion of the North Korean issue. I was wondering, from your viewpoint, or from the viewpoint of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, what kind of significance would this hold if ever it takes place?

Mr. Taniguchi: I cannot speak on the presupposition that the kind of meeting that you are talking about is actually going to take place. I can only say in general terms that APEC is synonymous with growth, synonymous with opportunity, and synonymous with a brighter future. The connotation of this is that as you grow, your societies are also growing more democratic. Japan, together with countries such as Australia, is a founding member of this regional body, APEC. The guiding principle when it was created by Japan and Australia was to lead the region to prosperity.

The flip side of that coin, of course, was to lead the nations in this part of the world in the direction of more democracy and more democracy. The mere presence of despotic regimes such as North Korea is a nuisance to all the participating economies of this APEC body. So when Foreign Ministers and Trade Ministers of the member economies get together in Hanoi, Viet Nam that is going to be the spirit once again emphasized and reiterated by all the participating nations, Ministers, and economies.

That is what I can say to you. Foreign Minister Aso and Prime Minister Abe respectively are going to have bilateral meetings with their counterparts. For instance, in the case of Foreign Minister Aso, he is meeting Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State from the US. I am sure you know the schedule already, but let me just say who else he is going to meet: The Vietnamese Foreign Minister, the Chinese Foreign Minister, and the Australian Foreign Minister.

After having a tripartite Foreign Ministerial Meeting involving the US, Australia, and Japan, then a bilateral talk is going to take place between Australia and Japan. There are many occasions, including the sideline occasions, for Japan's Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs to cement the ties among themselves in order to better pressure North Korea to come on board as quickly as possible to the Six-Party Talks and the general framework of non-proliferation.

Q: Can you comment on whether there might be a multilateral meeting among the Foreign Ministers? I was also wondering, in general terms, would the Ministry of Foreign Affairs see it as productive or counterproductive for more Foreign Ministers from more countries to participate in one meeting to discuss North Korea which excludes North Korea?

Mr. Taniguchi: I cannot give you a quick snapshot answer to your question. First of all, I am not sure if that sort of multilateral meeting is actually going to take place. I can once again only say a couple of things in general terms. North Korea obviously has been for some time a source of great uncertainty, and potentially great security dangers. That is the reason why the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution such as the one that was passed in the aftermath of the alleged nuclear test. As such, all nations are obliged to abide by the resolutions about North Korea. That is the first thing that I should remind the audience of your paper.

If ever such an opportunity is going to take shape, it has got to be used for a purpose: to convince North Korea of the necessity for them to give up any sort of nuclear ambition and to come back to the international community by once again joining the Six-Party Talks framework. That is as much as I can say at the moment.

Related Information (North Korean Nuclear Issue)


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