Press Conference, 4 July 2006
- Statement by Mr. Taro Aso, Minister for Foreign Affairs, on the official initiation of the Khmer Rouge Trials in Cambodia
- Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations on the National Assembly Elections in Kuwait
- Statement by the Press Secretary on the scientific sea survey by the Government of the Republic of Korea in the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and sea zones around Takeshima where claims of Japan and the ROK overlap
- Official development assistance (ODA)
- Press conference by Foreign Minister Aso on 4 July
- Questions concerning visit to Juganji Temple by Foreign Minister Aso
- Questions concerning scientific sea survey by the Government of the ROK
I. Statement by Mr. Taro Aso, Minister for Foreign Affairs, on the official initiation of the Khmer Rouge Trials in Cambodia
Assistant Press Secretary Akira Chiba: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for coming to this briefing. I have a couple of announcements to make before taking questions.
The first announcement concerns the official initiation of the Khmer Rouge Trials in the Kingdom of Cambodia. This is a statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso.
On 3 July in the afternoon, a swearing-in ceremony was performed by the judicial officers for the Khmer Rouge Trials in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Japan sincerely welcomes the official initiation of the trials.
The ceremony was also attended by Mr. Motoo Noguchi, Professor (Senior Prosecutor) of United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFEI), Ministry of Justice and Senior Attorney of the International Legal Affairs Division, International Legal Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was appointed by the Royal Government of Cambodia as an international judge of the Supreme Court Chamber of the Trials in May 2006.
Japan strongly hopes that the trials will be managed properly and smoothly and that serious crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge regime will be adequately judged before the courts in conformity with international standards.
II. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations on the National Assembly Elections in Kuwait
Mr. Chiba: The second announcement concerns the National Assembly Elections in the State of Kuwait. This is a statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On 29 June in Kuwait, the eleventh National Assembly Elections was held with the participation of women as voters and candidates for the first time in its history. The Government of Japan congratulates the Government and the people of Kuwait on this accomplishment and highly appreciates the efforts of the Government toward expanding public participation in politics.
III. Statement by the Press Secretary on the scientific sea survey by the Government of the Republic of Korea in the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and sea zones around Takeshima where claims of Japan and the ROK overlap
Mr. Chiba: The third is what has been announced earlier, it is a statement by the Press Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the scientific sea survey by the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and sea zones around Takeshima where claims of Japan and the ROK overlap.
The Government of Japan has been informed by the Government of the ROK that the latter intends to conduct a sea current survey in the EEZ and sea zones around Takeshima where the claims of the two governments overlap. On the scientific sea survey, the Government of Japan has been urging the Government of the ROK that both Japan and the ROK should establish an interim framework soon and until such a framework has been established, that both sides should refrain from conducting surveys in the sea zones where the claims over the EEZ overlap. It is therefore extremely regrettable that the Government of the ROK has decided to conduct a scientific sea survey despite the Japanese urges.
Scientific sea surveys must be conducted in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the present decision by the Government of the ROK is regrettable even in light of the past process of Japan-ROK negotiations. For the ROK to conduct a survey without the consent of Japan within the Takeshima sea zone area, which belongs to Japan, is also incompatible with the claim of the Government of Japan concerning its sovereignty over Takeshima. The Government of Japan cannot condone these acts by the ROK side and again urges the Government of the ROK to either halt or postpone the current survey.
Japan-ROK relations are an important bilateral relationship that shares basic values and broad benefits. From a wide-ranging perspective, both Japan and the ROK must make efforts to build a future-oriented, friendly and cooperative relationship and expand exchanges in the future. The Government of Japan strongly hopes that the ROK side will respond calmly and wisely in this situation to avoid the impairment of friendly relations between Japan and the ROK and an escalation of nationalistic sentiments in the two countries.
Mr. Chiba: Next, the regular announcements concerning Japan's economic assistance to elsewhere in the world.
- There is a cultural grant aid to the Youth and Sports Department in the Governorate of Al-Muthanna in Iraq, which amounts to about $800,000 or 8.6 million yen.
- Completion ceremony for grassroots human security grant aid to Iraq (Governorate of Al-Muthanna) for the Project for Provision of Equipment to the Orphanage in Al-Samawah.
- Ground-breaking ceremony for the project related to non-project grant aid for the purpose of contributing to reconstruction efforts by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for the area affected by the large scale earthquake, this amounts to 4 billion yen.
- Grant aid to Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for the Project for Improvement of Medical Equipment for Primary Health Care Services (Phase II), up to 810 million yen.
- Cultural grant aid to Ukraine for the Project for the Improvement of Lighting Equipment of the Donetsk Academic State Opera and Ballet Theatre named after A.B. Solovyanenko, up to 73.9 million yen.
- Grant aid to Mongolia for the Project for Improvement of Primary Education Facilities (Phase III), up to 887 million yen.
- Grant aid to the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria for the Project for the Improvement of Bookmobiles of the Algerian National Library, up to 77 million yen.
- Cultural grant aid to the Republic of Kenya for the Project for the Improvement of Japanese Language Learning Equipment, which amounts to 38.5 million yen. The details will be posted on the website later today.
Mr. Chiba: I was just told that I am to introduce to you what took place this morning at the Foreign Minister's press conference.
The Foreign Minister was asked about various matters, and concerning foreign affairs, one asked about his impression of his recent visit to Ukraine. His response was that Ukraine is historically very old, it started from the Dukedom of Kiev. It could be said that it has a history older than that of the Russian Federation. It is a relatively large country of the former Soviet Union countries. It has a population of about 46 million people. It is not very well known in Japan but there are very well-known figures like Igor Sikorsky, who is the world famous helicopter authority. As the Minister recalled, Nikolai Gogol is also a native of Ukraine.
Recent developments in the bilateral relationship between Japan and Ukraine have been very colorful, and this visit by Foreign Minister Aso to Ukraine marked the first one for him and he thinks that this was a very fruitful visit.
There was another statement concerning what he thinks about the Japan-US-China relationship. Mr. Ichiro Ozawa, President of the Democratic Party of Japan, is now visiting the People's Republic of China. A reporter asked about Mr. Ozawa's comment that the relationship between Japan, the United States (US) and China is in an equilateral triangular shape. Then Foreign Minister Aso commented that he does not construe it as an equilateral triangular shape as Mr. Ozawa construes because the ties between Japan and the US are particularly strong. These two countries share common values.
These were the comments that the Foreign Minister gave this morning at his press conference.
Q: I would like to ask about Foreign Minister Aso's visit to Juganji Temple yesterday. I want to ask you why he decided to join the ceremony to console the soldiers. Secondly, why did the ambassadors and other diplomatic dignitaries who were invited decide not to go? Thirdly, does Foreign Minister Aso have any intention to visit Hodogaya memorial or cemetery where POWs are actually buried?
Mr. Chiba: Thank you very much for the question. First, what happened yesterday was that the Foreign Minister, in his private capacity, attended the ceremony to offer prayers to the ex-POWs who lost their lives in Japan at Juganji Temple in Osaka. As I said this was not a Foreign Ministry undertaking. Mr. Aso was there as a private citizen so I do not have the details as to what happened. All I know is from the news reports that I have read just like you.
We have learned about his decision to visit this temple about six or seven months ago so it was revealed to us in the winter time that he wanted to offer prayers to those who had to give up their lives as prisoners of war in their relationship with the war with Japan. He thought that it is a private thing to offer prayers to these souls.
As I understand, the Aso Office issued an invitation to diplomatic dignitaries based in Japan. However, there were some malicious news reports that contained statements contrary to facts and nevertheless have aroused a lot of debate precisely because they were very farfetched. As a result, some diplomats found it not very convenient to continue on with their already promised visit. The fact that I learned is that they have promised to come before this became a newspaper issue. However, after they had promised to come, this was publicized in a very distorted manner and some diplomats found it difficult to go ahead as promised. As a result, as I learned, the Aso Office sent out another letter that if the invitation is going to embarrass its friends, then this ceremony should be rather undertaken in a strictly private manner so that the Office will not have to embarrass its friends anymore. This is how I understand the situation, but again it is not a Foreign Ministry undertaking, it is Foreign Minister Aso's private undertaking. So beyond that I am in no position to comment, including his visit to Hodogaya, I have no idea.
Q: So it is true that newspaper reports made the diplomatic dignitaries change their minds and cancel the visit?
Mr. Chiba: That again, as I said before, is what I learned and it is not a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since this whole undertaking is not a Foreign Ministry affair at all. So if you wish to check or wish to have confirmation you should rather ask the dignitaries themselves and not the Foreign Ministry.
Q: I heard in the very early stage of July that it was a Foreign Ministry matter.
Mr. Chiba: It was not, it was not from the beginning. I would like to know where you got the idea.
Q: I just wanted to confirm when the ROK Government officially conveyed to Japan that it would be conducting the survey. When was this officially conveyed?
Mr. Chiba: The Foreign Minister of Japan, Mr. Aso, had a conversation over the telephone with Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the ROK, last night at 20:20. The conversation ran for about 20 minutes, in which Mr. Ban explained the Government of ROK's policy to conduct a sea current survey which it had already planned to carry out in July. This is how it originated.
Q: So when the ROK Government announced it officially, did the Japanese Government ask why it did not notify Japan earlier?
Mr. Chiba: The notification came in the telephone conversation, and we take this as the notification from the ROK.
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