Press Conference, 8 September 2006
- Birth of a Baby Boy in the Japanese Royal Family on 6 September 2006
- Visit by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to Helsinki, Finland to Take Part in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)
- The Arrival of 32 Chinese High School Students to Japan as part of the Japan-China 21st Century Exchange Program
- The Signing of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA)
- Japan-US Review Meeting on North Korea's Launch of Missiles
- Meetings between Japan and the Republic of Korea regarding Maritime Research, EEZ, and North Korean Issues
- Visit of Ms. Sheila Sisulu, Deputy Executive Director in charge of Policy and External Affairs of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to Professor Shintaro Ito, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs
- Visit by Professor Ito to the Far Eastern Region of the Russian Federation
- 25th Meeting of States Parties to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- Grant Aid to Burkina Faso, the Project for the Construction of Primary Schools
- Follow-up Questions concerning the Visit by Prime Minister Koizumi to Helsinki, Finland
- Follow-up Questions concerning the Signing of the JPEPA
- Follow-up Questions concerning the 25th Meeting of States Parties to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- Question concerning the visit to Japan by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon.
Let me begin today's conference by joining citizens in and out of the country in celebrating the birth of a baby boy in the Japanese Royal Family. I must confess, though, that I wondered if I could live long enough to see his reign and enjoy yet another national holiday on the 6th of September.
II. Visit by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to Helsinki, Finland to Take Part in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)
Mr. Taniguchi: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is now in Helsinki, Republic of Finland, to take part in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). This makes his 51st visit abroad, with his first being the one he made to the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), and the French Republic between 29 June and 5 July in 2001. He has flown more than 800,000 kilometers, or nearly 500,000 miles, longer still than a full return trip to the moon. The second most frequent globe trotter is Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, but he flew only 22 times.
III. The Arrival of 32 Chinese High School Students to Japan as part of the Japan-China 21st Century Exchange Program
Mr. Taniguchi: Speaking of flying, a group of 32 Chinese high school students flew in yesterday to Tokyo to spend a whole 11 months in Japan. Earlier, another group of five had already arrived, making the total number 37.
They came to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this morning, got granted a meeting with Mr. Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, and are supposed soon to scatter around the nation, from Hokkaido up north to Okinawa down south. Some of them are going to stay at host families' homes, and others at school dormitories. They may be called the first class of Chinese high school students, to be followed annually by another and yet another class of students coming to study in Japan.
Many good-intentioned people have been involved in bringing this program about. Sony Corporation handed each one of them a brand new digital camera so that many of them can send and upload on a designated web site the photographs they are going to take in their daily lives. The AFS Japan Association has done a great job in finding host families for them. The Japan Foundation, as partner to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is putting a lot of effort into the success of the program by establishing a special office called China Centre which takes the responsibility for running the invitation program.
Last night at the Japan Foundation headquarters, a reception was given to the just arrived Chinese boys and girls, who struck me very much with their apparent discipline while being relaxed, and pretty well-versed already in Japanese language. It should be hoped they will enjoy themselves, make a lot of friends, and come back home with fond memories a year from now.
Please remember that this is the program funded by an endowment of 10 billion Japanese yen, into which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has invested 2 billion, and the Japan Foundation and others 8 billion yen. Indeed this invitation is a central component of what we call Japan-China 21st Century Exchange Program, which invites Chinese high school students on a short-term as well as long-term basis.
As for the short term program, run by the 500 million yen fund that the Foreign Ministry gave to Japan-China Friendship Centre, or Nicchu Yuko Kaikan, we are inviting about 1,100 Chinese high school students for this fiscal year. Already, approximately 450 of them have been to Japan and come back home positively inspired by what they have seen.
Mr. Taniguchi: Now, today on 8 September, the Government of Japan reached a cabinet decision to sign an agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines for an economic partnership, the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
Prime Minister Koizumi and the President of the Philippines, Ms. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, will sign the JPEPA, the Implementing Agreement, and the Joint Statement at the upcoming Japan-Philippines summit in Helsinki, Finland, that is scheduled at the moment for tomorrow, 9 September.
In order for you to put it into perspective, the JPEPA will be the fourth EPA, following the ones with the Republic of Singapore, the United Mexican States, and Malaysia. Pending to be formally signed is the one with the Kingdom of Thailand. Under negotiations are the ones with the Republic of Korea (ROK), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Republic of Indonesia, and the State of Brunei Darussalam. With the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Japan and the GCC are about to launch a negotiation.
Mr. Taniguchi: Next, on 7 September, which was yesterday, the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States had a deputy-director-general level meeting at Mita Kyoyo Kaigisho, or Mita Conference Hall, by gathering representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Defense Agency of the Japanese Government and the Department of State, Department of Defense of the US Government, as well as the US Embassy in Tokyo and the US Forces in Japan.
The aim of the meeting was to look back at how the cooperation went between the two sides, Japan and the US, in the immediate aftermath of the multiple launches of North Korean missiles on the 5th of July in order for both sides to get even better prepared for similar events that might not be unlikely in the future.
Following that, Mr. John Thomas Schieffer, US Ambassador to Japan, together with Lieutenant General and Commander of the US Forces Japan Bruce Wright made a visit to Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso and confirmed that Japan and the US will further the cooperation about North Korean issues.
VI. Meetings between Japan and the Republic of Korea regarding Maritime Research, EEZ, and North Korean Issues
Mr. Taniguchi: Next, on Japan-ROK relations, you may be aware that Japan and the ROK have had two meetings over the last week, one on the director-general level, followed by another one between Mr. Shotaro Yachi, Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, and his counterpart Mr. Yu Myung-hwan, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Korea.
In regard to these meetings, focus was given to two issues: a framework under which both of the governments will conduct maritime research activities in the future; and the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). I can say at present that both of the governments have confirmed that they will put further effort in the possible early agreement on both of those issues. They also discussed North Korean issues, such as missile launches and the need to solve the abduction issue.
VII. Visit of Ms. Sheila Sisulu, Deputy Executive Director in charge of policy and External Affairs of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to Professor Shintaro Ito, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs
Mr. Taniguchi: I have a couple of more points that I would like to touch on.
Firstly, Ms. Sheila Sisulu, Deputy Executive Director in charge of policy and external affairs of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), paid a courtesy call on Professor Shintaro Ito, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, on the 6th of September.
The former South African Ambassador to the United States expressed her appreciation for Japan's continued support for the WFP and noted also that a host of Japan's NGOs, such as Japan Platform, have strengthened cooperative ties with the UN organization.
Mr. Taniguchi: Vice-Minister Ito, on a separate issue, is visiting the coastal region and the Kamchatka Oblast in the Russian Far East from 10 to 15 September. He is going to attend the contract signing ceremony for a project to dismantle a Victor I class nuclear submarine, the first of the five submarines whose dismantlement the Japanese and Russian Governments agreed on last November.
Mr. Taniguchi: Now on 7 September, New York time, the United Nations had a meeting of states parties to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and elected nine new members of the Human Rights Committee for a term of four years starting on the 1st of January next year from the following countries: France, Republic of India, Japan, Republic of Peru, Romania, Republic of South Africa, the Swiss Confederation, Republic of Tunisia, and the United States. Among them, Mr. Yuji Iwasawa, Professor of International Law at the University of Tokyo, got 127 votes, which was the biggest in number, followed by the Indian candidate, who gathered 106 votes.
Mr. Taniguchi: Only briefly on Japan's official development assistance (ODA). Burkina Faso, which is north of the Republic of Ghana, is one of the least developed nations with its per capita Gross National Income in the neighborhood of US$360 per annum. The Government of Japan will extend a grant aid, up to 866 million Japanese yen, to Burkina Faso to help improve the facilities of 29 elementary schools, not a small number of which are in a very bad condition.
Q: I have a number of questions. Concerning Prime Minister Koizumi's visit: is it his final trip?
Mr. Taniguchi: This is going to be his final trip.
Q: You mentioned he has traveled 800,000 kilometers. How many countries has he been to?
Mr. Taniguchi: This is going to be his 51st trip. The total number of countries he has visited is 46 and he has visited one region which means North Korea.
Q: The next question is about free trade agreements (FTAs). Four countries, and there are already talks running with India. Where does that stand now?
Mr. Taniguchi: Apart from the principle that the Japanese Government has to accelerate the negotiations process with a number of countries and a group of countries in terms of forging FTAs or EPAs, I cannot say at the moment how soon the one between Japan and India is going to materialize.
Q: But talks are going on?
Mr. Taniguchi: Yes, they are.
XIII. Follow-up Questions concerning the 25th Meeting of States Parties to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Q: One more point is you mentioned four countries, elected to the Human Rights Committee. Two, Japan is the first voted, followed by India. Which are the other countries?
Mr. Taniguchi: I said nine countries. Representatives from the nine countries were elected. I am not sure at the moment how many votes the candidates got.
XIV. Question concerning the Visit to Japan by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Q: One more question about the visit of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the Nigerian President. Japan is aiming to be a permanent member of the Security Council. Is there going to be discussion about that?
Mr. Taniguchi: The prime purpose, at any rate, is for Chief Obasanjo to express his personal appreciation to Prime Minister Koizumi for his and his government's efforts in furthering the support the Government of Japan has been giving to Nigeria and other African nations. He insisted that he should make a visit personally, himself, before Prime Minister Koizumi steps out of his office. The initiative came from the Nigerian side. I am not sure if any other issues will come up; they may well come up, but I cannot speculate at the moment.
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