Press Conference, 27 November 2007
- The First High-Level Economic Dialogue between Japan and the People's Republic of China
- Visit by Ms. Tomiko Ichikawa, Director for Non-Proliferation, Science and Nuclear Energy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Nyongbyon, DPRK
- Attendance of Ambassador Tatsuo Arima at the Annapolis Middle East Peace Conference
- Emergency assistance to the People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea
- Visit to Japan by Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern of the Republic of Ireland
- Question concerning the visit to Japan by Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern of the Republic of Ireland
- Question concerning the upcoming visit to Japan by US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill
- Questions concerning the First High-Level Economic Dialogue between Japan and the People's Republic of China
- Questions concerning the upcoming visit to Japan by UNHCR High Commissioner António Guterres
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon, thanks very much for coming.
First, on Japan-China relations: This coming weekend in Beijing, China, Japan and the People's Republic of China (PRC) will hold what's called "High-Level Economic Dialogue." That will be the very first meeting of its kind. As it involves foreign ministers from both sides, Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura is going to join it. He will be leaving Japan for Beijing on Friday, the 30th of November. But all subject to Diet approval, if I may quickly add.
II. Visit by Ms. Tomiko Ichikawa, Director for Non-Proliferation, Science and Nuclear Energy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Nyongbyon, DPRK
Mr. Taniguchi: Second, an attempt as a member nation of the Six-Party dialogue: Today, Tuesday, the 27th, we are sending Ms. Tomiko Ichikawa, Director for Non-Proliferation, Science and Nuclear Energy at the Ministry, to Nyongbyon, North Korea. She'll be there to make sure that the disablement activities are on track at the three nuclear facilities in question.
Mr. Taniguchi: Third, on the Annapolis Middle East Peace Conference: Yesterday, Monday, the 26th, Ambassador Tatsuo Arima, Representative of the Government of Japan, left Japan for Annapolis, Maryland, the United States, to attend the Middle East Peace Conference. Our position is firm in that we support the efforts of Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas toward comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
IV. Emergency assistance to the People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea
Mr. Taniguchi: Fourth, on the calamitous situation in Bangladesh as well as in Papua New Guinea: Last week, the Government of Japan decided to extend emergency assistance to the two countries that were both hit by natural disasters. One is grant aid worth about 426 million yen, or about US$3.67 million, to Bangladesh. The aid will reach the Bangladeshis through the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), supporting the victims of the large-scale cyclone that hit the southern part of the country on the 15th.
Prior to this assistance, Japan had already provided emergency assistance in kind worth about 35 million yen, consisting of tents, plastic sheets, blankets, portable water tanks, water purifiers, plastic canteens, power generators and sleeping mats, on the 19th.
The other is emergency relief goods worth about 13 million yen to Papua New Guinea (PNG) suffering from a flood disaster caused by a cyclone. The assistance, in response to a request from the Government of PNG, includes tents, plastic sheets and blankets, and so forth.
Mr. Taniguchi: Fifth and last, tomorrow, Wednesday, the 28th, Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern will come to Japan on the invitation of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Ireland.
VI. Question concerning the visit to Japan by Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern of the Republic of Ireland
Q: Just to confirm, is the Irish Foreign Minister coming tomorrow, the 28th?
Mr. Taniguchi: That is correct.
VII. Question concerning the upcoming visit to Japan by US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill
Q: Is US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill coming to Japan tomorrow? Is he also scheduled to go back to Seoul, Korea on the same day? Do you have his schedule in detail?
Mr. Taniguchi: I am not yet able to announce his schedule.
VIII. Questions concerning the First High-Level Economic Dialogue between Japan and the People's Republic of China
Q: At the Japan-China High-Level Economic Dialogue, will the issue of consultations on the gas fields be discussed?
Mr. Taniguchi: There will certainly be a chance for both parties to discuss the issue, the East China Sea Gas Field issue. Yet let me stress that the High-Level Dialogue is built to last. As such it will provide both the PRC and Japan with a venue where leaders of economic management get together on a regular basis to look into wide-ranging issues, not just any single issue. Evincing this, Japanese ministers of economy and finance, for instance, are also going to join the Dialogue. They will be looking at the macro economic situations for Japan and China. Added to that, ministers from both countries will also cover environmental concerns.
Q: Will this issue be discussed at the Vice Minister level?
Mr. Taniguchi: The Gas Field Issue? At the moment it is being discussed on the Director-General level. We have reached no decision yet as to whether we should bring that up one notch to a higher level.
Q: This Japan-China High-Level Economic Dialogue is considered to pave the way for the Prime Minister's upcoming visit to China. In your opinion, how does Japanese foreign policy toward China and Asia change with Prime Minister Fukuda in office?
Mr. Taniguchi: We have not necessarily viewed this dialogue as such as would pave the way for the projected visit of Prime Minister Fukuda. To start with, Japan and China agreed on launching the dialogue when the Premier of China, Wen Jiabao came to town back in April this year, and it was under the Abe administration, not the Fukuda administration, needless to say. You may or may not want to associate the dialogue with Mr. Fukuda's planned visit to Beijing, which should take place within the next couple of months anyway. But the truth of the matter is there lies no logic connecting the two dots, so to say.
And on the second part of your question... Well, let me say this. One of the most important diplomatic objectives for Prime Minister Fukuda is climate change, you may recall Japan is hosting the 2008 G8 Summit meeting in Toyako, Hokkaido, July next year, and how best to tackle climate change will be the crux of the points to be discussed. No matter what framework, we are actually talking of what we call Cool Earth 50, should be envisaged as a post-Kyoto framework, it is imperative to invite countries like China and India to be its full-fledged participants. I shouldn't therefore be surprised if Prime Minister Fukuda would stress that point when he meets PRC top leaders.
Now back to the High-Level Dialogue, I must remind you that finance ministers from both nations are going to discuss a host of financial issues and given that the macro-economic environment is undergoing a degree of uncertainty at present is it not important for the two countries that are the biggest and the second biggest holders of foreign reserve to review the situation?
Q: Could you elaborate on the significance of the two countries with the highest foreign reserves holding a meeting about the challenges faced due to the change in the macroenvironment?
Mr. Taniguchi: By that I meant that they are both responsible to pay close attention to what is going on in the international arena of finance.
Q: I understand that UNHCR High Commissioner Guterres is meeting with Foreign Minister Koumura this afternoon and that this would be his second visit to Japan since assuming the office. What makes this trip different from his previous visit?
Mr. Taniguchi: Japan has always been strongly committed to the UNHCR and its cause. It is among the strongest constituents if I may say so, seen from the High Commissioner's perspective. So it is all the more natural for the Commissioner to come to Japan from time to time. The current visit makes a timely one indeed as we will be hosting TICAD IV next May and there's a lot to be done between the UNHCR and Japan on the African front as well.
Q: It might be on the issue of the Ministry of Justice, but while the UNHCR considers that Japan is not accepting refugees, do you think that the UNHCR considers Japan an important supporting country?
Mr. Taniguchi: Well, suffice to remind you who its former Commissioner was, and yes, Japan has been among the staunchest supporters of the organization.
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