Press Conference, 16 February 2007
- Visit to Japan of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing of the People's Republic of China
- Approval by the Cabinet of the implementation of measures required by United Nations Resolution Number 1737
- Emergency grant aid to Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste for the organization of first Presidential election
- Symposium at UN House: "Toward the Arc of Freedom and Prosperity: New Developments in Japan's Foreign Policy for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy"
- Questions concerning the symposium to be held at UN House: "Toward the Arc of Freedom and Prosperity"
- Questions concerning the implementation of sanctions against Iran as required by United Nations Resolution 1737
- Questions concerning the visit to Japan of Vice Minister Richard B. Cheney of the United States of America
- Questions concerning items to be discussed during the China-Japan Foreign Ministerial Meeting
- Question concerning preparations for the visit to Japan of Premier Wen Jiabao of the People's Democratic Republic of China
- Questions concerning the possibility of the signing of a joint declaration during the meetings with China
- Question concerning international reaction to plans by Israel to undertake construction work on the al Aqsa mosque
- Questions concerning the security of airplanes involved in operations in Iraq
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon, I have a couple of points to make for my opening statement.
Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing of the People's Republic of China is now in Tokyo. He is going to make a courtesy call on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this afternoon before meeting Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso, who is subsequently holding a welcoming dinner for Foreign Minister Li. Foreign Minister Li is leaving Tokyo tomorrow afternoon.
I do not have much to add to what Senior Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Takeshi Iwaya said yesterday to the members of the Japanese press, that among the main topics to be discussed will be the scheduled visit of Premier Wen Jiabao, Japan-China Exchange Year for Culture and Sport to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the normalization of the bilateral diplomatic relation, and how best both countries can cooperate on the economic, environmental and other fronts. From the Japanese side views will be expressed on the latest activities of the Chinese marine research vessel and their experiment in space to destroy satellites. Without question North Korea will be among the issues to be touched upon, in addition to such topics as the United Nations reform.
II. Approval by the Cabinet of the implementation of measures required by United Nations Resolution Number 1737
Mr. Taniguchi: Secondly, on the Islamic Republic of Iran, let me announce that today's Cabinet Meeting approved that the measures that the UN Resolution Number 1737 required had been implemented by the relevant government ministries.
III. Emergency grant aid to Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste for the organization of first Presidential election
Mr. Taniguchi: Two more items if I may....
In the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, on 9 April they are going to have their first ever Presidential election, as well as elections to choose legislators, since gaining independence in May 2002. The Government of Japan wants to do its utmost to support their historic endeavor, hence decided today on 16 February to provide Timor-Leste with emergency grant aid of 723,855 US dollars through the United Nations Development Program. The money will be used to support the electoral organizations handling voter registration, setting up the ballot boxes and so on.
IV. Symposium at UN House: "Toward the Arc of Freedom and Prosperity: New Developments in Japan's Foreign Policy for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy"
Mr. Taniguchi: Lastly, we are going to hold a symposium, on 24 February at the UN House in Tokyo, with a title of "Toward the Arc of Freedom and Prosperity: New Developments in Japan's Foreign Policy for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy." Admission is free of charge and you are encouraged to join.
V. Questions concerning the symposium to be held at UN House: "Toward the Arc of Freedom and Prosperity"
Q: Regarding the 24 February UN House meeting, is this held by ministers? Who are the guests?
Mr. Taniguchi: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is going to hold that.
Q: And who are the speakers?
Mr. Taniguchi: There are lots of speakers actually.
One of the main featured speakers will be Mr. Motoo Noguchi who is actually working in the Kingdom of Cambodia for the case of Pol Pot regime... He is International Judge, the Supreme Court Chamber, the extraordinary chambers in the courts of Cambodia.
Other speakers include Ambassador Fumiko Saiga, Ambassador in charge of Human Rights, working at the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
There are actually going to be three panels in total, so the list goes on, but those people are the ones that I should like to specify.
Q: So that is basically in a panel discussion sort of format?
Mr. Taniguchi: Right. There are three panels. The first one involves three professors and a journalist, moderated by the ministry's official. The second one will be moderated by Ambassador Saiga, involving Professor Nisuke Ando, member and chairperson of the United Nations Human Rights Committee under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. He is also Professor Emeritus at Kyoto University.
For panel three, apart from Mr. Noguchi, members from JICA and NPOs will be attending.
VI. Questions concerning the implementation of sanctions against Iran as required by United Nations Resolution 1737
Q: Would it be possible to elaborate more on the Japanese decision to impose sanctions on Iran according the United Nations Resolution question?
Mr. Taniguchi: What I can say is that the United Nations Resolution Number 1737 requires that all member nations of the United Nations implement measures specified by the resolution, and the Japanese Government has spent time to put together what they should and can do, and the Cabinet Meeting approved this morning that relevant measures have been taken and implemented.
Q: On what basis? Like, what is the essence of the reason why Japan did support the United Nations Resolution?
Mr. Taniguchi: The "why" part is rather obvious, because Japan is a member of the United Nations, and the United Nations Resolution Number 1737 requires that, as I said, each and every member of the United Nations should take necessary measures under the Resolution Number 1737. So the Japanese Government is doing exactly that. There are many paragraphs in the Resolution Number 1737 and I can refer to which paragraphs we are citing as basis for our measures, if you want me to do that. Would you like me to do that?
Q: That is okay. But, I mean, the Iranian side says that there is no violation for any regulations of the, I think, the atomic nuclear energy agency. So what is your comment on this?
Mr. Taniguchi: Could you repeat your question again?
Q: They say that enriching uranium is not against the agency, the...
Mr. Taniguchi: The IAEA?
Q: Yes, so they are not violating any rules, and it is a kind of political decision. What is your comment on that?
Mr. Taniguchi: I do not think that it is a political decision. I do not think that Japan has any political interest other than to send a clear message to Iran that the Iranian government should actually follow the course set by the unanimous interest expressed by the United Nations, and using the diplomatic channel which is vital between Iran and Japan, the Japanese Government has continued to send that clear message to the Iranian government that they should follow the course suggested by the United Nations.
Q: How would you describe the relations now between Japan and Iran, after Japan has implemented these United Nations Resolutions?
Mr. Taniguchi: It is hard to give a blanket adjective to describe the relationship between Iran and Japan. What I can say is, for Japan Iran remains one of the most important nations in the Middle East, both politically and economically, and we see the existing channel between the Iranian government and the Japanese Government is part of Japan's diplomatic assets. Foreign Minister Taro Aso made repeatedly phone calls to the Iranian government, to which his counterpart, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, responded quickly all the time. The Japanese Government will say yet again to the Iranian government that it would be of benefit for the Iranian people as well, to follow the course that I am talking about.
VII. Questions concerning the visit to Japan of Vice Minister Richard B. Cheney of the United States of America
Q: Can you tell us about the visit of Vice President Richard B. Cheney of the United States of America? What are they going to be talking about? Any public appearances in front of the press, with maybe Foreign Minister Aso?
Mr. Taniguchi: Well, in terms of the itinerary, he is arriving at Tokyo International Airport, which is Haneda, in the afternoon of 20 February. In the morning time the following day he is going to get granted Imperial audience. In the afternoon he is meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The morning after, 22 February, he is departing from Haneda. Well, I can say that he is going to have meetings with the Prime Minister and I believe with the Foreign Minister as well, to discuss matters about security, about the Republic of Iraq, about the US-Japan security alliance and other issues. I do not know if he is going to have an appearance to the members of the public or the press, but I doubt if he can, because of his tight schedule.
Q: Will they be talking about trade? Last week, US Ambassador to Japan J. Thomas Schieffer was basically kind of threatening that agriculture really needs to get moving.
Mr. Taniguchi: We are undergoing a critical period of World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round, so there may be a discussion or two about how to revitalize the Doha Round process, but the honest answer is that I do not know.
Q: Could you please explain anything about the item they want to discuss, and that you just mentioned, about shooting the satellites. I think the Japanese are shooting some defense missiles for shooting satellites, or... Do you have more details?
Mr. Taniguchi: You mean during the China-Japan Foreign Ministerial Meeting?
Q: Yes, in the meetings, yes. You mentioned that...
Mr. Taniguchi: Right. The Foreign Ministerial Meeting has not started yet. It is going to start in the late afternoon today. The Japanese Government, as has been the case over the last couple of weeks, will say to the Chinese side that we have a grave concern about their launching of a missile to destroy the satellites.
Q: What has been the Chinese response to the Japanese Government's demand for explanation so far?
Mr. Taniguchi: They have said to Japan, as they have been saying to others, that they are following the international regime - that outer space should not be used for military purposes. They reiterated their position in that the launch was for a peaceful purpose, and they had no intention as such to offend or harm any others.
Q: But then they do understand the international concern of how the United States and Japan feel that this is a threat.
Mr. Taniguchi: The launching of the missile?
Q: Destroying the satellite and causing debris out in space.
Mr. Taniguchi: Right.
Q: Because it could hit the international space station, or other interests out in space.
Mr. Taniguchi: At least we would like to see and hear more detailed explanations from the Chinese side.
Q: Do you think the Japanese official development assistance to China will be on the agenda of the talks?
Mr. Taniguchi: I have to speculate on that, but I would say that I doubt it, because it has been agreed that the year 2008 when Beijing will hold the Olympic games, which is next year, will be the fiscal year in which Japan is going to give the final loan aid to China, and even now the official developmental assistance given to China remains small in scale, to help support the grass roots developmental programs such as to build schools that would normally involve less than 10 million Japanese yen, and both governments have agreed on that, so there is no new aspect to be really discussed by the two governments.
IX. Question concerning preparations for the visit to Japan of Premier Wen Jiabao of the People's Democratic Republic of China
Q: Another question regarding China. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing is here, and basically the main purpose is to prepare for Premier Wen Jiabao's visit in April that you mentioned. I would like to know what specifically you mean by preparations.
Mr. Taniguchi: That is a good question, but there must be actually lots of things to be discussed - what kind of ceremonial events should take place; and the Cultural and Sport Exchange Year is a big event really in terms of substance and logistics; and Premier Wen Jiabao is supposed to come in April, which coincides with the official launch of the exchange year.
By the way, in March the Japanese side is going to hold a big ceremonial event in Beijing. The main event will be a free of charge pop music concert, which will involve three or four famous young singers to be sent from Japan to China, and in return, in April, the official launch ceremony is going to be held in Tokyo, and the hope is that Premier Wen Jiabao can cut the tape, if you like, in the opening ceremony. So when it comes to minute details there are actually lots of things to be discussed and agreed upon. So those will be the things.
X. Questions concerning the possibility of the signing of a joint declaration during the meetings with China
Q: Is there any possibility of signing of a joint declaration of a sort?
Mr. Taniguchi: For this ongoing Foreign Ministerial Meeting, I mean the foreign ministerial meeting which starts soon in the afternoon, there will be no documents signed.
Q: How about when the Premier Wen Jiabao visits in April?
Mr. Taniguchi: I do not know yet.
XI. Question concerning international reaction to plans by Israel to undertake construction work on the al Aqsa mosque
Q: I would like to move to the Middle East. There are some reports talking about an Israeli construction plans to the al Aqsa mosque, and this is causing a lot of reactions against it from most Arabic and Islamic countries. Is Japan aware of these reports, and if the answer is yes, what is your comment on this issue.
Mr. Taniguchi: Certainly we have been closely watching the development. I personally have visited the place twice or three times, and I know some parts of that need serious renovation because they are old sites. Yet, I should fully endorse what Director-General Koichiro Matsuura of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said to the event. I understand UNESCO Director-General Matsuura made a remark saying that he was very much concerned about the tension created by the development, and everything has to be handled in a peaceful manner, so that no unnecessary row would be caused further by both parties - the Israeli party and the Palestinian party. It is important, given the fact that there is a growing momentum on the Palestinian side to revitalize the peace process.
Q: On the Iraqi issue, is Japan concerned about the fact that more airplanes are being shot down by the Iraqi resistance, as they call themselves, since you have airplanes supporting the coalition forces. I think in the last month or so at least six airplanes, including choppers, were shot down, so does Japan feel concerned a little bit about the safety of your military airlines there?
Mr. Taniguchi: In Iraq there are spots that are very much peaceful. If you look at the northern part, the Kurdish region, and the part where Japan's Ground Self Defense Force operated in Samawah, those remain rather peaceful, but the situation in Baghdad, in the central part of Iraq, has deteriorated pretty much significantly over the last couple of months, and indeed the Japanese Air Self Defense Force is still involved in the airlift between the State of Kuwait and Iraq, so I would say there is a growing concern about the security of the airlift. That is as much as I can say at the moment.
Q: Do you think this concern will lead the Japanese Government to reduce or downsize this operation?
Mr. Taniguchi: Not at the moment.
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