Press Conference, 29 June 2007
- First International MANGA Award
- Emergency grant aid for the general elections and the provincial assembly elections of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
- Visit to Japan by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Naryshkin of the Russian Federation
- 50th anniversary celebration for US Forces Japan
- Follow-up question concerning the visit to Japan by Deputy Prime Minister Naryshkin of Russia
- Questions concerning discussions between Director-General Kenichiro Sasae and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov
- Question concerning missile launch by North Korea
Assistant Press Secretary Noriyuki Shikata: Good afternoon. I have the following four announcements at the outset.
First, the International MANGA Award, which was established in May this year, received 146 entries from 26 countries and regions all over the world. As a result of the recent screening, Foreign Minister Taro Aso announced this morning the winners of the first International MANGA Award as follows.
The International MANGA Award for best work is awarded to Mr. Lee Chi Ching, 43 years old, from the People's Republic of China (Hong Kong). His work is "Sun Zi's Tactics."
There is another award which is titled the "Shorei Award" an encouragement award for three excellent runners-up. It is awarded to Ms. KAI from China (Hong Kong), whose work is named "1520," and another one is awarded to Mr. Benny Wong Thong Hou from Malaysia, whose work is named Le Gardenie, and the last one is awarded to Ms. Madeleine Rosca from the Commonwealth of Australia, whose work is named "Hollow Fields."
On the evening of 2 July, an award presentation ceremony and a reception will be held at Iikura House. The award winners will be presented with trophies designed by the famous designer Mr. Taku Sato. The Japan Foundation will invite the winners to Japan for a ten-day visit that includes the award presentation ceremony, meetings with Japanese manga artists, and visits to related organizations.
II. Emergency grant aid for the general elections and the provincial assembly elections of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Mr. Shikata: On 29 June, the Government of Japan decided to extend emergency grant aid totaling about US$3.5 million to support the holding of general and provincial elections of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in a fair and smooth manner through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which is undertaking to support operations for these elections. Japan's assistance will be allocated to purchase translucent ballot boxes, tamper-resistant seals, and screens at voting stations.
Since Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf took power by a bloodless coup d'état in 1999, Pakistan has been steadily moving forward to resume democracy by taking various steps such as holding a general election and elections for provincial assemblies in 2002. According to the constitution, the upcoming elections are supposed to be held due to the end of terms of the lower-house and provincial-assembly members elected in 2002. The international community is paying close attention to the coming elections, which will show the judgments of the people of Pakistan on the series of policies by President Musharraf including democratization, wide-ranging reforms of the country's systems, and fighting against terrorism.
As Foreign Minister Taro Aso announced at the 14th summit meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), held in April this year, the Government of Japan has been actively supporting democratization in the South-Asian region, which is located in the center of the 'Arc of Freedom and Prosperity.' Japan has been consistently calling for the consolidation of democracy in Pakistan. In this context, Japan dispatched election observers for the election in 2002. As Japan considers that Pakistan's development as a 'moderate and modern Islamic state' will contribute to peace and prosperity in the whole region, Japan will continue to support Pakistan's effort for the consolidation of democracy.
Mr. Shikata: Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Naryshkin of the Russian Federation will visit Japan from 1 to 3 July to attend the opening ceremony of the Russian Cultural Festival 2007 in Japan. After the ceremony, a gala concert by the Moscow State Academic Chamber Choir will be held at the Shibuya C. C. Lemon Hall on the evening of 2 July.
During his visit, Mr. Naryshkin will pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and exchange views with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Foreign Minister Taro Aso and former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who is the Japanese Chairperson of the Organizing Committee of the Festival.
Mr. Shikata: Lastly, on 2 July, at Yokota Air Base, there will be a celebration of Headquarters of the US Forces in Japan recognizing its 50 years of serving the US-Japan alliance. The headquarters was activated on 1 July 1957, replacing the Far East Command. The event will include a Retreat ceremony and flag presentation; remarks by US Forces Japan Commander Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright and Japanese Minister of Defense Fumio Kyuma and Senior Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Katsuhito Asano.
Q: As you said, during the visit by Deputy Prime Minister Naryshkin, meetings with high-ranking Japanese officials are scheduled. What topics will be on the agenda, and what hopes does Japan pin on this visit?
Mr. Shikata: As far as Deputy Prime Minister Naryshkin's visit to Japan, I expect that in those meetings with the Prime Minister, Chief Cabinet Secretary, and Foreign Minister the bilateral relations between these two countries will be discussed. The precise agenda items are not decided, and we understand that as far as the follow-up to the Japan-Russian summit meeting, which was held at Heiligendamm at the beginning of this month, is going to be examined later on. I assume that there will be issues that will be discussed in relation to the summit meeting held in Heiligendamm, but the more substantial discussions will follow later on.
VI. Questions concerning discussions between Director-General Kenichiro Sasae and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov
Q: One more question. Concerning the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov's negotiations with his Japanese counterpart Mr. Kenichiro Sasae, Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, if it is possible, could you specify the questions that were discussed and what agreements were reached?
Mr. Shikata: On the question of the meeting that took place yesterday with Mr. Sasae, basically there was discussion of approaches to the Six-Party Talks, North Korea-related issues, and how we will proceed with realizing denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Also, as you can expect, the Japanese Government has been putting forward the issue of the abduction of Japanese citizens, which we think is a very important issue, and the Japanese Government has been urging North Korea to take positive steps to resolve those issues.
Q: So no specific agreements?
Mr. Shikata: I would refrain from getting into the actual conversation, but there was a broad agreement to closely cooperate between the two countries to try to realize progress in the context of the Six-Party Talks.
Q: Regarding the missile tests by North Korea, what is the Japanese Government's understanding about it? Was it a ballistic missile, and how are they different from previous short-range missiles fired last month or so? I was puzzled that the US Government made that kind of statement this time, while I do not remember that they did that last time.
Mr. Shikata: We have followed missile-related developments surrounding North Korea with much interest, and we have obtained various information, but since it is related to intelligence matters, we refrain from commenting on specific cases. But, as you mentioned, the US National Security Council spokesperson expressed great concern, saying that the ballistic missile launching by North Korea is in violation of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1718.
As far as the Japanese Government is concerned, if North Korea is launching ballistic missiles, this is against United Nations Security Council 1718, which was adopted after the missile launches by North Korea in July last year. We urge North Korea not to take actions that could escalate the tension in the region, and we urge North Korea to take the measures that they have committed themselves to in the February Joint Statement in the most prompt manner.
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