Press Conference, 15 January 2008

  1. Statement concerning Replenishment Support Special Measures Law
  2. Visit to Japan by Rt Hon Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  3. Anniversary of Japan's Emigration to Brazil
  4. Questions concerning resumption of maritime refueling activities
  5. Questions concerning visit to Japan by South Korean Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Lee Sang-Deuk
  6. Question concerning launch of an intergovernmental discussion group which will consider language requirements for newly entering long term residents of foreign nationals

I. Statement concerning Replenishment Support Special Measures Law

Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon. Thank you for coming.

The first announcement of the year is that last Friday, the 11th, the Replenishment Support Special Measures Law was enacted. Upon this enactment, the Government of Japan will set sail Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels for the Indian Ocean by the end of January, so as to resume the refueling activities at the earliest possible date. The refueling activities are a demonstration of Japan's efforts to actively cooperate for the "fight against terror." And, Japan continues to closely coordinate with the international community to eradicate terrorism.

Related Information (Statement by Prime Minister)

II. Visit to Japan by Rt Hon Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Mr. Taniguchi: Second, the year starts with receiving a visitor from the UK. The Rt Hon Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, will be visiting Japan from Thursday, the 17th to Saturday, the 19th.

This year actually marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Japan-UK diplomatic relations. In addition to meeting with Foreign Minister Koumura and delivering a lecture at Waseda University, Lord Malloch-Brown will attend an opening event of "UK-Japan 2008."

Related Information (Press Release)

III. Anniversary of Japan's Emigration to Brazil

Mr. Taniguchi: Lastly, this year also marks the 100th Anniversary of Japan's Emigration to Brazil and to celebrate this anniversary, the year is named Japan-Brazil Exchange Year. Senior Vice-Foreign Minister Hitoshi Kimura is now visiting Brazil to attend the opening events of this exchange year.

Related Information (Japan-Brazil Relations)

IV. Questions concerning resumption of maritime refueling activities

Q: Can you be a little bit more specific about when the refueling mission will resume? When it will start again?

Mr. Taniguchi: Well, that's up to the working schedule of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, but it will take approximately three weeks from the home port to the actual site in the Indian Ocean so it will be probably as early as mid-February, beyond which the refueling activities will be resumed.

Q: Because I read some statement from Fukuda that said as soon as possible from the end of January.

Mr. Taniguchi: The end of January is going to be the time when vessels will leave the home ports.

V. Questions concerning visit to Japan by South Korean Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Lee Sang-Deuk

Q: Another question then if I may ask. The brother of the newly elected president of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Lee Sang-Deuk will arrive in Tokyo. Do you know any specific topics they will talk about?

Mr. Taniguchi: That is exactly the question that members of the Japanese press raised this morning to Foreign Minister Koumura who said in return it's too early to tell, so I will say exactly the same. But that said, I think this is going to be a very good beginning to the fruitful relationships between the new administration of the Republic of Korea and the Fukuda Administration. So obviously they will have lots of things to talk about, ranging from how to coordinate policies toward North Korea, which actually is going to be the most important issue. And the Japanese side will raise the abduction issue, most likely, so that will be the sneak preview.

Q: But it is not normal that such high ranking politicians are welcoming Mr. Lee, because also Fukuda is willing to meet him, so that is a special situation?

Mr. Taniguchi: I don't know how special this is going to be or whether there was any precedent like this before but since the special envoy is going to represent the Head of State of the Government of the Republic of Korea, I think it's not going to be so unusual.

Related Information (Japan-ROK Relations)

VI. Question concerning launch of an intergovernmental discussion group which will consider language requirements for newly entering long term residents of foreign nationals

Q: My question was about the new initiative announced by Foreign Minister Koumura. The new initiative is to launch a discussion group, intergovernmental discussion group, between the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to think about having a requirement for the newly entering long term residents, of foreign nationals, that they should learn Japanese as a requirement. And the question was, what sort of details do you have on that information.

Also, because Japan is maintaining a rather narrow window toward refugees, which itself is actually famous in the world, the imposing of a new requirement would make the barrier even higher for the refugees and also for long term foreign residents in Japan.

Mr. Taniguchi: The answer is, to be honest, I don't know that much about what sort of requirements they are thinking about. As Foreign Minister Koumura said this morning, the discussion group is just about to be launched, and what sort of issues and topics they will be looking at, is at the moment, anyone's guess. But that said, they are also paying all the keener attention to the importance of inviting as many foreign guests as possible to Japan. If you recall, the Japanese Government is still maintaining the "Yokoso Japan, or Visit Japan" campaign, so there may be lots of pros and cons, and exactly because there are lots of cons and pros, the intergovernmental discussion group is going to be set up to scrutinize the issue.

Related Information (Visiting Japan Links)


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