Press Conference, 29 January 2008
- Condolences for the death of former President of the Republic of Indonesia Suharto
- Visit to Japan by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith of the Commonwealth of Australia
- Visit to Japan by Deputy Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Andrei Stratan of the Republic of Moldova
- Questions concerning North Korea
- Question concerning the state of the union address by President of the United States George Bush
- Question concerning the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV)
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good Afternoon. Thanks for coming.
Announcements I'd like to make at the outset are as follows.
First, yesterday, the 28th, upon the loss of Mr. Suharto, former President of Indonesia, Japan sent Taku Yamasaki, Member of the House of Representatives and the president of the Japan-Indonesia Parliamentary League as Special Envoy to the country in order to express Japan's condolences to the officials of the Indonesian Government and the Suharto family.
Prior to that, on Sunday, the 27th, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda sent his condolences to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. So did Foreign Minister Koumura to his Indonesian counterpart, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda. A lot of us remain solemn witnessing the end of an era in Asian history.
Mr. Taniguchi: Second, on Thursday, the 31st, Australian Foreign Minister, The Hon Stephen Smith MP will start his two-day visit to Japan, on his way home from the United States. During an expected Japan-Australia foreign ministerial meeting, the ministers Smith and Koumura will discuss the global issues and take this opportunity to sign "the Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income." This visit will be Foreign Minister Smith's first trip to Japan.
Foreign Minister Smith, originally from Western Australia, knows a great deal of long-standing ties, economic and beyond, that have bound the two democratic neighbors along the same longitude. He says in his own media release that the visit will be made only one week after Mr. Simon Crean, Australian Trade Minister's visit to Tokyo, which is demonstrative of the priority Australia gives to the bilateral relationship. He also says that during the visit he will discuss Australia's commitment to enhancing economic links with Japan, including through achieving a high-quality Free Trade Agreement, as well as expanding strategic cooperation under the 2007 Australia-Japan Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation.
I should only say to that that the sentiments should be returned in full.
III. Visit to Japan by Deputy Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova Andrei Stratan
Mr. Taniguchi: Third and last, today, the 29th, we are going to welcome a guest from a country increasingly important for Japan's diplomacy, Moldova. Mr. Andrei Stratan, Deputy Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the country, will visit Japan at the invitation of the Japanese Foreign Ministry. The deputy prime minister will stay in Japan until Thursday, the 31st.
Q: Any movements on the North Korea Six-Party Talks, because we know that the US State Department said he would go again this week and also there has just been a report from the Chinese side that a six member party delegation has left for North Korea today. Does Japan know of any developments?
Mr. Taniguchi: I don't think I should make any comments on the actions and movements taken by foreign nations, like the United States or China. I can only say that the so-called complete declaration of the nuclear programs in North Korea is yet to be done, and the North Korean side has to accelerate the process as fast as they possibly can, so that the Six-Party framework is going to move again.
Q: We are about a month past the deadline already. Has Japan or any other parties in talks gotten any response from North Korea on this issue? Is it positive or negative?
Mr. Taniguchi: This is not obviously a positive development. Once again, the punctuality of North Korean diplomacy is dubious at best. They have got to comply with the pledge that they made themselves.
Q: In President Bush's state of the union address just now, he spoke about Iran's uranium issue, but he stopped short of addressing the North Korean nuclear issue as he did in the past two years. What is Japan's response to this?
Mr. Taniguchi: Japan's response to President Bush's state of the union address so far is none. You may want to ask the same question to other members of the Foreign Ministry or members of the Japanese Government, but it is normally the case that members of the Japanese Government should refrain from making comment on the content of the state of the union address made by the President of the United States. That's it.
Q: But is the Japanese Government not slightly disappointed that the issue of North Korea was not mentioned in his speech given the timing right now?
Mr. Taniguchi: President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Christopher Hill, those people have been committed all along to pushing North Korea to comply with the pledge that they made themselves, like the abandonment and disablement of the nuclear facilities and the complete declaration of the list of nuclear capacities in North Korea. So I understand the diplomatic action is moving in full throttle at the moment, so that early achievement can be made.
Q: I understand that former prime minister Mori is going to attend the AU Summit in Ethiopia and that he is going to call on African leaders to take part in TICAD IV this year. Can you update us on the confirmed attendance by heads of states and governments? How many?
Mr. Taniguchi: No updates so far. I can just give you a ballpark figure: that's about 30. This is exactly the same number that I gave you a week ago or two weeks ago. But the hope is we will be able to have more.
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