Press Conference, 19 February 2008
- Visit to Japan by Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan
- Visit to Japan by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
- Visit to the State of Israel and the Palestine autonomous region by Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Yasuhide Nakayama
- Question concerning Kosovo's declaration of independence
- Questions concerning detainment of another U.S. Marine
- Question concerning Prime Minister Fukuda's prospective visit to the Republic of Korea
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon. Thank you for coming.
I'll make an announcement on the incoming visits by foreign dignitaries and then take your questions.
First, tomorrow, Wednesday, 20 February, Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan will be visiting Japan as a guest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During his stay in Japan, he is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura and return to the People's Republic of China on Sunday, 24 February.
Mr. Taniguchi: Second, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit Japan from next Wednesday, 27 February, to Thursday, 28 February. Foreign Minister Koumura is expected to hold a bilateral meeting with Secretary of State Rice during her stay in Japan.
III. Visit to the State of Israel and the Palestine autonomous region by Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Yasuhide Nakayama
Mr. Taniguchi: Third and last, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Yasuhide Nakayama returned to Japan this morning, 19 February, after visiting the State of Israel and the Palestine autonomous region. In Israel, Vice-Minister Nakayama discussed, with Israeli government officials, upcoming Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's visit to Japan, which is scheduled from Monday, 25 February, to Thursday, 28 February. And, in the Palestine autonomous region, the Vice-Minister discussed Middle East peace and Japan's assistance to the Palestinians with the Palestinian authorities.
Q: My first question is on Kosovo. President Bush announced just now, the formal recognition of Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state. Other major nations like France and Britain, Italy and Australia, have also expressed their recognition. What is Japan's stance on this?
Mr. Taniguchi: What I want to do is to remind you of the report that was given by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the Future Status of Kosovo, Mr. Martti Ahtisaari, who is a Finnish ambassador to the UNSG. The report was given to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in March 2007. It laid out some of the principles of the future status of Kosovo. It says that the future status should be "independence supervised by the international community." The report also mentioned that reintegration into Serbia would not be a viable option and continued international administration wouldn't be sustainable. Therefore thirdly, it said that independence with international supervision would be the only viable option. The Japanese Government is going to take these into serious consideration. And also by looking at the events unfolding daily in Kosovo, the Japanese Government is going to come to a decision sooner rather than later.
Q: The second question is on the reports that another U.S. Marine has been held for law violations regarding forging and using fake twenty-dollar bills. Has the Japanese Government or the Ministry launched any protest to the U.S. side regarding this?
Mr. Taniguchi: On that and other issues, the Japanese Foreign Ministry has been in constant touch, primarily with the U.S. Embassy here in Tokyo.
Q: Are there no further comments from the embassy? Given the whole series of the first arrest with the alleged rape, and then two more arrests -
Mr. Taniguchi: I understand the Commander of the U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa and all others involved are busy giving a second look to what sort of educational programs will be necessary in order for the members of the Marine Corps in Okinawa and others to have a better discipline structure. But I would like to add one thing, if I may. The Marine Corps of the United States is the corps that is always ready to put themselves in harm's way, and for that they have enjoyed a positive reputation from the Americans, and I think the existence of the Marine Corps in Okinawa has done tremendous good also to the safety and security of Japan. We should not forget that in discussing these matters.
Q: Regarding the prospective visit of Prime Minister Fukuda to the Republic of Korea (ROK) for the inauguration ceremony of the new president, can you just repeat, perhaps once again, Japan's expectations for its upcoming relations with the new administration and what kind of messages the Prime Minister wants to get across while he is in the ROK?
Mr. Taniguchi: A number of things; the first bilateral leadership meeting that President Lee is going to have after taking office is going to be the one with Prime Minister Fukuda. That is telling in that the ROK Government, under Mr. Lee's leadership, is committed to enhancing ties with Japan as much as possible.
Number two, basically the same thing; that is, President-elect Lee has already also mentioned that he is going to get engaged in the so-called "shuttle diplomacy" with his counterpart of Japan, Prime Minister Fukuda.
So one should hope that the bilateral relationship is going to move ahead in full throttle and the expectation among the members of the Diet, for instance, that have already visited Seoul is increasingly high, so you should expect that the bilateral relationship is going to get even better.
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