Press Conference, 26 February 2008
- Statements on the Turkish incursion into the Republic of Iraq and the election of the new President of the Republic of Cuba
- Upcoming dispatch by Japan of an election observer mission to the Russian Federation
- Visit to Japan by Adviser for Foreign Affairs Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
- Visit to Japan by Foreign Minister Urmas Paet of the Republic of Estonia
- Japan-EU High-level Consultation Meeting in Tokyo
- Question concerning visit to Japan by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
- Questions concerning the response of the US military to the recent incident of assault by a US serviceman in Okinawa
- Questions concerning the Islamic Republic of Iran
- Question concerning the Turkish incursion into the Republic of Iraq
I. Statements on the Turkish incursion into the Republic of Iraq and the election of the new President of the Republic of Cuba
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon. Thank you for coming.
Let me make a rather long opening remark before taking your questions.
First, yesterday, Monday, the 25th, the Press Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued two statements. One is on the Turkish incursion into the Republic of Iraq to mop up the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. The other is on the election of the new Cuban President.
For the former, Japan is deeply concerned on the recent tension rising along the border between the Republic of Turkey and Iraq. Japan calls upon the Iraqi authority to take appropriate measures to stop the terrorist activities of PKK members hiding in northern Iraq, and Turkey to exercise utmost self-restraint.
As for the latter, Japan has been supporting democratization in Latin American countries and hopes that also in the Republic of Cuba the democratization will progress upon the change of regime.
Mr. Taniguchi: Second, Japan has decided to dispatch three election observers to the Russian Federation for the Presidential Election due on the 2nd of March. We will send them upon the request of the Russian Central Election Commission. The three observers consist of an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, another from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, and an academic specializing in Russian politics. The observers are scheduled to monitor the election process including the election campaign, the voting process and the vote counting process from Thursday, the 28th of February to Monday, the 4th of March.
III. Visit to Japan by Adviser for Foreign Affairs Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Mr. Taniguchi: Third, Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Adviser for Foreign Affairs to the Government of Bangladesh, an equivalent of Bangladeshi Foreign Minister, is now visiting Japan as a guest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Adviser Chowdhury arrived Japan on Sunday, the 24th and will stay here until Thursday, the 28th. Yesterday, Monday, the 25th, Foreign Minister Koumura held a bilateral meeting with Adviser Chowdhury and announced to provide a loan assistance of up to 6,960 million yen or about US$64 million to Bangladesh for implementing the "Emergency Disaster Damage Rehabilitation Project." Notes to this effect were exchanged between the two.
Mr. Taniguchi: Fourth, tomorrow, Wednesday, the 27th, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet will visit Japan until Sunday, the 2nd of March as a guest of the Ministry. Foreign Minister Koumura will also hold a bilateral meeting with his Estonian counterpart.
Mr. Taniguchi: Fifth and last, also tomorrow, Wednesday, the 27th, Japan and the EU will hold a High-level Consultation Meeting in Tokyo. Deputy Minister Masaharu Kohno will head the Japanese side, Mr. Eneko Landaburu, Director General, External Relations Directorate General, European Commission, the EU side.
The two sides will discuss the economic relations between Japan and the EU, global issues, and the progress of cooperation and dialogue in wide-ranging areas. Japan and the EU have been holding this consultation since 1973.
Q: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to be in Tokyo tomorrow, I believe. First of all, I would like to know if there is a media schedule available. And secondly, I want to know the agenda.
Mr. Taniguchi: Okay, in terms of the media schedule, just let me check her itinerary. Just bear with me a second. The media schedule looks like this: in the evening, there is a slot scheduled for a joint press conference between the Secretary and Minister Koumura. That is for tomorrow, Wednesday, the 27th.
What they will be discussing will be by nature very much wide-ranging: ranging from how to cooperate better between the two countries in the run up to the G8 Summit Meeting scheduled in July. The issues would certainly include US-Japan cooperation on the climate change front, and they will be discussing also the enhancement of the US-Japan alliance relationship in general, and certainly they will be touching upon the sad incident that occurred in Okinawa of late. So those will be the issues, but I shouldn't forget to mention that the Six-Party Dialogue is also going to be a focal point for the bilateral meeting.
VII. Questions concerning the response of the US military to the recent incident of assault by a US serviceman in Okinawa
Q: Regarding the Okinawa incident, I believe that the US military has been taking measures by imposing curfew and also they have had a special day of reflection, and they have also spoken to people in the Japanese Government about retraining their servicemen etcetera etcetera. But with Secretary Rice, is there any particular element you want to reinforce or confirm or wish for her commitment?
Mr. Taniguchi: Well, nothing in particular at the moment. As you say, the efforts so far taken by the US military, the Marine Corps in Okinawa, have been very much sincere and swift, a kind of wholesale action. One should hope that they are going to stick to that regime and then prevent this sort of incident from happening again. But as I said in the previous press conference, the fact remains that the presence of the US Marine Corps has done tremendous good to the overall security of the Japanese.
Q: You said it would not happen again, but this is not the first incident, is it?
Mr. Taniguchi: No, this is not the first incident, but that's why I said one should hope that this should not happen again.
Q: Last Saturday, there was a report that came out from the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) about the results that they found in the Iranian nuclear development situation. The Iranian Government asserts that everything has been made clear, transparent, with no room for misunderstanding. What does the Japanese Government think about the claim, and the IAEA's report?
Mr. Taniguchi: In terms of the IAEA's report, because this remains classified at the moment, I cannot go deep into what's being said and what's not being said. Yet I can tell you that the IAEA is not of a view yet that all stones are turned. They seem to be of a view that there remain more stones to be turned, i.e. much more effort should be done on the part of the Iranian Government to gain trust and confidence first from the IAEA and also from the international community. That is also the view of the Japanese Government at the moment.
Q: Regarding this Iranian issue, I believe that the Israeli Prime Minister Olmert is visiting right now, and he is reported to have said that he wants Japan to slap sanctions on Iran. How would you respond to his demand?
Mr. Taniguchi: In terms of the sanction against Iran, that is exactly the issue that is being hotly debated on the floor of the United Nations at the moment. The Security Council seems to be getting closer to coming up with a decision as to whether or not the United Nations should impose another sanction against Iran. The Japanese Government will pay ever closer attention to the development of the debate.
Q: Does that mean that if they come out with a decision to slap another round of sanctions, Japan will follow?
Mr. Taniguchi: Japan will likely follow, but we have to say that because no draft proposal has been circulated, and Japan being not a member of the Security Council at the moment, there is not much that I can say at the moment. That's why we will pay close attention.
Q: Do you think that Turkey's attack against Iraqi land and PKK will stop soon? If not, will Japan take new resolutions?
Mr. Taniguchi: I should refrain from making any speculation. But I should reiterate, once again, with a more powerful tone, that things of this nature should not happen between anyone, be it between Turkey and Iraq or Turkey and PKK. So the message is twofold. One, to the Iraqi Government to exercise the maximum to prevent the terrorist actions from happening, and two, to the Turkish Government, to also exercise as much as self-restraint as possible.
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