Press Conference, 18 March 2008
- Recognition by the Government of Japan of the Republic of Kosovo
- Announcement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura concerning the outreach sessions of the upcoming G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit
- Upcoming visit by Foreign Minister Koumura to the Gabonese Republic to chair a session of the final preparatory conference for TICAD IV
- Announcement of visits to Japan by foreign dignitaries
- Announcement on "the Seminar on National Reconciliation of Iraq"
- Announcement on region-to-region exchanges between Japan and the Russian Federation
- Announcement on recent decisions by Japan to provide assistance packages to five African states
- Dispatch of election monitoring mission from Japan to Nepal
- Questions concerning TICAD IV
- Questions concerning Japan-People's Republic of China relations in the light of recent events in Tibet
- Questions concerning Japan's position in discussions concerning the climate change issue
- Question concerning the outcome of the meetings between US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and Mr. Kenichiro Sasae, Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon and thanks for coming.
I have a rather longish list of items, in fact eight items, I wanted to share with you, if you don't mind.
First, today, Tuesday, the 18th, Japan recognized the Republic of Kosovo as an independent state.
II. Announcement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura concerning the outreach sessions of the upcoming G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit
Mr. Taniguchi: Second, also today, Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura made an announcement concerning the outreach sessions of the upcoming G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. This year the outreach occasion will be divided into two, the first of which will focus on African development, and the second, climate change. To the first part, which is slated to take place on the 7th of July, Foreign Minister Koumura said that Japan would invite leaders of Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and the AU or African Union. And, to the second part, due on the 9th of July, leaders from Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Korea, and South Africa are invited.
III. Upcoming visit by Foreign Minister Koumura to the Gabonese Republic to chair a session of the final preparatory conference for TICAD IV
Mr. Taniguchi: Third, we are now in the final stage of preparation for the TICAD IV or the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development that is to be held in Yokohama at the end of May. The Government of Japan will hold later this week in Libreville, Gabon (the Gabonese Republic), the final preparatory conference by inviting dozens of representatives from African nations and regional organizations, among which 26 will be foreign ministers. To chair the first-day sessions on Thursday, 20th of March, Senior Vice Minister Itsunori Onodera will be there. Foreign Minister Koumura will arrive in Libreville to join the gala dinner the same day, and on the following Friday, 21st, he will chair the second-day sessions. To open the gala dinner, Foreign Minister Koumura will deliver a short speech.
I have still more to introduce...
Mr. Taniguchi: The fourth announcement is on the inbound visits of foreign dignitaries. From the Republic of Peru, President Alan Garcia and Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde are now visiting Japan. Hungarian Foreign Minister Kinga Göncz is also in Japan now. From next Monday, the 24th to Wednesday, the 26th, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko will be visiting Japan.
Mr. Taniguchi: Fifth, the Government of Japan will host an event, "the Seminar on National Reconciliation of Iraq", from Thursday, this week, which is the 20th, until Friday of the following week, the 28th. It's the second such attempt. We did it first for five days in March last year. Invited to this year's seminar will be 10 members of the Iraqi national parliament plus a member of the National Security Council and one from the press. Head of the Al Fadhila Party, which is the Shiite party, Mr. Hasan Al Shamari will come, as well as Dr. Salih Al Mutlak, President of the National Dialogue Front, and Mr. Khalaf Al Alayan, President of the National Dialogue Council, both Sunni. In fact the 12 members will comprise six Shiites, four Sunnis, and two Kurds. Apart from the meetings with the Japanese side and among themselves, they will make an excursion to Hiroshima, where they will have a glimpse at Japan's post-war democratization, peace building and so on.
Mr. Taniguchi: The sixth announcement is on region-to-region exchanges between Japan and Russia. To this end, Mr. Yurii Ivanovich Onoprienko, Chairman of the Legislative Assembly of Khabarovsk of the Russian Federation is now visiting Japan. From the state of Sakhalinskaya, Vice Governor Oleg Ljvovich Namakonov is also visiting Japan at present.
VII. Announcement on recent decisions by Japan to provide assistance packages to five African states
Mr. Taniguchi: The seventh announcement is on Japan's assistance to Africa decided over the past weekend. Japan announced assistance packages to Burkina Faso, Congo, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia. I will stop short of going into each detail, but the assistance to Burkina Faso and Uganda is to help grow rice farming capacities of the poverty-stricken areas, pretty much in line with Japan's aid philosophy focusing on human security and green revolution.
Mr. Taniguchi: The eighth, and the last, is on the dispatch of an election monitoring mission for the constitutional assembly election in Nepal. On March 18th, which is today, the Government of Japan made a Cabinet decision based on the International Peace Cooperation Law to dispatch an election monitoring mission of 24 persons from late March to mid April to support the fair implementation of the constitutional assembly election to be held in Nepal.
Q: You mentioned the Foreign Minister's trip to Gabon. Can you update us on how the preparations have been so far at the working level, and also which countries' heads of state or heads of government will be attending the conference in May.
Mr. Taniguchi: I cannot specifically name the 40-something nations from which heads of state will be coming to Yokohama to join the TICAD IV central meetings. In terms of the Foreign Minister's trip to Gabon, that is for Japan to gather as many leaders as possible from the 52 African nations in order to confirm with each other some of the agendas to be discussed at the Yokohama TICAD IV meeting.
This year, the 4th TICAD meeting is going to embrace fully the past achievements that African nations have accomplished, in terms of economic development, democratization, and achieving good governance. The TICAD IV meeting is going to encourage the African nations as well as the international community to invest further into creating large infrastructure with respect to transportation and electricity, for instance, and to encourage, also, further development and commitment in building up agricultural capacities in Africa. I should perhaps remind you that there is an increasing hope shared widely by the African nations regarding the wider usage of such agricultural developments as NERICA rice. So the focus on agricultural development is the area that TICAD IV is also going to look into. I could go on speaking like this but in a nutshell, in Gabon, foreign ministers and other leaders from African nations together with Japanese representatives will cheer them up, if I may say so, to make the TICAD IV meeting a success.
Q: I heard that they are going to discuss the details of the Yokohama Declaration, which is expected to come out at the end of the meeting. What are the major points that we can expect?
Mr. Taniguchi: I cannot give you a sneak preview for the Yokohama Declaration. The Yokohama Declaration, the draft of which has been widely circulated and discussed, I have to admit, among the African diplomatic corps stationed in Tokyo, and between Japan and African nations. I should however say one thing. That is, the Yokohama Declaration is going to be an official endorsement of how far African nations have come since the last TICAD meeting, TICAD III, that took place five years ago. And it is to further acknowledge that what matters is to have ownership among the African nations and to have partnership between African nations and developed countries, as well as Asian nations. So that is going to be, I am sure, part of the gist of the Yokohama Declaration. But I must stop here because it is too early to disclose everything.
X. Questions concerning Japan-People's Republic of China relations in the light of recent events in Tibet
Q: It might be a kind of repetition of what Foreign Minister Koumura said this morning, but what is the Government of Japan's reaction to how China has dealt with the recent protests in Tibet?
Mr. Taniguchi: Can you elaborate yourself a little bit more? Which part of Foreign Minister Koumura's remarks?
Q: Well, he said Japan is not going to boycott, first of all, and also he said Japan's policy remains the same: the international community needs to look into what is really happening there.
Mr. Taniguchi: So your question is two-part: one about the Beijing Olympics, and the other about?
Q: My question was focused on that later part. How is Japan going to respond to China's action in Tibet, what is happening there.
Mr. Taniguchi: We've been, I mean, Japan has been telling the Chinese side for a long time the importance of increasing transparency of their policy conduct. It is an expectation that you will find held by many other nations, the international community. So it is to be hoped very much that the Chinese government will take that international expectation into consideration and act accordingly. To do that would be, as Foreign Minister Koumura mentioned this morning, not to the detriment but to the benefit of China itself.
Q: Do you think there will be an effect on Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Japan? How is that incident going to impact?
Mr. Taniguchi: No one hopes that the planned visit of Chinese President Hu to Japan is going to be hindered by anything such as this. I should also say that neighbors should talk to one another when in need. You mentioned the Beijing Olympic Games. As a close neighbor it is Japan's earnest hope that Beijing will hold the Olympic Games successfully.
Q: When you mentioned that neighbors should talk to one another when in need ? are Japan and China close neighbors?
Mr. Taniguchi: Yes, that is what I mean. President HU will have many things to discuss with the Japanese, and so will the Japanese.
Q: At the G20 meeting over the weekend, I think Japan proposed sectoral approach to emissions cuts was not very well received by some counties. Then also there were criticisms over dividing nations into major emitters and minor emitters. What is Japan's strategy to promote its agenda over the next few months until the G8 Summit?
Mr. Taniguchi: The guiding principle has to be the one that is fair and open to all the participants of the framework. We have already made an important stride to make the post-Kyoto framework as open as possible, to make it as inclusive as possible by including countries such as the US and China, some of the major emitters. That being the first important step already taken, the next one is going to really touch upon the details of the next post-Kyoto framework. Japan's approach is based, as you said, on the sectoral approach, believing that it would be effective and doable, and something that the Japanese industry can also go along with. If you look at the world opinion, there is no consensus at the moment. EU members are divided: some are supportive, some are not so supportive, and others have reservations. That is the rough picture that you are now looking act. We have just made a start and Japan's strategy will be to talk as much as possible to as many countries as possible, and to strike a consensus, sooner rather than later. That is the maximum that I can say at the moment.
Q: So over the next few months up to July, is Japan going to be flexible? As you said, talking with other countries to form consensus, is Japan flexible and, maybe, revising parts of its idea or is it going to stick with the same idea at the G8?
Mr. Taniguchi: I should perhaps say that the framework you are now talking about will be the largest ever international framework that humankind has ever achieved. In that sense, any negotiation, be it done by the Japanese or anyone else, would take longer rather than shorter, in terms of the timeframe, and we need a tremendous amount of political investment. That will definitely need compromise from the participating members. I cannot predict what kind of conciliatory actions Japan is going to take, or whether or not Japan is going to take. But I can only say that that is going to be the shape of the discussions that you will likely see in the coming months.
XII. Question concerning the outcome of the meetings between US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and Mr. Kenichiro Sasae, Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Q: One last question. I think at the briefing by the Foreign Minister this morning there was a question about the meeting between Mr. Hill and Mr. Saiki. Any updates since Mr. Koumura said he has only got a very brief initial report? Have there been any developments since then?
Mr. Taniguchi: This morning Foreign Minister Koumura told you what he knew at that point, and it still is nighttime in the United States, so there is no further significant update.
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