Press Conference by the Deputy Press Secretary, 15 April 2010

  1. Japan extends condolences to China in the wake of the recent earthquake disaster
  2. The Washington Nuclear Security Summit
  3. Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada to visit New York to chair the UN Security Council open debate
  4. The 19th EU-Japan Summit to take place in Tokyo
  5. Questions concerning Japan’s response to the recent earthquake disaster in China
  6. Questions concerning a recent Washington Post article
  7. Questions concerning the Japan-EU Summit
  8. Questions concerning the planned Integrated Support Center for Strengthening of Nuclear Security in Asia
  9. Questions concerning the NPT review conference
  10. Questions concerning Foreign Minister Okada’s schedule
  11. Further questions concerning the Washington Post article

  1. Japan extends condolences to China in the wake of the recent earthquake disaster
  2. Deputy Press Secretary Hidenobu Sobashima: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Today, I have several topics that I would like to present to you.

    First, in the wake of the earthquake disaster that struck Qinghai Province of China yesterday morning, our minister, Mr. Katsuya Okada, sent messages of condolences and sympathy to Mr. Dai Bingguo, State Councilor of China, and Mr. Yang Jiechi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of China through the Embassy of Japan in China on that day. Also, Prime Minister Hatoyama sent his messages of condolences and sympathy to the President and Prime Minister of China.

    At the same time, at the instruction of Minister Okada, a liaison office for the earthquake in Qinghai Province was established in the Ministry with the Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau as its head. This is the first one.

    Related Information (Press Release)

  3. The Washington Nuclear Security Summit
  4. Mr. Sobashima: Second, just a recap of what happened recently in Washington. We distributed the communiqué and the Work Plan of the Nuclear Security Summit as well as the Japanese national statement. The summit was attended by as many as 47 countries, including 37 heads of state or government, and including India, Pakistan and Israel, which are not parties to the NPT. The fact that that communiqué was issued indicates the importance of this meeting as well as the result of the meeting.

    For Japan’s part, as explained in the national statement, Prime Minister Hatoyama made four main proposals. If you have a look at the paper on page five, the first is the “Establishment of an Integrated Support Center for Strengthening of Nuclear Security in Asia.” In the second paragraph of that section, section A, it says, “Japan will this year establish a regional center for the strengthening of nuclear security, tentatively named the ‘Integrated Comprehensive Support Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Security for Asia’ under the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), with the aim of institutionalizing support for nuclear security on a permanent basis and contributing to strengthened nuclear security in Asia and other regions.

    The second initiative is on the same page with the heading B, you have “Development of Technology related to Measurement and Detection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Forensics based on International Cooperation.” Measurement and detection of nuclear materials is a field in which Japan, as an advanced country in the area of nuclear power, science and technology, should make further contributions. Japan will strengthen cooperation with the United States in this field. Japan will also make increased contributions to the international community by establishing these technologies with more precise and accurate capabilities in detection and forensics within an approximate three-year time frame and sharing the fruits of these new technologies with the international community.

    The third initiative is “Contributions to the IAEA Nuclear Security Programs.” As part of its contributions to the IAEA, Japan is considering implementing projects worth USD 6.1 million in total, both to strengthen the physical protection of nuclear material in Kazakhstan in cooperation with the IAEA and to support nuclear security programs through increased voluntary contributions to the IAEA. Japan also plans to dispatch experts to the IAEA.

    The fourth initiative is “Hosting of a WINS Conference.” For the purpose of promoting the sharing of best practices regarding nuclear security, Japan will host an international conference of the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS) this year.

    These four specific proposals were included in the statement made by Prime Minister Hatoyama.

    On the occasion of the Nuclear Security Summit, Prime Minister Hatoyama had bilateral meetings with the leaders of Viet Nam, Brazil, China, the EU, France, the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan. I refrain from explaining the outlines of all the bilateral meetings, but I will just summarize the meetings with China and Russia.

    In his meeting with President Hu Jintao, the Prime Minister and the President confirmed the current situation of bilateral relations and both sides referred to the schedule or plans that the Prime Minister of China will be visiting Japan in the first half of this year, and Prime Minister Hatoyama wishes to visit the Shanghai Expo during its period. President Hu Jintao plans to visit Yokohama on the occasion of the APEC Summit. The two leaders confirmed that the two countries should further enhance their bilateral relationship in accordance with their mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests. They discussed issues of cooperation in East Asia, cooperation in the East China Sea, safety of food and climate change, among others.

    In his meeting with President Medvedev of the Russian Federation, Prime Minister Hatoyama conveyed his condolences and sympathy due to the recent terrorist attacks in Russia. On the other hand, he welcomed the signing of the nuclear disarmament treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States. The two leaders discussed the possibility of economic cooperation including in the Siberian region. Prime Minister Hatoyama referred to the territorial issue and he referred to the future possible meetings of the two leaders on the occasion of the G8 Summit and the APEC Summit. The Prime Minister said he wished to engage with President Medvedev for substantive discussion on the territorial issue. President Medvedev said that although the territorial issue is a difficult issue, he does not intend to run away from the issue. He suggested that perhaps the two leaders should discuss this issue in a calm, objective atmosphere.

    So, this is about the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington.

    Related Information (Nuclear Security Summit)
    Related Information (International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA))

  5. Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada to visit New York to chair the UN Security Council open debate
  6. Mr. Sobashima: I would like to explain our Minister’s visit to New York. You have a separate paper, which we distributed. Mr. Katsuya Okada, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, will visit New York from today to Sunday, this week, from the 15th to the 18th of April. Minister Okada will chair the UN Security Council open debate on post-conflict peacebuilding, to be held on the morning of April 16th, New York time. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, and others will be attending. Minister Okada is scheduled to meet the Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, and Bosnia and Herzegovina bilaterally.

    I have distributed his schedule, and the sheet entitled “Outline and Objectives of the Foreign Minister’s visit to New York.” I will read this.

    As a non-permanent member of the Security Council can serve as president only once or twice during its two-year term, this April is a very important opportunity for Japan as president.

    Taking this opportunity, Foreign Minister Okada will preside over the open debate on “Post-conflict Peacebuilding.” In so doing, he will also be demonstrating Japan’s commitment to international peace and security.

    Post-conflict peacebuilding is a critical issue for every region of the world, and Japan has played an active role in efforts to address it, including having served as a chair of the Peace Building Commission (PBC). Japan attaches importance to achieving a seamless transition from humanitarian aid during a conflict to peacekeeping operations in its aftermath and then to assistance for nation-building.

    It is at the initiative of Japan that the open debate will be held. The debate will benefit from input on the ground at the ministerial-level from countries with significant experience with peacebuilding, such as Afghanistan, Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Following the debate, a president’s summary will be issued as the principle outcome. Foreign Minister Okada will hold an informal luncheon and he will then conduct bilateral meetings with ministers participating in the debate.

    I failed to mention earlier that this is the first time for the Japanese Foreign Minister to chair a Security Council meeting.

    On the next page, we have a list of the participants of the open debate. As I explained, the Secretary-General of the United Nations will be participating, and also from Afghanistan, the Foreign Minister, from Timor-Leste, the Minister of Justice, from Sierra Leone, the Minister of Defense, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, again the Foreign Minister, and from the World Bank, the managing director will be participating. This should be a very interesting occasion.

    Related Information (Press Release)

  7. The 19th EU-Japan Summit to take place in Tokyo
  8. Mr. Sobashima: Finally, on visits, I have already announced that the Malaysian Prime Minister will be coming as an official guest, but in addition, we have a new announcement that on the 28th of this month, we will have the 19th EU-Japan Summit Meeting in Tokyo. This meeting will be attended by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama from the Japanese side, and from the EU side, the president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission Barroso. At this meeting, the leaders of Japan and the EU will exchange views on wide-ranging issues including political and economic relations, and common agendas for Japan and the EU in the international community.

    So, these are what I would like to share today. I invite your questions.

    Related Information (Press Release)

  9. Questions concerning Japan’s response to the recent earthquake disaster in China
  10. Q: I would like to ask about the assistance to China’s earthquake. You said that there was a message sent to the Chinese side expressing Japan’s condolences, but isn’t Japan actually considering any emergency financial aid to China?

    Mr. Sobashima: We are just collecting information and confirming the intention of the Chinese government, but so far, we do not have any request. We will still watch the situation closely and then if there is a request and a need, certainly we will consider it. But at this time, we are just evaluating the situation. So far, I am not aware that there is a request forthcoming from China yet.

    Q: Did they request financial aid or personnel aid?

    Mr. Sobashima: We are ready to consider and we are monitoring the situation, however, there is no conclusion yet because of the lack of request so far from the Chinese side.

    Related Information (Emergency Aid to the People’s Republic of China for the Earthquake in Qinghai Province (Press Release))

  11. Questions concerning a recent Washington Post article
  12. Q: There was a discussion at the Parliamentary committee about an article in The Washington Post today, which called the Prime Minister “loopy.” Have you read the article? It is a column and it says that Prime Minister Hatoyama was “loopy” during his visit to the United States. I think Diet member Yamamoto was asking about that question to Mr. Okada. I think it is an inappropriate word to use to describe a country’s leader. Is the foreign ministry planning on making any protests or any action about that column?

    Mr. Sobashima: I also feel that it is regrettable that that sort of article was issued. We will consider what to do. It is regrettable.

    Q: Well, you just said “we will consider what to do” but is protesting the article one of the options you can do?

    Mr. Sobashima: I would like to refrain from talking about what may happen. I was careful in saying that I, personally, feel that it is regrettable. Perhaps there may be some official decision on what to do, but pending that, I would like to refrain from talking about what the possibility or the likelihood is. But, it is very regrettable.

  13. Questions concerning the Japan-EU Summit
  14. Q: About the Japan-EU Summit Meeting, Minister Okada has told the press conference that he is eager to launch a Japan-EU study group on the economic partnership agreement. How do you see the prospects of the two sides reaching an agreement on starting such a study group?

    Mr. Sobashima: We are not able to speak for the other side, so I will just repeat what the Minister said, that we want to launch a joint study. Let us see how they would react. Our side, Japan, would like to start consideration.

    Related Information (Press Release)

  15. Questions concerning the planned Integrated Support Center for Strengthening of Nuclear Security in Asia
  16. Q: About the Regional Center for Strengthening Nuclear Security, what exactly is this center going to do? It was not clear what the center is actually going to do. There have been reports that experts from Asian countries will be accepted and they will teach others, but what, exactly is the center going to do?

    Mr. Sobashima: I’m sorry, but I do not know. What we can say is to the extent that is written in this statement. On the other hand, it says that, “with the aim of institutionalizing support for nuclear security on a permanent basis and contributing to strengthening nuclear security in Asia and other regions.” So, the specific initiatives will be coming out to conform to these objectives. I am afraid that I do not have specific details to satisfy your question. Surely, personal exchanges might be a possibility. Inviting people to the center and having some meetings should be a possibility, but I do not know the details.

    Related Information (Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation)

  17. Questions concerning the NPT review conference
  18. Q: In relation to nuclear related events, is Mr. Okada planning to attend the NPT review conference? He has been quite eager to engage in such kinds of nuclear-related events. Is there any plan that he would go there?

    Mr. Sobashima: As for the participants in the NPT conference, there has been no decision made yet. Of course, the Foreign Minister is a very busy person, and at this time, who will be going to participate in the NPT review conference, as there is no decision, I do not have any further information that I can share with you.

    Q: I am not sure but, in the last NPT review conference, five years ago, did the Minister of the Prime Minister attend?

    Mr. Sobashima: I am sorry, I have to check.

    Related Information (The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT))

  19. Questions concerning Foreign Minister Okada’s schedule
  20. Q: Is there any plan for Mr. Okada to meet Ambassador Roos today before leaving?

    Mr. Sobashima: I am not aware of the Foreign Minister’s schedule.

  21. Further questions concerning the Washington Post article
  22. Q: Going back to the Washington Post column, don’t you think the word “loopy” is inappropriate to use to describe...

    Mr. Sobashima: I feel so.

    If there are no further questions, thank you very much for coming.

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