(* This is a provisional translation by a translation service company for reference purpose only. The original text is in Japanese.)

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Aso

Date: Friday, November 4, 2005, 10:22 a.m.
Place: Briefing Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  1. Cabinet Meeting/Informal Cabinet Meeting
  2. Nikkei Stock Average
  3. Imperial House Law
  4. Japan-North Korea Bilateral Talks
  5. Telephone Conversation with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
  6. Inquiry to the Government from Lower House member Muneo Suzuki
  7. Thai National Abducted by North Korea
  8. Japan-China Foreign Ministerial Talks

1. Cabinet Meeting/Informal Cabinet Meeting

Minister:
During the Cabinet Meeting, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshihiro Nikai stated that FY2005 nuclear emergency drill will be held on 9 and 10 November 2005 at Kashiwazaki Kariwa Nuclear Plant based on the Nuclear Disaster Special Measures Law with the Prime Minister. That was the only topic stated in the Cabinet Meeting and Informal Cabinet Meeting.

2. Nikkei Stock Average

Question:
The Nikkei Stock Average has reached the 14,000 yen level for the first time in the past four and half years. It is above the average at the start of the first Koizumi Cabinet. You are partly responsible for the economic policy in Koizumi Cabinet. How do you feel?

Minister:
The Nikkei Stock Average at the 14,000 yen level is not a big deal compared with 39,980 yen on 28 December 1989. In accordance with the structural reform in Koizumi Cabinet, Japanese companies tried to improve their balance sheets by repaying all excessive debts. The main excessive debts were lands. The asset prices of lands have been rising since last year and lands have been bought and sold. That is the main reason for this matter. In that sense, the year-on-year consumer price deflation has bottomed out with increase in the asset prices of lands. That is the major trend. The increase in asset prices has supported companies' repayment of debts. That is the main reason for this matter.

3. Imperial House Law

Question:
His Imperial Highness Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, a cousin of the Emperor, has questioned proposals to allow female members of the Imperial family to ascend to the throne in his essay. What is your opinion on this matter?

Minister:
I am not in a position to say my opinion on the Imperial House Law at this stage. My basic concept is that it should not be determined in haste.

4. Japan-North Korea Bilateral Talks

Question:
Were there any new proposals from North Korean side to Japanese side during the Japan-North Korea Bilateral Talks held yesterday?

Minister:
Both sides exchanged conventional opinions yesterday. I haven't heard any new proposals.

Question:
Did North Korean side express a stance to talk about the abduction issue seriously?

Minister:
Their stance is that the abduction issue has been resolved. I haven't heard that they suddenly gave positive consideration to the abduction issue.

Question:
A Japanese woman who defected to North Korea two years ago returned to her homeland, Osaka, yesterday. Please state your impressions of it. Do you think North Korea returned her on the first day of the Japan-North Korea Bilateral Talks on purpose?

Minister:
It is possible that North Korea did it on purpose, but we have no evidence of it. I don't have an answer. I have no idea if she was abducted or went voluntarily. I have no comment.

Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)

5. Telephone Conversation with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

Question:
You had a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last night. When do you plan for your first visit to the United States as the Foreign Minister?

Minister:
We haven't planned it yet. It was actually requested, but we haven't determined a definite schedule yet. We will meet on 15 and 16 November 2005 in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference (APEC) at any rate. I will not visit before APEC.

Question:
Do you plan to arrange a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during APEC?

Minister:
She suggested meeting in APEC, so we will hold a Japan-US Foreign Ministerial meeting. I believe it will be a one-on-one meeting.

Question:
Will you arrange your schedule for that purpose?

Minister:
Regarding bilateral talks, some schedules are pre-arranged and some schedules are determined on site. It is highly possible that a one-on-one meeting will be held.

Related Information (Japan-U.S. Relations)

6. Inquiry to the Government from Lower House member Muneo Suzuki

Question:
Lower House member Muneo Suzuki has submitted inquiry to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a row. Seventeen governmental answers for his memoranda on questions were adopted at the Cabinet Meeting today. How do you feel of his attitude?

Minister:
I honestly cannot understand his intent. He has asked many questions since he was elected. I feel he thinks of it as solitary activities as a Diet member.

7. Thai National Abducted by North Korea

Question:
There is also an abduction issue by North Korea in Thailand. The Government of Thailand has indicated their intention to call for cooperation with the Government of Japan and Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Has the Government of Thailand already called for cooperation yet?

Minister:
I am not sure about that issue exactly, but there was such rumor for quite some time. A number of counterfeit notes "K20" were firstly detected in Bangkok and I have indirectly heard such rumor from there since it happened. The rumor became true. Since this is a state crime that infringes both Japanese and Thai sovereignties, it is one way to consider the response in collaboration with Thailand in that sense.

Related Information (Japan-Thailand Relations)

8. Japan-China Foreign Ministerial Talks

Question:
Do you plan to hold the Japan-China Foreign Ministerial Talks during APEC?

Minister:
I am not sure.


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