(* This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only. The original text is in Japanese.)
Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Aso
Date: Friday, April 6, 2007, 10:25 a.m.
Place: Briefing Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Cabinet Meeting
- Brochure Introducing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Visit to Japan by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of the Republic of Iraq
- Visit to Japan by Premier Wen Jiabao of the People's Republic of China
1. Cabinet Meeting
The Chief Cabinet Secretary, the Prime Minister, and I each spoke on the so-called Japan National Security Council. I, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, talked about my visit to the Republic of Korea and my participation in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The Minister of Finance made a comment on the status of execution of the budget. This concludes my report on the Cabinet Meeting.
2. Brochure Introducing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Detective Conan brochure. We want people to learn about the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so we used a new public relations device that people will be familiar with. The brochure was created with the help of famous comic book artists Gosho Aoyama, who wrote the story of the original comic, Masaru Ota, and others.
We are distributing the brochure mainly to elementary school and junior high school students. We would also like to upload this to our website. I think the brochure contains a lot of detailed information that you may not all know.
In the OECD survey we were overtaken by the United Kingdom and moved into the third place in terms of ODA. What is your reaction on that? Also, with the Cabinet decision last year to cut ODA by 2% to 4% from this year onward, Japan's ODA is on a downward trend. What are you thoughts on that?
I think that we may move to the fourth or fifth place next year, because the ODA of the French Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany is increasing. It is clear that there is a high probability that this will happen. Rather, we need to think about what to do with this. It relates to our budget. As for the question on my reaction to this situation, I think that from the point of view of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this issue should be dealt with in a more active way. As Japan is in second place at the United Nations, where there is a system of so-called scale of assessments based on GDP and so forth, I basically think that it is a regrettable situation for us as a nation to be dropping to the third, fourth, or fifth place.
4. Visit to Japan by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq
Prime Minister of Nuri al-Maliki of the Republic of Iraq will be coming to Japan next week. What type of results are you hoping to get from your discussions with him?
I talked about it already, when Vice President Tariq Al-Hashimi of Iraq, who is of the Sunni party visited Japan. Above energy, I think first of all there are the two issues of the stabilization of security and the reconciliation of the people. The newspapers only write about the issue of security, but I think reconciliation of the people is the bigger of the two issues.
The security issue is currently concentrated in the area surrounding Baghdad. One hardly hears of this type of issue regarding the Kurdish region in the north or in the south. It is concentrated in areas where there are a lot of Sunnis. There are various ways of saying it, but I think the issue is concentrated in the central Baghdad area. During his visit, I told the Vice President that the focus should be on solving this issue. I also said that there is a mix of religions and races and in order to restore security we have to think about reconciling the three major power groupings of Kurd, Sunni, and Shia. I think that how to go about doing that is currently the biggest issue Iraq faces. The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is facing a similar issue regarding how to achieve reconciliation, and security is poor in various regions because of the inability to achieve reconciliation. Various plans have been presented, including allocating oil to each person, and it is difficult that these types of plans will be steadily carried out unless the three sides trust each other. There are oil resources in the Kurdish area in the north and oil resources vary greatly depending on the region. If these gaps and mutual trust are not addressed, it will be difficult to achieve reconciliation. I believe that these are the issues as we perceive them from the outside, and discussed them with Vice President Tariq Al-Hashimi.
5. Visit to Japan by Premier Wen Jiabao of the People's Republic of China
Premier Wen Jiabao of China is also scheduled to visit Japan next week. What do you think about the positioning of the visit, and what are your thoughts on the aims and interests of China, which will be bringing around 100 people in the energy field?
I do not know China's aims. Premier Wen Jiabao will be the first head of state class from China to visit Japan since Premier Zhu Rongji, so it has been a while. I think that the basic positioning of the visit is China reciprocating the Prime Minister's visit there in October of last year.
As for energy, at least according to International Energy Agency (IEA) data, China's burning rate per liter of oil of is around eight times that of Japan. That should mean that if they became on par with us, they could get by with using one-eighth the amount of oil that they are using now. This would conserve energy. There would not have to be any fuss about oil resources. At the same time it would also be something good for the environment. I think that this is a point that should be considered, and I spoke about this in a recent talk I had in India with Mr. Li Zhaoxing, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China.
Energy is also a major issue. It is essential for the economic growth of individual countries, but matters such as energy and the CO2 that is produced in the burning of fossil fuels are not issues for only bilateral discussion. The environment will likely be a major issue at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, as well as at the G8 Summit in Japan next year, and I think a lot of people in the energy field will be visiting from China because all these issues, are of concern to countries like the Republic of India, China, and the United States.
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