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

Press Conference by Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso

Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2007, 8:48 a.m.
Place: In front of the Cabinet Meeting Room in the House

Main topics:

  1. Special Measures Law for Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance in Iraq
  2. North Korean issues
  3. Domestic politics

1. Special Measures Law for Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance in Iraq

Question:
The Iraq Special Measures Law is expected to pass through the House of Representatives today and to be enacted during the current session of the Diet. What do you think of the significance of the law? Also, you have recently attended an international meeting on the reconstruction of Iraq. How do you think Japan and other members of the international community should continue with their assistance to Iraq?

Minister:
After a lot of discussion on the Special Measures Law for Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance in Iraq, the bill finally passed through the committee yesterday and will be brought to the plenary session of the House of Representatives today. I am pleased how things have gone. Speaking of the International Ministerial Conference of the Neighboring Countries of Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain and the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and the G8, it is not something that can be achieved by neighboring countries' efforts alone, nor something achievable by donor countries such as Japan without the assistance of those neighboring countries. It was Japan that proposed joint efforts by G8 countries and the neighboring countries, and we were able to hold our first meeting as part of such efforts. The issue is not simply a regional issue. The stability of the region carries great importance if you consider the significant role the region plays in supplying fossil fuels. Without national reconciliation, the region will not be able to maintain security. These issues were also discussed in the deliberations on the bill, and I had viewed whether or not we are able to extend the special measures law as determining how concretely Japan can express its will to maintaining assistance to Iraq. Therefore, I am relieved to see its passing through.

Related Information (The Issue of Iraq)

2. North Korean issues

Question:
In regards to the North Korean issue, about a month has passed since the deadline for actions to be taken in the initial phase. Do you think concrete deliberations will proceed on additional sanctions?

Minister:
As of now, the Banco Delta Asia (BDA) issue has still not been completely resolved. There are various opinions on this issue in the US, is in Japan. Further steps must be made in resolving the BDA issue, but we have yet to move beyond the entry level. In any case, first they demanded the frozen funds be released, and now we face the money transfer issue. Perhaps next they will demand, so to say, the money is actually brought to them-I get the feeling the issue is gradually escalating. This issue is dealt with between the US and North Korea, but the issue is showing no sign of resolving itself, and I do not feel that we can wait very long. There are various opinions in the US, therefore we indeed discuss this issue with the US in this circumstance.

Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)

3. Domestic politics

(See Japanese version)


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