(* 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: Friday, August 10, 2007, 11:15 a.m.
Place: Briefing Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Cabinet Meeting
- Visit to the Middle East and Latin America by Foreign Minister Taro Aso
- Establishment of Information Protection Office for Enhancing Counterintelligence Functions
- Visit to Yasukuni Shrine
- North Korean Issues
1. Cabinet Meeting
2. Visit to the Middle East and Latin America by Foreign Minister Taro Aso
From August 12 through 24, I will be visiting Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Mexico, and Brazil.
In Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories, over the past year and several months, I have been working toward achieving progress in the Middle East Peace Process, and we have been proactively involved in trying to resolve this issue. I intend to encourage further peace efforts and express Japan's support. In terms of efforts aimed at the co-existence and co-prosperity of the Palestinian Authority and Israel, I plan to hold discussions regarding promotion of the concept of the "Corridor for Peace and Prosperity."
In Mexico, I will be having discussions with President Felipe Calderón, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Patricia Espinosa Cantellano and so forth. The discussions will cover topics such as trade, figures of which have grown dramatically as a result of the free trade agreement, collaboration in the international arena in regard to issues such as climate change, a strategic economic partnership, and the strengthening of people exchanges.
In Brazil, I will be meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim and others to talk about cooperation in the international arena and BRICs, and to exchange views with the aim of achieving a successful Japan-Brazil Exchange Year next year and revitalization of a strategic economic partnership. I will also be attending the Third Forum for East Asia Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) Foreign Ministers' Meeting, and discussions are set to take place centering on the theme for the Foreign Ministers' Meeting of "trade and investment."
3. Establishment of Information Protection Office for Enhancing Counterintelligence Functions
A verbal understanding was reached at today's Cabinet Meeting regarding a basic policy on counterintelligence. I believe that the enhancement of functions of counterintelligence is an important task for further developing diplomacy based on Japan's national interests. I think, based on the government's decision today to enhance the intelligence and security structure, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is one of the Ministries responsible for this, is aware of itself as a ministry that handles diplomatic secrets. The Information Protection Office has thus been established today in the Management and Coordination Division of the Minister's Secretariat, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs intends to make efforts to enhance counterintelligence functions.
4. Visit to Yasukuni Shrine
August 15 is the anniversary of the end of World War II. As you will be traveling abroad, you will not be in Japan from August 12 onward, but do you plan to visit Yasukuni Shrine after you return?
As for the answer to that, last year I submitted a written document regarding Yasukuni Shrine to a newspaper and other than that I issued my own written statement. Everything is covered in these, and there is nothing that I would like to add or subtract.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has taken a stance of not commenting on whether he will visit or has visited Yasukuni Shrine. What do you think of the Prime Minister's position?
I cannot speak on the way of thinking or actions of other people. I think that it is one way of thinking and one view.
5. North Korean Issues
The inter-Korean summit meeting will take place at the end of this month. Will there be any kind of effect from the holding of the Japan-North Korea Working Group meeting before or after that?
I do not think there will be any particular effect. Basically the date has not been set. It has only been decided that the meeting should take place some time August, and as to the kind of effect that it will have, I do not think there will be any direct implications.
As for the Japan-North Korea Working Group, which is one of the five working groups, it was recently agreed that all of the working group meetings would be held by the end of August, and therefore, we are at the stage of making arrangements to hold the meeting by August 31. The accurate answer is that it has not yet been decided that the meeting will take place in August.
Do you believe for example that it would be desirable for the working group meeting to be held upon witnessing the discussions at the inter-Korean summit meeting, or do you think that the positioning of the inter-Korean summit meeting is not very relevant?
It is a fact that the Republic of Korea (ROK) side is also facing an abduction issue. In that sense, I understand that the talks will be quite serious for ROK as well. Accordingly, I think it would be great if a virtuous cycle is created in which various talks move forward between Japan and North Korea and as a result of this positive progress the Six-Party Talks also go well. These are talks involving other parties, so I do not think things will be that easy. I do not feel that the inter-Korean summit meeting taking place will have a negative impact on the Japan-North Korea Working Group meeting.
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