(* 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 Masahiko Koumura

Date: Tuesday, January 15, 2008, 5:52 p.m.
Place: In front of the Minister's Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  1. Talks with Special Envoy for the President-Elect of the Republic of Korea
  2. Talks with Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Democratic People's Republic of Korea
  3. Possibility of India Becoming a Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council

1. Talks with Special Envoy for the President-Elect of the Republic of Korea

Minister:
I just finished my meeting with the Special Envoy for the President-Elect of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Lee Sang Duk, who is the older brother of the president-elect of the ROK. The special envoy explained that the ROK places great emphasis on Japan-ROK relations, and that Japan was the first country to which a special envoy was dispatched. Furthermore, he explained that the ROK looks forward to building new relations between Japan and the ROK, not merely continuing on a tangent out from our current relations. I responded that I felt exactly the same way.

Furthermore, I believe the special envoy will talk about it with Prime Minister Fukuda tomorrow, but he stated that the ROK would like to reopen a route for shuttle diplomacy between our two leaders. I stated that I would certainly support this.

Regarding relations with North Korea, as far as the matter of denuclearization, we both shared the view that we will ensure complete three-party coordination on this matter amongst Japan, the United States and the ROK. Furthermore, the special envoy stated that he was aware that in addition to the nuclear issues, Japan had a great interest in the missile issue and the abduction issue, and that these issues also must be resolved. Furthermore, the special envoy stated that he understood the abduction issue and supports the stance of Japan.

Question:
In the context of North Korean issues, was there any concrete talk beyond the Six-Party Framework?

Minister:
There was no specific conversation about that, but we did completely agree on the importance of ensuring three-party coordination on this matter amongst Japan, the United States and the ROK.

Question:
I believe that political aspects of Japan-ROK relations have been quite cool since the beginning of the Roh Moo Hyun Administration. What kind of relations do you personally believe will emerge once the new administration is in place?

Minister:
Regarding that matter, the special envoy also stated that the ROK wants to build new relations that are not merely an extension of what has taken place up until now. I do not think our relations until now have been that bad, but I also want to improve our relations so that they are even better.

Question:
Regarding the idea of shuttle diplomacy, are you aiming to re-launch that at an early date, perhaps even sometime this year? Were there any specific locations mentioned, even on a casual basis?

Minister:
In terms of specifics, I can imagine attendance at the inauguration ceremony for the president as a possibility. Of course this is still only a candidate. I understand that the Government of the ROK has not yet decided whether or not it will invite foreign guests. Therefore, I really do not know about whether this will happen, but it is one possibility. Furthermore, the president-elect has stated that he would like to come to Japan at an early opportunity. I believe that repeating such visits would result in shuttle diplomacy.

Question:
I think in the past shuttle diplomacy took place at Ibusuki and Cheju Island.

Minister:
We have not yet talked about any such details. Our nations are located extremely close to one another and we both share the same values and we also share concern regarding North Korean issues. Therefore we need to proactively exchange views and that is why we were able to agree in an abstract manner on the importance of shuttle diplomacy between our leaders.

Question:
I understand that the president-elect and his older brother the special envoy were both born in Osaka, Japan. Did you discuss anything pertaining to Korean nationals residing in Japan or immigrants by the agreement?

Minister:
Yes, of course we touched on that in our talks. The special envoy asked me to take an interest in Korean nationals living in Japan and I told him that some of my friends are Korean nationals living in Japan and that I am concerned with issues pertaining to Korean nationals living in Japan. I told the special envoy that I believe that all Japanese politicians must naturally be concerned with the life of Korean nationals living in Japan.

Question:
On that matter, how did the special envoy respond?

Minister:
We did not really go into that matter in depth but for example, we did talk about the local election voting rights.

Question:
I understand that at his recent press conference, the president-elect spoke of revising South-North policies. Did you have any discussion about that today?

Minister:
No, that did not come up today.

Question:
I believe that the top priority task for the new administration in the ROK will be rebuilding the economy. Did the special envoy make any specific references to asking for Japan's cooperation in that regard?

Minister:
There was no specific talk about that, but it is a fact that such a discussion did take place in an abstract manner. Japan is an advanced, industrialized nation and considering that the ROK is currently facing severe economic situations, they would like us to provide various forms of cooperation. From my part I stated that Japan will cooperate with a view to ensuring that relations between Japan and the ROK are close in the economic sector as well.

Related Information (Japan-ROK Relations)

2. Talks with Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Question:
I understand that you just finished your talks with Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Democratic People's Republic of Korea. What did you talk about in that meeting?

Minister:
I told Professor Muntarbhorn that I appreciated the sincere efforts that he has made as the United Nations Special Rapporteur. However, he was not allowed to enter North Korea because North Korea denied him permission to enter. I explained that I truly appreciated the efforts that he had made to gather information from various sources and make a thorough report despite being refused entry.

Before meeting with me, Professor Muntarbhorn told me that he had met with some of the family members of the abductees and I told him that I hoped that his stay in Japan would be a good and fruitful one, including such meetings.

I also told him that from our part, Japan hopes that he will receive a new mandate from the United Nations and continue his good work as a special rapporteur and that Japan is prepared to provide assistance.

Professor Muntarbhorn stated that there are many issues that must be resolved regarding human rights matters in North Korea, including the abduction issue.

Related Information (Press Release)

3. Possibility of India Becoming a Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council

Question:
It appears that at the summit meeting between India and China, the Chinese side stated that China supports India becoming a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Do you have any views on that?

Minister:
Japan also supports India becoming a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Indeed, Japan is intending to join together with India.

Question:
I believe that until now, China has not expressed support on that matter.

Minister:
Yes, it is fine, isn't it? Because we will join together.

Related Information (Japan and the United Nations)


Back to Index