(* 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: Friday, January 18, 2008, 9:53 a.m.
Place: Briefing Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Whaling Issues
- Statement of the President-Elect of the Republic of Korea
- Insider Trading by NHK Employees
- Foreign Policy Speech at the Diet
- Exhibition at the Memorial Hall of the Victims in "Nanjing Massacre" by Japanese Invaders
- Climate Change Issues
There have been media reports that the two members of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the anti-whaling organization in Australia have been handed over to the Australian authorities. Was there any agreement reached regarding this matter between the Governments of Japan and Australia?
Before this Sea Shepherd Conservation Society incident occurred, I spoke with Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith and at that time Foreign Minister Smith told me repeatedly that while the Japanese side sees this issue as a legal investigation undertaken to ascertain scientific insight, the Australian side takes a different point of view, but it is important not to allow this issue to negatively impact our good bilateral relations. I responded that I agreed entirely. In that context, what took place was that after the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel repeatedly engaged in extremely dangerous and disruptive actions, the two individuals concerned boarded the Japanese vessel and it was feared that they would engage in violent behavior. Fortunately it appears that after boarding the Japanese vessel, they were not particularly violent. And it became apparent that their objective was to hand over a protest letter. Therefore, a decision was made to hand them over to the Australian authorities though strictly speaking their action amounted to illegal trespassing.
The president-elect of the Republic of Korea (ROK) has stated that he has no intention to call on Japan to repent for its actions or to apologize. What is your interpretation of that?
From the perspective of the Government of Japan as well as from my own viewpoint, I am extremely happy to see that the president-elect of the ROK clearly has a strong intention to create future-oriented relations between our two nations. Japan has sufficiently reflected on its actions in the past and since then it has consistently followed the path of a peaceful nation. Furthermore, I do not think it is very comfortable for those who are already remorseful to be demanded to exhibit even more remorse. That is why I am particularly glad to see that the president-elect is focused on creating future-oriented relations. To put it the other way around, I think it is best for officials of the Government of Japan to avoid making any kind of statement that might prompt public opinion in the ROK to cause a member of the Government of the ROK to have no other choice than to say, "Show remorse."
In that regard, it seems that the president-elect has indicated an extremely positive stance on the Japan-Korea Free Trade Agreement negotiations. The Japan-Korea Free Trade Agreement talks have come to a halt. How does Japan intend to respond to this?
Japan is also eager to move ahead with the Free Trade Agreement. The abstract desire to move forward with the Free Trade Agreement and an actual agreement on the details are different things, but I am very eager to make progress.
Today you will deliver your foreign policy speech to the Diet. This year the diplomatic agenda is quite full and it is clear that this will be an extremely important year for diplomacy. What do you want to stress most and what is the aim of the speech?
Japan is destined to be unable to prosper unless the world is at peace and stable. Japan does not have natural resources and is not self-sufficient in the energy sector. Therefore, unless the world is at peace and stable, Japan cannot prosper. In that context, Japan will be a nation cooperating for peace which aims to build peace. Japan will host the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). We will host the G8 Summit. We intend to display leadership for building peace. Later on today at the Diet I will speak about Japan-US relations, international cooperation and Japan's relations with its neighbors. I will touch on these various diplomatic issues and finally I will make it clear that in order to powerfully move forward with these issues, we must absolutely establish and maintain a firm foreign policy implementation structure. Some may criticize that the speech is vague and across-the-board, containing portions contributed by all of the bureaus within the Ministry, but the fundamental tone throughout the speech is to pursue diplomacy building, peace and cooperation for peace since Japan is destined to be able to prosper only when the world is at peace and stable. However, I cannot tell you for sure whether or not all of that will be conveyed by the words.
There is a media report that the Japanese Consul-General in Shanghai has stated that the content of the exhibition at the Memorial Hall of the Victims in "Nanjing Massacre" by Japanese Invaders differs from the understanding of the Government of Japan. On which specific matters does the content differ from the understanding of the Government of Japan? Why is this taking place now at this timing?
I have not received any detailed report on that matter. Although I have not received a report, in the past there have been incidents in which there were some photographs that were clearly incorrect. However, I have not yet received an explanation on this current matter.
Regarding the fund mechanism, I get the feeling that in your foreign policy speech as well as in the policy speech, there is no fixed amount. When do you think it will be possible for you to announce details on that?
We have still not made a clear decision on this matter yet. As far as I can recall right now, I do not believe there is any mention of that in the foreign policy speech. And in fact it would be quite difficult to state a specific figure. It is quite difficult to identify how far it counts for the fund mechanisms.
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