(* 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 25, 2008, 9:45 a.m.
Place: Briefing Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  1. Assistance by the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security
  2. A Permanent Law concerning the Dispatch of Self-Defense Forces Overseas
  3. Replenishment Support Special Measures Law
  4. North Korean Issues

1. Assistance by the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security

Minister:
Japan has established the Trust Fund for Human Security in the United Nations. Today the Government of Japan has decided to utilize the fund to provide support totaling approximately 7 million US dollars (approximately 820 million yen) to three projects being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and other UN organs in the Republic of Liberia and two other countries.

As a "Peace Fostering Nation" Japan intends to play a responsible role on the international stage and I believe that bringing about "human security" through this fund constitutes a part of such efforts.

Related Information (Press Release)

2. A Permanent Law concerning the Dispatch of Self-Defense Forces Overseas

Question:
I got the impression in your address about peacebuilding yesterday that you were expressing a strong interest in establishing a permanent law. Would it be correct to understand that you are going to start working on it from now, aiming at submission of a bill for the permanent law to the ordinary session of the Diet?

Minister:
The government has not yet made a decision to go that far. We are not even discussing this possibility yet, but I personally think that sooner would be better than later.

Question:
I think that in your address you made a comment to the effect that perhaps Japan should actively participate in the main service part of the peacekeeping operations (PKO) in the future. Does this mean that you intend to consider a revision of the rules of engagement on how to use weapons by the Self-Defense Forces?

Minister:
I personally think that a similar idea is contained in the so-called counterproposal of the Democratic Party of Japan, and that the issue of what kinds of activities the Self-Defense Forces should be involved in going forward and the issue of what to do about the rules of engagement on how to use weapons are closely related so we have to study issues like this. This has to be an issue on the agenda.

Question:
In your address you said that you wanted to make this year a year of rapid progress in peacebuilding but what specifically are you going to do to achieve that? Please share with us your thoughts on what specific actions you intend to take this year. For example, set up a meeting of experts to work out a roadmap to peace, establish a permanent law, or something else?

Minister:
I think that yesterday I already touched on that issue in a general way. There is also the matter of Official Development Assistance (ODA), or to say it in the words I used yesterday, the downstream issues. If you are talking about upstream issues, the question of how far we should go during this year must be carefully decided by the government as a whole. If you mean the general direction of policy, then of course we should commence studies on establishing a permanent law or general law in a form that changes the systems and enables us to further increase our human contribution, including that of the Self-Defense Forces. In addition, I want to advance each of our upstream, midstream, and downstream measures in a variety of respects and places. The specific matter of how far we will proceed during this year is a matter the entire Cabinet must decide, and I think that at this point in time it is not a matter that I can personally comment on.

Related Information (Speech by Foreign Minister "Japan: A Builder of Peace")

3. Replenishment Support Special Measures Law

Question:
Work is under way on the exchange of notes with the other countries before resumption of the Operation Enduring Freedom - Maritime Interdiction Operation (OEF-MIO) against terrorism. When the opposition parties said "diversion" they were using "diversion" in the sense that after Japan has completed the refueling it should not spend even a single moment on any other activities. Do you intend to reflect prevention of diversion in this sense in the exchange of notes?

Minister:
I intend to write the intent of the law into the exchange of notes so that it is clearly understood by the other party but I cannot say anything about what specifically will be written because the negotiations are now under way.

Related Information (Counter Terrorism)

4. North Korean Issues

Question:
Ambassador Dell Dailey, Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the US State Department, has made a statement to the effect that all of the necessary conditions are in place for the removal of North Korea from the list of nations sponsoring terrorism, but then the following day the State Department denied this. What do you think about the confusion on this point within the United States?

Minister:
I think it is not particularly appropriate for me to comment on the events taking place inside the government of another country. However we have told the United States that Japan's position is that while there has been no progress on the abduction issue, we would be unhappy if North Korea was removed from the list of nations sponsoring terrorism. We have consistently maintained this position.

Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)


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