(* 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, March 4, 2008, 8:50 a.m.
Place: In front of the Ministers' Room in the House

Main topics:

  1. Adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1803 concerning Iran's Nuclear Issue
  2. Incidents by US Forces in Okinawa
  3. Whaling Issues

1. Adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1803 concerning Iran's nuclear Issue

Minister:
This morning Japan time, a resolution was adopted by the United Nations Security Council regarding the nuclear issue in Iran. The Government of Japan supports this resolution. Naturally, every nation has the right to make peaceful use of nuclear technology, but that should only be used once that nation has received the trust of the international community. As such, Japan believes that Iran must make efforts to earn the trust of the international community as is called upon according to the Security Council Resolutions. This issue must be resolved through peaceful and diplomatic means and therefore, Japan would very much like to call on Iran first to respond to the requests of the international community. That is the position of the Government of Japan.

Question:
Regarding the Iranian issue, how does Japan, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs plan to call on Iran going forward?

Minister:
We will work on Iran in various ways. Yesterday, I myself met with Iran's ambassador to Japan and I spoke in detail about exactly the things that I just stated.

Question:
In what way did you express your concerns and how did the Iranian side respond?

Minister:
I cannot go into specific details, but I can tell you that the ambassador said that he would convey my comments to Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Manuchehr Mottaki.

Related Information (Press Release)

2. Incidents by US Forces in Okinawa

Question:
Regarding the incident involving US military personnel in Okinawa, at first a prohibition was placed on off-base privileges, but that has been partially lifted. The other day there was an incident involving a US military personnel who ignored the prohibition against off-base privileges and climbed over the fence to get off base. As such, it appears that people in the local community are pointing out that it is a bit too soon to be lifting the prohibition. What are your thoughts on that?

Minister:
The order prohibiting off-base privileges was not the result of any negotiations that took place between the Government of Japan and the US Forces. Rather, it was taken entirely at the initiative of the US Forces. Furthermore, it has not been fully repealed and it remains partially intact. At any rate, the Government of Japan calls upon the US Forces to take comprehensive and stringent measures to prevent any recurrence of this incident.

Question:
Regarding the early timing of this, don't you have any intention of appealing to the US Forces?

Minister:
On that point as well, given that these measures were taken at the initiative of the US Forces, I think it is up to them to decide. Furthermore, regarding the various steps that are being taken in response to the requests by Japan, I do very much want the US Forces to thoroughly conduct those measures and continue to carry them on. It is important that they be continued. I do not think these are measures that will only be necessary for a short period of time.

Question:
Regarding the partial lifting of the prohibition, do you believe that is a reasonable step?

Minister:
It is not relevant whether I think it is reasonable or not. These measures were taken entirely through the initiative of the US Forces and therefore, this is not a matter for us to comment on. However, the measures based on the overall dialogue between Japan and the US to prevent any recurrence and measures to ensure strict implementation, I do very much want the US Forces to thoroughly carry them on.

Related Information (Japan-U.S. Relations)

3. Whaling Issues

Question:
Regarding the incident of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, please state your views on the fact that another incident has occurred.

Minister:
Our position is that it is absolutely terrible that one would use violence to express his or her views concerning a matter that is being carried out legally on the open seas and therefore, I once again strongly protest what has occurred. Furthermore, yesterday, we approached the Government of the Netherlands, where the ship of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is registered, and requested them to thoroughly take an appropriate response.

Question:
Concerning the Netherlands and especially Australia, you yourself have had telephone conversations and are making approaches for direct talks. Are you of the view that they are taking an appropriate response?

Minister:
It is precisely because I do not think the response is sufficient that I have made various requests.

Question:
Regarding the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, it seems quite excessive that they have equipped it with launching platforms. What are your thoughts on that?

Minister:
I do not personally have any clear information about these launch platforms, but either way, whether there are platforms or not, I believe that what has taken place is excessive. As such, I think that the Japan Coast Guard may conduct an investigation into the situation.

Related Information (Japan-Netherlands Relations)
Related Information (Japan-Australia Relations)


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