(* 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 11, 2008, 9:47 a.m.
Place: Briefing Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- "Spy Organization" Accreditation of Intelligence and Analysis Service
- US-North Korea Consultations
- Abduction Issue
- Cabinet Personnel Agency Plan
- Incidents by US Forces in Okinawa
According to an article that appeared in the Yomiuri Shimbun this morning, a court in China has issued a verdict declaring that two officials of the Japanese Foreign Ministry "engaged in spy activities." Do you know anything about the relevant facts in this case?
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs engages in various information gathering activities. If I were to tell you what we know or what the specific content of our information gathering activities is, it could have a negative impact on any information gathering activities that we undertake in the future. As such, I will refrain from making any comment whatsoever, including whether or not I am aware of the content of that verdict. I understand that the article in the Yomiuri Shimbun indicated that the trial was not held in an open manner.
In the context of the Six-Party Talks, the day after tomorrow, US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill will have talks with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-Gwan in Geneva. What are your expectations for those talks?
The Government of the United States has not officially announced whether or not such talks will take place, and therefore, I do not know whether or not there will be any such talks.
A suspicion has arisen that two executive members of a spy organization specifically gave instructions for Mr. and Mrs. Chimura and for Mr. and Mrs. Hasuike to be abducted by North Korea. Please state your views on this and on what influence it may have on any future negotiations on normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and North Korea.
I understand that even the National Police Agency has stated that it cannot make any comment on the content of current investigation. As such, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is certainly not in a position to know what type of investigation is being undertaken in that regard now.
On 7 March, a meeting of the working team was held in relation to the series of incidents that have occurred in Okinawa Prefecture and how to identify measures to prevent a recurrence. Regarding the joint patrols that are being considered by that working team, the US Consul-General Kevin Maher has stated that if necessary, consideration could be given to improving operations of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Do you have any comment on this?
I understand that in considering that matter, it is important who from the US side will participate in those joint patrols and most importantly, whether or not it will be possible for them to actually exercise their right of arrest as police officers in the event that a suspect is apprehended. Consul-General Maher in Okinawa stated that he is prepared to discuss this matter at the Japan-US Joint Committee. This matter has been discussed for quite awhile now and I understand that coordination will take place between Japan and the US in order to make the appropriate exercise of the right to arrest suspects in Okinawa possible, which will make it possible to conduct joint patrols. This is an issue that has been on the agenda since this matter was taken up and I believe that what the US Consul-General stated is natural, and I would like to make coordination in line with those comments, so that the Joint Committee will come up with a thorough conclusion and the members of the Okinawa Prefectural Police can be reassured in conducting joint patrols.
In that context, I know that a little later today you will be receiving courtesy calls from the Association of Governors whose prefectures host the US facilities. Will that be related to that issue?
I do not really know whether it will have any relevance to that matter.
By that "matter," I am asking about the SOFA. Will there be anything related to that?
I have not yet spoken with the governors, and therefore I really do not know what they will want to talk to me about.
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