(* 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 18, 2008, 9:18 a.m.
Place: In front of the Ministers' Room in the House

Main topics:

  1. Outreach Meetings at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit
  2. Recognition of the Republic of Kosovo
  3. Dispatch of Election Monitors to the Constituent Assembly Election in Nepal
  4. Attendance by Foreign Minister Koumura at the Ministerial Preparatory Conference for the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV)
  5. Situation in Tibet
  6. Nomination of Governor of the Bank of Japan
  7. Political Realignment
  8. Visit to the US by Akitaka Saiki, Director-General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau

1. Outreach Meetings at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit

Minister:
Regarding the outreach meetings at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, they will take place in two separate days, both in Hokkaido Toyako. On the first day, which will be 7 July, we will invite Heads of State from several African countries to join us as we hold an outreach meeting on African development. We intend to invite the Heads of State of the following countries to this meeting: People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, Arab Republic of Egypt, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Republic of Ghana, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Republic of Senegal, Republic of South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, as well as the chairperson of the African Union. Furthermore, as of today, we have received positive responses to our invitation from Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and the African Union.

On the final day of the Summit, which will be 9 July, we will hold an outreach meeting mainly on climate change. We intend to invite the Heads of State of the following countries to this conference: Australia, Federative Republic of Brazil, People's Republic of China, India, Republic of Indonesia, United Mexican States, Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Republic of South Africa. As of today, we have received positive responses to our invitation from Australia, Indonesia, and the ROK.

Related Information (G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit)

2. Recognition of the Republic of Kosovo

Minister:
At today's Cabinet meeting, we recognized the Republic of Kosovo as an independent state. As the Government of the Republic of Kosovo has made its intention clear that it will run the country pursuant to the "Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement" made by the United Nations Special Envoy, we expect that the independence of Kosovo will contribute to the long-lasting stability of the region. The Republic of Serbia is a traditional friend of Japan and I expect that our friendly relations with Serbia will be continued.

Related Information (Press Release)

3. Dispatch of Election Monitors to the Constituent Assembly Election in Nepal

Minister:
We will implement the International Peace Cooperation Assignment for Election Monitoring in Nepal. At today's Cabinet meeting, a decision was taken to dispatch an election monitoring mission of 24 members to Nepal from the end of March until the middle of April based on the International Peace Cooperation Law in order to assist in the fair implementation of the Constituent Assembly Election in Nepal scheduled on 10 April.

Related Information (Japan-Nepal Relations)

4. Attendance by Foreign Minister Koumura at the Ministerial Preparatory Conference for the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV)

Minister:
Furthermore, provided approval is forthcoming from the Diet, I intend to visit Gabon from 19 until 23 March where I am scheduled to serve as the chair of the Ministerial Preparatory Conference for the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV).

Related Information (Press Release)

5. Situation in Tibet

Question:
I would like to ask a question about the situation in Tibet. Yesterday the Chinese Foreign Ministry held its first official press conference since the series of disturbances broke out in Tibet. In that press conference the situation was described to the effect that the Chinese security forces acted with extreme reserve and did not use any weapons. However, if you take a look at various other factors, it seems that this is somewhat far from the actual situation. What are your views on the situation?

Minister:
I too would very much like to know what the actual situation is and we are using various methods to gather information from various sources. In particular, it seems irrefutable that people have died and have been injured and we would like to call upon everyone involved to exercise restraint to prevent any further spread. Furthermore, we have called upon the Chinese side to ensure the protection of any Japanese nationals. At the current time, most of the Japanese nationals have left the area but I have received a report that the approximately 10 remaining Japanese nationals have not been harmed. Still, I intend to call on China to take further steps to thoroughly ensure the safety of all Japanese nationals.

Question:
Fundamentally, I suppose that Japan's position has not changed and that Japan will pay close attention to the situation. Still, that said, the disturbances are tending to spread further and there are some people calling for the international community to conduct an investigation into the actual situation surrounding these riots. However, China has stated that this is a domestic issue and therefore it would refuse that. What are your thoughts on that point?

Minister:
Although this is a domestic issue, it is natural for the international community to take an interest in issues pertaining to human rights. And therefore I believe that it would be in China's interest as well to be as open as possible and ensure transparency.

Question:
Are you saying that it would be better for there to be even more transparency than the current level?

Minister:
Just as I said now, I think that they should be as open as possible so that the international community can also come to understand that "just as China is saying, indeed China is not taking any kind of violent approach." If the situation is not made open, I think there are some people who cannot come to the conclusion that "Yes, that's true."

Question:
Germany has stated clearly that this situation would not result in them deciding not to participate in the Beijing Olympics. Is it appropriate to believe that as far as Japan is concerned, there is no possibility of a boycott?

Minister:
There really isn't any. The Government of Japan very much hopes that the Beijing Olympics will be held successfully and we hope that the Chinese side will give all due consideration to ensuring that.

Related Information (Japan-China Relations)

6. Nomination of Governor of the Bank of Japan

(See Japanese version.)

7. Political Realignment

(See Japanese version.)

8. Visit to the US by Akitaka Saiki, Director-General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau

Question:
Have you received any report from Director-General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Akitaka Saiki?

Minister:
I have as yet only received a brief initial report, but I understand that Director-General Saiki has been given a briefing on the situation from US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill. Director-General Saiki reported to me that he had received an explanation from US Assistant Secretary of State Hill to the effect that Mr. Hill once again called on the North Korean side to "recognize the need for a complete and correct declaration of all its nuclear programs," and also told them to make progress in advancing Japan-North Korea relations, including the abduction issue.

Related Information (Japan-U.S. Relations)


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