(* 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, March 21, 2008
Place: Conference Hall of the Ministerial Preparatory Conference for Tokyo International Conference on African Development IV (TICAD IV), Libreville, Gabon

Main topics:

  1. Talks with Foreign Minister Laure Olga Gondjout of the Gabonese Republic
  2. Courtesy Call Paid on President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba of the Gabonese Republic
  3. Talks with Mr. Jean Ping, the incoming Chairperson of the African Union Commission
  4. Situation in Tibet

1. Talks with Foreign Minister Laure Olga Gondjout of the Gabonese Republic

During the morning, I held talks with Foreign Minister Laure Olga Gondjout of the Gabonese Republic. I expressed my gratitude to him for agreeing to host the Ministerial Preparatory Conference for TICAD IV, and I also expressed my gratitude to him for the fact that President Bongo had accepted the invitation to attend TICAD IV in Yokohama. Foreign Minister Gondjout expressed words of gratitude for the assistance that has been provided to Africa and to the Gabonese Republic by Japan, and stated that it had been an honor to host this ministerial conference in Libreville.

Question:
During your talks with Foreign Minister Gondjout, what conversation did you have regarding the Cool Earth Partnership through which measures will be taken to counter global warming?

Minister:
Regarding the Cool Earth Partnership, we have agreed to launch policy consultations. The Gabonese Republic is a nation with an extremely good natural environment, and I stated that I believe that the Gabonese Republic is contributing greatly to preserving the environment through steps such as the creation of as many as 13 national parks. I also expressed to the Foreign Minister Japan's view that it is prepared to provide assistance to developing nations that are ready to work towards achieving both growth and protecting the environment. In response to that, we both agreed that we would advance policy consultations.

Related Information (Japan-Gabonese Republic Relations)

2. Courtesy Call Paid on President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba of the Gabonese Republic

During the morning, I held talks with President Bongo of the Gabonese Republic. I only expected to make a brief courtesy call, but in fact we were able to hold talks for approximately 40 minutes. During these talks, I expressed my respect for the fact that during a very long period of time excellent governance has been taking place in the Gabonese Republic, and my respect for the great effort that they have made for building peace in Africa. Furthermore, I stated that I very much hoped that he would participate in TICAD IV, and in response, President Bongo stated that unless there was any significant unforeseeable incident, he would very much like to attend TICAD IV. In response to this, I stated that I would very much like to call upon President Bongo as a senior statesman of Africa to fulfill the role of proposing the Yokohama Declaration. In addition to that, President Bongo expressed words of gratitude for the assistance provided by Japan and, in particular, for the assistance in the fishery sector.

Related Information (Japan-Gabonese Republic Relations)

3. Talks with Mr. Jean Ping, the incoming Chairperson of the African Union Commission

When I met with Mr. Jean Ping, the incoming Chairperson of the African Union Commission, I expressed congratulations to him on his upcoming assumption of the post of Chairperson of the African Union Commission. I stated to him that the African Union has become an absolutely essential presence in the African continent, and I hoped that he would make use of his tremendous experience and great abilities in this new post. In response to this, he expressed gratitude for my comments. Furthermore, I explained that I was very grateful to him for the tremendous efforts he had made in preparing for this Ministerial Preparatory Conference for TICAD IV during his tenure as Foreign Minister. In particular, he had the experience serving as the Chairman of the United Nations General Assembly, and he had made great efforts in pursuing reform of the United Nations Security Council, and as such I would estimate that about 80 percent of our talks focused on matters related to reform of the Security Council. We exchanged views on the situations such as the reasons why greater progress had not been made in advancing reform of the Security Council. The majority of the nations in Africa are in favor of Japan joining as a permanent member of the Security Council, and during our conversions, it was stated that if Japan was the only candidate then it would certainly, easily join as a permanent member. I stated that, including these ideas, it is necessary to reform the overall framework of the Security Council and I very much look forward to learning from him on what could be done in that regard. As such I heard his very meaningful ideas.

Question:
In your conversations with Mr. Jean Ping the incoming Chairperson of the African Union Commission, did you speak about the G8 Summit outreach?

Minister:
I stated that I very much would like Mr. Jean Ping to participate as the Chairperson of the African Union Commission. He has already given a positive response for his participation. Mr. Ping stated that it would be an honor for him to join the outreach.

Related Information (African Union (AU))

4. Situation in Tibet

Question:
Concerning the situation in Tibet, the United States and the United Kingdom have called on China to exhibit self-restraint. Also, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the US House of Representatives has held talks with the Dalai Lama, and it is clear that the nations of Europe and the United States are taking a central role in exerting various pressures on China. Amidst that background, what steps does Japan intend to take vis-à-vis China? Furthermore, the Dalai Lama has stated that he is prepared to go to Beijing. Against these circumstances, what is your outlook on the situation?

Minister:
Japan has maintained a consistent position and we are watching the situation carefully with concern. We have called on all parties involved to exhibit self-restraint in order to ensure that there are no more casualties or people injured, and we very much hope that the situation can be settled down peacefully through talks. We have consistently stated this position. As I responded at the committee in the Diet I myself will think about what type of approach would be most effective, and I intend to take the necessary measure at each time. It was on 21 March that Japan's Ambassador to China, Mr. Yuji Miyamoto, once again expressed Japan's perspective on this matter to Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs He Yafei.

Question:
Have you as the Foreign Minister, or has the Prime Minister, given any thought to holding telephone talks regarding this matter?

Minister:
I will repeat myself in saying that I am thinking about what would be the most effective way to proceed with this situation, and I intend to do whatever will be most effective.

Related Information (Japan-China Relations)


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