(* 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, April 11, 2008, 9:17 a.m.
Place: In front of the Ministers' Room in the House

Main topics:

  1. Visit to the Russian Federation by Foreign Minister Koumura
  2. Report to Japan regarding the US deserter
  3. The extension of Japan's economic sanctions against North Korea
  4. Situation in Tibet

1. Visit to the Russian Federation by Foreign Minister Koumura

Minister:
I will visit the Russian Federation from tomorrow. I will attend the Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers' Meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. Afterwards, there will be a meeting of chairpersons of the Japan-Russia Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs. My counterpart in the meeting will be Minister of Industry and Energy Khristenko.

Related Information (Japan-Russia Relations)

2. Report to Japan regarding the US deserter

Minister:
Regarding the case of the US serviceman who deserted, last night the situation was settled to the effect that in the event that the United States side made a determination that a serviceman is a deserter, for all such cases it would call upon the police of the respective prefecture to immediately arrest such a deserter. At the same time, it is decided that US military officials are required to report it to the Japanese Government.

Question:
Could you simply explain the criteria for determining the US deserters?

Minister:
That is decided by the United States.

Question:
If a serviceman has gone missing for even one single day, will that automatically be a basis for determining a US deserter?

Minister:
The state of someone being missing and the act of desertion are not necessarily the same, but no matter what the reason may be, if someone has been missing for 30 days, then they will be deemed to be a deserter.

Related Information (Japan-U.S. Relations)

3. The extension of Japan's economic sanctions against North Korea

Minister:
A decision was taken at today's Cabinet Meeting to extend by six months the sanctions measures against North Korea. The period is set as six months but the Cabinet also attached a message indicating that in the event that concrete actions in a positive direction are taken by North Korea regarding the abduction, nuclear and missiles issues, it is possible that in response a part or all of those sanctions may be lifted during that period. I hope that even for a little step the North Korean side will act in a way that will advance Japan-North Korean relations.

Question:
What do you think is the first step that North Korea should take in that regard?

Minister:
There is much that needs to be done. Regarding the nuclear issue, North Korea needs to make a "complete and correct declaration." Furthermore, there is the disablement of the three nuclear facilities. It also has been delayed and therefore North Korea needs to take care of that. Furthermore, speaking about the abduction issue, naturally North Korea must return all Japanese nationals to Japan and I would like to see North Korea take whatever action it can to make progress in that regard. There is also the issue of the missiles. I believe that there is quite a lot that North Korea can do.

Question:
Amongst the three items of abduction, nuclear and missiles issues, if progress is made on only one of them, for example on the nuclear issue but not on the abduction issue, would that then allow for a partial alleviation of the sanctions?

Minister:
Our expectations are for progress to be made in a comprehensive manner. That is what we are calling upon North Korea to do.

Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)

4. Situation in Tibet

Question:
Regarding the situation in Tibet, there are voices being raised in Europe calling for a boycott of the opening ceremony of the Olympics, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton who is a candidate for the presidential elections in the United States has stated that the opening ceremonies should not be attended, and there are various demonstrations that have taken place regarding the Olympic torch. When you look at this situation, what is your view?

Minister:
My understanding is that the situation in Lhasa is calm. Regarding what the current situation is, I know that the Chinese side has, for example, given some information to some members of the media and to certain diplomats, but I do not think that it can be described as sufficient. Therefore there is a need for more transparency and for the situation to be treated in a more open manner. Furthermore, I think that if both sides can engage in dialogue, it would be extremely good. This is the position that Japan has been taking. I believe that for the Government of China to respond to that and to act accordingly would lead to the success of the Olympics, and I believe that that is also in the interest of China.

Question:
Yesterday the Dalai Lama stopped over in Japan and held a press conference. Did you see that press conference?

Minister:
I did not have enough time to see it, but based on news reports I do think that I generally understand what took place.

Question:
The Dalai Lama has repeated his traditional stance and has indicated a positive, forward-looking approach to dialogue with China. However, the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that what is important is not what he says but what he does, and that actions are important. I believe that based on that stance they had refused to enter into dialogue. What are your views in that regard?

Minister:
I do not fully understand everything about this particular situation, but I do intend to ask thoroughly about this situation at the time of the visit to Japan by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

Question:
This is the 23rd time the Dalai Lama 14th has stopped over in Japan, but he has never had an opportunity to meet with officials of the Government of Japan. Some people are of the view that this most recent stopover in Japan was in fact a good opportunity to have dialogue between the Dalai Lama and officials of the Japanese Government. What are your thoughts on that?

Minister:
Japan is a free country and therefore there can be various views on various matters. Based on a comprehensive decision this time the officials of the Government of Japan did not meet with him.

Related Information (Japan-China Relations)


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