(* 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 18, 2008, 9:17 a.m.
Place: In front of the Ministers' Room in the House

Main topics:

  1. Judgment by the Nagoya High Court on the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq
  2. Japan-China Foreign Ministers Meeting

1. Judgment by the Nagoya High Court on the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq

Question:
First of all, I would like to ask a question about Iraq. Yesterday, the High Court issued a judgment to the effect that activities undertaken by the Self-Defense Forces in dangerous areas, particularly around the capital, are unconstitutional because they were carried out in a dangerous zone. What are your views on this?

Minister:
I have not had a chance to read the judgment so I do not really know what to think of it yet. The government won the case, therefore if considered from the perspective of a legal expert as long as it won the case, that should be fine. In other words, a ruling by a court which takes precedence over a decision by the administration is the necessary logic to lead to the ultimate result of that judgment. And given that this is after all an obiter dictum, in fact that ruling will not have any influence on the administration.

Question:
Considered from the point of view of a legal judgment, this indicates that the judges of the Nagoya High Court take that view. How do you feel about that?

Minister:
That is precisely why, as I said, in the legal realm there are many professional legal experts and there are many diverse views among them. As I stated just now the fact that a ruling by a court takes precedence over a decision by the administration relates only to the main portions that are specified in that judgment and the portions that are necessary to lead to that judgment whatever the court states. Besides those specified areas, there is nothing to constrain the administration, and there is no need to make a big deal out of it going forward. I believe that this judgment could be considered as the opinion of one person and it is a fact that a certain court has written such a statement as an obiter dictum and therefore if I have some free time after I quit my job as Foreign Minister perhaps I will read it.

Question:
The activities are still not sufficiently well known. Do you intend to intensify conducting public relations efforts?

Minister:
We won in court. The administration won the case. Stated otherwise, I do not think that it would be good to allow a situation in which the losing side tries to make an obiter dictum fixed by choosing not to appeal to a higher court and then makes use of the mass media for a political purpose to make it seem that some court had made some decision, and therefore their own position is more noble than the rationale of others, and create some illusion which could be used in the political realm. Please note that I am certainly not saying that the court did anything wrong. What I am saying is that if there is anyone who is out to use it in the political realm, then that is wrong. I would very much like to ask the members of the mass media not to be duped by any such means.

2. Japan-China Foreign Ministers Meeting

Question:
I understand that the Japan-China Foreign Ministers Meeting held yesterday took up a very long time. I understand that Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi repeated China's position regarding Tibet. Please describe how that was.

Minister:
In fact, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi spent a much longer time on that subject during the press conference than was spent during the Foreign Ministers Meeting. During the Foreign Ministers Meeting, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi did not spend that much time outlining China's position on that topic. However, previously when I met with the Chinese Ambassador to Japan Mr. Cui Tiankai, I said that "When I meet Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi I am going to express my views on Tibet." In response to that, Ambassador Cui Tiankai said at that time, "In that case, I suppose that the Chinese side will express the principle position of China." Indeed, I believe that yesterday during our meeting the Chinese side expressed its principle position.

Question:
I believe that during the meeting you requested that Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi hold a dialogue without any conditions attached. Hearing his words in the press conference and elsewhere I get the impression that Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi was not considering that at all. Is this true?

Minister:
During the meeting, at the same time that Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi stated that this was a domestic issue, he also stated that the window for dialogue was open and that there were no particular conditions attached. That is why I do not think that it is true to say that he was not considering my words at all and I do not think that it would be common for a country to respond with a "Yes, we will" in response to being told something by some other countries. I think this is really a matter of steadily considering the situation and deciding what to do.

Question:
In this regard, it appears that Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi clearly stated that this was a matter of interference in internal affairs and therefore it is not something that some other nation should be speaking about. What is your response to that?

Minister:
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi did not say that anything that I had said amounted to interference in internal affairs.

Question:
I do not think that the Government of Japan has clearly or strongly stated anything about human rights issues in China. What are your views on that?

Minister:
I do not agree with you.

Question:
But, I do not think that you mentioned in any way human rights issues in your comments yesterday.

Minister:
Were you not listening on the many occasions at my press conferences when I said that in the international community this is being viewed as a human rights issue and therefore China must enhance transparency?

Question:
Listening to yesterday's press conference, I guess the Japanese public perceived a certain degree of negative image.

Minister:
I do not know what to say about that but it is also true that in China there are the members of the Chinese public. What the Chinese side said was that amongst the nations of Asia, Japan has been the only country that has made any demands.

Question:
At yesterday's press conference the Chinese side stated that China has the support of international public opinion. Standing beside Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, what were your honest thoughts on this?

Minister:
Regarding international public opinion Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said that one should not equate international public opinion with solely the views of the United States and Europe. The foreign minister asked whether or not here in Asia there were any other countries that had commented on this situation besides for Japan. For my part, in response to this, I did not know of any other countries in Asia that had made comments on this issue and therefore I did not put forward any objection. And I said that even if it is only nations in Europe and the United States, since such actions are occurring, China should, for its own good, lend an ear to those opinions.

Related Information (Japan-China Relations)


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