(* 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 25, 2008, 9:08 a.m.
Place: Press Briefing Room in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topic:

  1. Emergency Food Aid in Response to Rising Food Prices
  2. Second Session of the Preparatory Committee of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
  3. North Korea's Nuclear Cooperation with Syria
  4. Torch Relay of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
  5. Incident Involving US Marines in Okinawa

1. Emergency Food Aid in Response to Rising Food Prices

Minister:
The Government of Japan has decided to provide emergency food aid of about 100 million dollars in the next three months as an emergency measure. As the first step of the measure, one-half of that commitment, or about 50 million dollars of the aid, will be provided mainly to countries in Africa in May through the UN World Food Programme (WFP). Emergency aid is indeed an important measure, but parallel to that, we intend to tackle various medium- and long-term issues such as assistance to increase food production and addressing the climate change issue, among other endeavors. We will place the food issue on the agenda at the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit.

Question:
Regarding the food aid, I believe that Japan has surplus rice. In addition to 100 million dollars for aid, haven't you given any thought to providing that in some way?

Minister:
Concrete consideration will take place going forward, but if we were to make use of that in our bilateral aid, it would be valued at international valuations. My understanding is that what we provide to the WFP is different from that. How we use the remaining 50 million dollars in bilateral aid is a matter to be decided.

Question:
In that case, is it correct to understand that rather than money there is a possibility that provision will be made in the form of rice?

Minister:
I do not think you can rule that possibility out, but right now, I am not in a position to give a definitive answer in that regard. This is something that will be decided through consultations with various organizations and institutions including the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Related Information (Press Release)

2. Second Session of the Preparatory Committee of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

Minister:
The Second Session of the Preparatory Committee of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons will start on 28 April in Geneva. What are of most importance under the NPT are the non-proliferation regime and nuclear disarmament. Both of them are important. Although the non-proliferation issue is discussed as a major issue, overlooking the nuclear disarmament issue could negatively impact on the legitimacy of the NPT regime. Therefore, Japan intends to thoroughly take up the nuclear disarmament issue.

Related Information (2nd Session of the Preparatory Committee of the 2010 NPT Review Conference)

3. North Korea's Nuclear Cooperation with Syria

Question:
I would like to ask you a question related to what you said about the NPT. Images of military facilities in Syria were disclosed at a hearing of the United States Congress. Individuals in those images appear to be North Korean. In other words, it would appear that North Korea cooperated with Syria. Please state your thoughts on that matter, and furthermore, whether or not you think this will have any influence on the Six-Party Talks.

Minister:
An outcome document of the Six-Party Talks clearly stipulates that North Korea may not engage in the transfer of nuclear material, related technologies, and knowledge about those. As such, it would be extremely regrettable if North Korea were violating that stipulation. I believe that a complete and correct declaration that North Korea makes must naturally include those elements.

Question:
Related to the issue of the nuclear facilities in Syria, were the images or the data shown at the US Congress provided to Japan by the United States? If so, when did that happen?

Minister:
I would like you to understand that in the world of intelligence, it is common sense not to state information about such matters.

Related Information (North Korean Nuclear Issue)

4. Torch Relay of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

Question:
I would like to ask a question regarding the Beijing Olympics torch relay. The relay will take place in Nagano tomorrow and it appears that the so-called Chinese "torch defense squad" has entered Japan. Can you explain why they were granted entry into Japan? Is it as a result of Japan giving consideration to its relations with China now that the visit to Japan by President Hu Jintao of the People's Republic of China is approaching?

Minister:
I really do not understand what you are referring to as the "torch defense squad." However, it will be Japan that provides security for the torch relay. This is absolutely clear, and therefore, it is absolutely absurd to think that in Japanese territory China would attempt to express sovereignty and take any actions without the permission of Japan. No such permission has been granted.

Question:
Then, is it correct to understand that they are only there to respond to a situation in which, for example, the torch flame goes out?

Minister:
Yes, that is how I understand the case to be. I do not know exactly what the case is, but what I said directly and clearly to Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi is that since the Japanese side will be in charge of security, there is no reason whatsoever to be concerned. In that context, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), the security authorities, and the policy authorities will talk about this matter and make the necessary decisions. There is absolutely nothing to doubt that Japan will ensure security and protection. I informed the Chinese side that they should rest assured and I would like you all to rest assured, too.

Related Information (Japan-China Relations)

5. Incident Involving US Marines in Okinawa

Question:
The US Marine who was suspected of violating a young girl in Okinawa in February was released by the Japanese police authorities after the charges were dropped. Today's press release stated that a decision was made to have him stand before a military tribunal. Have you received any notification or information from the United States on that matter?

Minister:
I myself have not received that information yet and currently I do not know whether or not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received such a notification or information.

Related Information (Japan-U.S. Relations)


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