(* 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 Hirofumi Nakasone

Date: Monday, January 5, 2009, 9:31 a.m.
Place: Entrance hall, 3F Prime Minister's Office

Main topics:

  1. Opening Statement
  2. The Development of Natural Resources in the East China Sea
  3. The Situation in the Gaza Strip

1. Opening Statement

Minister:
Yesterday at the New Year's Press Conference, the Prime Minister wished for a Japan in which people can live with anshin (peace of mind) and for a Japan characterized by katsuryoku (vitality). As Minister for Foreign Affairs, I too will strive towards this goal this year. The Obama Administration will soon take office and we believe that the further strengthening of the Japan-US relationship is important; we will make efforts so as to build in a prompt manner a close cooperative relationship with the new administration. Given my position, I would like to meet with the incoming Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, as soon as possible to discuss various issues. It was great to see that the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting was held last year. This year I would like to work to further strengthen our cooperative relationship, especially regarding the North Korean issues, to make major progress on abduction and nuclear issues. The abduction issue is an extremely serious issue and I will do my best to resolve this. This year Japan became a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. As such, it is important for Japan to fulfill its role in efforts to resolve many international issues such as the situation in the Middle East.

2. The Development of Natural Resources in the East China Sea

Question:
Regarding the joint development by Japan and China of gas fields in the East China Sea, it has emerged that China has been independently developing the Kashi gas field. Please tell us what measures the Government of Japan has taken so far, and what measures it will take.

Minister:
Regarding the joint development, both sides agreed last June to continue with consultations on areas where political agreement has not yet been reached. So this move is very regrettable. We are currently lodging a strong protest with the Chinese side.

Question:
When, approximately, do you think the working-level consultations will begin?

Minister:
At last year's Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting, the leaders agreed to begin working-level consultations soon. Additionally, the division in charge made a proposal to its counterpart at the end of last year to conduct consultations as soon as possible. The most important thing is that the consultations be held soon, though I cannot say exactly when they will begin.

Question:
Is it correct to understand that there has been no political agreement over the Kashi gas field? Can you also tell us around when the Japanese government found out about the Chinese side's gas field development, in what way the Japanese government protested, and what response the Chinese side made?

Minister:
Consultations were supposed to be continued regarding that area and I believe that the situation was a blank sheet, so to say. That development has been conducted in such an area is, as I have just mentioned, very regrettable. As to when we found out about this situation, I cannot comment on this because it will interfere with information gathering. We are gathering information in various ways, and up until now, when circumstances have changed, we have taken immediate action to deal with it.

Question:
When did the Japanese government lodge a protest and what response did the Chinese side give?

Minister:
The Japanese government sent a protest to the Chinese side as soon as this issue came to light. The exact time or date has not been made public.

Question:
What was behind the decision to not make the facts public? You mentioned intelligence. As soon as Japan lodged a protest with the Chinese side, doesn't it become obvious that the Japanese government has knowledge of this? Why didn't the government notify the public of these facts?

Minister:
The Japanese government lodged protests with China each time, but does not make public information such as when the issue came to light.

Question:
Is my understanding correct that you have no plans to notify the public of similar independent development in the East China Sea, should there be any going forward?

Minister:
We do not plan to announce to the public when and what sort of action is going on at the time that we receive such information. However, as the government, we must take appropriate measures and that is why we lodged a complaint this time.

Question:
Yesterday, a Chinese spokesman stated that for China this was a legitimate right. What is your opinion on this?

Minister:
The Japanese government cannot accept this type of comment.

Question:
Despite the fact that a political agreement was reached between the Japanese and Chinese governments, currently there seems to be differences between the two governments' interpretations of the contents of the agreement. What do you think is the reason for this and what measures are you planning to take going forward?

Minister:
I believe that the most important thing is for consultations to resume on this issue.

Related Information (Japan-China Relations)

3. The Situation in the Gaza Strip

Question:
The situation in the Gaza Strip is deteriorating. How is the Japanese government planning to take action regarding this matter?

Minister:
Regarding the issue between Israel and Hamas, Prime Minister Aso held telephone talks with the heads of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority urging the halt of the use of force. As Minister for Foreign Affairs, I myself also made a phone call to the Foreign Minister of Israel. Yesterday, I issued a statement urging both sides to immediately halt the use of force and achieve a durable cessation of violence. Additionally, as many people have been injured and killed, the Prime Minister has announced that we will provide humanitarian assistance to Gaza residents. In this way, Japan will provide assistance.

Related Information (Situation in the Gaza Strip)


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