(* 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: Friday, January 9, 2009, 8:50 a.m.
Place: In front of the Cabinet Meeting Room in the House

Main topics:

  1. Opening Statement
    • (1) Report on the Cabinet Meeting
    • (2) Dispatch of Civilians to a PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team) in Afghanistan
  2. The Development of Natural Resources in the East China Sea
  3. Measures against Piracy Cases off the Coast of Somalia

1. Opening Statement

(1) Report on the Cabinet Meeting

Minister:
At today's Cabinet Meeting, the visit to Japan by the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, from January 25 to January 29, was approved. Additionally, my visit to the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the Kingdom of Cambodia from January 10 to January 12 was approved. En route to Cambodia, I will have a meeting in Bangkok with the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand. In Cambodia, I will meet with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. In Laos, I will meet with the Foreign Minister. Through these meetings, I plan to build close relationships and discuss various issues with both countries.

Related Information (Press Release: Visit by President of Bulgaria)
Related Information (Foreign Minister Nakasone's Visit to Cambodia, Laos and Thailand)

(2) Dispatch of Civilians to a PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team) in Afghanistan

Minister:
This year there will be a presidential election in Afghanistan. The stability and reconstruction of Afghanistan is essential for this. Assistance to the provinces is especially important and Japan has decided to dispatch, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, civilians to one of the PRTs in Afghanistan in order to carry out development assistance. To be exact, based on a proposal from the Lithuanian government, we plan to dispatch an assistance team of two or three civilians to the Chagcharan PRT led by Lithuania. Going forward, I hope to make a comprehensive decision regarding other PRTs and will consider the possibility of dispatching more civilians.

Question:
Regarding the PRT, what kind of place will the civilians be dispatched to and what are they expected to do there?

Minister:
We must discuss with the PRT what kind of specialized work they will do in the capacity of civilians. Therefore, at the moment, I cannot yet make any concrete comments on the exact nature of their assignment. We must conduct thorough discussions so that the assignment will be conducted in a manner appropriate to Japan.

Related Information (Japan-Afghanistan Relations)

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

Question:
Today, a Japan-China Vice-Ministerial Strategic Dialogue will be held. I believe that the gas fields issue will come up as a matter of course. What will be discussed during the dialogue?

Minister:
I believe that it is very good that the working-level heads hold this sort of dialogue and I believe that the gas fields issue will indeed be discussed. From Japan's viewpoint, I believe that we will talk to our counterparts about concluding a treaty as soon as possible.

Question:
Is it correct to understand that you will urge an immediate halt to China's independent development of the Kashi gas field?

Minister:
Regarding this issue, we issued a protest earlier. I believe that in the dialogue, the issue of the gas fields, including the points on which we issued a protest, will be discussed.

Question:
I believe you will once again issue a protest regarding the gas fields. What kind of response are you expecting from the Chinese side?

Minister:
That I do not know. When we issued a protest previously, there was a response from the Chinese side. We are already discussing this issue, including other areas as well, and I believe that we will have negotiations along the lines of these discussions in order to conclude a treaty as soon as possible.

Related Information (Press Release)

3. Measures against Piracy Cases off the Coast of Somalia

Question:
Regarding measures against piracy, today the ruling coalition's project team was launched and the establishment of a new law is being called for. I believe there are those within the government who think that, including the establishment of a new law, it will still take too much time and that maritime security operations should be ordered immediately. What is your opinion on this?

Minister:
I believe that international cooperation for measures against piracy is necessary in waters frequently used by Japanese trading vessels and ships of many other nationalities. In this sense, although the exact nature of the assistance is still under deliberation, it is important for Japan to reach a consensus and make a dispatch within the scope of the Constitution.

Question:
I believe that there is criticism in the international community that while major countries are already taking actions against piracy, Japan is lagging behind. What is your opinion on this?

Minister:
This is not a matter of lagging behind. Each country has its own circumstances and Japan is no exception to this. We must do what we can as soon as possible within those circumstances.

Related Information (Japan-Somalia Relations)
Related Information (Piracy)


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