(* 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: Tuesday, January 20, 2009, 8:46 a.m.
Place: In front of the Minister's Room in the House

Main topics:

  1. Opening Statement
    • (1) Reelection of Ms. Fumiko Saiga as a Judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC)
    • (2) Inauguration of the New President of the United States
  2. Situation in Gaza
  3. North Korean Issues
  4. Former Vice Minister Shotaro Yachi Inaugurated as Government Representative

1. Opening Statement

(1) Reelection of Ms. Fumiko Saiga as a Judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC)

Minister:
On January 19 (New York time, the morning of January 20 in Japan) an election for judges to the International Criminal Court (ICC) took place in New York, and Ms. Fumiko Saiga, who has until now been working as an ICC judge from Japan, was reelected. I believe that this indicates the high evaluation given to her as a judge, while at the same I also think that it indicates the appreciation of the proactive approach that Japan has taken toward the ICC. I expect Ms. Saiga to continue to make a great contribution to the ICC.

Related Information (Press Release)

(2) Inauguration of the New President of the United States

Minister:
In the United States today, January 20, a new presidency will be born. We are going to see the birth of the Obama presidency and the eyes of the world will be focused on this. I myself also have extremely great expectations. Mr. Obama has long since spoken of the importance of Japan-U.S. relations and of the Japan-U.S. alliance. Furthermore, Ms. Hillary Clinton, who will be assuming the office of Secretary of State, has also spoken in the Senate confirmation hearings of the importance of Japan-U.S. relations. I have great expectations and hope to continue to cooperate in our close relations for the prosperity of the world. In particular, we believe that it is important to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance, and to continue to cooperate for the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. One more point that we think is important is for us to work together on international issues such as the issues of climate change, nuclear issues, and issues such as counterterrorism and economic measures. Ms. Clinton, who will serve as the next Secretary of State of the United States, used the phrase "smart power." In reference to this, she spoke of activities that make use of cultural and economic realms, and she stated that these should be made use of as well as military force. This way of thinking is completely in line with the views held by Japan, and I believe that we will be able to work together. I believe that it is important for the Prime Minister and for me to meet the new president, Barack Obama, and the new Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, as soon as possible.

Question:
You have mentioned the various expectations you have across various sectors for the new Obama Administration. In terms of building Japan-U.S. relations, on which point do you have the strongest expectations?

Minister:
I think that what is the most important is that the Japan-U.S. alliance be thoroughly maintained even after the new administration takes power. Next, there are international issues, and right now we are facing economic issues. I think that it is important for us to communicate even more closely on those issues. Furthermore, I think that it is extremely important for us to cooperate and make efforts with the United States in order to solve the nuclear issue and the abductions issue in North Korea.

Related Information (Japan-U.S. Relations)

2. Situation in Gaza

Question:
I would like to ask a question regarding the Israel and Gaza Strip situation. Prior to the inauguration of the new president in the United States, both sides will enter into a state of ceasefire. Please describe how you view that, and your expectations for peace going forward. Furthermore, there are media reports of assistance from the Government of Japan for the Gaza Strip, but can you tell me your thoughts regarding Japan's contributions to peace in the Gaza Strip?

Minister:
First of all, I believe that it is truly good that now both Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire after this extremely trying situation has developed in which more than 1,300 people have lost their lives. I believe that this occurred as a result of the efforts of the United Nations, Egypt, and other nations. I believe that it is necessary for efforts to continue to be made to ensure that this ceasefire will continue. From our part, we have already decided to give 10 million U.S. dollars in humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip, and separate from this, given the fact that the humanitarian situation in that region has become extremely bad, we are considering extending assistance based on the peacekeeping operations law. For our part, Japan intends to proactively provide assistance so that the people of the Gaza Strip can live with peace of mind.

Question:
Are you considering providing assistance in kind?

Minister:
Yes. Regarding cooperation in kind, we are for example looking into how many plastic sheets are necessary. We very much intend to carry that out.

Related Information (Situation in the Gaza Strip)

3. North Korean Issues

Question:
Kim Hyon-Hi, who was a former criminal sentenced to death, has on many occasions expressed her wish to meet with the family of Ms. Yaeko Taguchi. On this matter, does the government intend to take any action?

Minister:
As far as we are concerned, if Ms. Kim Hyon-Hi does indeed have feelings in that regard, then certainly we would like to make whatever efforts we can to realize that to the fullest extent possible.

Question:
Are you saying that the government will play an intermediary role in this?

Minister:
We would like to give consideration to what kind of assistance we can provide.

Question:
Previously, you stated in a response to a question posed in the Diet that you would like to give consideration to calling Ms. Kim Hyon-Hi to the Diet for a hearing. What are your thoughts on that?

Minister:
Considering that Ms. Kim Hyon-Hi is currently in the Republic of Korea, and given that there are circumstances on that side, I believe that we would need to thoroughly consult the ROK government on such a matter. But I believe that as much as possible we would like to realize that.

Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)

4. Former Vice Minister Shotaro Yachi Inaugurated as Government Representative

Question:
A Cabinet decision has been taken to designate Former Vice Minister Shotaro Yachi as the government representative. What are your expectations for Mr. Yachi?

Minister:
Going forward, as the representative of the government, Mr. Yachi will conduct negotiations and will discuss important diplomatic issues and other matters with various countries, as the representative of the Government of Japan. That has just now been decided by a Cabinet decision.

Question:
There will be a new president in the United States, and I wonder if there is anything in particular that you have expectations for in this regard.

Minister:
We have not specified any particular country in this regard. As necessary, he is to take actions as the representative of the government.


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