Weekly Media FAQ
January 18, 2008
Q: A rubber boat launched from the Steve Irwin, a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel, committed an act of sabotage against the Japanese whaling vessel Yushin Maru No. 2 on the 15th. What is Japan's position on this act?
A: Several bottles of butyric acid, a non-toxic, putrid-smelling liquid, were thrown at the Yushin Maru No. 2 from the raft. The boat also attempted to entwine a rope in a screw of the Yushin Maru No. 2. After a while, two crew members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel approached again and boarded the Yushin Maru No. 2 without permission.
Japan considers that the act committed by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is unacceptable behavior intended to cause unjustified harm on the safety of Japan's vessels as they engaged in legal activities on the high seas and is furthermore a hazardous act potentially endangering human safety. It is highly regrettable that such an incident occurred. Japan strongly condemns the act of sabotage committed by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and ask the Society not to repeat similar acts again.
Q: Has Japan called upon countries concerned?
A: In addition to expressing to the Netherlands, the flag state of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel, its strong concerns regarding this act of sabotage, Japan is calling upon counties concerned to take effective measures based on domestic laws and fulfill their responsibilities in order to ensure that such acts of sabotage do not occur again.
Q: Why did Japan hold two crew members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel on the 15th?
A: Two activists of the anti-whaling Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (one British national and one Australian national) boarded a rubber boat belonging to the Society vessel the 'Steve Irwin' and forcibly boarded the Yushin Maru No. 2 without permission. The crew members of the Yushin Maru No. 2 temporary held them in custody due to the possibility that the two might commit violent acts.
Due to the language barrier, it was difficult to communicate with the two at first. However, after ascertaining that their purpose of boarding was to hand over a letter of protest, the crew of the Yushin Maru No. 2 accepted the letter and decided to turn the two over to the Sea Shepherd side. On the night of the 17th, the two were transferred to the Oceanic Viking, an Australian monitoring vessel.
Q: Foreign Minister Koumura announced on the 15th that Japan will launch an intragovernmental discussion group which will consider language requirements for foreign nationals applying for long-term residency permits. What are the details of this discussion group? Would this implementation of a new requirement make the barrier even higher for refugees and also for long-term foreign residence candidates in Japan?
A: Foreign Minister Koumura announced that Japan will launch an intragovernmental discussion group between the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs based upon the government's integrated countermeasures on "foreign nationals living in Japanese society." This group will be tasked with studying means of verifying Japanese language proficiency upon initial entry and during residency.
In order for foreign residents of Japan to stay in Japanese society lawfully while ensuring a higher quality of life for them and enabling them to contribute to society, it is necessary that they acquire proficiency in the Japanese language and be familiar with institutional culture. This discussion group is part of the government's efforts to respond to these challenges.
In this discussion process, the group will pay due consideration so that Japanese language proficiency will not be another regulatory requirement on foreigners who are proactively accepted as professionals or skilled workers in Japan.
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