Press Conference by the Press Secretary November 18, 1997

  1. Press conference announcements
    1. Terrorist attack in the Arab Republic of Egypt
    2. Japan-Islamic Republic of Iran vice-ministerial level political consultations
  2. Situation in Egypt

  1. Press conference announcements
    1. Terrorist attack in the Arab Republic of Egypt

      Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nobuaki Tanaka: I have one statement to make on the tragedy in Luxor, Arab Republic of Egypt. This terrorist attack in Luxor which took place on 17 November was an indiscriminate massacre. The Government of Japan is utterly shocked and saddened and has a very strong sense of indignation. The Government of Japan expresses its sincere and deepest condolences to the bereaved families and extends its heartfelt sympathy to the people who were injured. Terrorism, in any form, cannot be justified and it cannot be condoned. Japan condemns, in the strongest terms, this act of terrorism and cowardice. Having said that, we in Japan have summoned the Ambassador of Egypt to Japan this morning, and he was received by Director-General Seiichiro Noboru of the Middle East and African Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We made a couple of requests to the Ambassador. Firstly, we conveyed our sense of shock and indignation to Egypt. Secondly, we conveyed our regrets that many people have died, including nine Japanese, and also that one other Japanese was injured. We condemn terrorism and we expect that the Government of Egypt will thoroughly examine this case and do its utmost to prevent this from happening in the future. We also conveyed our request to the Government of Egypt to provide all the necessary facilities to the people involved in this accident, namely transportation of individuals, medical treatment, etc. This is the representation that we made to Egypt this morning.

    2. Japan-Islamic Republic of Iran vice-ministerial level political consultations

      Spokesman Tanaka: Yesterday, vice-ministerial level political consultations took place between Japan and the Islamic Republic of Iran in Tokyo. This was the fifth in the series and it had been suspended for a while because of the Mykonos Decision. Given recent developments in Iran, we thought it was high time that we resume high-level contact between Iran and Japan. The political consultation was attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Amin Vaddh of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Minoru Tamba. They reviewed the international situation, covering a range of issues from the Middle East peace process, the Gulf situation, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and acts of terrorism, to bilateral issues, including economic issues. We basically conveyed to Iran that we share the concerns of the international community about the actions of the Government of Iran, particularly in terms of terrorism, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the Middle East peace process, etc. We conveyed our concerns to the Iranian side. We also reviewed the economic development between the two countries, particularly increased cooperation in the field of investment.

  2. Situation in Egypt

    Q: Is it true that the Foreign Ministry issued a warning for Japanese travel to Egypt?

    Spokesman Tanaka: On 10 May 1996, we issued a travel caution to possible Japanese tourists through travel agencies, and so forth. In fact, all of Egypt was included in this travel caution. We are now contemplating issuing a further notice concerning the area of upper Egypt, i.e., the southern part of Egypt. That includes Luxor. We are now contemplating a recommendation to defer non-essential travel by Japanese citizens to this region. We have not cleared all the internal procedures as yet, so we have not yet at this moment issued one. However, we are contemplating it. As to other areas, we would continue this travel caution to those who wish to travel there from Japan.

    Q: A spokesman of your government said that Prime Minister Hashimoto will send a message to President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. Could you tell us what the contents of this message will be, and when he will send it?

    Spokesman Tanaka: We are now considering the dispatch of a letter by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. Certainly the content should be approved by Prime Minister Hashimoto, so I cannot really give you advance knowledge as to the content. But, I can say that it will be more or less the same as the position of Japan that was outlined by Director-General Noboru to the Egyptian Ambassador. We would like to see the Egyptian authorities examine this case in depth and hope that the Government of Egypt will do its best to prevent this from occurring in the future. We would also like to see the Government of Egypt provide all the necessary facilities related to the visits of family members, for medical treatment, etc.

    Q: You said that the Foreign Ministry issued a recommendation for Japanese travel. Is that for the south of Egypt, or Egypt as a whole?

    Spokesman Tanaka: No, as I have said, that is only for upper Egypt, or the southern part of Egypt, which includes Luxor. In other words, except for upper Egypt, we will continue this "travel caution" in the other areas of Egypt. We certainly request Japanese citizens to pay due attention to their safety and the security situation in the Cairo area.

    Q: What kind of aid or investment to Egypt does Japan have? Will there be any review of Japan's aid to Egypt as a result of this incident?

    Spokesman Tanaka: At the moment, this accident has been contained as a very unfortunate accident in Egypt. We do not have any intention to review our aid to Egypt or anything like that. We have very strong friendship and cooperation with Egypt. This accident should not get in the way of our cooperation. That is why Japan is requesting its friend, Egypt, to do its utmost to prevent something like this from occurring in the future.

    Q: You are describing it as an "accident." Your choice of words --

    Spokesman Tanaka: I used the word accident. You could say "incident" or "accident." In Japanese, the term is "jiken," meaning situation. Of course the situation has deep roots in the social situation in Egypt. As we see it, certainly it has a lot to do with the long-term modernization of Egypt, and the clash between this and traditional values. In terms of bilateral relations, I do not believe there is a negative effect on our cooperative relations.

    Q: Is Japan intending to send any officials to Cairo to follow up on this investigation?

    Spokesman Tanaka: No, in the international community, it is the responsibility of the Government of Egypt to make a thorough examination of the case. Minister for Foreign Affairs Keizo Obuchi actually made a call to the Ambassador of Japan to Egypt to do his utmost to provide proper treatment and necessary facilities to those bereaved families or the people concerned visiting Egypt, and to make sure that all these follow-up activities to this accident are made smoothly. He gave very strict instructions to the Ambassador in Egypt to do that.

    Q: Is there any indication that the Japanese tourists were singled out during the attack?

    Spokesman Tanaka: An examination of the case should be made before I make any comments on your question. But with that, I would say that we do not believe that the Japanese tourists were singled out in this accident. The Japanese were among many nationals who were subjected to this attack -- Swiss, Germans, Egyptians and French were there too.

    Q: Will there be any further actions by the Prime Minister or anybody else from the Government?

    Spokesman Tanaka: At the moment, this is all that I can say. Of course, first and foremost, we would like to make sure that the family visits and all these matters go smoothly.

    Q: Will the family visits start tonight?

    Spokesman Tanaka: They are starting now.

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