Press Conference by the Press Secretary 6 November, 1998

  1. Unanimous adoption by the United Nations Security Council of Resolution1205 co-sponsored by Japan regarding cooperation between the Republic of Iraq and the United Nations Special Commission
  2. The 22nd Session of the World Heritage Committee in Kyoto, Japan from 30 November to 5 December 1998
  3. Emergency aid to Central American countries by the Government of Japan in response to damage caused by Hurricane Mitch
  4. Possible introduction of a Japanese satellite
  5. Visit of President Jiang Zemin of the People's Republic of China to Japan
  6. Possible discussion of the food situation in the Russian Federation at the Summit meeting between Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and President Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation
  7. Discussion of the Northern Territories issue at the Summit meeting between Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and President Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation
  8. Reported negotiations between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of Japan concerning a new loan to the Russian Federation
  9. Possible adoption of a joint statement and topics for discussion at the APEC Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  10. The active diplomatic calendar of Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi in the month of November

  1. Unanimous adoption by the United Nations Security Council of Resolution 1205 co-sponsored by Japan regarding cooperation between the Republic of Iraq and the United Nations Special Commission

    Press Secretary Sadaaki Numata: Good afternoon. I have several announcements to make at the beginning. Firstly, about the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution on the suspension by the Republic of Iraq of cooperation with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM). At New York time, on the evening of 5 November, which is Japan time this morning, the UNSC unanimously adopted Security Council Resolution 1205 in which the Security Council condemned the recent decision by Iraq to cease cooperation with UNSCOM as a flagrant violation of Security Council Resolution 687 which goes back to 1991, and other relevant resolutions. The Resolution also demands that Iraq rescind immediately and unconditionally the decision of 31 October 1998 as well as the decision of 5 August 1998 to suspend cooperation with UNSCOM and it also demands that Iraq provide immediate, complete and unconditional cooperation with UNSCOM and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Security Council also reaffirms its full support for UNSCOM and the IAEA.

    Japan regards this recent decision by Iraq, specifically the decision on 31 October, as extremely regrettable and we take the position that there can be no progress towards the lifting of prohibitions or sanctions unless Iraq resumes its cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA. We have felt that this message should be conveyed to Iraq in unequivocal terms and it is from that viewpoint that Japan co-sponsored this Resolution. Security Council Resolution 1205 was co-sponsored by the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Japan, the Republic of Costa Rica, the Republic of Portugal, the Republic of Slovenia and the Kingdom of Sweden. We consider it very important that Iraq withdraw its misguided decision and resume its cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA immediately, completely and unconditionally. To this end, we will continue to follow the situation closely and participate actively in the deliberations of the Security Council and act appropriately. We also intend to convey our concern to the Government of the Republic of Iraq. Incidentally, we have conveyed our concerns to the Iraqi Government when Director Hitoshi Noda of the Second Middle East Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called in the Iraqi charge d'affaires in Tokyo on 2 November.

    Related Information (The Situation in the Republic of Iraq, and Measures Taken by Japan)
  2. The 22nd Session of the World Heritage Committee in Kyoto, Japan from 30 November to 5 December 1998

    Press Secretary Sadaaki Numata: My next announcement concerns the 22nd Session of the World Heritage Committee which is to be held in Kyoto at the Kyoto International Conference Hall from Monday, 30 November to Saturday, 5 December 1998. The World Heritage Committee holds an annual meeting and is made up of 21 countries including Japan. These 21 countries are selected from among the states parties to the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (The World Heritage Convention). This Convention itself has been in existence since 1972 and it has 155 contracting parties. Japan joined this Convention in 1992 and since 1995, Japan has been acting as one of the Vice-chairs of this Committee. What this Committee does is to make decisions on properties which should be inscribed on the World Heritage List and it also monitors the state of protection of world heritage. When we talk about world heritage, there are roughly speaking, three kinds of heritages, if heritage is countable; cultural heritage, natural heritage and mixed heritage, that is a mixture of cultural and natural heritage. So far, there are 552 on the World Heritage List; 418 coming under the cultural heritage heading, 114 coming under the natural heritage heading and 20 under the mixed heritage heading. This Committee, which is to take place in Kyoto, will examine some 41 possible items for inclusion on the list; 33 cultural, seven natural and one mixed. It includes among the candidates, the "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara." This Committee will be chaired by Ambassador Koichiro Matsuura to the French Republic. I might mention in passing that we have put him forward as a candidate for the next Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The World Heritage Committee does form an important part of UNESCO-related activities.

    Related Information (Culture)

  3. Emergency aid to Central American countries by the Government of Japan in response to damage caused by Hurricane Mitch

    Press Secretary Sadaaki Numata: My third announcement is on this terrible Hurricane Mitch. I am not quite sure about the gender of this Hurricane Mitch. I think you have been hearing about and watching on the television screen the terrible havoc played by this hurricane through the Caribbean coast of Central American countries in the Republic of Nicaragua, the Republic of El Salvador, the Republic of Honduras, the Republic of Guatemala and other countries. In Nicaragua the death toll has risen to more than 1,300. Nearly 2000 people are missing and about 410,000 have been evacuated. In Honduras the situation is so terrible that the Government has not been able to assess precisely the extent of the damage but it has been reported that 5,000 people are dead and 600,000 people, which is about 10% of the whole population, are afflicted. In light of these terrible damages, Japan has decided to extend some emergency aid materials as well as grant assistance. I think you have the details in the handouts so let me just summarize. With respect to Honduras, we decided on 2 November to provide emergency aid materials amounting to 50.960 million yen and we decided on 4 November to provide emergency grant assistance amounting to US$800,000 and we are in the process of considering what sort of human aid in terms of dispatching personnel we might be able to extend to Honduras. With respect to Nicaragua, again on 2 November we decided to send emergency aid materials amounting to 19.890 million yen and on 4 November decided on the extension of US$500,000 of emergency grant assistance, and again we are in the process of considering possible personnel assistance. We are also in the process of considering what sort of emergency aids, either in the form of materials or grant, we might extend to Guatemala and El Salvador.

    Related Information (Regional Affairs)
  4. Possible introduction of a Japanese satellite

    Q: The Cabinet today approved the launching of spy satellites. Could you tell us about budgetary phases from now on?

    Mr. Numata: I am not quite sure if I would use your terminology of "spy satellites" because it does sound like a somewhat loaded term. The satellite is designed to collect information necessary for national security, that is in terms of foreign policy and defense and for crisis management, for example, in dealing with natural disasters. So I think to call it a spy satellite may be a misnomer. What the Cabinet discussed this morning is, as a general policy, of introducing these satellites. The details are to be considered and worked out such as the question of the budget and what sort of arrangement we might have within our Government for analyzing the information collected, how we might use that sort of information and so forth and that consideration will proceed from now on among the Government agencies concerned in close consultation with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as well. So at this point, I am not in a position to talk in very specific terms about the budgetary measures. Let me just mention that as a rough time frame our target is to develop these satellites with a view to introducing them in about 2002 and with this target in mind, we will be considering the necessary budgetary measures. Perhaps in the first year the amount of money needed would be somewhat less than in the subsequent years because in the first year the budget needed would be primarily for the purposes of research and possibly development.

    Q: Do the relevant Ministries include Japan's Defense Agency?

    Mr. Numata: Yes, I can give you the list of the Ministries involved. In fact, within the Cabinet Secretariat, there will be a committee for the promotion of this satellite which will be headed by Deputy Cabinet Secretary Teijiro Furakawa and it will also have as its members representatives from the Cabinet Information and Research Office, the Cabinet Security Crisis Management Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Defense Agency, the Science and Technology Agency, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

    Related Information (North Korea's Missile Launch)
  5. Visit of President Jiang Zemin of the People's Republic of China to Japan

    Q: Will there be a joint press conference after the Summit meeting between President Jiang and Prime Minister Obuchi?

    Mr. Numata: We do not know at this stage yet. November is a very busymonth and my brain is full of what we might be doing in Moscow. We are of course working on the planning for the visit by President Jiang Zemin of the People's Republic of China but our planning has not carried us to the stage where I can respond to your question with any kind of confidence.

    Q: Regarding the contents of a joint communique between Japan and China, there are contradictory news reports. Some say a joint communique will mention something about Taiwan while the others say nothing will be mentioned about Taiwan. What is your response?

    Mr. Numata: The seeming contradiction in the press reports about the existence or otherwise or the contents or otherwise of whatever joint document we may be coming out with, may be a sign of the fertility of the imagination on the part of those people who are reporting. Perhaps they do not bear much resemblance to the facts. The facts are that no decision has been made.

    Related Information (Japan-China Relations)
  6. Possible discussion of the food situation in the Russian Federation at the Summit meeting between Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and President Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation

    Q: How does Japan assess the extent of Russia's food shortage problem? We see that the US and Russia are in the midst of negotiation over US$600 million worth of food aid to get Russia through the winter. Is Prime Minister Obuchi going to bring any sort of offer of food assistance? How bad a situation does Japan see this as?

    Mr. Numata: We will know better by next week. I mean we will all be in Moscow. The general question of the economic difficulties that Russia is faced with and how Japan might be able to help Russia in that regard, I am sure will be discussed in some way or other between our two leaders. At this point I am not particularly aware of any sort of exclusive focus on the food shortage as such.

    Q: Well not exclusive, but how serious does Japan see this? Does this take you sort of by surprise? Some people in the West might have been surprised that things were that bad on the food front.

    Mr. Numata: Again, I have not got enough data with me to respond to you in specific terms about this particular question but at the same time, since you mentioned food, one thing which may be relevant in that context is that we are very much aware of the acute food shortage situation that exists in the four Northern Islands. It is with that in mind that, it was the end of last month, we announced that given this severe food situation in the four Northern Islands, we would extend food assistance amounting to 140 tons, consisting of potatoes, flour, rice, salt, sugar, vegetable oil and so forth. This food is destined for Kunashiri, Shikotan and Etorofu. Also with respect to Etorofu and Shikotan, where there is considerable electric power shortage, we are providing two small diesel generators to each of the Islands to be used for emergency use in hospitals as well as fuel and spare parts and so forth. That is one aspect of the food problem in Russia which is rather close to our shores.

    Related Information (Japan-Russia Relations)
  7. Discussion of the Northern Territories issue at the Summit meeting between Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and President Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation

    Q: What do you expect to come out of the Moscow meetings and do you expect any progress on the issue of the Northern Territories?

    Mr. Numata: We certainly would like to see progress on the Northern Territories issue in the sense that there has been this very meaningful dialogue between our leaders since Krasnoyarsk, carried on in Kawana. When Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura visited Moscow last month there was confirmation of the general line of agreement between the Japanese and Russian leaders in Krasnoyarsk and Kawana with respect to this question of the conclusion of the Peace Treaty. We expect to have a response from President Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation about a certain proposal that then-Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto made to President Yeltsin in Kawana last April. So we do hope that that part of the dialogue between our two countries will continue to proceed in a meaningful way. At the same time, there are a whole lot of things happening in terms of general cooperation in economic and other areas between Japan and Russia in the context of implementing and expanding the so-called Hashimoto-Yeltsin Plan. That will also be discussed. So although the weather may be cold, we look forward to a fruitful visit.

    Q: There have been contradictory reports about what that proposal is --

    Mr. Numata: I am not in a position to go into the details of what the proposal is.

    Q: A woman scholar who writes on Russia-Japan relations wrote in a book that the only way that the deadlock between the two countries can be broken over the Northern Territories would be through a multilateral forum rather than a bilateral forum. What do you say to this?

    Mr. Numata: This distinguished academic is entitled to her own view. Perhaps I should read her book. She is entitled to her own view which may not be shared by others -- that is my implication.

    Q: I would say that late last year there was quite a lot of enthusiasm in Japan about progress in terms of Russian relations. Could I ask you to comment on the state of that momentum these days? Is it as high as it was a year ago?

    Mr. Numata: I do not know whether I should try to characterize it in terms of sort of a thermometer. But I think we do have the sense that if you look at the developments that have taken place since Krasnoyarsk through Kawana and in recent months, there is a sort of unmistakable trend or current of events that are moving forward in the direction of the general improvement of our bilateral relations with Russia. That trend or current itself is a firm one and it is certainly our intention to make sure that this historical flow or current will continue to carry us in the direction that we desire.

    Q: If in extending the offer of assistance to the Northern Territories are you not by implication saying that Russia is not in a position to effectively administer the Northern Territories?

    Mr. Numata: That is carrying it much too far. You are imputing motives which we have not got.

    Q: I am just trying to decipher a meaning, but I will rephrase it. If you are offering aid to the Kurils but not extending aid to the rest of Russia, then that seems to me like some sort of double standard is at work.

    Mr. Numata: I think that is --sorry, I should be careful in my choice of words --I was going to say egregious but I am not quite sure what that means so I withdraw that. I do not think that is a fair characterization. It is a fact that we have been engaged in this practice of exchanges with the inhabitants on the four Northern Islands --the sort of visa-free exchanges and so forth -- and through these exchanges it has come to our notice that our Russian friends on these Islands are faced with some acute problems. It is out of our genuine desire to help these people that we are extending this food aid. To quote one other example, I think just yesterday we carried three children suffering from epilepsy to be given medical treatment in Hokkaido. I do not know whether they have arrived in Hokkaido or not. So I do not agree with you.

    Q: So it is good neighborliness for the Russians in the Northern Territories?

    Mr. Numata: And very close neighbors too.

    Related Information (Japan's Northern Territories)
  8. Reported negotiations between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of Japan concerning a new loan to the Russian Federation

    Q: Some Russian high official said that Japan and Russia are negotiating concerning a new loan for Russia. When I called the Export-Import Bank of Japan, they said it was not true. What is the position of the Foreign Ministry? Does it have some contacts with these alleged new loans

    Mr. Numata: I am not in a position to comment in detail on whatever substance may be coming out of the meeting, at least four or five days in advance of the meeting.

    Related Information (Japan-Russia Relations)
  9. Possible adoption of a joint statement and topics for discussion at the APEC Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Q: Seeing that APEC leaders will have an informal Summit, is some kind of a joint statement expected? If there is, what will Japan be pushing for?

    Mr. Numata: Again, it is a bit early in the day to be talking about the specific outcome of the meeting, but when the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders get together they have been in the habit of issuing a joint declaration, I think it is. Last year they issued the APEC Economic Leaders' Declaration in Vancouver. Something similar may take place. It is up to the Leaders to decide. However, if you are to speculate on what sort of issue may be discussed or addressed by the Leaders, I think one point is that this is the second APEC Leaders' Meeting which is taking place against the backdrop of the Asian economic and financial turmoil. In that context there is also a keen shared interest in the whole question of the financial market, capital flows and the global financial system so that may very well be one of the things that may be discussed. Obviously the question of how those countries which have been afflicted with the economic and financial turmoil in Asia can surmount the difficulties that they are faced with and how their friends, including Japan, may be able to help them. That could also be another topic. There is also the traditional APEC topic of trade and investment liberalization and facilitation and what they call economic and technical cooperation (ECOTECH). So I do not think there will be any sort of dearth of issues to be tackled.

    Q: Seeing that at the ministerial level, the early sectoral liberalization scheme has come to a standstill between Japan and the US, do you think that it is possible that this topic may be brought forward at the Leaders' level?

    Mr. Numata: In describing the issue I think at one point you omitted one very important word, which is "voluntary." It is voluntary and that is the very important point about this APEC process. We have attached importance to the voluntary aspect of this whole exercise and that is what we have been emphasizing to our partners, including the United States. Through our Foreign Minister who is now traveling through the Republic of Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, to these partners as well, when we talk about this Early Voluntary Sectoral Liberalization (EVSL) we are talking about nine specific areas including fishery and forestry products. However so much focus has been placed on tariff reduction or elimination with respect to the fishery and forestry products but there are seven other areas and with respect to each area there will be tariff measures as well as other measures, that is facilitation through standards certification and so forth and ECOTECH. So there are three ways to approach this in each area so there are nine areas. Three times nine equals twenty-seven and to place so much focus on just the tariff aspect of the two areas, two out of twenty-seven, may not be said to be striking the right balance. We do feel that each country has its sensitive areas. Fishery and forestry products for Japan are very sensitive areas but at the same time we are by far the largest importers of fishery and forestry products. We are saying that these two products shall be the subject of negotiation in the next round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations in the context of a comprehensive negotiation encompassing a variety of areas, rather than sort of picking and choosing certain areas in the context of a sectorally limited way in the context of APEC. So those are the points that we are emphasizing. We are in the process of explaining these points to our partners in APEC. We will continue to work hard along these lines and we do hope that our efforts in this regard will be successful.

    Q: Some reports have indicated that Malaysia and especially Dr. Mahathir needs friends right now, seeing the current political situation in Malaysia. They have also called for APEC leaders to boycott the meeting in Kuala Lumpur. What is Japan's stance?

    Mr. Numata: We have made it very clear that Prime Minister Obuchi will be going to Kuala Lumpur to attend the APEC meeting. Prime Minister Mohamad Mahathir of Malaysia was in Tokyo just a few weeks ago. He gave one of the keynote speeches at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD II) and on that occasion he and Prime Minister Obuchi had a chance to talk. Prime Minister Obuchi said to Prime Minister Mahathir that we remain supportive of Malaysia's efforts to overcome the current economic difficulties and we also attach importance to political stability in Malaysia. On that occasion Prime Minister Obuchi also mentioned the fact that there seems to be some considerable international concern about the internal situation in Malaysia and this is something that Prime Minister Obuchi himself was concerned about. So as friends they are talking candidly and freely. I expect it to continue to be the case when they have a chance to meet in Kuala Lumpur.

    Related Information (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC))
  10. The active diplomatic calendar of Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi in the month of November

    Q: It seems to be an extremely busy period.

    Mr. Numata: You can say that again.

    Q: Is this unprecedented? You have Summits with the Russians, the Chinese and the Americans in about a three-week period. Can you remember anything as busy as that?

    Mr. Numata: No I can not. Not since I came here. I hope I live to survive it -- with the hope that we will all survive it.

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