Press Conference by the Press Secretary 20 November, 1998

  1. Gathering of ministers from Japan and the Republic of Korea from 28 to 29 November in Kagoshima
  2. Support of the Government of Japan for the Middle East peace process
  3. Visit by Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  4. Visit of President Jiang Zemin of the People's Republic of China to Japan
  5. Japanese trade surplus with the United States

  1. Gathering of ministers from Japan and the Republic of Korea from 28 to 29 November in Kagoshima

    Deputy Press Secretary Masaki Okada: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. First, I would like to make a few statements. The first one relates to the coming gathering of the Japan-Republic of Korea ministers. Japan and the Republic of Korea will hold a gathering of their ministers and related events, on 28 to 29 November in Kagoshima. The gathering aims at strengthening the dialogue between the two countries It was stipulated in the Japan-Republic of Korea Joint Declaration, signed by the two leaders when President Kim Dae Jung of the Republic of Korea visited Japan. This year has seen the 400th anniversary of the introduction of Korean pottery, now it is called Satsuma ware, into Kagoshima prefecture. The long and rich history of exchanges between the two countries is still alive. Bilateral relations are expected to be further strengthened as Cabinet members of the two countries conduct a free and candid exchange of views in Kagoshima, and attend cultural events related to the anniversary. The forthcoming gathering will be attended by the Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and other Cabinet members of the two countries. From the Japanese side, in addition to Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura, four ministers will attend. From the Republic of Korea side, three additional ministers are going to attend this meeting.

    Related Information (Japan-Republic of Korea Relations)
  2. Support of the Government of Japan for the Middle East peace process

    Deputy Press Secretary Okada: The second one relates to the peace process in the Near East. Yesterday, on 19 November, the Cabinet of the State of Israel decided to undertake the first stage of the re-deployment on the West Bank. Also the meeting between Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon of the State of Israel, and Secretary General Furayh Abu-Middayn of the Executive Committee of Palestine Authority took place, and they decided to start the negotiation on the permanent status within a week. Japan welcomes these actions of both parties in line with the Wye River Agreement, and strongly hopes that both parties will implement the points of the Wye River Agreement sincerely and without delay. Prior to the said Cabinet decision of Israel, Prime Minister Obuchi sent letters dated 11 November to Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu of the State of Israel and Chairman Yassir Arafat of the Palestine Authority. He urged Israel to overcome the tragedies caused by terrorism, and sincerely implement the Wye River Agreement. He urged both sides to engage in the permanent status negotiations, towards the end of the expiry of the provisional autonomy period in May 1999. He also expressed that Japan continues to give utmost support to the peace process. I think in this relation, Prime Minister Obuchi is going to talk about this issue of our support with President William Clinton of the United States in his meeting which starts this afternoon. Please attend the press conference he is going to hold thereafter.

    Related Information (Japan-Middle East Relations)
  3. Visit by Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Deputy Press Secretary Okada: I would also like to briefly refer to the recent visit by Prime Minister Obuchi to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting in Kuala Lumpur. We think that the most important subject of the Meeting was the concrete measures to put the Asian economy on the recovery path. Prime Minister Obuchi explained that based on the standpoint that the revitalization of the Japanese economy is important for the revitalization of the whole Asian economy. The steady implementation of the comprehensive economic measures announced last April, the legislation for the purpose of the restoration of the financial system, including the Bank Recapitalization Law, as well as the Emergency Economic Package which was just adopted on 16 November, as measures of our efforts towards our economic revival. Prime Minister Obuchi also actively participated in the discussion for the strengthening of international financial reform, and explained Japan's assistance scheme of the size of US$30 billion, the so-called new Miyazawa Initiative, and the Japan-US Joint Initiative to revitalize private-sector growth in Asia. He received a high evaluation and high expectations from a number of leaders. The will of APEC members to sustain the momentum of liberalization and the facilitation of trade and investment, and to strengthen the economic and financial cooperation, despite the present economic situation in the Asia-Pacific region, was reconfirmed at the Meeting. In this respect, it is important that members could overcome thedifferences of opinion and reach agreement at the prior Ministerial Conference with respect to the Early Voluntary Sectoral Liberalization (EVSL).

    Related Information (APEC 1998)
  4. Visit of President Jiang Zemin of the People's Republic of China to Japan

    Q: I heard that the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Tang Jiaxuan will visit Japan earlier than Jiang Zemin. Can you confirm that?

    Mr. Okada: Today you can listen to the briefing of Director Shiro Sadoshima of the China and Mongolia Division. He is going to explain to you in detail concerning the visit of President Jiang Zemin of the People's Republic of China and related issues. He is coming at 14:30.

    Related Information (President Jiang Zemin and Mrs. Wang's State Visit to Japan)
  5. Japanese trade surplus with the United States

    Q: In his speech to the American Chamber of Commerce this morning, President Clinton spoke of his fears that if the Japanese economy does not improve and the trade surplus is not reduced, that there may be a risk of what he called "retaliatory protectionism" within the US. Is that a concern which Japan shares?

    Mr. Okada: I have not heard that precise speech made by President Clinton, but we understand that now the Japanese trade surplus with the United States is increasing, and there is certainly some sort of concern on the side of the United States. But we think that is fundamentally because Japan is in a very difficult economic situation, and Japanese demand is now decreasing. On the other hand the United States is in a very good economic situation, and this macroeconomic disparity causes this short-term expansion of the Japanese surplus vis-a-vis the United States. We are going to discuss those kind of things at the Summit Meeting this afternoon, and of course we will consult on this topic in the future. We hope that we can solve that problem to the satisfaction of both sides.

    Related Information (Japan-The United States Relations)

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