Press Conference by the Press Secretary 24 November, 1998

  1. Summit Meeting between Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and President William Jefferson Clinton of the United States of America
  2. Possible statement of apology by the Government of Japan to the Government of the People's Republic of China
  3. Position of the Government of Japan on the status of Taiwan
  4. Response of the Government of Japan to the final judgment in the case brought by prisoners of war of the United Kingdom
  5. Release of the East-Asian Strategy Report (EASR) for 1998 by the Department of Defense of the United States of America
  6. Response of the People's Republic of China to Japan-US security cooperation
  7. Possibility of discussion of enhancement of security dialogue between Japan and China
  8. Support of the Government of Japan to the Middle East peace process
  9. The People's Republic of China and North Korea

  1. Summit Meeting between Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and President William Jefferson Clinton of the United States of America

    Press Secretary Sadaaki Numata: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. It has been some time since I stood here, not because I have been taking a holiday, but I have been following a very peripatetic Prime Minister. I am still suffering from jet lag. There have been important visits, either in the sense of Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi visiting Moscow and Kuala Lumpur or President William Jefferson Clinton of the United States coming to Japan last week. I think I would say just one thing before I take questions.

    With respect to President Clinton's visit to Japan last week, I think you may already have heard a lot about it. I would say just one thing with respect to the assessment of the visit which is that one theme which emerged very clearly from this visit is that although it was a short visit, it did show very clearly the importance of Japan and the United States working together as partners. Working together as partners, not simply in the bilateral sense, but in dimensions which go far beyond the bilateral scope. If you look at the main issues that were discussed between the two leaders, they spent quite a lot of time talking about the world economy and the Asian economy. They also spent a considerable amount of time talking about the strengthening of the international financial system and the Japan-US Joint Initiative to help the Asian countries which was announced in Kuala Lumpur, and also in that context, the importance of Japan's efforts to strengthen its financial system and to stimulate domestic demand and so forth. As you saw in the announcement which was made last week, they talked for example about peace in the Middle East and what the United States and Japan can do together and separately to help that process and it is in that context that Prime Minister Obuchi said that Japan would be contributing US$200 million over a period of two years to help the Palestinians. One other item on the global agenda is our help to the Central American and Caribbean countries in terms of our own assistance as well as most recently, in terms of our emergency aid to those countries that have been afflicted by Hurricane Mitch. We have our Self-Defense Forces personnel there helping them with the medical care arising from that hurricane. So if you look at all these, I think it is very clear that the two leaders looked at this whole global dimension of the Japan-US relationship and reconfirmed the importance of the two countries working together in that context. So that is my very brief summary of what has been a somewhat busy two weeks.

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  2. Possible statement of apology by the Government of Japan to the Government of the People's Republic of China

    Q: President Jiang Zemin is arriving tomorrow. I think there has been a lot of speculation about some kind of expression of apology for the Second World War. Can you tell us what we may expect?

    Mr. Numata: It is very difficult to do that without adding further grist to the rumor mill. You will see the outcome of all these discussions within a relatively short period of time. The question of how we reflect our perception of past history is one of the matters that are under discussion with the Chinese side, together with a number of other items which may be discussed between the two leaders. So the question of how, in terms of substance and the question of in what form, is still under discussion. Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan of the People's Republic of China is arriving this afternoon. We expect that Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura will have an opportunity to talk to his Chinese counterpart some time in the course of today or perhaps in the late afternoon to go through the final preparation for the discussion between the two leaders. That is where it stands and I think at this point I would go back to my earlier point that I do not see much point in my adding further grist to the rumor mill, except to say that our basic approach to the question that you mentioned has been and will continue to be on the basis of the positions that we have expressed in the past. For example at the time of the normalization of our relations in the Joint Communique of 1972 and in the positions expressed by our leaders under the previous Cabinets. I think I had better leave it there.

    Q: Could you elaborate a little on the things that you can talk about, meaning the recent historical relationship between Japan and China with respect to pre-World War Two and World War Two activities that Japan's military -- I know you can refer me back again to documents and things but what has been the official position and therefore, what is open to --

    Mr. Numata: I can mention two things. One is that at the time of the normalization of our relations in 1972, we had a Joint Communique at that time and in that Joint Communique there is this expression, "The Japanese side is keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious damage that Japan caused in the past to the Chinese people through war, and deeply reproaches itself." So this reference to the past and the expression of the feeling of reproach, responsibility and so forth, was already there in 1972. So that was what I might call a China-specific statement at the time of the normalization. I will enter the caveat, I start sounding like General Alexander Haig now, I will enter the caveat that I am doing this in terms of explaining the sort of positions that have been expressed before without prejudice to whatever may be the outcome this time. However, in a more general vein with respect to this general question of how we perceive our actions in the past, there was a very clear statement by the then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on 15 August 1995. The Prime Minister talked about the tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations caused by Japan in the past and he further said, and I quote, "...and express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology." So that was a general statement. When I referred to the previous statements made in the past by our leaders, I was referring for example to these statements. So our approach will be based on these statements. Exactly how it may be handled is still under discussion with the Chinese side, and I go back to my earlier statement of not wanting to add further grist to the speculative mill.

    Q: May I follow up with an easy, I hope, procedural question?

    Mr. Numata: I always welcome easy questions. As long as they are easy.

    Q: When will the communique be released? In what languages and how can we receive it most expediently?

    Mr. Numata: That is a pertinent procedural question. In the course of the visit of President Jiang Zemin of the People's Republic of China, when it is ready, and probably in the first instance in Japanese and Chinese. I do not know how quickly we can work to produce an English translation, if we are to produce an English translation. By your question I infer the degree of your interest on your own part. I will try to respond to that.

    Q: Will the joint statement from the Japan-China Summit reflect the official position of Japan concerning what happened in the past?

    Mr. Numata: And what may be happening in the future. People tend to forget that, yes.

    Q: Do you think what is going to be in this statement can satisfy China?

    Mr. Numata: We have been working hard on the ways which will best reflect the positions as well as the desires and aspirations of both sides in an appropriate manner. At this point, I am not in a position to be able to breach exactly what form it is going to take. It may take the form of a joint document. This is something that we have been working very hard on together with the Chinese side. We do feel that we should be able to reach mutual accommodations. I think Foreign Minister Koumura, in the course of his press conference this morning, was voicing such optimism, so we will continue to work hard to arrive at something which will reflect the positions of both sides as well as areas of commonality. Perhaps it is inevitable. Your people seem to be so much interested in what has happened in the past. We are at least equally interested in what we will be able to do in the future and this particular visit, the first visit by the Head of State of China to take place in over 2000 years. And I think it is reasonable to expect that this may be the last visit by the Head of State of China to take place within this century because we are already in 1998, and it is a very significant one in the sense of signaling the intentions of Japan and China to develop our relations further and work together on a host of matters in which we have shared interests. In that context, I refer not only to our bilateral shared interests, in the sense of strengthening and deepening the exchanges between our two countries at what we may call the "people-to people level," but also our working together on a host of regional issues as well as global issues. Twenty-six years after the normalization of our relations and 20 years after the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, I think we have really come to a point where we assess what we have done so far and start building a framework for the sort of future-orientated relationship in the 21st century where we see ourselves working hand-in-hand with China on the sort of issues that I have talked about. I wanted to mention that just to strike a balance.

    Q: You mentioned that it is the first visit by a Chinese Head of State in 2000 years. That would also mean it is the first visit by a Chinese Head of State since normalization of relations which was 26 years ago. Why is it happening now, and by that I also mean why has it taken so long for this visit to come about?

    Mr. Numata: For one thing we were at war and we have been working very hard to deal with our relations with China and the first hurdle to be cleared was to normalize our relations which took place in 1972. Since then we have spent a considerable amount of time building the basis firstly for our bilateral relationship. The Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which was concluded in 1978, was another important landmark in that regard. In that process we have been helping China with its modernization efforts, that is reform and openness, and that I think has helped China's development process considerably. So I would say, at the risk of some generalization, that if you look at the -- about a quarter of a century since the normalization of our relations -- it took us about two decades to build a basis. You may recall that Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan visited China in the summer of 1992. We now feel that our relationship with China is evolving into a relationship which not only has a bilateral focus, but which also has a multilateral focus in terms of our working together to address a host of issues in the region and also in the world at large. So taking all these factors together, we feel that this is indeed an appropriate opportunity for the Chinese leader to visit Japan. Last year was the 25th anniversary of the normalization of our relations and this year is the 20th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship. His visit was scheduled earlier for September, but because of the flood in China, that had to be postponed. It was really our strong desire and it was also the Chinese desire to do this within this year which has this particular historical significance.

    Q: Assuming the visit goes as we all expect, that it is a great success --

    Mr. Numata: Thank you.

    Q: What do you think this will mean for the Government in terms of having to look to the past so much, instead of to the future? Do you think that this represents any kind of final accounting or acknowledgment of Japan's wartime activities? Does this close the book on the war or is there still a lot of work to be done?

    Mr. Numata: I think the process in which we are engaged is a process where we face the past squarely and at the same time, build for the future. I do not know whether one can really talk about a sort of very clear break between the two. In some sense these two things need to be pursued at the same time, but as we engage in this process, perhaps there is more and more emphasis placed on the future. Finding ourselves as we do, towards the end of this particular century and as we approach the next millennium, I think it is perfectly natural for us to have this desire to establish a framework towards the next century which will serve as a basis or as an umbrella for a stable and multifaceted relationship in the middle- to long-term.

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  3. Position of the Government of Japan on the status of Taiwan

    Q: You very kindly gave us the exact wording of Prime Minister Murayama's apology. I wonder if you could be further kind enough to give us the exact wording on which Japan bases its position on Taiwan?

    Mr. Numata: This is turning out to be a lexicological session or historical session. We go back again to the Joint Communique of 1972 when we normalized our relations with the People's Republic of China. Paragraph two of that Joint Communique said "The Government of Japan recognizes the Government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China." Paragraph three said "The Government of the People's Republic of China reiterates that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of the People's Republic of China. The Government of Japan fully understands and respects this stand of the Government of the People's Republic of China, and it firmly maintains its stand under Article 8 of the Potsdam Proclamation." This is the position that Japan has been consistently taking over the past 26 years and this is the position that we expect we will continue to take.

    Q: Do you have Article 8 of the Potsdam Proclamation?

    Mr. Numata: I do. Under the Potsdam Proclamation, Article 8, "The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the Islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine." And your next question is what about the Cairo Declaration, right? "It is their (that is, the Allied Powers, the three Great Allies) purpose that Japan shall be stripped of all the Islands in the Pacific she has seized or occupied since the beginning of the First World War in 1914 and that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese such as Manchuria, Formosa and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China." My footnote -- it is not in the text -- this was in November 1943. I think that is the operative part. I may add just one point which is that since the normalization of -- I may take advantage of your question to try to forestall some of your following questions. I referred to the Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Proclamation. There is another very important document which is the San Francisco Peace Treaty. It was under the San Francisco Peace Treaty that we renounced all right, title and claim to Formosa and the Pescadores. That was Article 2 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. So it on the basis of this provision of Article 2 in the San Francisco Peace Treaty that we placed ourselves in the position of not judging the legal position of Taiwan. That has been a very important factor. One other point I would add is that since the normalization of our relations in 1972, with respect to the Potsdam Proclamation and the Cairo Declaration which I read out, we have been consistently taking the position that the reference to the Republic of China under the Cairo Declaration really means China.

    Q: When Clinton visited China, he informally accepted the three no's policy. Is there a possibility that Prime Minister Obuchi will announce acceptance of the three no's policy?

    Mr. Numata: My answer to that question is very similar to the answer that I have been giving to previous questions which is that our basic position with respect to Taiwan has consistently been the position reflected in the Joint Communique of 1972 and we do not intend to change it. It is on the basis of that position that we will be expressing our views, if necessary, on the question of Taiwan. I might add that the Chinese side has not, at least to my knowledge, demanded that there should be a reference to the three no policy as such in whatever joint document that we may arrive at.

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  4. Response of the Government of Japan to the final judgment in the case brought by prisoners of war of the United Kingdom

    Q: On Thursday, British prisoners of war will receive their final judgment. Can you tell us how closely the Japanese Government is watching this case and whether they will react to whatever the judgment is?

    Mr. Numata: It has been in the judiciary for some time. I happen to have some knowledge of it, but I do not have to go into it. We will await the judgement by the judiciary and before we see the judgment, I think it would not be proper for me to speculate on the judgment or to speculate on our responses to that. This is something that we have been following with interest.

    Q: Is there an expectation that you will have some comment available, however the judgment goes?

    Mr. Numata: I will inform the offices concerned that there is an interest in that as well.

  5. Release of the East-Asian Strategy Report EASR) for 1998 by the Department of Defense of the United States of America

    Q: Yesterday the US Defense Department issued a report concerning their East Asian strategy. Part of it reflected the US desire to enhance cooperation with China in security matters. What is Japan's response to that?

    Mr. Numata: As a general proposition, and I think I have said this before, and my colleagues have said this before, we do feel that it is desirable for good and stable relationships to be maintained among the United States, China and Japan, or more specifically, between any two of the three actors that I have mentioned. So we do feel that it is in our interest that the US-China relationship improves. We also feel that it is in the interest of the United States that we do have a good and stable relationship with China. You are talking about the East Asian Strategic Review (EASR). They are talking about examples of US-China military exchanges where the United States expressed its expectation or hope for China playing a role as a responsible member of the international community in the interest of future peace and prosperity of Asia? Is that the portion you are talking about? I am sorry if my rendition into English is not quite exact, because I was translating from Japanese into English, but presumably it bears some resemblance to what is actually contained in the document. If that is the part that you are referring to, my first answer really answers the point in the sense that we would welcome China being positively engaged in the international community in various fields, including in the field of security.

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  6. Response of the People's Republic of China to Japan-US security cooperation

    Q: China has been concerned with Japan-US cooperation in security and defense. How is Japan going to handle this during the Summit?

    Mr. Numata: I think it is widely recognized that the security relationship between Japan and the United States, our alliance relationship with the United States, does constitute a very important positive factor when we consider peace and security in this part of the world. That is why we continue to attach importance to this relationship. For that matter, this EASR and the ideas contained therein are something that we welcome in the sense that it reaffirms the commitment of the United States to the Asia-Pacific region and it shows that the United States continues to attach importance to its security relationship with Japan. And that was also the position reflected in President Clinton's visit last week. Also, this EASR shows that the United States is keenly conscious of the need to build good, friendly relations with the communities in which US forces are based, as sort of good neighbors. We welcome these ideas. I think those are, if asked, the points that we expect that we will be explaining to the Chinese side.

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  7. Possibility of discussion of enhancement of security dialogue between Japan and China

    Q: Is there any possibility of having the two leaders discuss the improvement or enhancement of security dialogue between Japan and China?

    Mr. Numata: I think it is possible. It is possible because there has been some progress in that regard in the sense of the Defense Ministers visiting and the uniformed senior officials visiting each other and so forth. There is a trend which is a positive one. It think it is possible that they may, in some way or other, be addressing that.

    Q: I am talking about acceleration. For example, would you say the security dialogue may be agreed upon to go to a level Japan is now having with Russia? I am referring to naval exercises.

    Mr. Numata: I do not know at this point. What I am trying to say is that there has been a trend for more active exchange, exchanges and visits and what you might call confidence building. I would not be surprised if some discussions took place with respect to how we can go about continuing that sort of trend.

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  8. Support of the Government of Japan to the Middle East peace process

    Q: According to some news reports, today Prime Minister Koumura had a telephone conversation with his American counterpart and they discussed the Middle East peace process. I also heard that the US$200 million pledged during the Summit between Prime Minister Obuchi and President Clinton was described as a personal initiative by Prime Minister Obuchi. Do you expect more personal initiatives in the peace plan for the Middle East, this process which is stagnant?

    Mr. Numata: Firstly, about this personal initiative. Perhaps one could argue that the forum for making that pledge would have been this meeting which will take place in Washington on 30 November. However, Prime Minister Obuchi took the occasion of President Clinton's visit to inform President Clinton of our intention to extend US$200 million over a period of two years, partly because he greatly appreciated President Clinton's own efforts in reaching the Wye River Accord, with President Clinton sometimes staying up over night, and that is one of the things that Prime Minister Obuchi mentioned, and partly because we felt that our announcing it just one week before the meeting might also have the effect of inducing other possible donors to make their own pledges. The details are to be worked out, but under this pledge, we will be looking at ways of helping the process for Palestinian autonomy in the sense of supporting their efforts to build a sort of government-administrative machinery, basic infrastructure, refugee assistance, creation of jobs, in addition to these areas which we have been taking up in the past. Also human resources development in terms of education, health and culture and what you might call the governance or the art of governing on the part of the Palestinian autonomous government and also promoting industries. So these are the things that we will be concentrating on. Another area in which we have been trying to contribute to the Middle East peace process is through our participation in the multilateral negotiations or consultations where we have chaired the Environmental Working Group and we have acted as vice chair for the Economic Development and Water Resources Working Group. So if these multilateral negotiations processes become activated again, we look forward to playing our part. However for the moment, I have not heard about any new personal initiative on Prime Minister Obuchi's part as far as the last 72 hours are concerned.

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  9. The People's Republic of China and North Korea

    Q: To what degree does Japan look to China for intercession or as an intermediary between Japan and the North Koreans?

    Mr. Numata: I think we do have a lot of interest in common with China in the sense of the need to prevent North Korea from following a certain course, that is the course of isolating itself from the international community and pursuing a very dangerous path of nuclear development. That is why we keep in close touch with China and I think it is fair to say that we would welcome any role which might be played by China in that respect. I know you are going to ask me this, so I might as well answer it. It is not for us really to say how much influence China wields on North Korea, but if there is a role that can be played by China, we would think of that as a positive contribution. Sorry for forestalling your question.

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