Press Conference by the Press Secretary 26 November, 1998

  1. Summit Meeting between Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and President Jiang Zemin of the People's Republic of China
  2. Content of the Declaration between Japan and the People's Republic of China
  3. Comparison of the contents of the documents between Japan and the Republic of Korea and Japan and the People's Republic of China
  4. Treatment of the Declaration by the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China
  5. Future prospects for the Asia-Pacific region
  6. Possible discussion of other defense-related topics
  7. Extension of 390 billion yen loan to the People's Republic of China
  8. Announcement of final judgment in case brought by a group of prisoners of war of the United Kingdom

  1. Summit Meeting between Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and President Jiang Zemin of the People's Republic of China

    Press Secretary Sadaaki Numata: Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It is getting late so I will try to be as business-like and expeditious as possible in trying to give you an idea of the meeting which lasted in total for more than two hours. I am not going to spend two hours with you. This is an on the record briefing. The meeting was divided into two parts. One is the small meeting -- the participants and so forth, I think I will ask my colleagues to supply you the details -- which lasted from 15:30 to 16:30, then a more large-scale expanded meeting which lasted from about16:30 to 17:40, I believe. Firstly, about the small meeting. Basically, it was the two leaders and just a handful of people from each side. The main topics discussed were Japan-China relations in general, how we perceive history, and Taiwan. In the expanded meeting, they also discussed Japan-China relations but also economic and other issues. The atmosphere in the small meeting was a very earnest exchange of views, but with a positive atmosphere prevailing throughout.

    Firstly, with respect to Japan-China relations. Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi paid his respect to President Jiang Zemin of the People's Republic of China for the President's leadership in overcoming the challenges of this unprecedented flood and he went on to extend his heartfelt welcome to this first Chinese Head of State to visit Japan in the history of Japan-China friendship which spans over 2000 years. He found it particularly welcome that President Jiang is visiting Japan in this year, 1998, which is the 20th anniversary of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China and just a short time away from the advent of the 21st century. So he extended his own and the Japanese people's welcome to President Jiang. Prime Minister Obuchi went on to underline the large responsibility and roles which Japan and China play in today's world and he noted that the Japan-China relationship has now entered a new phase in which we build and strengthen a new framework in which the two countries work together to tackle a host of issues facing the international community today. He expressed his desire to build a long-lasting and stable framework to that end. And it is with these considerations in mind, he went on to say, that he wanted to issue this Declaration, together with President Jiang, which characterizes the partnership between the two countries as the partnership of friendship and cooperation for peace and development. They are still busily proofreading the Declaration in question. We will give it to you as soon as they finish the proofreading, at least in Japanese. President Jiang responded by expressing his appreciation for the very warm welcome extended to him, not only by Prime Minister Obuchi but Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress of Japan as well as by the Japanese people. He said that as he visits Japan as the Chinese Head of State, and close to the turn of the century, he felt that it was a very good opportunity for us to put the past in perspective and look to the future. He also noted that China is a developing country. Japan is an advanced developing country and as such they share heavy responsibilities and we look forward to building a friendly relationship between the two countries which strides the two centuries. He expressed his satisfaction that the two Governments have agreed to issue this Declaration and he said that on China's part it was China's intention to make the maximum efforts to achieve the objectives set forth in the Declaration. Then President Jiang talked about the question of history and also about Taiwan. President Jiang first addressed the question of history and he noted that these two issues, how we perceive history and the question of Taiwan, relate to the very basis of the Japan-China relationship. This does not mean that China is preoccupied with the past, but it is important to deal with the past in the right way so that we can build the future. He went on to say that as we look at the 2000 years of history between our two countries, friendship and cooperation prevailed for the main part, but in the recent past Japanese militarism and aggression caused substantial damage to China. China has taken the view that Japanese people as well were the victims of such moves on the part of Japan in the past. There is no change in China's policy to work together with Japan for the future. He felt that the Government of Japan on its part understood well the importance of history such as has been reflected in the Joint Communique in 1972 and in the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1978. Militarism goes against progress and peace. It is important for the Government of Japan to face up to the past squarely, and in that context, he is well aware of the positions expressed by the Government of Japan by various leaders, including by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, and China appreciated the fact that such leaders expressed very clearly the position of not allowing the revival of militarism and also expressed very clearly Japan's intention not to pursue the path of becoming a military power again. But at the same time, he found it difficult to understand that the views which are the opposite of the ones expressed by these leaders or the Government of Japan, have surfaced from time to time, although he understood that there is freedom of speech in Japan. His advice to Japan as a friend was for Japan to put the history of the past in perspective as we approach the turn of the century. And it was China's desire to contribute to world peace together with Japan. He went on to talk about Taiwan, but let me give you Prime Minister Obuchi's response on the history part of it first.

    Prime Minister Obuchi referred to the fact that he was born in 1973, 1937 sorry -- he looks very young -- 1937, which was a year in which some unfortunate events took place in the context of Japan-China history. For that reason also, it was really his sincere desire to work for better Japan-China relations. He went on to say that for the Japan-China relationship to develop further towards the future, it is necessary to face up to the past squarely. There was an unfortunate relationship between Japan and China in a certain period of the past and in that connection he wanted to make a few points, and on that basis to talk about the future. The first point is that the statement issued by former Prime Minister Murayama in 1995 clearly expressed Japan's deep remorse and heartfelt apology about Japan's colonial rule and aggression in a certain period in the past. Prime Minister Obuchi said the Government of Japan expresses once again this remorse and apology to China on this occasion. The second point is that Japan has consistently pursued the path of peaceful development in the postwar years and it is the view of the great majority of the Japanese people that Japan should never again pursue the path of a military power. In that context, it was his sincere wish that this visit by the Chinese President will prove to be an important opportunity for the two countries to put the past history into perspective and to advance the Japan-China relationship further towards the future. President Jiang was listening to this with keen interest and nodding as he listened.

    President Jiang referred to the question of Taiwan as an issue which relates to the unity and territorial integrity of the nation and he said that the question of where Taiwan belongs is firmly settled and there is no doubt that it is an internal matter for China. He appreciated the fact that Japan has been taking a careful attitude towards Taiwan ever since the normalization in 1972. He also appreciated the fact that previous Japanese Prime Ministers have stated that Japan will not support the independence of Taiwan. He reiterated that this is a matter which does pertain to China's sovereignty and he emphasized the importance of Japan continuing to abide by what was stated in the Joint Communique of 1972. He also referred to the Japan-US security cooperation in this context saying that, again the focus is Taiwan in this context, to include Taiwan in the Japan-US security cooperation is an interference in the domestic affairs of China. He noted the statements by Japanese leaders that the Japan-US security cooperation, or in particular the Japan-US Guidelines for Defense Cooperation, are not directed to any particular country or area and it was his wish that this position will continue to be preserved. In fact, in the actual meeting, President Jiang talked about history and Taiwan at the same time. Having said all this, he said he has spoken frankly in the interests of the future.

    On Taiwan, Prime Minister Obuchi responded by saying that Japan has consistently been acting since the normalization in 1972 on the basis of the recognition shown in the Joint Communique of 1972, that China is one and it is Japan's intention to firmly and consistently maintain the position stated in the Joint Communique. He also said that it is Japan's position not to support the independence of Taiwan. This is something that we have expressed on a number of occasions in the past and there will be no change in this. If there were certain elements in China who might be concerned that because of Japan's acts in the past, Japan might have a lingering territorial ambition towards China, Prime Minister Obuchi wanted to make it absolutely clear that we have no such intention. Prime Minister Obuchi then referred to the ongoing dialogue between Taiwan and China, referring for example to the recent visit by Mr. Gu Chen-fu of Taiwan to the Continent. Prime Minister Obuchi welcomed the progress in the contacts between the parties on both sides of the Strait and expressed his strong hope that there will be further progress in such dialogue and that the issue of Taiwan will be resoled peacefully through dialogue between the parties on both sides of the Strait. With respect to Japan-US security cooperation, Prime Minister Obuchi stressed that the Japan-US security arrangements are purely defensive in nature and are not directed to any particular threat nor are they directed to any particular country. He went on to say that the positions expressed by former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto when he visited China in September of last year remain unchanged, namely that the Japan-US Guidelines for Defense Cooperation are not directed to any particular country nor to any particular situation. The concept involved is not geographical but situational and with respect to Taiwan, as he stated before, we will maintain the consistent position expressed in the Joint Communique of 1972.

    President Jiang expressed his appreciation for the Prime Minister's statements -- that covers both the statements by the Prime Minister -- both with respect to history and with respect to Taiwan. He felt that for Japan to take the right stance in these issues would be in Japan's own interest and he hoped that Japan will continue to pursue the path of peaceful development. That is it for the small meeting.

    For the larger meeting there a number of items involved so let me try to go over them rather quickly -- Japan-China relations. I will try to avoid duplication with what I have explained with respect to the small meeting. Prime Minister Obuchi, referring to this partnership of friendship and cooperation for peace and development, noted that there has been remarkable development as well as deepening of the relationship between our two countries and now the Japan-China relationship, for both Japan and China, is one of the most important bilateral relationships, not only for both Japan and China but for the international community as a whole.

    President Jiang expressed his appreciation for the welcome and expressed the hope that his visit will serve to lead the Japan-China relationship to a new phase of development. He also expressed his appreciation for Japan's aid to China's flood. He noted that since normalization, the trend of development in the Japan-China relationship has been, on the whole, good and sound. The Joint Communique and the Treaty of Peace and Friendship built the political basis for such development and it was China's desire to develop this further, both in terms of form and substance. He referred to these two issues, that is the past and Taiwan, describing them as issues which directly touch the national sentiments of China and expressed the hope that Japan will continue to attach importance to these issues. Then he noted that the Japan-China relationship has already developed beyond the bilateral dimension and we both have great responsibilities for the progress of humankind. It is in that context that he expressed the desire and intention to work hard to achieve the goals of this partnership that have been incorporated into the Declaration. President Jiang also mentioned this gift from China to Japan in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship and that is a pair of crested Ibis, two very lovely birds, a couple. Incidentally, in this couple, the husband is named "Yo-Yo." I am not quite sure whether he plays the cello. The wife is called "Yang-Yang." Nice alliteration as well. He described this pair of Ibis as a symbol of the new friendship between Japan and China.

    Prime Minister Obuchi expressed his appreciation for this gift and he said we will cherish it as the symbol of new Japan-China friendship. Then they went on to discuss a number of items; economy and economic cooperation, youth exchange, environmental cooperation, Beijing-Shanghai express railway, law enforcement cooperation, security and defense exchanges, World Trade Organization (WTO), the Korean Peninsula and the forthcoming Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders Meeting in December. Firstly, the economic relationship. Prime Minister Obuchi expressed his satisfaction at the remarkable development of the Japan-China economic relationship since normalization and expressed the desire to promote this cooperation further through the efforts of both people in the Government and in the private sector. In this context, he noted the desirability of promoting Japanese investment in China further and in order to facilitate this, he expressed his desire for effective measures to be taken in certain areas, for example in the area of Chinese value-added tax and the protection of intellectual property rights and so forth.

    President Jiang on his part, noted that through the efforts on both sides for many years, the Japan-China economic and trade relationship is now in--I think the translation would be an incipient stage of mutual complementarity. Forgive me for any inaccuracy in the language because Iam basically translating what had been translated from Chinese into Japanese. I hope the idea is conveyed. And there exists a basis for a further stable development of this relationship. He expressed his high appreciation to those in the Government of Japan and also various other sectors in Japan, for the very positive attitude taken by those concerned in Japan with respect to economic cooperation to China. He expressed the wish that such relationship will be developed further in the spirit of equality and mutual benefit. He referred in particular to cooperation in science and technology. In addition to the two documents that were signed today, that is one on youth exchange and environmental cooperation, these are between Governments -- I have not been able to discover the details of this -- there was some document signed on scientific and technological cooperation in the private sector, non-governmental sector. He noted this and said that he looked forward to seeing this Japan-China economic and trade relationship achieving, not only quantitative growth, but also qualitative development.

    With respect to Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA), or to be more specific, Japan's yen loans, Prime Minister Obuchi said that in continuation of Japan's efforts to help China's reform and openness policy, the Government of Japan intends to extend the last two-year portion of the fourth yen credit, yen loans amounting to 390 billion yen with respect to 28 projects. He said that although Japan itself faces a very severe economic situation, we have paid the maximum consideration to China and have made this decision in view also of the fact that we have this opportunity to welcome the Chinese Head of State for the first time in Japan.

    President Jiang stated that Japan's yen loans have consistently had a very positive effect on China's economic development and nation building and he expressed his positive appreciation for this decision conveyed by Prime Minister Obuchi to him concerning this remaining portion of the fourth yen credit. In a similar context, Prime Minister Obuchi also referred back again to China's flood by saying that the task from now is rehabilitation and reconstruction. We would like to continue to cooperate. He noted that in the non-government sector, there are some people who are contemplating extending non-governmental cooperation to China in terms of reforestation. We would like to explore the possibilities for cooperation and we would like to keep in close touch with China.

    President Jiang again expressed his appreciation for this positive statement by the Prime Minister and he said that it was his intention to carry out thorough rehabilitation and reconstruction and he would appreciate whatever cooperation might be extended by Japan and said the Government of China would certainly like to be in touch with the Government of Japan about the specifics. Youth exchange is the next item. President Jiang referred to this, saying that youth exchange is very important and necessary for furthering mutual understanding and trust between Japan and China. In that sense he welcomed the document that was signed today as being a very positive step in that context and he wanted to see further activation of these exchanges.

    Prime Minister Obuchi responded by saying that he also felt that it is perhaps more important than anything else to promote mutual understanding through further youth exchange. He said that he had an opportunity the other day to talk with Chinese students studying in Japan and he was very impressed by the very, very high quality of the Chinese students who are here, and he looked forward to welcoming even more Chinese exchange students.

    Environmental cooperation was taken up by President Jiang. He described the environmental cooperation as an important new area. We signed a document on new environmental cooperation today. We have a good beginning in this area and he looked forward to the cooperation and exchanges being expanded further. He made one specific reference to what is known as the East Asia Acid Rain Monitoring Network which now covers Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, the Republic of Indonesia, the Kingdom of Thailand, the Russian Federation -- nine countries altogether. We have been expressing the wish that China will also participate in this. President Jiang said that China will participate in this Network on an experimental basis for two years, that is 1999 and 2000, and China will analyze the results of this experimental participation and on that basis will consider whether or not to participate formally in the Network. Then this Beijing-Shanghai highspeed railway. What would it be called in English?

    Q: Shinkansen?

    Press Secretary Sadaaki Numata: If it is shinkansen, then we would be very happy. Rapid express. Prime Minister Obuchi said that Japan would be willing, both in the Government and the private sector, to extend positive cooperation to this project and we would like to make it one of the symbols of friendship between Japan and China in the 21st century. He also said that on the occasion of President Jiang's visit, we have formulated a specific plan for our cooperation and he handed to President Jiang an outline of that plan.

    President Jiang on his part said that he felt it likely that this will be incorporated in the10th Five-Year Plan. At the same time, as is the case with all other large-scale infrastructure projects, these projects need to be considered carefully. For that purpose, preliminary feasibility studies will be called for. China will be examining this project on the basis of China's own interest and also on the basis of various plans put forward by various countries. He knew that there are already contacts taking place between the people concerned in both Japan and China on this. He said that it will be subject to international competitive tender and he looked forward to Japan's positive participation in that tender. Law enforcement authorities cooperation, that is basically about international crimes.

    Prime Minister Obuchi said that there are serious issues that have to do with crimes that take place across the borders and the increasing importance of international cooperation in fighting these crimes. He felt that Japan and China should place priority on cooperation in this area. There are already exchanges taking place between the two Governments, including at the ministerial level, but he looked forward to having closer contacts with China. They were running out of time by this time. Then on security and defense cooperation, Prime Minister Obuchi noted with pleasure the recent progress in security and defense dialogue and exchanges between our two countries and he expressed the wish to expand this sort of exchange further, for example, through an early realization of mutual ship visits.

    President Jiang noted also that there has been important progress in this regard. For example, for the past year or so, the Defense Ministers of Japan and China visiting each other and so forth. Through these exchanges there are a lot of areas of commonality developing in terms of ideas and perceptions and he looked forward to these exchanges being further expanded at various levels. Regarding WTO, President Jiang took it up by saying that China continues to take a positive stance about participation in the WTO and he expressed the wish that Japan will continue to help China, for example by showing a flexible response in the areas of trade in services, so that China will be able to join the WTO at an early date.

    Prime Minister Obuchi responded by saying that we would like to continue to support China with a view to its early accession to the WTO. He also said that in order to expedite China's accession, it is vital that there will be further liberalization proposals in the areas of services. He looked forward to strong leadership being exercised by President Jiang. A footnote; there was considerable progress in the bilateral access negotiations in the areas of trade in goods and we still have some work to do in terms of trade in services. Prime Minister Obuchi took up the Korean Peninsula by referring to the increasing concern on the part of the international community with respect to North Korea, missiles and so forth. He also said that he understood China has traditionally had a friendly relationship with North Korea, and he would be grateful if China could talk to North Korea with a view to encouraging North Korea to respond positively to these concerns on the part of the international community, and also to respond positively to the issues that exist between Japan and North Korea. Prime Minister Obuchi also referred to the Four-Party talks, in the sense of saying that he was looking forward to further progress in the Four-Party talks. He also said that although this is something that cannot become a reality immediately, he did feel that it would be desirable to have Six-Party talks -- that is; Japan, China, the United States, the Republic of Korea, North Korea and Russia -- to discuss North East Asian security and confidence building issues. Prime Minister Obuchi said that he has talked about this with President William Jefferson Clinton of the United States of America -- this is not something that can happen tomorrow, but he wanted to have President Jiang's understanding of this.

    President Jiang responded by saying that the stability of the Korean Peninsula is a matter of great concern, and we should take advantage of every element which could possibly be useful. With respect to the idea of Six-Party talks or meetings, he has discussed this with Prime Minister Evgenii Primakov of the Russian Federation in his recent visit. He felt that it was important for now for the Four-Party talks to proceed and make progress, in other words he wanted to study the idea of Six-Party talks with patience, waiting for the opportunity to ripen. Then at the end there was a brief reference to the ASEAN meeting to take place in the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam in December. Prime Minister Obuchi said that he planned to attend this meeting, to take place in mid-December, where there will be presumably ASEAN plus three -- meaning Japan, the Republic of Korea, and China -- he understood that Vice President Hu Jintao of the People's Republic of China is visiting although President Jiang said that because he is occupied with domestic affairs he will not be able to make it. At the very end of the meeting, President Jiang said that even in this age of highly-developed communications technology, he felt once again that it is very important to meet somebody in person. He expressed his appreciation, in Japanese, by saying "Domo Arigato."

  2. Content of the Declaration between Japan and the People's Republic of China

    Q: In your rendition of those comments, it did not seem as if the Japanese side offered anything new to China, either on history or on Taiwan. There seems to be a lot of indication that the Chinese side was anticipating something new.

    Mr. Numata: I wonder where the anticipation came from -- some from the imagination of your very hard working colleagues. I think that the description of the meeting I have given you clearly shows that they discussed real issues in earnest, and there was a feeling of mutual satisfaction that they did discuss these issues in depth. With respect to the question of history and the question of Taiwan, our positions have been clearly expressed in the past and we have now reiterated these positions face to face between the two leaders. It was on the basis of these discussions that we have formulated the elements of this partnership of friendship and cooperation for peace and development.

    Q: With respect to the question of history, how is it dealt with specifically in the joint communique -- is the wording an exact duplication of the apology Prime Minister Obuchi offered, or is the wording different?

    Mr. Numata: At this point -- I am sorry they are taking time in the proof reading -- there is a reference to history, I understand that it is not an exact duplication of the exchanges that took place in the meeting, which I have given you in some detail.

    Q: Very specifically, we have all been led to believe by reports that the wording is different, and that there is not a direct apology to China in the communique as there was in the conversation. Is that true, and why would there be a difference between the two?

    Mr. Numata: Because certain things are best conveyed orally, and some elements which summarize all of that may be written down in a document. But we have not got the document yet, so I think I had better leave it there. There will be a reference to this question of history, but that is not an exact duplication of what has been discussed face to face between the two leaders.

    Q: One of the joint statements was not signed by the two countries. Did that show the discontent of the Chinese Government on the denial of a written apology?

    Mr. Numata: That again is an interpretation that has been generated in the fertile imagination of my friends who are sitting before me. From the outset we are not talking about a Declaration that would be signed. Documents can take many forms, and this is basically a political document in which we try to chart the course of our cooperation and partnership in various areas. The question of whether or not the document will be signed, in our view and in the view of China, has little relevance, if any, to the actual weight and importance of the particular document. These things are decided on a case by case basis and I repeat, from the outset when we discussed this Declaration, neither side intended this to be a signed document.

    Q: So at no point during the preparations for this visit did either side propose signing the document -- is that correct?

    Mr. Numata: That is my understanding. That is correct.

    Q: Have you any idea how much time the two governments spent discussing this particular aspect of the communique and how it would be worded?

    Mr. Numata: We have very hard working people on both sides, and they spent a considerable amount of time drafting the whole declaration, I am not simply talking about the history and so forth, it covers a number of areas. I think our Chinese colleagues share our passion for being meticulous, hence the delay in publishing the document.

    Q: You gave us an account of Prime Minister Obuchi's remarks about the events in the year of his birth -- please confirm first of all that the exact wording was "unfortunate events"--

    Mr. Numata: As far as I can translate from the Japanese, yes

    Q: -- and what was Mr. Obuchi referring to?

    Mr. Numata: A history lesson -- it was the 1937 Mukden Incident, the beginning of the hostility.

    Q: He did not elaborate any further than that?

    Mr. Numata: I think that there is quite a bit of shared knowledge on that sort of thing, without his elaborating.

    Q: So as far as the history question is concerned, this is the end of it from Japan's perspective. Would you be surprised if China raises this again?

    Mr. Numata: I think our approach is clearly that we will continue to face up to the past, and at the same time build for the future. As we approach the turn of the century we do believe that this has been a very important visit in that regard. As we talk about the partnership of friendship and cooperation for peace and development, we continue to address the past but at the same time, as was noted by the two leaders, the Japan-China relationship is entering a new phase. Perhaps we are beginning to place more and more emphasis on the future.

    Q: Since the new joint statement has not been signed, do you think that it has the same binding power over two countries as the 1972 and 1978 statements?

    Mr. Numata: No, in the sense that the documents are different in nature. Because in 1972 we are talking about normalizing our relationship, we are trying to rectify an anomalous situation and to build the basis for the development of our bilateral relationship. That was 1972, so there was quite a lot of legal significance to that document as well. In 1978 it was the Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Again that was a legal document. With these two documents having laid the basis for the subsequent development of our relationship, as indeed was noted by President Jiang, what we are now trying to do is to expand the scope of our relationship, and to give further flesh to the possible areas of cooperation. And in that sense it is a collection of the political intentions of both governments. My response to you is that, in that sense the nature of the document this time is somehow different from the previous two documents that you have mentioned.

    Q: So it has no legal binding power this time?

    Mr Numata: I am saying that the nature of documents is different.

    Q: Would you agree with your colleague the Chinese speaker tonight, that Taiwan and history is a problem between Japan and China?

    Mr. Numata: These are matters of interest to China, and in that sense we need to continue to address these two matters. It depends also on how loaded a term you wish to make the term "problem."

    Q: Do you mean that the actual signing of the joint declaration was not intended to take place in the first place?

    Mr. Numata: That is what I have said about six times.

    Q: Just to follow up, would it be true to say that the statement finally made by Mr. Obuchi fell short of China's initial proposal?

    Mr. Numata: No, I cannot say that.

    Q: Why not?

    Mr. Numata: I do not think that is the case. Prime Minister Obuchi made a very clear statement and, as I said before, President Jiang said in response to this, both with respect to history and with respect to Taiwan, that he thought that these were good statements. So that is how the Chinese assessed the positions expressed by Japan on this occasion.

  3. Comparison of the contents of the documents between Japan and the Republic of Korea and Japan and the People's Republic of China

    Q: Would you say that the latest apology is the same in spirit as the apology that was given to President Kim Dae Jung during his visit? What are the differences, if any? And do you also feel that Japan owes China and South Korea the same kind of apology?

    Mr. Numata: Firstly, the basis is the Murayama Statement of 1995 -- "Deep remorse and heartfelt apology" -- and I mentioned colonial rule and aggression. This message was expressed once again by Prime Minister Obuchi to President Jiang, specifically to China. So in that sense, it is similar to the message at the time of the visit of President Kim Dae Jung of the Republic of Korea to Japan. At that time there was also a specific reference to the Republic of Korea, but with respect to colonial rule. So similar, but at the same time I would also note that this is not the first time that the question of the past has been addressed between Japan and China. We go back to the normalization Joint Communique of 1972 in which we also talked about the question of the past -- the normalization Joint Communique said "The Japanese side is keenly conscious of their responsibility for the serious damage that Japan caused in the past to the Chinese people through war, and deeply reproaches itself." That was part of the basis on which we have been building our relationship for the past 26 years. Then there was the Murayama Statement of 1995, which was addressed to a wider audience, and a similar message to that which was contained in the Murayama Statement was reiterated specifically with respect to China today.

    Q: It is appropriate for us in journalism to make comparisons between recent events, and so we all look back to last month's Japan-Republic of Korea Joint Communique which contained the phrase "apology" in respect to history, and was signed. Can you explain the difference between the Japan-Republic of Korea statement, and today's statement?

    Mr. Numata: In terms of comparisons, if you are to compare the case of the Republic of Korea and the Chinese case as it were, there are some differences in what has happened up to now. With respect to China, there was this Joint Communique at the time of the normalization in which there was this clear reference to the past. And the Joint Communique was reconfirmed at the time of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1978. There have been growing and intensive interchanges between Japan and China in the past quarter of a century, and at one stage in that process, in 1992, the visit by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress took place. This was of high symbolic importance to our two countries in the sense of putting the past into perspective. But with respect to the Republic of Korea, President Kim's visit was the first opportunity to put in a very clear form Japan's perception of the past as it related specifically to the Republic of Korea. So in terms of the underlying facts there are some differences.

    Q: Are you also saying that there are no differences between what Japan owes South Korea and China? I asked that question, I was not sure if you finally provided an answer.

    Mr Numata: That is a very subjective question, and I do not know if I am in a position to answer it. But again, if you are to look at the basis of our position with respect to the past, we go back to the Murayama Statement of1995 in which we expressed our deep remorse and heartfelt apology with respect to Japan's past actions, including colonial rule and aggression. If you are to try to detect a trace of difference between these references, I think that would become a somewhat excruciating, semantic, linguistic, lexicological exercise.

    Q: So Japan does not really differentiate in terms of harshness in colonial rule --

    Mr. Numata: No, my point is that the Murayama Statement speaks for itself.

  4. Treatment of the Declaration by the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China

    Q: Perhaps you could clarify, the two leaders signed two agreements today-- one on youth exchange, and one on environmental cooperation -- these were signed but the protocol between the two leaders was not signed.

    Mr. Numata: I think that those were signed by the ministers concerned. I am not even calling it a protocol, I am calling it a Declaration -- it makes a lot of difference, that is why I am saying it is a political document.

    Q: Should we read any significance into that?

    Mr Numata: No, you should not.

    Q: Clearly the apology and the message in the joint communique was important to China. Exactly what had the Chinese asked for from Japan to begin with?

    Mr. Numata: We are not in the habit of going in to every single detail of what has basically been a very fruitful preparation that has taken place over a period of months.

    Q: Is it fair to say that Japan objected to putting it in writing? And indeed, the past is past and if it satisfies the Chinese, why not just put it in writing?

    Mr. Numata: No, do not ask me to endorse your headlines.

  5. Future prospects for the Asia-Pacific region

    Q: If I could ask you to step back a bit, you have been involved in a lot of high-level diplomacy lately. Assuming this Summit goes without any problems and this partnership is laid in place, and given what was just transacted in Moscow, could you speak to us a little about the nature of these relationships and whether you see an unprecedented era of stability and cooperation in the North Pacific?

    Mr. Numata: Thank you for putting words into my mouth. My temptation would be to agree wholeheartedly with you, but again I also realize that a spokesman's job is not always to talk about platitudes. I would say that if you are to look for a common thread through this flurry of rather intensive diplomatic activities particularly in November, but also going back to September when Prime Minister Obuchi met President Clinton in New York, and in October when President Kim came to Japan. A common thread is that when we look at these bilateral relationships -- Japan-US, Japan-Republic of Korea, Japan-China, Japan-Russia -- none of these relationships remain strictly bilateral, but there are expanding dimensions to these relationships as we try to work together on regional issues of shared concern, as well as on global issues. That, I think, accords with Japan's own desire to play an active part in the regional and global scene. A desire which is also understood and supported by our partners.

  6. Possible discussion of other defense-related topics

    Q: Did either TMD or Japan's plans to build multi-purpose satellites come up for discussion?

    Mr. Numata: Not to my knowledge, they apparently did not come up. The Japan-US security cooperation and Taiwan came up, but not the subjects that you mentioned.

  7. Extension of 390 billion yen loan to the People's Republic of China

    Q: The 390 billion yen in yen loans, what specifically is it for?

    Mr. Numata: Twenty-eight projects are -- in what sort of areas, I may have some reference -- we are coming to the future at last. Priority is placed on the environment, agriculture, and the Chinese inland economy in the sense that there are disparities between the coastal areas and the inland areas.

    Q: Can you give any specific examples?

    Mr. Numata: Sorry, I have been involved in Russia, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and President Clinton, and for the past 24 hours in China. My homework has not carried me to that extent. But perhaps somebody will be able to advise you later.

    Q: Your colleague in the Prime Minister's office, Mr. Saiki, was quoted earlier this evening in saying apropos of the differences between the Japanese-Republic of Korea statement and the Japanese-China statement, that Japan ruled over Korea as a colony which it did not, according to him, over China, and the implication was that this accounted for the different forms which the statements and apologies took. Would you agree with that terminology?

    Mr. Numata: I do not know if he was quoted accurately or not, I have not actually seen the transcript of his statement. But I did refer to the fact that with respect to China it is a question of the aggression on the part of Japan; with respect to the Republic of Korea it is a question of colonial rule. I think I come back to my earlier point that the Murayama Statement speaks for itself. But it is also true that there have been some differences in the degree of subsequent developments in our relationship as it relates to the past between China and the Republic of Korea, in the sense for example that already in 1972 as a part of our normalization we did have a clear reference to the past.

  8. Announcement of final judgment in case brought by a group of prisoners of war of the United Kingdom

    Q: This morning a group of former Allied POWs, who had been bringing a case against the Japanese Government, appeared in court and the verdict was against them, the plaintiffs lost their case. Could you give us your reaction to that?

    Mr. Numata: Yes, I would be very happy to. This happens to be a subject of some familiarity to me as you know, and the plaintiffs are my friends. But my response is that the case ran its course in the judiciary, in a court of law, and we respect the decision made by the court. At the same time, we do feel that it is very important for us to further the process of reconciliation which is already steadily underway. We have been encouraging and facilitating the moves for reconciliation taken by volunteers in other governmental sectors, as well as by former veterans and former POWs. In the case of former POWs of the United Kingdom, those POWs, their spouses and other family members have been invited to visit Japan and have visited Japan. There have also been grandchildren of former POWs being invited to Japan to spend some time with their Japanese counterparts--Japanese high school students, and staying with Japanese families and so forth. Since 1995 there have been, on average, about 40 of these people visiting Japan every year, so more than 120 now. And my feeling -- forgive me if I speak for a little bit in a personal vein because I was very heavily involved in this in London for four years until I came home to face the music -- is that this circle of friendship and reconciliation is indeed widening. One other symbolic element in all of this is that Japanese Ambassador Hayashi in London, went to Coventry Cathedral on Remembrance Sunday last year to lay a wreath for reconciliation, an event which was reported widely in the United Kingdom media. And this year on Remembrance Sunday -- which was just a few weeks ago -- our Ambassador again went to Coventry Cathedral to lay a wreath, and I do not have to preach about the value of Coventry Cathedral in this whole context of reconciliation because of its German connection. Indeed, when Ambassador Hayashi went to lay the wreath on the last Remembrance Sunday, it was a joint service of reconciliation involving the Japanese, British and the Germans.

    Q: In the press conference which they gave after the verdict, some of the plaintiffs suggested that the court had been reacting to political pressures, and that it was not wholly independent.

    Mr. Numata: The job of the court is to make a judgement decision on the basis of law, and that is exactly what they have done.

    Q: When you say that it is important to further the process of reconciliation, do you mean within existing systems and structures, or is there any likelihood of any new initiative?

    Mr. Numata: There has already been an initiative to increase the size of funding. When former Prime Minister Hashimoto met Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom in January this year, they talked about doubling the size of this kind of exchange and that is already happening. I would mention one other factor for the benefit of our United Kingdom colleagues, which is that there was this joint memorial visit of Japanese and United Kingdom veterans, including former United Kingdom POWs, they went together to their old battlefields in Thailand and the Union of Myanmar in May, and that was a very significant event. We may be doing something like that again. Incidentally this joint memorial visit was something that was achieved with the help of not only our Government, but also the Government of the United Kingdom.

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