Press Conference by the Press Secretary 16 November, 1999

  1. Announcement on the Government of Japan's decision to provide emergency relief to the Republic of Turkey
  2. Announcement about the conclusion of bi-lateral negotiations between the United States of America and the Peoples' Republic of China on China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO)
  3. Visit to Japan by President Abdurrahman Wahid of the Republic of Indonesia
  4. Statement by Governor Shintaro Ishihara of Tokyo Prefecture on the Status of Taiwan
  5. Prospects for Ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

  1. Announcement on the Government of Japan's decision to provide emergency relief to the Republic of Turkey

    Press Secretary Sadaaki Numata: Good afternoon. I have several announcements to make. The first concerns the emergency aid for earthquake disaster relief in the Northwestern part of the Republic of Turkey. As you know, on 12 November there was again a very large scale earthquake in the Northwestern part of Turkey in Bolu province. The tolls of deaths and injuries are still increasing. Yesterday, the Japanese Government decided to dispatch medical teams to Turkey, consisting of a Japan Disaster Relief Team, comprising 19 members, along with medicine and medical equipment for approximately two weeks. We have also decided to extend emergency aid in-kind, comprising blankets and sleeping mats, which is worth 24.77 million yen in total. And also, US$500,000 of emergency grant aid. We have decided to extend this emergency assistance from a humanitarian viewpoint, as we did on the occasion of the previous large-scale earthquake.

    The first medical team. comprising the leader and the staff member from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), who are to be joined by two persons who had already been dispatched to Turkey for a preliminary mission, left Narita yesterday evening and they will be arriving in Istanbul, Turkey time, Tuesday afternoon. That is this afternoon. The second medical team, comprising 15 members, left Narita this morning and will be arriving early this evening, Tuesday 16th, Istanbul time.

    Related Information (Earthquake in Turkey)
  2. Announcement about the conclusion of bi-lateral negotiations between the United States of America and the Peoples' Republic of China on China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO)

    Mr. Numata: My next announcement is about the conclusion of bi-lateral negotiations between the United States of America and the Peoples' Republic of China on China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). We welcome the fact that the bi-lateral negotiations, which have been held in Beijing between the United States and China on China's accession to the WTO, have reached a substantial agreement. We have been consistently supporting an early accession of China to the WTO since China's entry is also important in strengthening the WTO regime. Japan, for its part, already concluded its bi-lateral negotiations with China in July this year when Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi visited China. We have been urging the United States and other major WTO members to reach an agreement in their bi-lateral negotiations at an early date. We are really pleased to know that an agreement has been reached between the United States and China at this time.

    In order for China to officially join the WTO, it needs to finish the remaining bi-lateral negotiations with other WTO members and the protocol for China's accession needs to be finalized in the multi-lateral form of the Working Group on Accession Protocol. We strongly hope that China's negotiations with other major countries, for example, the European Union, Canada and ASEAN countries, will be accelerated and that we strongly hope that we can see China's early accession to the WTO. Japan, for its part, intends to extend further cooperation for that purpose.

    There have been some salient points of the substantive agreement between the United States and China that have come into the public domain and we need to study the details, but we do feel that what we achieved with China in July, apparently has helped in bringing about the successful conclusion of the negotiation between China and the United States.

    Related Information (Japan-China Relations)
    Related Information (WTO)
  3. Visit to Japan by President Abdurrahman Wahid of the Republic of Indonesia

    Mr. Numata: Thirdly a read-out from the visit by President Abdurrahman Wahid of the Republic of Indonesia. He met Minister for Foreign Affairs Yohei Kono yesterday and he met Prime Minister Obuchi this morning and also had lunch, hosted by Prime Minister Obuchi. In his meeting with Prime Minister Obuchi, from our point of view, we had three main objectives. One was to establish a close personal relationship between the two leaders. The second was to listen to President Wahid's views as Indonesia goes on to tackle the challenges that lie ahead of it. Thirdly, to convey to President Wahid what we feel are the important points in our relationship with Indonesia. On the first point of establishing a close personal relationship, we do feel that it has been achieved quite successfully, exemplified by the fact that Prime Minister Obuchi said to President Wahid that he would like in the future to call President Wahid "Gus Dur." I do not know whether you are familiar with Javanese. I have not dabbled in it. I have not studied Bahasa Java. In Bahasa Java, "Gus Dur" means something like "a nice and likeable brother." That is how President Wahid is very widely known in Indonesia. President Wahid said "Of course you can call me this way -- Gus Dur."

    On the second point about listening to President Wahid's views, Prime Minister Obuchi started by saying that he does consider the Japan-Indonesia relationship to be a very important one and that it was his firm intention to work hard to strengthen it. In that context, Prime Minister Obuchi expressed his appreciation for the two major tasks that have already been achieved -- namely the election through the democratic process of President Wahid and Vice President Sukarnoputri Megawati, and the formulation of the National Unity Cabinet in Indonesia.

    Prime Minister Obuchi expressed Japan's intention to continue to support Indonesia's efforts toward reform. President Wahid responded by saying that he very much appreciated the consistent support provided by Japan to Indonesia in tackling such problems as the food shortage, the economic and financial crisis and also the challenge posed by East Timor. He said that without the support from Japan that Indonesia would not have been able to overcome these challenges. He also said that as a new democracy, Indonesia wanted to learn from Japan and called Japan something like an elder brother in terms of democratic experience. And in that context, he said, for example, that Japan and Indonesia, as two democracies, are on the same boat, that he attached importance to the honest, open accountability of government. He also said that in the course of his visit this time, he met a number of people in Japan -- Government Ministers as well as parliamentarians and Japanese business leaders -- and was impressed by the very high degree of interest that exists in Japan about Indonesia. And he said that it was his wish to carry out Indonesia's commitments to respond to this high degree of interest on the part of Japan.

    With respect to the international arena, he said that he felt it important that Indonesia, the Peoples' Republic of China and the Republic of India, the Republic of Singapore and Japan worked closely together, but at the same time he said that this does not mean that this should be done at the expense of relationships with other countries, for example, the United States.

    On the third point about the important messages from Japan to Indonesia, Prime Minister Obuchi said, again, that Japan would spare no effort in continuing to support Indonesia's efforts toward economic recovery. In that context, I will also mention that in the meeting between Foreign Minister Kono and President Wahid yesterday, Foreign Minister Kono said that we are planning to send a high-level mission sometime toward the end of this month to engage in consultations with the new Indonesian Government on economic policies in general. I might also mention that in the meeting between Foreign Minister Kono and President Wahid, the Coordinating Minister for Economy Kwik Kian Gie explained Indonesia's position about the external debt. There was a press-release issued by the Government of Indonesia yesterday on this subject, in which it said that the Government of Indonesian is exploring all possible options to manage the Government's external debt, including new refinancing and rescheduling within existing international rules. It went on to say that no debt reductions are being sought. It further said that consistent with the policies of the new Government, discussion with external creditors will be conducted in a transparent manner.

    The second point mentioned by Prime Minister Obuchi was that the solution of the East Timor problem is important for Indonesia's stability, and it is from that viewpoint that we have been extending support to Indonesia and it is our intention to continue to do so. In that context, in the meeting between Foreign Minister Kono and President Wahid, Foreign Minister Kono referred to the fact that we are actively considering extending support to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as the UNHCR tries to transport relief material from Surlabaya, in Java, to Kupang in West Timor because there have been a large influx of refugees from East Timor to West Timor and the sending of relief material to West Timor is a very important task to be performed. We are now in the process of considering the dispatching of Self-Defense Force aircraft for that purpose.

    Foreign Minister Kono also said that one other area, which we would like to look at is to see in what ways we can help alleviate the burden of the people in West Timor itself, who have had this additional burden of the influx of refugees from the Eastern part of Timor.

    The third point mentioned by Prime Minister Obuchi to President Wahid is that we feel it important that a good relationship be maintained between Indonesia and Australia and if there is anything that Japan can do in that regard we will be happy to do so.

    The fourth point, which was brought up by Prime Minister Obuchi, is that as we try to build this new relationship with the new Indonesian Government, it may be useful to elicit the advice and wisdom of highly-respected experts in the two countries. Prime Minister Obuchi mentioned this idea of having some kind of "wisemens' group" whose tentative acronym is "JIANT." The first capital letter is not 'G' but is 'J.' This stands for the Japan Indonesia Advisory Network. JIANT for short. Prime Minister Obuchi said that he had in mind to ask Ambassador Nobuo Matsunaga, who was formerly Ambassador to the United States of America, and who until recently has been the Director of the Japan Institute for International Relations (JIIR), to head the group and he said that he wanted this to be a functional group and so it should not be too large. It should be small scale and he looked forward to inputs from the Indonesian side as to the actual composition, and so forth, of the group. President Wahid welcomed the idea.

    Q: Concerning the talks between President Wahid and Japanese Government officials, including Prime Minister Obuchi and Foreign Minister Kono, was there any reference from the President on the issue of Aceh?

    Mr. Numata: Yes, it actually was referred to by President Wahid in his meeting with Foreign Minister Kono. There was no reference to the subject in his meeting with Prime Minister Obuchi. President Wahid said, in essence, that there still are elements of uncertainty with respect to the situation in Aceh, but it was his desire to try and resolve it in the course of about one month, if possible. There was some reference to the possibility of a referendum, but no further details were touched upon.

    Related Information (Japan-Indonesia Relations)
  4. Statement by Governor Shintaro Ishihara of Tokyo Prefecture on the Status of Taiwan

    Q: I would like to ask a question about Governor Shintaro Ishihara' comments in reference to Taiwan as a "State." What is the Japanese Government's official response to the Chinese claim, and I would also like to know how the claim was filed to the Japanese Government from the Government of China?

    Mr. Numata: The first point I would like to make clear is that the visit by the head of a local government, including the governors of prefectures -- including Metropolitan Tokyo -- has nothing to do with the position of the Japanese Government, which has consistently been based on the Joint Communiqué issued at the time of the normalization of our relations with the Peoples' Republic of China in 1972.

    The second point is that the head of a local government, including the Governor of Tokyo, going to Taiwan and making statements, in no way represents the positions taken by the Japanese Government with respect to foreign policy issues. The position of the Japanese Government, with respect to Taiwan, has consistently been the position taken in the Joint Communiqué in 1972 -- namely that the Japanese Government fully respects and understands the stance of the Government of the Peoples' Republic of China that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of the Peoples' Republic of China, and there has been absolutely no change in this position.

    You also asked about a possible demarche, or representation by the Government of China on this visit. There was a meeting, which took place between Japanese Ambassador Tanino in Beijing and Deputy Foreign Minister Wan Yi, who is one of the Deputy Foreign Ministers, as I recall, yesterday afternoon in Beijing. Ambassador Tanino went to see Deputy Foreign Minister Wan at the latter's request. Deputy Foreign Minister Wan, for his part, expressed China's concern about some of the statements made by Governor Ishihara and said, for example, that it set a bad precedent in terms of high-level exchanges between Japan and Taiwan. Ambassador Tanino responded by saying that it had consistently been the firm position of the Japanese Government that we maintain non-governmental and regional exchanges with Taiwan on the basis of the Japan-China Joint Communiqué, and this remains unchanged. This visit by Governor Ishihara to Taiwan is a part of this sort of working regional exchange, which is within the framework of the Joint Communiqué and, further, according to Governor Ishihara, he visited Taiwan for the humanitarian purpose of exchanging know-how with respect to disaster relief -- particularly with respect to earthquake relief because the Tokyo Metropolitan Government possesses know-how on these subjects. Ambassador Tanino also said that as far as the exchanges with Taiwan are concerned, the Japanese Government has been very scrupulously adhering to the Japan-China Joint Communiqué of 1972 and perhaps in this regard we are even more scrupulous than some other countries. He also made the point, which I referred to earlier, that the Governor of Tokyo is not in a position to represent the positions of the Japanese Government with respect to foreign policy issues. Those are the main points.

    Q: Whether the Japanese Government has this position or not, the fact that Governor Ishihara made his comments will damage, to a certain extent, the relationship between Japan and China. Is the Japanese Government going to do anything -- reprimand Mr. Ishihara -- ask him to calm down or anything of that sort?

    Mr. Numata: I think that we have made that position very clear by my repeating these basic points, which are very important. That we continue to adhere very scrupulously to the position expressed in the Joint Communiqué of 1972. That visits of heads of local Government in no way represent the positions of the Central Government. We have also made clear to the Government of China that we certainly do not put ourselves in a position to any way encourage these visits. I think that message has been made clear. At the same time, I think both the Government of China, and certainly our Government, recognize the importance of maintaining the friendly and good relations between Japan and the Peoples' Republic of China on the basis of the visits by the two leaders. I am referring to the visit by President Jian Zemin of the Peoples' Republic of China last year to Japan and the visit by Prime Minister Obuchi to China this past July. It is in that overall context that we approach the issue. Regarding the concern as expressed by China -- we have made clear our position, that is where we stand.

    Q: When Mr. Nishimura made the statement about the nuclear issue he was forced to resign, but I noticed that the heads of local governments could make statements about any issue, even if it might contradict with Japanese foreign policy or principles, but still they maintain their position. So, is it normal in Japan for the heads of local governments to express their personal views, whatever they are?

    Mr. Numata: I do not know whether I can say that it is normal or not, but if you are referring to the Japanese system, the members of the Central Government are governed by certain rules and given the Japanese constitutional and legal framework, the heads of local governments do not come under the purview of whatever restrictions may exist in that regard.

    Q: So, there are no restrictions basically?

    Mr. Numata: Well, if you ask me that I will repeat exactly what I said. The rules which apply to the members of the Central Government do not apply, as they are, to the heads of the local government.

    Q: Are the local governments obliged to inform the Government when their governors make trips overseas, especially to politically-sensitive areas?

    Mr. Numata: I do not think they are legally obliged and as far as we are concerned, I do not think that we had any previous knowledge of Governor Ishihara visiting Taiwan.

    Q: The Japan Times quoted Governor Ishihara as saying that he informed Prime Minister Obuchi of the visit.

    Mr. Numata: As far as we in this building are concerned, we had no previous knowledge of that visit.

    Related Information (Japan-China Relations)
  5. Prospects for Ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

    Q: The new Pakistan Government says that it needs time for a popular debate on the CTBT to have the people's understanding of the Treaty before the Government can sign it, so the signing will take time. Does Japan accept this argument?

    Mr. Numata: You know that the new Pakistani Chief Executive has just sent its Special Envoy to Japan, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Special Envoy Ambassador Sahabzada Yaqub Khan of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, who met Foreign Minister Kono yesterday. In that meeting Foreign Minister Kono expressed our concern about the issue of non-proliferation. He also expressed our concern about the recent change of government in Pakistan and underlined the importance that we attach to Pakistan's returning to real democracy as soon as possible. And in that context, Foreign Minister Kono also referred to the need for Pakistan to participate in the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) at the earliest possible date.

    Special Envoy Khan's comment on that was that Pakistan recognizes the importance of the CTBT, as Japan does, and that the signing of the CTBT is one of the highest priorities for the Pakistani Government and that it was their intention to try and come to a decision as soon as possible. Foreign Minister Kono reiterated the importance that we attach to the issue and said that we would like very much to see Pakistan, at its own judgement, join the other members of the international community that are promoting nuclear non-proliferation. To the extent that the new head of the Government of Pakistan sent his Special Envoy to engage in dialogue with our own Government, we will take the Special Envoy's words as they are and we certainly hope that these words will be translated into action as quickly as possible.

    Q: Did the Pakistan Special Envoy also tell Mr. Kono something to the effect that the timetable for Pakistan's return to democracy cannot be set because a great deal of things have to be done before the country can return to a civilian democratic system? Do you agree with this position?

    Mr. Numata: Again, the Special Envoy said with respect to this recent coup d'etat, that it was not something that the people in Pakistan had desired but that it was inevitable. He said that the new Government of Pakistan understands Japan's concern and would like to respond to these concerns as quickly as possible and to do that in deeds and not just in words. At the same time, he said that he was conscious of the fact that it was important to indicate the timeframe for the return to a real democracy in order for Pakistan's ideas to be understood and supported, but that actually setting a timetable could be difficult. He went on to explain that the new National Security Council and the new Cabinet are composed primarily of civilians, that the judiciary is functioning normally, and that the new Government is guaranteeing freedom of speech, putting a big priority on maintaining law and order and would like to take practical steps to foster a democratic climate.

    Foreign Minister Kono responded to this again by saying that it was vitally important that the intentions of Pakistan be actually shown by deeds rather than words. I expect that we will continue to engage in dialogue with the new Pakistani Government.

    Q: As a result of the visit of the Special Envoy what are now, the chances of ODA being restored to Pakistan?

    Mr. Numata: As I tried to explain to you, we did reiterate our concern about the non-proliferation, especially the concern about the CTBT. We also reiterated our desire to see Pakistan's return to real democracy at the earliest possible date, and to see all of this actually taking place in terms of concrete deeds or actions rather than just words. On the basis of all these points, Foreign Minister Kono said to the Special Envoy that we are anxiously awaiting the time when Pakistan starts actually moving toward again being a democratic nation and when the Pakistani Government makes its judgement to sign the CTBT. If these things materialize we will be prepared at that point to lift the measures that are in place with respect to the Official Development Assistance(ODA) that we instituted in the wake of the nuclear testing by Pakistan last year.

    Q: Just a small comment. You mentioned that Mr. Obuchi wanted to refer to Mr. Wahid as though he were a brother.

    Mr. Numata: "Gus Dur," yes. I mentioned that as a translation from Javanese into English.

    Q: He might have offered to call Mr. Obuchi a brother.

    Mr. Numata: He might be contemplating that question at the moment. That is a very good question. Please let me know if you come up with a good answer. "Gus Dur," in this particular context, I mean it is Javanese and it also has to do with the fact that President Wahid comes from a very prominent Islamic family in Java. The family itself has been very popular and President Wahid, in his former incarnation as the leader of the Nahdlatur Ulama, has always been seen as somebody not only to be revered but also as somebody who is really likeable and kept in very close touch with the people. It apparently conveys all that sentiment. Perhaps I can say that Prime Minister Obuchi has all these qualities, but he is not an Islamic leader. Perhaps we will have to think of some other designation.

    Related Information (Japan-Pakistan Relations)

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