Press Conference by the Press Secretary 12 February, 1999

  1. Attendance of Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi at the state funeral of the late King Hussein bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
  2. Visit by Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura to the Republic of Korea
  3. Japan-Republic of Korea bilateral relations
  4. Prospect of further missile tests by North Korea
  5. Provision of diesel power plants by Japan to the Northern Territories
  6. Result of the Group of Eight (G8)+ Task Force meeting
  7. Cooperation from Japan in combating illegal drugs

  1. Attendance of Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi at the state funeral of the late King Hussein bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

    Press Secretary Sadaaki Numata: Good afternoon. I would like first to refer to Prime Minister Keizo Obuhci's attendance at the state funeral of the late King Hussein bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Actually the trip lasted 35 hours, out of which 28 hours were spent flying. Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and Prime Minister Obuchi stayed in Jordan for about seven hours. His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince and Prime Minister Obuchi attended the state funeral on 8 February. The reason why His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince and Prime Minister Obuchi attended the state funeral is that we do have a sense of very high admiration for the efforts by the late King Hussein, that is for the late King Hussein's contribution, not only to the stability of Jordan but also to the Middle East peace efforts. The late King Hussein has been very well-known to Japan. He has been a great friend of Japan. He has visited Japan four times in the past and the new King, His Majesty King Abdullah bin El Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, has also visited Japan on several occasions and we value this tie of friendship.

    In the course of the seven-hour stay in Amman, apart from attending the state funeral itself, Prime Minister Obuchi did have the opportunity to talk briefly with the other world leaders attending the state funeral, including President William Jefferson Clinton of the United States of America, President Jacques Chirac of the French Republic, Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom, His Highness Crown Prince Abdullah of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, President Yasser Arafat of the Palestine National Authority, President Hafez al-Assad of the Syrian Arab Republic and other leaders. He also was able to exchange a few words with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of the Federal Republic of Germany, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu of the State of Israel, President Hosni Mubarak of the Arab Republic of Egypt and Secretary General Kofi Annan of the United Nations and other leaders. In his conversation with His Majesty King Abdullah, Prime Minister Obuchi extended his heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family of Jordan as well as to the people of Jordan and expressed the hope that His Majesty King Abdullah and the Jordanian people will be able to inherit the mantle of the late King Hussein in terms of further efforts for Jordan's nation building as well as for the realization of peace in the Middle East. Prime Minister Obuchi said to His Majesty King Abdullah that it is certainly Japan's intention to continue to support Jordan actively. Incidentally, Japan has for some time been the top donor to Jordan.

    I might add also that Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess also had the opportunity to meet a number of people. His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince met His Majesty King Juan Carlos of the Kingdom of Spain, His Majesty Sultan Qabus Bin Said of the Sultanate of Oman, His Majesty King Harald of the Kingdom of Norway, His Majesty Sultan Haji hassanal Bolkiah Mu' Izzaddin Waddaulah of the Sultanate of Brunei, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, His Highness Crown Prince Abdullah of the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia, His Highness Crown Prince Felipe of the Kingdom of Spain and His Highness Crown Prince Sheik Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai of the United Arab Emirates as well as President Clinton, President Chirac and President Mubarak. Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess had the occasion to meet Her Majesty Queen Sofia of the Kingdom of Spain, for short, Her Majesty Queen Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajjah Selehi of the Sultanate of Brunei, there must be a correct designation there but I think it is very long, Her Majesty Queen Paola of the Kingdom of Belgium, Her Majesty Queen Silvia of the Kingdom of Sweden, Her Royal Highness Grand Duchess JosJphine-Charlotte of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, I think that is the correct designation, you can correct me if I wrong, as well as Mrs. Clinton, Madame Chirac, Mrs. Mubarak and Mrs. Netanyahu. Although it was a very quick visit, we felt that this attendance by Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and Prime Minister Obuchi was indeed a significant opportunity for Japan to demonstrate its serious commitment to the Middle East peace process.

    Related Information (Japan-Jordan Relations)
  2. Visit by Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura to the Republic of Korea

    Press Secretary Sadaaki Numata: My second point concerns the visit by Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura to the Republic of Korea. He was in Seoul yesterday and met a number of people, but I think his meeting with President Kim Dae Jung of the Republic of Korea encapsulates the main points of his visit, so let me give you the gist of that meeting. President Kim said to Foreign Minister Koumura that he was happy that his visit to Japan last autumn was appreciated very highly in the Republic of Korea, in fact more highly than he himself had anticipated. He also said that, referring to the point that he had made in the course of his visit to Japan, that we should put behind us in the course of this century what happened in the course of this century. He said that it should be enough to apologize once and he said that through his visit to Japan, there was the coming to terms with the past and thereby Japan and the Republic of Korea were able to build a forward-looking relationship and in that sense the visit had an historic significance. President Kim expressed his appreciation to Prime Minister Obuchi and to Foreign Minister Koumura and other leaders of Japan for having made this possible. He also said that he was looking forward to the visit by Prime Minister Obuchi to the Republic of Korea which may take place some time this spring.

    They then discussed North Korea and Foreign Minister Koumura referred to the sunshine policy or the engagement policy on the part of the Republic of Korea towards North Korea. It is sometimes called "engagement policy" or "sunshine policy." The Republic of Korea has also been pursuing what is known as a comprehensive approach towards North Korea. Foreign Minister Koumura expressed our understanding and support for this policy and approach on the part of the Republic of Korea. He also said that it is very important for Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States to keep in very close contact and communication but at the same time it is true that each of these three countries has its own circumstances at home and for that reason it does not necessarily mean that the three countries always have to adopt identical policies but it is important that the policies pursued by the three countries are mutually compatible. Foreign Minister Koumura also referred to the sentiment on the part of the Japanese people towards North Korea in the light of the missile launch by North Korea as well as in the light of such pending issues between Japan and North Korea including the question of the suspected abduction cases, and given this strength of sentiment on the part of the Japanese people, it is rather difficult for Japan to find itself in a position of providing benefits to North Korea. President Kim responded by saying that he felt that the points made by Foreign Minister Koumura were appropriate and that he was in basic agreement with these points. He said also that it is necessary to prevent the development, manufacturing and exports of nuclear weapons and missiles by North Korea but with respect to missile development, North Korea is not under any sort of clear international obligation to restrain itself. I may add a footnote in the sense that with respect to the nuclear weapons for example, there is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and so forth. With respect to missiles there is the absence of comparable regimes and for that reason we do have to continue to negotiate and talk with them with patience. At the same time, if North Korea shows a responsible attitude to the international community, the Republic of Korea is prepared to give them some benefits. So in short, the basic idea underlying the policy of the Republic of Korea or the policy of President Kim towards North Korea, is to give admonition and hope at the same time. President Kim also referred to some of the noticeable trends in recent North Korean moves saying that there are both negative aspects and positive aspects. Negative aspects include for example the attempts to infiltrate the Republic of Korea or the suspicion about the underground nuclear facilities. The positive aspects include the fact that North Korea continues to participate in the Four-Party talks as well as in the bilateral consultations with the United States, or their attitude towards this Kumgang tourism project, you know what I am talking about, and the introduction of some element of market economy in their revised constitution and President Kim said that it was his wish to try to encourage these positive aspects. He also said that in dealing with North Korea, he felt that rather than trying to deal with the variety of problems one by one, he was advocating the approach of trying to resolve a variety of issues in a comprehensive manner in close consultation with Japan and the United States.

    Foreign Minister Koumura also discussed the follow-up to President Kim's visit as well as the ministerial meeting which took place in Kagoshima last year. In that context in his meeting with Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Hong Soon Young of the Republic of Korea, they discussed for example the fisheries issue on which they both expressed their satisfaction about the coming into effect of the new fisheries agreement and the conclusion of the subsequent consultations on the actual operations by Korean and Japanese fishing vessels in the exclusive economic zones of the two countries.

    Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Hong said that they looked forward to welcoming Prime Minister Obuchi some time this spring, and Foreign Minister Koumura said that the Japanese side also looked forward to this visit and certainly wanted to make this visit as successful as President Kim's visit to Japan and in that context, Foreign Minister Koumura said that on the occasion of the Prime Minister's visit to the Republic of Korea, we would like to be able to show in some concrete terms that the Japan-Republic of Korea Joint Declaration and the Action Program are steadily being implemented and he also said that coordinating our respective policies towards North Korea will also be an important part of the agenda on the occasion of the visit. They also agreed that there will be a new program of exchange of young diplomats between Japan and the Republic of Korea starting with the invitation for young diplomats from the Republic of Korea to come to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work here to gain some experience some time this summer. The details are to be worked out. They also agreed in principle that in the course of this year, the second Japan-Republic of Korea dialogue on security issues takes place some time in the course of this year. The first dialogue took place in June last year with the participation of people both from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japan Defense Agency at the Director-General level with their counterparts in the Republic of Korea, and we would like to have the second round some time in the course of this year.

    With respect to our economic relations, Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Hong expressed his appreciation, or the appreciation of the Government of the Republic of Korea, for the Export-Import Bank of Japan loan of US$ 3 billion as well as the provision of some US$ 5 billion in a swap arrangement as a part of the new Miyazawa Initiative. You remember the new Miyazawa Initiative had two parts; one, medium- to long-term financing, and another the short-term financing. The Republic of Korea swap arrangement was the first example of the short-term financing. Foreign Minister Koumura responded by saying that the Republic of Korea is an important friend of Japan and Japan is, on the one hand, making its maximum efforts to revive its own economy and at the same time, helping our Asia friends, including the Republic of Korea and we will continue to take this approach. Those are not exhaustive but some run-down of the salient points of the visit of Foreign Minister Koumura.

    Related Information (Japan-Republic of Korea Relations)
  3. Japan-Republic of Korea bilateral relations

    Q: In view of what Mr. Kim told Mr. Koumura, do you expect any further South Korean demands for an apology?

    Mr. Numata: As far as we can gather from President Kim's statement when he said to apologize once should be enough, I think it may be natural for us not to expect a further demand for apology, at least coming from President Kim himself.

    Q: Mr. Numata, I think you mentioned some significant remarks when you said that the three approaches, that is the American, Japanese and South Korean approaches to North Korea, need not be identical but they should be compatible. Does that mean there are some differences?

    Mr. Numata: Differences in the circumstances in which each of the three countries finds itself and that may lead to some differences in nuances and differences in terms of the pace at which certain things can proceed. However, the point really is that as a whole the policies pursued by these three countries should be coherent and in that sense they should be compatible. With respect to Japan for example, perhaps I can take up the question of food aid to North Korea as an illustration. In the wake of the missile launch by North Korea at the end of August last year, we decided to suspend our food aid to North Korea for the time being. We have since been saying that if North Korea shows a forward-looking or constructive attitude with respect to the concerns on the part of the international community on the suspected underground nuclear sites and also with respect to the missile launch and missile programs and so forth, Japan would be ready to try to improve our relations with North Korea, but so far there has not been a sort of forthcoming response from North Korea and if that is the case, it would be very difficult for us to jump to the point where we would resume our food aid to North Korea. That is just one example. But at the same time, as I indicated earlier, we do on the whole understand and support the approach taken by the Republic of Korea, that is the approach of trying to engage North Korea and trying to approach all these issues, not in a piece-meal manner but in a comprehensive manner. So it is within that framework that Foreign Minister Koumura made this point about the need for compatibility of policies, if not the need for identity of policies on every single issue or on every single occasion.

    Q: Correct me if I am wrong, it seems to me that Japan is more oriented on the North Korean missiles than the South Koreans.

    Mr. Numata: I do not know whether one could make that comparison but what I can tell you is that we are indeed worried about North Korean missiles because we have had this actual experience of a missile being launched and flying over our head. I do not think you could accuse us very much of our losing some sleep over that.

    Related Information (Japan-Republic of Korea Relations)
  4. Prospect of further missile tests by North Korea

    Q: Considering that there is a growing concern about North Korea conducting another missile test, how is the Government concerned, especially with Kim Jong-Il's birthday approaching?

    Mr. Numata: There are all sorts of reports and I might even say rumors about the next missile test by North Korea but I do not think we are in the possession of any hard evidence that such a launch is being contemplated. But it is true also that we do attach a great deal of importance to dissuading North Korea from following further the course of missile development, or it is believed that they have deployed some of the missiles, if not the longest-range missiles, and it is certainly in our interest to contain these missile programs on the part of North Korea. In that context, I may refer to the trilateral consultation on North Korea policy which took place on 9 February, that is the senior officials of the Republic of Korea, Japan and the United States had this trilateral consultation in Seoul. One of the points which emerged from this consultation is this; in the press release issued after that trilateral consultation, it is said that the three delegations agreed on the need to contain North Korea's missile program as it may undermine regional security. In particular, they expressed common views that North Korea's additional missile launch will be detrimental to regional peace and security and agreed to maintain close coordination on this subject and it is very important I think for us, that is the three countries, to continue to consult very closely and to continue to send an unequivocal message to North Korea that another missile launch would indeed be a matter of very serious concern to our three countries and also to the international community.

    Q: The last time North Korea fired missiles, Japan was totally unprepared, but since then has any effort been made to beef up security?

    Mr. Numata: I do not know whether I agree with the earlier part of your statement as to whether Japan was totally unprepared or not, but this obviously is not the occasion to enter into a debate on that subject. Our sense of vigilance I think has been heightened. There have been efforts within the Government to better coordinate our responses to that sort of situation, by responses I mean the dissemination of information, inter-agency coordination and so forth.

    Related Information (North Korea's Missile Launch)
  5. Provision of diesel power plants by Japan to the Northern Territories

    Q: There are reports that the Government of Japan has provided electric power plants on the Kurile Islands. Can you comment on this or give some details?

    Mr. Numata: I do not have the material with me, but as I recall, going as far back as the Kawana Meeting and the whole lot of cooperation programs under the Hashimoto-Yeltsin Plan, there were plans to send some small diesel power plants to some of the Islands to meet the question of their power shortage in hospitals and so forth and I believe some of these diesel power plants have already been sent. That I recall. I am not aware of any further plan as you described it to build large-scale power plants.

    Q: The article says it will supply electricity to some small town on the Kurile Islands with a population of about 1,000 people.

    Mr. Numata: Perhaps I need to check this further, but small diesel power plants can supply electricity.

    Q: It says that the Kurile population was given these small generators already, but that these are larger.

    Mr. Numata: Small generators, yes. I can confirm the first part of it, that is that small diesel, if I am not mistaken, I do recall diesel generators, have been sent to some of these four islands, but I am not aware of a new plan to build a big power plant as such. That may raise the question of what about something in between. On that I am not quite sure.

    Related Information (Japan's Northern Territories)
  6. Result of the Group of Eight (G8)+ Task Force meeting

    Q: After yesterday's G8 Task Force meeting, where does Japan stand on resumption of multilateral loans to India?

    Mr. Numata: Firstly, in the Group of Eight (G8), I hasten to add G8 plus meeting, which took place yesterday, the participating senior officials noted with appreciation some of the positive statements made by the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in the field of nuclear proliferation after their nuclear tests. At the same time, the Task Force, the G8 plus, called upon India and Pakistan to take further positive and concrete steps to bring their commitments into practice and to fulfill the provisions of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1172. We know that there have been some positive statements and a number of participants expressed the hope that these statements would actually lead to concrete actions or deeds. That is the context in which we address the question that you have just raised about what may be done about some loans by international financial institutions which apparently is the subject that came up in the course of the recent consultation between the United States and India. The United States made a certain proposal about the possible resumption of such loans with a view to encouraging a positive response on the part of India towards the signing of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This proposal by the United States was discussed in the Task Force this time and there was consensus, including the United States, on the point that the G8 plus Task Force will continue to ask that the benchmarks indicated in UNSC Resolution 1172, the benchmarks that apply both to India and Pakistan, be fully fulfilled. With respect to the question of the signing and ratification of the CTBT, they noted that there have been positive statements by India and Pakistan, but some noted that there are also elements of some uncertainty about this. In the light of all this, the Task Force meeting did not come to any specific conclusion on this. You might also recall that this all stems from the statement issued after the G8 Foreign Ministers Meeting last year in June in London and this does need to be thrashed out within the G8 context, so it will continue to be discussed. From Japan's point of view, we do feel that perhaps we need to look at it a little more closely and we will continue to consult closely with our G8 partners.

    Related Information (Response of the Government of Japan to the Nuclear Tests Conducted by India and Pakistan)
  7. Cooperation from Japan in combating illegal drugs

    Q: Mr. Spokesman, regarding anti-drug measures in Asia, recently in Tokyo there was an international conference on drugs in Southeast Asia. Recently some national officials have complained that Japan has reduced its contributions to some international programs in trying to tackle this global issue which seems to be quite evident in Asia. Regarding the long-term history of Japan with countries such as Burma or Thailand, do you think there is a specific stand to have regarding these questions? What is your assessment of international programs to eradicate drugs?

    Mr. Numata: Take your last point first. Drugs have become a very serious issue affecting the whole international community and we do consider that to be one of the important challenges that we have to tackle as one of the global issues facing us. It is for that reason that we agreed to host this meeting on the Asian drug problem in collaboration with the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP). We have also been extending our cooperation to the countries concerned, that is the countries that constitute the Golden Triangle and we have been for example extending our cooperation to the Union of Myanmar to encourage the production of alternative products to poppies through our food production assistance, through our grassroot grant programs and so forth and we have in that context the programs by the UNDCP as well. One of the programs discussed in the course of this meeting which took place in Tokyo, is the UNDCP project which is called the Cross-border Cooperation Project, that is to enhance the cooperation among the six countries that participated in this meeting, that is the Kingdom of Cambodia, the People's Republic of China, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, the Kingdom of Thailand and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. It is our intention to earmark a certain amount out of our contribution to the UNDCP to be defrayed under this project to earmark US$ 500,000 per year. This is one example of the seriousness and the positiveness with which we approach the issue.

    You mentioned also our contribution to UNDCP. It is true that it has been decreasing somewhat over the past two years or so, but before that, since UNDCP was established in 1991 up until 1996 our contribution to UNDCP increased consistently in US$ terms starting from US$3 million in 1991 to US$ 6.7 million in 1996. However, then our economic problems hit us and there was the imperative of the fiscal austerity and you may recall that our Government had to place itself under the constraint of reducing our budget for Official Development Assistance (ODA) by 10% every year. In 1997, our contribution because of this reason was US$5 million, in 1998 US$ 3.8 million. In this coming fiscal year, FY1999, we expect that it would be roughly on the same level as 1998. What I am trying to say is there was a consistent increase, then because of the fiscal stringency, a rather sharp drop but we are trying to control the pace of the decrease. However, at the same time, we of course naturally attach a great deal of importance to these anti-drug measures and we on our part would like to exert every effort to ensure that we will be able to have the budget allocation for the UNDCP as much as we can. At the same time, I think it is also important for us to try to see that this budget be used effectively and in that sense it is important for us to keep in close consultation with the UNDCP to find good projects and to earmark our contribution to these specific projects. The project that I mentioned, that is the Cross-border Cooperation Project, is one such example.

    Q: Nevertheless, in 1997 as you mentioned was the Asian crisis, it is true. However, the reports show that in Southeast Asia, for example there has been an increase of drug production.

    Mr. Numata: I know. That is why we would like to make every possible effort. However, at the same time, we do have a very substantial fiscal deficit problem which we cannot leave unattended. So we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place and I do not know whether we are going to fight the rock or the hard place but we will try to fight it.

    Q: But do you not worry about becoming the lonely valentine on that issue?

    Mr. Numata: Well this may be a very good time to use the valentine metaphor, but I do not think I would buy the metaphor.

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