Press Conference27 November 2001

  1. Announcement of a Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) Ministerial-Level Meeting
  2. Question concerning dispatch of Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) vessels
  3. Question regarding the situation in the Kingdom of Nepal
  4. Question concerning the Constitution of Japan
  5. Question regarding demonstrations against Japan's involvement in the fight against terrorism
  6. Question concerning the role of Self-Defense Forces personnel
  7. Question concerning ASEAN+3
  8. Question in relation to an ASEAN-China free trade area
  9. Question on membership of the United Nations Security Council
  10. Question concerning Official Development Assistance (ODA)

  1. Announcement of a Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) Ministerial-Level Meeting

    Press Secretary Norio Hattori: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to welcome the journalists from ASEAN countries here today who are visiting Japan at our invitation. I think I will have the occasion to meet with you this evening perhaps.

    I have an announcement to make regarding an upcoming Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) Ministerial-Level Meeting that will be co-chaired by Japan, the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Global Coalition for Africa (GCA). The TICAD Ministerial-Level Meeting will take place on 3 and 4 December in Tokyo with representatives in attendance from all 53 African nations, 11 countries in Asia, 23 donor countries, 38 international organizations, as well as host organizations and countries as host--in total, participants from 130 Africa-related countries and organizations are to assemble in Tokyo.

    Key Japanese participants in the Meeting are Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Minister for Foreign Affairs Makiko Tanaka, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Seiken Sugiura and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Taimei Yamaguchi. President Alpha Oumar Konare of the Republic of Mali will be the keynote speaker. Also attending are Ministerial-level officials, including Foreign Ministers of African countries, as well as representatives of countries of Asia, donor countries, international and regional organizations, including United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Mark Malloch Brown and Director-General Koichiro Matsuura of the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). From the African countries, in particular, so far Foreign Ministers and other officials from more than 40 countries are scheduled to attend the meeting. A meeting such as this one, attended by so many Ministers from African countries, held outside Africa is rare, leaving only a few exceptions such as the United Nations General Assembly in November.

    The meeting will sum up the efforts of the international community including African countries on the "Tokyo Agenda for Action", which was adopted at TICAD II held in 1998. Participants will also exchange views on the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), a realization of the "ownership" of Africa that TICAD has been encouraging. There will also be discussions on themes such as governance, education, health, IT and South-South cooperation. Based on the results of these discussions, the meeting is intended to indicate a direction toward holding TICAD III in the future, perhaps in Tokyo. The meeting will also include a session between the official and private sectors for an exchange of views on the role of private trade and investment in regard to African development, with the participation of economic organizations from Japan. Another session will be held for exchanges on education and health matters in Africa centering on NGO representatives.

    Related Information (African Development: TICAD and Japanese ODA)
  2. Question concerning the dispatch of Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) vessels

    Q: You sent three ships to the Indian Ocean. Is the Government of Japan open to the possibility of sending more troops?

    Mr. Hattori: The Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) vessels that were dispatched this time were sent in accordance with the Basic Plan that is now in the process of gaining the approval of the Diet. Under this Basic Plan, I do not believe there will be any additional vessels dispatched.

  3. Question regarding the situation in the Kingdom of Nepal

    Q: Yesterday, CNN reported there was some terrorism in Nepal. When these types of incidents occur, a travel advisory warning is normally issued. Do you have any information with regard to a possible travel advisory for Nepal given this situation?

    Mr. Hattori: You are correct that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues five different categories of travel advisories depending on the prevailing situation in a given area. In the wake of the incident in Nepal, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is looking carefully at the situation in order to decide whether it will be necessary to change the level of travel advisory to that country. However, I am not in a position at this point in time to make any new announcement about travel advisories vis-à-vis Nepal.

    Related Information (Japan-Nepal Relations)
  4. Question concerning the Constitution of Japan

    Q: Yesterday we met with a Diet Member, Mr. Taro Kono. He mentioned Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution prohibiting Japan from having armed forces--I am sure this issue has been debated in the Japanese press. But because of the current situation, we see that Japan is sending armed forces, not directly to combat but for logistical support. The Constitution reads the same since the end of the Second World War, but Japan is sending armed forces abroad. Do you have anything to say in this regard?

    Mr. Hattori: Yes, as you said the Constitution contains Article 9, and it is well known that there are differing interpretations of this article even among politicians, political parties, and among the Japanese people. Japan is a democratic country, and it is quite natural to have many differing opinions. However, the Government's position with regard to Article 9 remains unchanged. We have sent some vessels to the Indian Ocean to cooperate with the international community in order to fight terrorism. As you mentioned, this action will not be a combat engagement; the vessels and Self-Defense Forces that were sent will act in rear areas to provide logistic support. It is the Government's firm intention not to send military forces abroad in order to engage in combat. Of course there are discussions, arguments, and debates with regard to Article 9, and it is believed that there are perhaps other articles in the present Constitution that might require changes according to the times and circumstances. As far as the interpretation of Article 9 is concerned, the Government's view remains unchanged, and I understand it will remain unchanged. I can say that we will never dispatch our forces overseas to engage directly in combat.

  5. Question regarding demonstrations against Japan's involvement in the fight against terrorism

    Q: There was a demonstration outside the Japanese Consulate-General in Surabaya protesting the Japanese involvement in Afghanistan, even though it is in a support role and not in a combat role. Do you have anything to say about this?

    Mr. Hattori: Your question is whether Japan is going to provide logistical support to those who fight against terrorism in countries other than in Afghanistan?

    Q: No, the demonstration in Surabaya was asking why the Japanese Government sent logistical support.

    Mr. Hattori: Because we support the actions, and I understand the Indonesian Government also supports the fight against terrorism. To my understanding, most countries around the world support this fight against terrorism. I do not understand your questioning of Japan's support.

    Q: It is alright for people to hold demonstrations against Japan because they consider that Japan is giving support?

    Mr. Hattori: Yes, it is a fact we are giving support. I was stationed in Indonesia from 1996 to 1999, and I understand relatively well the situation in Surabaya. Even at that time we had several demonstrations staged by students against our Consulate-General in Surabaya. They are free to mount demonstrations, but it is also necessary for everyone to discuss and exchange views to arrive at mutual understanding. I think that is what has also happened in this case in Surabaya.

    Q: So it is normal?

    Mr. Hattori: I do not know if it is normal or not, but since Indonesia has been a democratic country since 1998, Indonesian students are free to engage in such activities.

    Related Information (Japan's Measures in Response to the Terrorist Attacks in the United States)
  6. Question concerning the role of Self-Defense Forces personnel

    Q: Hypothetically, if the Japanese troops participating in Afghanistan are attacked, what are they authorized to do?

    Mr. Hattori: The MSDF vessels sent a few days ago are carrying out operations only as far as the port of Karachi. Those SDF personnel are not supposed to land in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, let alone Afghanistan. I do not believe there is any danger that Self-Defense Forces personnel will be attacked, so your question goes even beyond the hypothetical.

    Q: So there are no guidelines or directives in the event that this occurs?

    Mr. Hattori: There is a directive with regard to the use of arms: use of arms is only allowed when SDF personnel and those under SDF protection are exposed to danger. So there is a very rigid definition for the permissible use of arms.

  7. Question concerning ASEAN+3

    Q: May I ask about the position of the Japanese Government with regard to the East Asia economic grouping, the EAEC+3? Could you comment on that?

    Mr. Hattori: The EAEC+3? In that case, the "+3" meaning Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea? According to the terminology of Prime Minister Mohamad Mahathir of Malaysia, the EAEC includes the three countries. So, perhaps I should refer to it as the EAEC. The ASEAN+3 Meeting was recently held in Brunei Darussalam, and Prime Minister Koizumi participated in that meeting. The meetings between the ASEAN countries and Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea have been very successful in the sense of developing a spirit of community to attain greater economic growth and further peace and stability in this part of the world. We do not refer to that meeting as the EAEC. Nonetheless, the encounter in Brunei Darussalam was the fifth meeting of the ASEAN+3, and I think we have good experience discussing amongst ourselves cooperation in connection with carrying out programs for the prosperity and stability of the region. We have embarked upon a good path of cooperation with China, the Republic of Korea, and the ASEAN countries.

    Q: What are the key directions of programs that Japan will cooperate on?

    Mr. Hattori: In terms of the details, I think there are three key elements: trade, investment, and economic cooperation. For example, in connection with trade, China has proposed a free trade zone between itself and ASEAN, and I think it would be very good if that were successful. We are very close to a final agreement on a free trade area with Singapore, and that is also very good. By each of the ASEAN+3 countries undertaking such efforts, we hope that this region will emerge with greater and more balanced prosperity. In terms of economic development, Japan has advocated the East-West Corridor project for the Indochina region. Some of the parts of the East-West corridor project are already under way, and Japan has supported taking the project closer to completion by exerting more comprehensive cooperation to realize the East-West Corridor. Japan is prepared to play a principle role in realizing this East-West Corridor, which will contribute to the development and prosperity of Indochina. I understand that you are aware of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) that Japan has continuously extended to the ASEAN region. Although the ODA budget will be slightly reduced for the next fiscal year, we would like to continue making our utmost efforts within the means of the people and Government of Japan for ASEAN countries' development.

    Related Information (ASEAN+3 Meeting)
  8. Question in relation to an ASEAN-China free trade area

    Q: This idea of a free trade area between ASEAN and China, how is that good for Japan?

    Mr. Hattori: First of all, what is good for the region is good for Japan. I do not know how long it will take for this free trade program between China and ASEAN to become more real. However, the fact that China and ASEAN are working in that direction will serve to expedite the flow of capital, personnel, and commodities in this region, so I think that will contribute to the overall development of the region.

    Q: A related question concerning agriculture: will it be a problem for Japan to open up when you are signing a free trade agreement with other countries in Asia?

    Mr. Hattori: Agriculture remains the most difficult field to liberalize, not only for Japan but for any country in the world. Fortunately, with Singapore we have very little problem in that regard, but with other countries maybe both sides-here, of course, we have a very strong agricultural lobby and perhaps the same applies to other countries in ASEAN. So, yes, I think agriculture remains a very difficult area for us to resolve.

    Q: From Japan's point of view, how can this problem be overcome?

    Mr. Hattori: If I had an answer here, maybe the problem would be easier for us to resolve. I do not know.

    Q: The Malaysian Government is keen to get the EAEC started, but it did not get off the ground in 1991 because of the reluctance of the Japanese Government. What is the reason behind the shift in the stance of the Japanese Government on this?

    Mr. Hattori: I do not think we have to describe our position as a shift. Diplomacy and politics are always changing according to the circumstances of the world. If you compare the world 10 years ago with the world as it is today, is it the same? I do not think so. Generally speaking, circumstances are always changing and we have to be very realistic in accordance with these very rapid changes in the world, particularly in the midst of globalization. I do not know if the position of the Japanese Government is a shift, but it is a fact that, as I already explained, we have already had five ASEAN+3 Meetings at the leader level, and each meeting has brought tremendous results. Thus, I think it is good for everybody in the region, including us, to strengthen cooperation, first of all among ASEAN countries and then with the three of us in East Asia, namely, Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea--the region as a whole. We have to prosper; we have to attain economic development, and as a result we have to achieve greater peace in this part of the world. It may be important for us to continue what is right rather than questioning why it is so.

    Related Information (Japan-ASEAN Relations)
  9. Question on membership of the United Nations Security Council

    Q: Japan is seeking to gain a place as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. How will Japan get the support of Asian countries?

    Mr. Hattori: I understand that we have been given support from many Asian countries, which we appreciate very much. I do not know how long it will take for us to gain permanent membership of the UN Security Council, but we would like to do our part to contribute to the international community. The question is how the contribution that Japan brings to the world will be judged by Asian countries and other countries in the world. The reason we are raising our hands is that we consider ourselves deserving of permanent membership of the UN Security Council. So, we would like to seek further support from Asian countries.

    Q: Could you disclose which countries are supporting Japan?

    Mr. Hattori: I do not know. I do not have a list here. I understand that almost all of them support us. We hope so.

    Q: Now that the EAEC has been sort of institutionalized with Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea, does the Japanese Government have any sort of preference about where the secretariat should be?

    Mr. Hattori: I do not think I said that the EAEC has been institutionalized. What I said was that we have been gaining and building on very good experiences through joint meetings between ASEAN and Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea. I do not think I have referred to the EAEC or institutionalization. With regard to the latter part of your question, I do not think there were exchanges of views about whether or not we would set up some kind of secretariat. Even without a secretariat, I think the ASEAN+3 Meeting is working very well.

    Related Information (Japan and the United Nations)
  10. Question concerning Official Development Assistance (ODA)

    Q: The Japanese Government has dispensed billions of yen in ODA to Indonesia. Is there any concern that the money is spent improperly?

    Mr. Hattori: When we cooperate with loans, cash grants, or technical assistance, all those forms of assistance are given based upon agreements between the Japanese Government and the recipient government. The recipient government is responsible for using that assistance in a proper manner. Theoretically speaking, it is the responsibility of the recipient government to use any money as agreed upon by the donor country, in this case Japan. And, of course, this money is taxpayers' money, so the people and Government of Japan are greatly concerned about how the money is utilized by recipient countries. It is our greatest concern. So, on the basis of our concerns, the Japanese Government is reviewing each project to assess whether or not the money is being properly used. Except for some cases that occurred a long time ago, where it has been alleged that there was some misuse of funds, as far as I know, assistance given by the Japanese Government to any recipient country is properly used. When we find any elusive case, we will not hesitate to raise it with the recipient government in order to prevent misuse of ODA funds. The point that you raised is very important; it is of greatest concern to us.

    Related Information (Japan's ODA)

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