Press Conference 18 September 2001

  1. Introduction
  2. Signing of book of condolences at the Embassy of the United States of America
  3. Meetings between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Minister for Foreign Affairs Makiko Tanaka and US Ambassador Howard H. Baker
  4. Statement by Foreign Minister Tanaka on the accession of the People's Republic of China to the World Trade Organization (WTO)
  5. Emergency aid for refugees and internally displaced persons in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
  6. Question on a meeting between Ambassador of Japan to the United States Shunji Yanai and US Deputy-Secretary of State Richard Armitage
  7. Question on reports of Bin Laden followers in Japan
  8. Questions on support for the United States
  9. Question concerning the Maritime Self-Defense Forces

  1. Introduction

    Assistant Press Secretary Daisuke Matsunaga: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Today, because of unavoidable circumstances, Press Secretary Norio Hattori is not able to attend this press conference, and so I am taking his place. I am Assistant Press Secretary Matsunaga.

  2. Signing of book of condolences at the Embassy of the United States of America

    Mr. Matsunaga: Yesterday, both Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Minister for Foreign Affairs Tanaka went to the Embassy of the United States of America to sign the book of condolences to express their sympathies with the bereaved families of the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC.

    Related Information (Japan's Measures in Response to the Terrorist Attacks in the United States)
  3. Meetings between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Minister for Foreign Affairs Makiko Tanaka and US Ambassador Howard H. Baker

    Mr. Matsunaga: Also yesterday, Prime Minister Koizumi and Foreign Minister Tanaka each met with US Ambassador Howard H. Baker, who had just returned form the United States.

    Ambassador Baker paid a call on Foreign Minister Tanaka to express appreciation on behalf of the US side for Japan's support of the stance that the United States has taken and for Japan's expression of willingness to extend as much assistance and cooperation as possible.

    Related Information (Japan's Measures in Response to the Terrorist Attacks in the United States)
  4. Statement by Foreign Minister Tanaka on the accession of the People's Republic of China to the World Trade Organization (WTO)

    Mr. Matsunaga: Yesterday, Foreign Minister Tanaka made a statement welcoming the accession of the People's Republic of China to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

    Related Information (Japan-China Relations)
    Related Information (WTO)
  5. Emergency aid for refugees and internally displaced persons in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

    Mr. Matsunaga: Today, 18 September, the Government of Japan announced emergency aid for refugees and internally displaced persons of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In order to alleviate the predicament of refugees and displaced persons within Macedonia, the Government of Japan decided to extend emergency grant aid totaling US$1 million to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

    Related Information (Japan-Macedonia Relations)
  6. Question on a meeting between Ambassador of Japan to the United States Shunji Yanai and US Deputy-Secretary of State Richard Armitage

    Q: I have heard that Mr. Armitage has met with Mr. Yanai. That was according to a report yesterday. Can I confirm this? What sort of discussion took place?

    Mr. Matsunaga: I do not have any information on that matter. I will check on that for you.

    Related Information (Japan's Measures in Response to the Terrorist Attacks in the United States)
  7. Question on reports of Bin Laden followers in Japan

    Q: What can you tell us about a report that 19 followers of Bin Laden lived in Japan? I understand that there is a fair amount of police activity in pursuing them, and in security in Tokyo?

    Mr. Matsunaga: I also saw that report in the wire services yesterday. I am not privy to any concrete information on this, but an intelligence exchange has been going on between Japan and relevant countries, as well as within the Japanese Government, and I am quite certain that this matter is being dealt with in a proper manner.

    Related Information (Japan's Measures in Response to the Terrorist Attacks in the United States)
  8. Questions on support for the United States

    Q: In terms of Japan's support for the United States, whatever action it decides to take, at this point without any change, what can Japan offer in terms of support? And if there is some kind of reinterpretation, what difference will that make in exactly what kind of support Japan is considering?

    Mr. Matsunaga: Perhaps I had better refrain from making any specific comment at this stage when the United States Government has not made it clear what kind of action it is going to take. Nonetheless, we share the recognition that terrorist attacks are despicable, outrageous acts of violence and represent a challenge to not only the United States but also to democracy and the free world.

    And as Prime Minister Koizumi stated repeatedly, we are ready to extend as much assistance and cooperation as possible. As to what kind of cooperation we are going to be able to extend, we will give full consideration to possibilities and deliberate intensively within the Government so that we can come up with effective measures. I am not in a position to make any further comment.

    Q: Do you have any reaction to criticism that Japan has been slow in expressing its support to the United States and coming up with measures?

    Mr. Matsunaga: Messages of support to the United States were sent out in a very timely manner. Prime Minister Koizumi telephoned US President George W. Bush to convey our unwavering stance. Thus, I do not quite agree with you that we were slow in expressing our support.

    Q: The US Government says that it is now at war, even though it is an unknown enemy. Does that necessarily mean that Japan is in the same boat as the United States, that your country is now in a state of war against an unknown enemy?

    Mr. Matsunaga: US Secretary of State Colin Powell, in his press conference, clarified that President Bush was not referring to this current state of affairs in the legal sense. Therefore, in response to your question, I do not see any need for us to clarify our position.

    Q: Are you in a state of war against terrorism?

    Mr. Matsunaga: We have consistently made our position clear, even prior to these despicable attacks; we have always been opposed to international terrorism, and we continue to oppose international terrorism.

    Q: Does the Japanese Constitution allow your Government to solve international conflicts including those that are terrorism-related, by means of war or means of violence?

    Mr. Matsunaga: The Constitution stipulates that the Japanese people renounce war as a means of settling international disputes. Nothing more, nothing less. For the exact wording, I strongly recommend you refer to the original language.

    Q: That means that if the United States wishes to attack somebody, that would mean solving international disputes by force. When you support this does it mean that you are violating the Constitution?

    Mr. Matsunaga: As Prime Minister Koizumi has stated clearly on various occasions, including his speech at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, where I noticed you were present, within the constraints of our Constitution we will look into what maximum cooperation and assistance it is possible for us to extend.

    Q: There are some reports suggesting that the United States might use nuclear weapons against Afghanistan. As a matter of principle, is your country for or against using nuclear weapons?

    Mr. Matsunaga: I would rather not comment on any such hypothetical questions.

    Q: But in principle, when the Constitution says that you should not solve international disputes by force it is also hypothetical. The same applies to my question. As a matter of principle, does your country support using nuclear weapons to fight terrorism, for example?

    Mr. Matsunaga: Naturally, historically, as Japan is the only country to have ever been attacked by atomic weapons, a lot of anxiety and uneasy feelings are aroused by such a question. And I am sure that these feelings are shared by a great many people.

    Q: The reason why I asked this question is that I heard a so-called expert talking to CNN who recommended that America should deal with Libya, Iraq, Iran and Syria in the same way that it dealt with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What is your comment on this?

    Mr. Matsunaga: Emotions apart, in this case, as US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield pointed out, there are many differences between terrorism and conventional warfare. For example, your enemy is in a sense invisible, and as US Secretary of State Powell stated, you want to avoid collateral damage as much as possible. Furthermore, some weapons necessarily cause a lot of collateral damage. In this case your real enemy, very narrowly defined targets, are very hard to identify and locate. In light of defined missions, I think the means to achieve them will be chosen very carefully.

    Related Information (Japan's Measures in Response to the Terrorist Attacks in the United States)
  9. Question concerning the Maritime Self-Defense Forces

    Q: There were some reports in the press that the Self-Defense Agency will dispatch warships to the Indian Ocean. Can you confirm this?

    Mr. Matsunaga: Again, let me check on those reports.


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