Press Conference 10 May 2002

  1. Incident of alleged North Koreans entering Consulate General of Japan at Shenyang, China
  2. Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi's visit to Europe and the Middle East
  3. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to Asia-Pacific Countries
  4. Follow-up questions on alleged North Korean asylum seekers
  5. Question on late-night access to information
  6. Questions on Japan-China exchanges
  7. Follow-up questions on alleged North Korean asylum seekers
  8. Questions on terrorist incident in Pakistan

  1. Incident of alleged North Korean asylum seekers entering Consulate General of Japan at Shenyang, China

    Assistant Press Secretary Daisuke Matsunaga: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

    First, the biggest news item right now is the asylum-seeking incident, which occurred the day before yesterday. On this, the Government of Japan has already filed a strong protest against the Government of the People's Republic of China, as we believe that the dragging away of the alleged asylum seekers by armed policemen is in violation of Article 31 of the Vienna Convention, and we are launching a strong protest against the Government of China at high levels here in Tokyo as well as in Beijing.

    Also, we are calling on the Government of China to turn over the asylum seekers, and perhaps you might have already heard about this story, in which it was noted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is sending a high-ranking official to Shenyang to look into this matter. These are my announcements on the biggest news item right now.

    Related Information (Japan-China Relations)
  2. Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi's visit to Europe and the Middle East

    On Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's foreign visits during the Golden Week holidays, I would like to say a few words. First, the Foreign Minister left Japan on 29 April and visited the United Kingdom (U.K), Belgium, Afghanistan, and Iran, and returned to Japan on 5 May. In Belgium, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi met with high-ranking officials of the European Commission, namely Mr. Christopher Patten, Commissioner in charge of External Relations of the European Commission, and Mr. Javier Solana, Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union/High representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) respectively.

    In Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi held meetings with the leaders of the Afghanistan Interim Authority. At these meetings, the Minister expounded on her concept of the "three-pronged approach" for the consolidation of peace, namely, the peace process, or the political process; the establishment of domestic security; and humanitarian and reconstruction assistance. Foreign Minister Kawaguchi emphasized during her meetings with leaders that these three elements are extremely important for the reconstruction of the country, and she expressed her intention to provide assistance with regard to each of these three elements.

    She also made a new proposal which might be termed "registration for peace". Those who have been engaged in combat for the past several years should be encouraged to become productive members of society. In other words, former warriors are encouraged to register for peace so that they would be qualified to receive vocational training or some assistance from the authorities. And even though it has yet to be developed and yet to be formulated in greater detail, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi put forth this idea to the Afghan leaders and to United Nations Special Envoy, Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, and she received a positive response from the leaders of Afghanistan as well as from Ambassador Brahimi, so now we are in the process of giving substance to the proposal.

    In Iran, the last country to be visited by Foreign Minister Kawaguchi, Ms. Kawaguchi expressed Japan's support for reforms in the country. Also, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi discussed possible bilateral cooperation in Afghan assistance; in other words, we looked into what areas Japan and Iran can work together to help Afghanistan stand on its own feet. We identified such possible areas as refugee assistance, alternative farming to poppy cultivation, medicine, and education. Also, we discussed how to further promote and consolidate our bilateral relations, with particular emphasis on cultural aspects. The exhibition of Iranian heritage and the possible exchanges between women in the two countries were considered.

    Also, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi had a very frank exchange of views with Iranian leaders on some issues that have been indicated by the international community as points of concern, including the Middle East and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Foreign Minister Kawaguchi encouraged the Iranian side to play a constructive role in the international community. All in all, Iran received Foreign Minister Kawaguchi in a very positive and warm-hearted manner, and I believe we were successful in promoting our friendship with the country.

    Related Information (Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi's Visit to Europe and Middle East)
  3. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to Asia-Pacific Countries

    Prime Minister Koizumi left Japan on 27 April and returned on 3 May. He visited Vietnam, East Timor, Australia, and New Zealand. In each country, based upon his speech delivered in Singapore in January, Prime Minister Koizumi explained his concept of the community, which is epitomized in the phrase "act together and advance together".

    In East Timor, he expressed his heartfelt congratulations on the upcoming independence of that country. Also, he had a chance to visit the Self-Defense Forces divisions that were deployed there under the International Peace Cooperation Law

    In Vietnam, Prime Minister Koizumi expressed his support for reform efforts there and discussed possible ways to develop our bilateral relationship further, particularly in light of the thirtieth anniversary of our diplomatic relations, which is to be celebrated in 2003.

    In Australia and New Zealand, countries that have shared values with Japan, Prime Minister Koizumi exchanged views on bilateral issues, terrorism, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, and confirmed cooperative relationships under which his concept of "act together and advance together" will be created.

    Related Information (Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Visit to Asia Pacific Countries (Viet Nam, East Timor, Australia and New Zealand))
  4. Follow-up questions on alleged North Korean asylum seekers

    Q: I have a question about the asylum seekers. Can you please give us a reason why Japan is asking for the asylum seekers to be turned over to Japan? Why is Japan asking for them to be turned over?

    Mr. Matsunaga: By international law, asylum seekers who took refuge in the diplomatic compound should be handed over and kept within the authority of the country to which that foreign mission belongs. The Chinese policement should not have taken away the people from the compound in the first place.

    Q: On this subject, have you identified who those people are, where they come from? Are they North Korean?

    Mr. Matsunaga: No, we have not yet identified those people. Therefore, for that purpose also, we are asking the Chinese authorities to hand them over.

    Q: Second question. Some Japanese politicians are strongly criticizing some of the employees or officials in the consulate. What is your reaction to this position?

    Mr. Matsunaga: Our reaction to the incident may not have been perfect. But for your information, the Consul General himself was not in the compound because, as you remember, the day before there was a plane crash in Dalian, so the Consul General was working outside of the compound, together with some other members of the Consulate General. The Consul General was out of town, away from Shenyang, in order to deal with the plane crash incident, so the staff was spread thin. But as I said earlier, the reaction of the Consulate General staff may not have been perfect.

    Q: Do you plan to have some disciplinary measures taken?

    Mr. Matsunaga: I think we are now at the stage of addressing the incident itself. As I said earlier, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi is sending a high-ranking official to look into this matter and to handle the incident in an appropriate manner.

    Q: To what degree could this harm the relationship between China and Japan?

    Mr. Matsunaga: We do not know yet, because the Chinese authorities have not yet reacted to our request, to our demand, so we have to see what their answer will be.

    Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)
  5. Question on late-night access to information

    Q: On the same day, we had two cases concerning China, one being the aircraft accident, and at midnight I asked the press division if I could have a memo issued, but I had a little difficulty getting this done. How can we get that kind of information at that time?

    Mr. Matsunaga: Was it in the middle of the night? And nobody was in the IPD?

    Q: Finally I received a memorandum, but the memo was issued on that case at about midnight.

    Mr. Matsunaga: In the daytime, please do not hesitate to contact our division. At night, also try our division, because somebody might be working overtime. If nobody is there, please call me and I will try to be helpful. I will try to call the relevant people so that you will be serviced properly.

    Related Information (Japan-China Relations)
  6. Questions on Japan-China exchanges

    Q: Also another question. Just yesterday we had Japan-China free exchange, and many high-ranking officials attended. On the Japan side, Mr. Nikai, former Minister of Transport, attended. Do you know of such kind of case that happened in Tokyo?

    Mr. Matsunaga: I beg your pardon, sir?

    Q: Ni-Chu Yuko Koryu Kai. Many people from China attended, and what it is about is not the kind of Japan-China exchange with the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Do you know of such a kind of exchange?

    Mr. Matsunaga: I am aware of the fact that last year, I think, thousands of people visited China in the context of promoting our bilateral relations. So I was aware of this fact. Whether our relevant division in the bureau is working in close coordination with the other Ministries and Agencies on that matter, I do not know. My guess is that they probably they are, but I do not have enough information to answer your question accurately.

    Q: At an evening, Prime Minister Koizumi also attended to give an address.

    Mr. Matsunaga: I am fairly certain that our relevant division in the bureau is informed and also working in close coordination. However, I myself did not know of that particular occasion, but I am aware of last year's visit to China by thousands of people together at the same time.

    Related Information (Japan-China Relations)
  7. Follow-up questions on alleged North Korean asylum seekers

    Q: In the same case, there is some report that Korean NGO's had helped these North Korean people. Do you have any comment about that?

    Mr. Matsunaga: I do not have any comment. I am aware of the newspaper reports, but I do not have any comments on that.

    Q: (Japanese)

    Mr. Matsunaga: The gentleman's question was why do we not regard this incident as an exception to the inviolability of the Consulate General premises. I think the article, as written in the Vienna convention, refers to disaster cases. Our position is that there was no obvious evidence that this is a case of a disaster relief. This is my observation, but there is a case where this exception would apply. So the main thrust of this article, namely, the inviolability of the consular premises, should hold in this case.

    Q: As a follow up, this development seems to have shocked the Western community. Do you think that this police action by the Chinese authorities would bring about consideration of other arrangements? Do you have any intention at the Ministerial level or the Prime Ministerial level of raising some issues about security at embassies in other countries, such as Europe, America, etc?

    Mr. Matsunaga: To strengthen all security in overseas missions? I think that kind of consideration would be possible. I think we might consider further strengthening the security of overseas missions.

    Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)
  8. Questions on terrorist incident in Pakistan

    Q: Last question. You know that there was a terrorist act in Pakistan, in Karachi, the day before yesterday in which 11 French people have been murdered. Do you have any comment on this terrorist attack? Do you think it shows the contentious stability of the Pakistani government, this area? What is your comment?

    Mr. Matsunaga: I would like to express my condolences to the victims and their surviving families. As I said earlier, in Afghanistan, domestic security is a prerequisite for nation-building of that country, so we would like to help them establish domestic security more than ever. In Pakistan, we also hope that the Pakistani government will be able to establish stability all across that country so that such incidents will not be repeated.

    Q: Do you have any hint on what could be the handling of this issue?

    Mr. Matsunaga: No, I do not.

    If you have any further questions, please feel free to come directly to me. I am also available all the time for an informal chat with everyone.

    Related Information (Japan-Pakistan Relations)

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