Press Conference 14 May 2002

  1. Announcement on the results of the inquiry into the incident at the Japanese Consulate General in Shenyang, People's Republic of China
  2. Follow-up questions concerning the results of the inquiry into the incident in Shenyang
  3. Question concerning North Korean refugees
  4. Question regarding Japan's policy toward refugees
  5. Questions on Palestinians seeking asylum
  6. Question concerning the Likud decision on a Palestinian state
  7. Question with regard to an agreement on arms control between the United States of America and the Russian Federation

  1. Announcement on the results of the inquiry into the incident at the Japanese Consulate General in Shenyang, People's Republic of China

    Assistant Press Secretary Daisuke Matsunaga: Good afternoon. I would like to make an announcement on the results of the inquiry into the incident at the Japanese Consulate General in Shenyang, People's Republic of China.

    As a result of the inquiry, it has been made clear that the consular staff did not give their consent to the Chinese police to enter the consulate compound to take away the two women and the child, or the two men from further inside the compound, and, when all the five people were placed in the police box, neither did the consular staff give their consent to the Chinese police to take the five people away to the Chinese security department.

    We will continue to deal with the situation firmly and calmly. With respect to the treatment of the five people, what is most important is that their human rights be respected and that they are not sent back to where there is fear of persecution.

    We will continue to do our utmost to resolve the issue through consultations with the Chinese side calmly and firmly in accordance with international law and also from a humanitarian standpoint.

    For greater detail about the inquiry results please feel free to approach me after the conference.

    Related Information (Japan-China Relations)
  2. Follow-up questions concerning the results of the inquiry into the incident in Shenyang

    Q: Do you have any comment about China's Embassy in Tokyo declaring their investigation?

    Mr. Matsunaga: Our position remains the same: Our position is that the inquiry results show that the consular staff did not give consent to the Chinese police to let them come into the compound of the Consulate General or to take away the people concerned. The consular staff did not give consent to the Chinese police to enter the compound nor did the consular staff give consent to the Chinese police to drag away the two women and the child.

    Also, later on, when the two men were waiting in the waiting room of the Consulate General's visa section, at that time also, the consular staff did not give permission to the Chinese policemen to enter the premises or take them away from the compound.

    Furthermore, when the five people were placed in the police box, the consular staff tried to physically block the removal, or the transfer, of the five people; even though they were already outside the compound, at a later stage, the consular staff tried to block the transfer of the five people. However, the Chinese police eventually took the five people away in a vehicle to the security department.

    But in all of these cases, under those circumstances, the consular staff did not give any consent to the Chinese police.

    Just to reiterate our position with respect to the treatment of the five people, our emphasis is human rights: The human rights of each of those five people must be respected, and the five should not be sent back to where there is fear of persecution. We will continue to do our utmost to resolve the issue through consultations with the Chinese side and in accordance with international law and from a humanitarian standpoint.

    Q: Yesterday, the Chinese Embassy issued a report by the Chinese side. What is your comment on that?

    Mr. Matsunaga: I just answered a similar question, but if I may repeat my response: Our position remains the same, that is, we did not give any consent to the Chinese police, and our request for those five people to be turned over to the Japanese side also remains the same.

    Q: The Japanese Government and the Japanese media have been talking about the five people as refugees from the beginning. Maybe now it is clear that they are refugees from North Korea. But, at the beginning, when those five people rushed into the Consulate, do you think the Japanese officials and the Chinese policemen were aware that those people were refugees and not terrorists?

    Mr. Matsunaga: Perhaps you might like to refer to the inquiry results. Copies are available, and so if you would like a copy we can give it to you. The Vice Consul in charge of visa affairs, who first came out of the office building to see what was happening, at first he was not aware of what the problem was, so he was wondering what was happening at the gate. But later on, the crowd gathered around the gate and he overheard someone shouting, most probably, that two men were already in the office building and they were North Korean.

    Q: He believed that?

    Mr. Matsunaga: At that time he realized that there was the possibility that those people were North Koreans. Then he returned to the office building and he found the two people being watched by local Chinese staff of the Consulate General. But at that time the Chinese policemen came from behind and dragged the people away. So he realized-he did not know at the beginning-after a while he realized the possibility that those people were North Korean.

    Q: Why? Because the policemen dragged them away, so they were North Korean? Was that the reason?

    Mr. Matsunaga: No. He overheard some voices from the crowd. And after that, around 14:30 local time, another Vice Consul, in charge of security, came back to the Consulate General, and he made enquiries to those five people in the police box outside the compound, and then he came to know that they were North Koreans.

    Q: So before that, the Japanese side knew. Do you think the Chinese side may have also?

    Mr. Matsunaga: I cannot make any speculation about the Chinese side.

    Q: So the Japanese side was not sure that the people were North Korean refugees?

    Mr. Matsunaga: At which time?

    Q: Before 14:30 when the other Vice Consul went to the police box to make enquiries.

    Mr. Matsunaga: As I said earlier, the Vice Consul in charge of visa affairs, around 14:00, heard the noise outside. Then he came out, walked out, and came to the gate. At that time he did not know what the trouble was. Around 15 minutes later he overheard from the crowd. It is all in the report. Then he went back to the waiting room.

    Q: My question is that, since it is an unprecedented case in Sino-Japanese diplomacy, these several people rushed into the consulate, and Japanese officials made sure of someone's identity by overhearing from the crowd, not by investigation?

    Mr. Matsunaga: I will tell you the details. At 14:15, from 14:00 to 14:15, the Vice Consul in charge of visa affairs was at the gate. Then he overheard the voices from the crowd and he realized the possibility that they were North Koreans, and also he realized that the two men were already in the waiting room and so he went back to the office building, to the visa section waiting room, and he found the two men there. At that time he had nothing else other than what he overheard from the crowd. However, after the five people were all placed in the police box, the Vice Consul in charge of security made enquires to the five people and then realized that they were North Koreans and that they were relatives, a family.

    Furthermore, when the three people, namely the two women and the child, were taken away from the gate to the police box, the Vice Consul in charge of visa affairs asked one of the police officers (perhaps the captain) if the trouble was about visa affairs. The police officer answered that they were not visa applicants, but he did not say anymore. He did not specify who they were and what their purpose was. And before he overheard some voices from the crowd, he asked the police what the trouble was and if the trouble was about visa affairs, and the answer was that it was not about visa affairs. It is all in the report, so you can read it yourself.

    Q: I have read it. According to this investigation's report, the Japanese side was against the Chinese policemen from the very beginning.

    Mr. Matsunaga: What do you mean by "against"?

    Q: They wanted to stop the policemen.

    Mr. Matsunaga: At which point?

    Q: When the Japanese officials found that the two men were already in the visa waiting room, they wanted to stop the policemen.

    Mr. Matsunaga: You are talking about two people waiting in the waiting room?

    Q: No I am talking about the process.

    Mr. Matsunaga: Which?

    Q: The Japanese attitude.

    Mr. Matsunaga: The Japanese attitude?

    Q: The Government's attitude.

    Mr. Matsunaga: The Government's attitude or the consular staff members' attitude?

    Q: About the consular staff: They were against the Chinese policemen. They did not agree with the Chinese policemen?

    Mr. Matsunaga: What I said was that they did not give them consent to enter the compound, and they did not give them consent to take away the people.

    Q: So do you think the five people can rush into the consulate without any procedure?

    Mr. Matsunaga: First, I would like you to read this report very carefully, and if I have to repeat what is in it, I am more than willing to do that. Would you like me to do that?

    Q: No. Actually, I read a Jiji report that said on 8 May, internal reports in the Japanese Embassy and in the Foreign Ministry, they were talking about those five people as "illegally invading the compound" and they were talking about the Chinese policemen as "entering" not "invading." So, later they changed the wording, maybe on other reports, and maybe on 9 May. But, on 8 May, Japanese officials were talking about the illegal behavior of those five people, not the Chinese policemen.

    Mr. Matsunaga: At 15:40, Shenyang time, on 8 May, after the five people were taken away in a police vehicle to the Chinese security department, the Vice Consul in charge of security lodged a protest against the security department of Shenyang City and the security agency of the Liaoning Province as well as the external relations office of Liaoning Province. So, it should be obvious from that very fact that our position was very clear from the beginning. This is 15:40 local time when the Vice Consul was already lodging a protest against the offices of the Chinese authorities.

    Q: As an observer here, a journalist, I think the main problem, not this case, is that although there are 30 years of relations between China and Japan, there is still doubt and no trust. The bilateral relationship between the two countries is not normal, although you are celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of diplomatic relations this year. From outside the area, looking at this case, if it happened between Japan and Egypt, for example, it would have been solved within half an hour. This is just my opinion.

    Mr. Matsunaga: I always welcome the free expression of opinion by any journalist.

    Q: Thank you very much.

    Q: After yesterday's address by Foreign Minister Kawaguchi, I understand that the Chinese Government issued another statement on this?

    Mr. Matsunaga: Yes, from the Chinese Embassy.

    Q: And the opinions of the two sides are not the same. The most important thing is how to rescue the child and its family. I heard that the South Korean Government is willing to accept the refugees from China. What do you think about this, and when can we expect such a resolution?

    Mr. Matsunaga: At this stage we are asking the Chinese Government to hand over the five people to us. We will do our utmost to resolve the situation. In any case, we feel that it is necessary to satisfy human rights requirements. But at this phase, because we are requesting the Chinese side to hand over the five people, I had better refrain from answering your question.

    Related Information (Japan-China Relations)
  3. Question concerning North Korean refugees

    Q: Do you have any North Korean refugees in Japan?

    Mr. Matsunaga: Whether there are any North Korean refugees in Japan right now, I do not have an answer, but I can ask the relevant division.

    Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)
  4. Question regarding Japan's policy toward refugees

    Q: How about the general policy of Japan regarding accepting refugees?

    Mr. Matsunaga: The general policy of Japan is to make a judgment on a case-by-case basis considering a humanitarian standpoint and other factors.

  5. Questions on Palestinians seeking asylum

    Q: There were some Palestinian people who were forced by the Israeli Government to leave their own land, and now they are reportedly in Cyprus, and nobody seems to be accepting them. Is Japan willing to accept those people, since Japan is a leader in helping the Palestinians, and since it is concerned about not letting the police of another Government prevent some people from seeking asylum? Would Japan extend the same sympathy toward those Palestinians?

    Mr. Matsunaga: We have repeatedly expressed our sympathies toward the victims of violence on both sides, the Palestinian side and the Israeli side. As I said earlier, our policy on asylum seeking is judged on a case-by-case basis, so I should refrain from answering any hypothetical questions.

    Q: I am asking if, in this case, you think it would be acceptable for the Japanese Government to invite those Palestinians to Japan?

    Mr. Matsunaga: You are still asking me a hypothetical question.

    Q: No, I am asking you a policy question.

    Mr. Matsunaga: A policy question: As I said, our position on how to deal with asylum-seeking cases is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, so when an actual case arises, we will make a judgment on a case-by-case basis.

    Q: This case is already arising.

    Mr. Matsunaga: Are they seeking asylum in Japan?

    Q: They are seeking asylum anywhere because nobody is accepting them, so might Japan extend an invitation?

    Mr. Matsunaga: I am not familiar with the situation, nor do I know in which particular countries they are seeking asylum, so I am not fully equipped with information to answer your question properly.

    Related Information (Japan-Palestinian Authorities Relations)
  6. Question concerning the Likud decision on a Palestinian state

    Q: Yesterday there was an announcement from Israel about refusing a Palestinian state. I think the Japanese position was announced already, in support of a Palestinian state. So, the ruling party in Israel now refusing state, and you are in the situation of supporting a Palestinian state. What do you think of this announcement, which has been published all over the world? It is against peace and it is against a Palestinian state. What do you think?

    Mr. Matsunaga: We already expressed hope that the proposal of Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may provide a new important step to advance the Middle East Peace Process. Therefore, our position remains the same. Although, I would add that this is something I have heard for the first time, as I did not follow that news too closely.

    Related Information (Japan-Palestinian Authorities Relations)
  7. Question with regard to an agreement on arms control between the United States of America and the Russian Federation

    Q: Yesterday, I think, the United States and Russia reached a decision on the reduction of their arsenals of weapons of mass destruction. What is Japan's reaction?

    Mr. Matsunaga: We think highly of the agreement, and we welcome the agreement. The agreement is a great step forward to nuclear arms reduction, and it will ensure strategic stability between the United States and the Russian Federation through the form of a treaty. US-Russia relations will enter a new, further improved phase, therefore, we highly appreciate the announcement and welcome the development.

    Related Information (Japan-The United States Relations)
    Related Information (Japan-Russia Relations)

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