Press Conference 3 September 2004

  1. Messages from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to President Vladimir Putin of Russia and from Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi to Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov of Russia concerning the hostage incident at a school in the Republic of North Ossetia, southern Russia
  2. Questions concerning report submitted by the Republic of Korea with regard to its uranium enrichment program
  3. Question concerning recent visit by Foreign Minister Kawaguchi to Central Asia and Mongolia
  4. Question concerning dialogue between Japan and Central Asian countries
  5. Question concerning upcoming visit by Foreign Minister Kawaguchi to the People's Republic of China
  6. Question concerning visa application
  7. Follow-up questions concerning uranium enrichment program of ROK
  8. Question concerning Japan's nuclear programs
  9. Questions concerning ODA budget
  10. Question concerning Prime Minister Koizumi's recent inspection of Northern Territories

  1. Messages from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to President Vladimir Putin of Russia and from Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi to Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov of Russia concerning the hostage incident at a school in the Republic of North Ossetia, southern Russia

    Press Secretary Hatsuhisa Takashima: Good afternoon and thank you very much for coming to the briefing. Today, I would like to make one announcement before I take questions.

    On 2 September, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi conveyed a message to President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation through the Japanese Embassy in Moscow concerning the hostage incident in North Ossetia. In this message, Prime Minister Koizumi expressed condolences to those who lost their lives, expressed his support for President Putin, the Government and the people of Russia. Prime Minister Koizumi also conveyed his prayers for the safe release of the hostages and an early resolution of the current situation.

    On the same day, Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi conveyed a message to Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov of Russia as follows:

    I express my astonishment and resentment concerning this despicable incident in which school children and their family members were taken as hostages. I offer my prayers for the repose of those whose lives were lost and a prompt recovery of those who were injured. Such acts of terrorism are not permissible and cannot be justified by whatever reason. The Government of Japan supports the statement issued on 1 September by the President of the United Nations (UN) Security Council concerning the terrorist attack in Russia and express strong support for the Government of Russia and the people of Russia who have demonstrated firm resolution against repeated acts of terrorism. I pray for a safe and prompt release of the hostages and a resolution of the current situation.

    Related Information (Japan-Russia Relations)
  2. Questions concerning report submitted by the Republic of Korea with regard to its uranium enrichment program

    Q: I would like to ask you a question on the disclosure made by the Republic of Korea on its uranium separation experiment that was conducted in 2000. Did the Government of Japan make any criticisms regarding this disclosure?

    Mr. Takashima: The Government of Japan does not believe that this kind of activity is appropriate for the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as well as the Additional Protocol. At the same time, Japan accepts that this report was made voluntarily by the Government of the Republic of Korea to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This issue is now being handled appropriately by the IAEA and the Republic of Korea. We believe that they will bring about a satisfactory solution of this issue. We strongly and firmly support the basic principles that will make the Korean Peninsula a non-nuclear peninsula. We hope that everybody accepts this notion and follows suit.

    Q: What do you think about the timing of this disclosure? Now, there are reports from Japan and the Republic of Korea suggesting the dates for the next round of Six-Party Talks in Beijing. How do you think the disclosure will impact the upcoming Six-Party Talks?

    Mr. Takashima: We do not believe that this disclosure or this report will affect the Six-Party Talks one way or the other because this is a different and isolated issue. Also, this disclosure was made in accordance with the Additional Protocol to which the Government of the Republic of Korea is a part of. We believe that this kind of voluntary disclosure and dismantlement should be done in any country suspected of conducting nuclear development programs including North Korea.

    Q: Does that mean that the rest of the five countries that will participate in the Six-Party Talks except North Korea would not be affected in terms of their strategies for dismantling North Korea's nuclear program?

    Mr. Takashima: I am not in a position to make any comments on North Korea's attitude toward the Six-Party Talks. My understanding is that the Six-Party Talks are still scheduled for the end of this month. The Working-Level Meeting should be held in advance so that the necessary arrangements can be made for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks.

    Related Information (Japan-Republic of Korea Relations)
  3. Question concerning recent visit by Foreign Minister Kawaguchi to Central Asia and Mongolia

    Q: Can you comment on Foreign Minister Kawaguchi's trip to Central Asia?

    Mr. Takashima: Foreign Minister Kawaguchi visited four Central Asian countries as well as Mongolia. She returned to Tokyo yesterday. She expressed her strong satisfaction with the very fruitful outcome of her visit to the four Central Asian countries as well as Mongolia. As a result of her visit to the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Kyrgyz Republic, Japan's existing policy of Silk Road diplomacy had been heightened and strengthened. Japan is committed to strengthen the bilateral relations between Japan and every country in that part of the world.

    At the same time, Japan is committed to assist any of the development programs which would benefit all countries in that region as a group. In other words, the dialogue between Central Asian countries as a group and Japan has been commenced. This will serve as Japan's main streamline for the future of its Silk Road diplomacy. Foreign Minister Kawaguchi offered, firstly, to train 1,000 people within three years time to strengthen the human capability of that region, to bring about further promotion of market economies and also democratization. At the same time, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi said that Japan will provide further assistance for various projects in such areas as anti-terrorism, anti-narcotics, environmental protection, water, energy and transportation.

    Foreign Minister Kawaguchi's visit is truly the new beginning of our relations with Central Asia. We hope that Japan's relations with this geopolitically very important area will help bring about more stability and peace in that part of the world which would lead to global stability and peace.

    With Mongolia, our "Comprehensive Partnership" has been reaffirmed. Mongolia recently elected a new prime minister. Prime Minister Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj was in the process of forming his new cabinet. Therefore, this visit was in very good timing to reconfirm the strong relations that exist between Japan and Mongolia. Again, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi is very much satisfied with the very fruitful result of her visit.

    Related Information (Japan-Uzbekistan Relations)
    Related Information (Japan-Kazakhstan Relations)
    Related Information (Japan-Tajikistan Relations)
    Related Information (Japan-Kyrgyz Republic Relations)
    Related Information (Japan-Mongolia Relations)
  4. Question concerning dialogue between Japan and Central Asian countries

    Q: Do you think dialogues will take place between Japan and the Central Asian countries through organizations such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB)?

    Mr. Takashima: Through the ADB, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and various other organizations, there will be a continuation of dialogue as well as development assistance. This was, however, the first occasion for Japan to meet simultaneously with the leaders of those four countries. A meeting between the foreign ministers of the four countries except that of the Republic of Turkmenistan and Foreign Minister Kawaguchi was held for the first time in Kazakhstan. We hope that this will serve as the beginning of relations between Japan and Central Asian countries. This will be followed by meetings between senior officials in the future.

  5. Question concerning upcoming visit by Foreign Minister Kawaguchi to the People's Republic of China

    Q: It is said that Foreign Minister Kawaguchi is going to be in the People's Republic of China on 11 September for the Business Forum. It is also said that she might meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Zhaoxing of China. Could you give us some comments on that? If the Forum is set, what kind of topics do you want to discuss with China?

    Mr. Takashima: My understanding is that the Business Forum has already announced that Foreign Minister Kawaguchi will come and give a speech. I am not in a position to deny or confirm it. As far as the Japanese Government is concerned, we have not made any official announcement of her visit to Beijing at this time. My understanding is that Foreign Minister Li will not be in town at the time of the Business Forum so there will not be any Foreign Ministers' Meeting if Foreign Minister Kawaguchi goes to Beijing.

    Related Information (Japan-China Relations)
  6. Question concerning visa application

    Q: Could you give us information on the latest progress of visa application and your stance in terms of this issue?

    Mr. Takashima: Actually, the visa application has not been done yet. I have no comments in advance. If it is done, in other words, if there is any application from anybody, we would consider it on a case-by-case basis. It is a bit too early to predict what sort of results will be produced.

    Q: Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda just mentioned that the Government is seriously and cautiously reviewing the case right now. That is why I am following the progress of this issue. I think he said at the press conference on 1 September that the Government was reviewing the case. Do you have any comments?

    Mr. Takashima: I have to repeat my answer. Every application has to be considered on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, there is no way for me to make comments at this time.

    Related Information (Visa)
  7. Follow-up questions concerning uranium enrichment program of ROK

    Q: You said you do not think it will affect the Six-Party Talks. However, considering the fact that the Republic of Korea enriched a small amount of uranium, do you think this is a plot to prevent efforts to ease tensions in the region?

    Mr. Takashima: Director-General for Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department Yukiya Amano of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in Seoul today, exchanging views with his counterpart in the ROK Government. My understanding is that he also discussed this issue with ROK officials. During the course of the discussion, my understanding is that he was briefed that the amount of uranium that was enriched was very little, that this whole experiment had been terminated and that all the facilities involved had been dismantled. This issue is now being discussed between the IAEA and the ROK Government. Also, the Republic of Korea has committed themselves to adhere to their commitment to the IAEA, the NPT and the Additional Protocol.

    Q: Has Japan expressed any concern to the ROK Government?

    Mr. Takashima: We believe that this is not appropriate for countries committed to the IAEA, the NPT or the Additional Protocol. At the same time, we accept that the Republic of Korea ended this program. Therefore, this is a matter to be discussed by the IAEA and the ROK Government peacefully.

    Q: Was the Japanese Government surprised by the announcement?

    Mr. Takashima: We were informed in advance by the ROK Government that they would make this announcement.

    We are not in a position to comment as to whether the case was surprising or astonishing. However, this was something we did not expect to hear from the Republic of Korea.

    Q: When did the ROK Government inform Japan?

    Mr. Takashima: In advance, before they made their announcement.

    Q: Was it a week before?

    Mr. Takashima: I do not have a date.

    Related Information (Japan-Republic of Korea Relations)
  8. Question concerning Japan's nuclear programs

    Q: Has Japan ever conducted similar experiments?

    Mr. Takashima: Japan has a nuclear reprocessing plant as well as a nuclear enrichment facilities to be used for peaceful nuclear electricity generation plants. We are members to the NPT as well as the Additional Protocol, and we have been receiving continuous inspections by the IAEA. Therefore, there is no illegality as far as Japan is concerned.

    Related Information (The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT))
  9. Questions concerning ODA budget

    Q: I was looking at the Foreign Ministry's budget request. I noticed that you are requesting a very large increase in the official development assistance (ODA) budget of almost 77 billion yen which is about a 15% increase from last year's budget which is a substantial rise. Looking at the figures, I see most of that increase goes to grant aid or emergency grant aid. Is this related to Iraq? Is this the reason why you are requesting such a large increase in the ODA budget?

    Mr. Takashima: Iraq is part of it, but our overall policy can be described as such that our ODA budget has been decreasing continuously for the past three years. We believe that ODA is one of the most important and effective tools for Japanese diplomacy. We made a request for an increase because we believe that this trend in the declining ODA budget had to be stopped and reversed in light of the global situation we are encountering: necessity for the eradication of poverty, fight against terrorism, environmental protection, empowerment of human capability. All of those things are very much in need of assistance right now. Japan, as the country with the second largest economy in the world, has to play a more active role in assisting the countries and the people in need. That is the reason.

    Q: Is the emergency grant aid for the reconstruction of Iraq?

    Mr. Takashima: Iraq is part of it. Also, Afghanistan is another. I do not have the exact figures for each of the countries.

    Q: If this increase is approved, do you expect that that would make Japan the country with the world's largest ODA?

    Mr. Takashima: I do not have any figures to calculate whether or not it would put Japan at the top or second. It would at least stop the downward trend.

    Related Information (ODA Budget for MOFA (FY2004 Budget and FY2005 Budget Request))
  10. Question concerning Prime Minister Koizumi's recent inspection of Northern Territories

    Q: On Prime Minister Koizumi's inspection of the Four Northern Islands, I have seen it described in some press reports that it was designed to give momentum to restore the territorial dispute. It is hard to see how it would actually give momentum. What are your comments?

    Mr. Takashima: My understanding is that the Prime Minister Koizumi visited the Four Northern Islands area because he wanted to take a close look of the islands prior to his forthcoming meeting with President Putin which is scheduled for early next year.

    Related Information (Japan's Northern Territories)

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