Press Conference 28 September 2004

  1. Cabinet reshuffle
  2. Question concerning North Korea's nuclear weapons
  3. Question concerning Six-Party Talks
  4. Questions concerning food assistance to North Korea

  1. Cabinet reshuffle

    Press Secretary Hatsuhisa Takashima: Good afternoon and thank you very much for coming to the briefing. Today, I would like to make one announcement which I presume you already know.

    Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi yesterday reshuffled his cabinet and appointed Mr. Nobutaka Machimura as the new Minister for Foreign Affairs. Prime Minister Koizumi also appointed former Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi to the newly created post of special adviser to the prime minister on diplomatic affairs.

    Upon taking office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Machimura made the following remarks:

    I, as Foreign Minister of Japan, consider securing the security and prosperity of the nation and protecting the well-being and wealth of the nationals as the most important agenda of the nation's foreign policy. In order to do so, I will assume and exercise a leadership role in securing peace, stability and prosperity for the international community as a whole.

    Having said that, Foreign Minister Machimura listed the following five points as the major policy agenda which Prime Minister Koizumi instructed him to tackle with vigor: 1. Strengthen the alliance between Japan and the United States of America and further promote Japan's relations with neighboring countries, especially the People's Republic of China, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), 2. Work closely with the United Nations (UN), especially in the field of UN Security Council reform with the idea that Japan is willing to take full responsibility as a member of the Security Council, 3. Accelerate the peace treaty negotiations with the Russian Federation to resolve the Northern Territories issue, 4. Make further efforts to achieve a comprehensive solution to North Korean issues including the nuclear issue, abduction issue, among others, 5. Actively continue assistance for the reconstruction of Iraq by utilizing the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and official development assistance (ODA) of up to US$5.0 billion.

    In addition to these, Foreign Minister Machimura expressed his willingness to deal with international trade issues through both multilateral trade negotiations and Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations with some countries while actively participating in the international effort to tackle global issues such as eradication of poverty and assistance for economic and social development.

    Related Information (Members of Prime Minister's Cabinet)
  2. Question concerning North Korea's nuclear weapons

    Q: Yesterday, Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon of North Korea spoke to the UN General Assembly, and right after, there was a press conference where he said that North Korea has turned 8,000 spent fuel-rods into weapons. Does the Foreign Ministry have any comments or reaction to that?

    Mr. Takashima: North Korea has been saying that it has developed nuclear deterrence. Also, North Korea indicated that it had already processed 8,000 spent fuel-rods so it is nothing new. However, we are very much concerned with that sort of statement because North Korea should adhere to its commitments under the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and its international obligations stemming from all the promises it has made including Agreed Framework with the United States and the Japan-Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Pyongyang Declaration. We strongly urge North Korea to stop doing such activities and come back to the negotiating table, especially the Six-Party Talks.

    Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)
  3. Question concerning Six-Party Talks

    Q: How concerned is the Foreign Ministry that the Six-Party Talks have not only broken down but also, that there are indications and reports that North Korea may be preparing to test ballistic missiles?

    Mr. Takashima: We are keeping an eye on North Korea's activities at missile sites, but so far, we do not see any signs of imminent launching or firing.

    At the same time, talking about the Six-Party Talks, all members of the Six-Party Talks including North Korea have agreed to hold the next round of Talks by the end of September. Since it is not the end of September, we still hope that North Korea will change its mind and come back to the negotiating table or at least agree to hold them as soon as possible.

    Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations Six-Party Talks on North Korean Issues)
  4. Questions concerning food assistance to North Korea

    Q: When Prime Minister Koizumi visited Pyongyang for the second time, Japan agreed to donate 250,000 tons of food. Has this been carried out or is it still pending?

    Mr. Takashima: So far, half of the promised food assistance has already been arranged through international organizations such as the World Food Programme (WFP). That is my understanding. Medical assistance has also been in process through the World Health Organization (WHO) and also the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). For the remaining assistance, we are still talking with those international organizations concerned on what form, when and what type of food and medicine will be needed in order to meet the necessity in North Korea.

    Q: Do you have any breakdown of what kinds of food?

    Mr. Takashima: We have already announced it, but let me give it to you later because I do not have it in my notebook right now.

    Q: North Korea is complaining. They thought that Japan was going to give them rice, but the rice portion is so small, as I understand. What are your comments?

    Mr. Takashima: As for the type of food assistance, it has been determined through consultations with international organizations. It is not decided by the Japanese Government alone. Rice is included, but in addition to that, corn, wheat and cooking oil are also included. The list of food was created through consultations with international organizations.

    Q: Is Japan ready to provide any financial assistance to North Korea?

    Mr. Takashima: Actually, international organizations serve as the intermediaries. Money would be provided to international organizations to purchase 250,000 tons of food. It is not financial assistance to North Korea but food assistance, and the necessary money or finance will be given by the Japanese Government to the international organizations concerned.

    Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations Related Information)

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