Press Conference 18 March 2005

  1. Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura on Japan-Republic of Korea relations
  2. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations on the transfer of security control of Jericho in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority and the Cairo talks between Palestinian factions
  3. Visit to Japan by President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  4. Cultural grassroots grant aid for the Iraq Judo Federation
  5. Grassroots human security grant aid to Iraq
  6. Question concerning Takeshima Island
  7. Questions concerning advice for Japanese tourists in the Republic of Korea
  8. Question concerning Japan's territorial disputes
  9. Follow-up question concerning Takeshima Island
  10. Questions concerning visit to Japan by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of the United States of America
  11. Questions concerning grant assistance for the People's Republic of China

  1. Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura on Japan-Republic of Korea relations

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

    First, Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura issued a statement on the relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) last night in which he expressed the view of the Government of Japan on the statement issued by Chairman Chung Dong-young of the National Security Council of the ROK. Foreign Minister Machimura's statement states as follows:

    Statement by Mr. Nobutaka Machimura, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, on the Statement of the Standing Committee of the National Security Council of the Republic of Korea

    1. Today, on March 17, 2005, Mr. CHUNG Dong Young, Minister of Unification and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Security Council, announced a "Statement of the Standing Committee of the National Security Council.. The Government of Japan takes seriously the ROK nationals' sentiments concerning the history expressed in the statement.
    2. Since the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1965, our predecessors in both Japan and the ROK have made great efforts to overcome various difficulties and built up the amicable bilateral relations we enjoy today. We ourselves are responsible for endeavoring to further develop future-oriented friendly relations, building on the history of friendship. This year marks, in particular, the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and the ROK and also the "Japan-Korea Friendship Year 2005.. Japan and the ROK need incessant efforts so that the two countries will accumulate the experience of success that they shared when they co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
    3. Japan is firmly determined to develop future-oriented Japan-ROK relations on the basis of conciliation by working together with the ROK government and people, based on the Murayama Statement, the Japan-ROK Joint Declaration in 1998 and the Japan-Republic of Korea Summit Joint Statement in 2003, facing the past squarely and reflecting where reflection is needed. At this important juncture of the 40th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-ROK diplomatic relations, the Government of Japan intends to do its utmost to build mutual confidence as neighbors by advancing further exchange and mutual understanding, casting aside our former animosities.
    4. In building mutual confidence as neighbors, Japan needs to regard, in a spirit of humility, the facts of history that it caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of Asian nations and to approach the ROK people with deep understanding and sympathy; and recognizes the importance of helping each other as neighbors with patience and generosity.
    5. Japan and the ROK share extremely important common interests and challenges in wide-ranging areas. As partners to progress and advance together, both countries will have to exert efforts in resolving the North Korean issues and building an East Asian community for the peace, stability and prosperity of not only northeast Asia but also the international community as a whole.
    6. As for the issue of the property claim between Japan and the ROK, the Government of Japan understands that it was already resolved when they normalized diplomatic relations. It is unwise, therefore, to put into reverse two nations' history that has been formed on the basis of the resolution. Japan firmly believes in the sound judgment of the ROK in this regard. On that basis, the Government of Japan intends to provide all possible cooperation including efforts in the investigation and return of the remains of the people born in the Korean Peninsula.
    7. Although there has been a difference in stance between our two countries on the issue of Takeshima Island, to invite emotional confrontation between us is not beneficial for either country, and the Government of Japan considers that it is necessary to respond to the situation from a broader perspective in view of Japan-ROK relations as a whole, including the issue of fishery, while being aware of the stances of both countries which are already known.
    8. On the issue of the history textbooks, the Government of Japan believes that the authorization of school textbooks will be implemented in a fair and appropriate manner, based on the Courses of Study and standards of education curriculum.
    9. Finally, the Government of Japan hopes that the peoples of both Japan and the ROK will each exercise self-restraint when necessary, respect each other and make efforts for the development of their countries under the motto of "Together! Toward the Future, Into the World".
    Related Information (Japan-Republic of Korea Relations)
  2. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations on the transfer of security control of Jericho in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority and the Cairo talks between Palestinian factions

    Mr. Takashima: The next announcement is about the statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the situation in the Middle East, in Israel and the Palestinian Authority in particular.

    Japan welcomes the news that on 16 March Israel transferred the security control of Jericho in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. Japan also expects that the Palestinian side will carry out its full responsibilities for security in the Jericho area and that Israel will also transfer the security control of other cities in the West Bank in accordance with the Road Map.

    Japan highly evaluates as a positive move toward peace the fact that President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority and 12 Palestinian factions agreed on 17 March on the Cairo Declaration including the continuation of the halt to violence. Japan strongly expects that the Palestinian factions will cooperate with the effort for peace of the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority for advancing the peace process. Japan also pays tribute to Egypt for its constructive peace effort in formulating the Cairo Declaration.

    Related Information (Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the Transfer of Security Control of Jericho in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority and the Cairo Talks between Palestinian Factions)
  3. Visit to Japan by President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    Mr. Takashima: The third announcement is about the visit of President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

    President Joseph Kabila of the DRC visited Japan as a guest of the Government of Japan from 13 to 16 March. His Majesty the Emperor held an audience with President Kabila, and the President held meetings with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Foreign Minister Machimura and other officials of the Government of Japan.

    Ever since his inauguration as President in 2001, President Kabila has made steady progress in peace processes, both in the DRC and among the neighboring nations in the Great Lakes Region. Japan highly values President Kabila's efforts to achieve peace and stability, as Prime Minister Koizumi announced Japan's assistance of approximately US$7.5 million for the coming democratic election to be held this year in that country for the first time in its history.

    The Government of Japan expects that, once the stability is restored as a result of the election in this country with huge economic potential, the DRC will enjoy relations with Japan, which will regain in strength not only at the governmental level but also at the private sector level. The high expectations of the Japanese private sector for the DRC is well-illustrated by the Business Seminar co-hosted by the DRC and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), which was a great success, for which many participants flooded the event hall.

    The visit by President Kabila this time was extremely meaningful, as the first step to open a new era for the Japan-DRC bilateral relations.

    Related Information (H.E. Major General Joseph Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to Visit Japan)
  4. Cultural grassroots grant aid for the Iraq Judo Federation

    Mr. Takashima: I have two more announcements about assistance for Iraq.

    First, the Government of Japan today decided to extend a grant assistance of US$7,400 for transporting used judo uniforms from Japan to Iraq to be used by the judo players in that country.

    Related Information (Cultural Grassroots Grant Aid for the Iraqi Judo Federation)
  5. Grassroots human security grant aid to Iraq

    Mr. Takashima: A groundbreaking ceremony for the pavement of roads in the Governorate of Al-Muthanna took place recently which would improve the living condition of the people of the Governorate of Al-Muthanna, where the road condition is much worse than that in other parts of the country because of the oppression under the former government.

    This pavement work will be assisted by the Japanese grant assistance of approximately US$200,000.

    Related Information (Grassroots Human Security Grant Aid to Iraq (Governorate of Al-Muthanna))
  6. Question concerning Takeshima Island

    Q: I have a question on the Takeshima issue. According to a report, members of the ROK Parliament are heading to Takeshima. What is the reaction of the Foreign Minister or the Government?

    Mr. Takashima: We are aware of that report, but we do not have any independent confirmation of the intention of those people who are reportedly trying to land on the disputed island. We would like to maintain a calm and cool attitude toward this issue of Takeshima Island, and we hope that the ROK side will take the same approach. It will not be constructive if that sort of landing occurs. Therefore, we strongly recommend that this does not happen.

    Related Information (The Issue of Takeshima)
  7. Questions concerning advice for Japanese tourists in the Republic of Korea

    Q: We hear that the Foreign Ministry issued a warning to Japanese tourists going to the ROK last night on your website. Could you give us some details?

    Mr. Takashima: We have not issued any sort of warning. On the website, we simply explained the facts, about what is happening in Seoul, ROK in relation to this territorial dispute as an advice to tourists going to the ROK.

    Q: Did you give advice to tourists going to the ROK to be cautious?

    Mr. Takashima: We thought that this kind of information should be shared to tourists from Japan.

    Q: Does that mean that there has been a specific threat to any Japanese traveling in the ROK?

    Mr. Takashima: There is no warning as such. We just thought that some kind of activities like demonstrations might occur in cities, and tourists should be aware of this in advance, about that sort of possibility.

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

    Q: Does it not concern you that you have got problems with the ROK, problems with the People's Republic of China and problems with the Russian Federation over islands, and that Japan is in the middle of all of these battles and making very little progress on all of them?

    Mr. Takashima: Each issue is separate and independent of one another. In the case of the ROK, we hope that the relations between Japan and the ROK would become more friendly and cooperative. Especially, this year marks the 40th anniversary of the normalization of relations with the ROK, and we celebrate that anniversary in terms of the Japan-Korea Friendship Year 2005. This event and others will assist future-oriented promotion of relations, and we hope that people-to-people exchanges and also economic and political relations will make further progress.

  9. Follow-up question concerning Takeshima Island

    Q: Many ROK people think that the Japanese Government did not prevent the Shimane Prefectural Government or assembly from deciding on that resolution about Takeshima Day. Did your ministry or the government agencies anywhere in Japan advise or pressure the Shimane Prefectural Government not to proceed with this resolution? If not, is there an administrative regulation which stipulates that the Government cannot intervene in the affairs of prefectural governments?

    Mr. Takashima: Since it is an issue handled by the local autonomous areas, the central government has no say. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent information to Shimane Prefecture, explaining the situation that is happening between Japan and the ROK after the draft bill was introduced in the assembly of Shimane Prefecture. The purpose of sending that information was that we wanted to share the information with them, especially with members of the local assembly and the prefectural government.

    Related Information (The Issue of Takeshima)
  10. Questions concerning visit to Japan by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of the United States of America

    Q: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of the United States of America (U.S.) is making her first visit to Japan as the U.S. Secretary of State. Can you tell us what issues might come up in the discussions between the Japanese Government and Secretary Rice?

    In addition, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary Rice have very different personalities. Do you think this might affect Japan-U.S. relations in any way, especially with regard to Taiwan, the ROK and China?

    Mr. Takashima: We are very fortunate to be able to meet with Dr. Rice, twice in a month's time. Exactly one month ago, Foreign Minister Machimura visited Washington, DC and met with Dr. Rice for the first time since she was appointed as the Secretary of State. We believe that the chemistry between Foreign Minister Machimura and Secretary of State Rice was very good. They had a very extensive discussion on issues like bilateral relations as well as the North Korean situation and other issues of mutual concern.

    These talks which will be held tomorrow in Tokyo will be the continuation of the discussion they started one month ago. Certainly, bilateral relations will be one of the major issues to be discussed, which would include the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or "mad cow disease" case and importation of U.S. beef. In addition to that, we expect that North Korea will become a major issue again and that we would coordinate our views toward the Six-Party Talks and also North Korea in general. In addition, United Nations (UN) reform and the Middle East peace process would certainly be the other issues. Since Secretary of State Rice will be visiting the ROK and China, then of course, the North Korean situation as well as relations with China and the ROK might come up. There is no set agenda, but we believe that this will be very helpful for both countries to further understand each other's positions and establish more cooperative relations between our two countries.

    Q: There is a perception that Japan is moving far too close to the U.S. Does that concern you, especially in relation to your neighbors?

    Mr. Takashima: Actually, Japan and the U.S. are allies, and we have been enjoying very close relations for many years now. We believe that the strength and closeness of the relations were illustrated when Japan and the U.S. issued the Joint Statement last month in Washington, when Japan and the US held the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (SCC) Meeting, or 2+2 Meeting, in which we listed the common strategic objectives. This would make it very clear to any parties concerned the views shared by the two countries, Japan and the U.S. Therefore, there will not be any sort of misunderstanding or misjudgment by the neighbors, and they can understand the real, genuine intention of our alliance. I hope that the relations between Japan and its neighboring countries are as good as before and will be further improved in the future.

    Related Information (Japan-The United States Relations)
  11. Questions concerning grant assistance for the People's Republic of China

    Q: Foreign Minister Machimura made some comments about the on-going consultations between Japan and China on the future policy of yen loans to China with a view to possibly ending them before the Beijing Olympics. Can you tell us the basic position of the Japanese Government on whether the Government has any plans to end the extension of grants to China or any other technical cooperation and so forth to China?

    Mr. Takashima: Actually, the economic development in China is so remarkable that it has become less necessary to provide huge amounts of yen loans to that country. Therefore, Japan and China have been in consultations on how to end Japanese yen loans to China. The Government of Japan, after having this close consultation with the Chinese Government, decided to end the provision of yen credits or yen loans to China by the Beijing Olympics, which actually highlight the major achievement of the Chinese economic development.

    In terms of grant assistance, non-project grant assistance from Japan will also be terminated because the Chinese gross national product (GNP) per capita would exceed the level under which we usually provide grant assistance to recipient countries. In the case of China, the Chinese economic development is so remarkable that sooner or later, China's GNP will exceed that level.

    Q: On the same subject, it seems that the timing of this announcement of termination is not a happy thing because of the difficult diplomatic relations between the two countries at this moment. People, especially the Chinese, may think that this is a type of retaliation to their diplomatic aggression to Japan. Do you think the Chinese are happy with this announcement at this very moment?

    Mr. Takashima: In order to avoid that sort of misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Japanese intention, the Government of Japan has been in close consultation with the Chinese Government on how or when to terminate the yen credits to China. We are both in agreement that termination should come under the mutual understanding and acceptance of both Governments. We would like to see that this termination will mark the happy ending of the one stage of economic relations between Japan and China. "One stage" means that China was a recipient country of a huge amount of Japanese economic assistance, but thanks to Chinese economic development, that stage is about to be over. First, the new stage will utilize private sector investment to China, and secondly, Japan will also continue to extend assistance to China, mainly for environmental projects and poverty eradication projects in the inland area, through various types of grant assistance.

    Related Information (Japan-China Relations)

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