Press Conference 22 March 2005

  1. Release of crew members of a Japanese tugboat
  2. Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura upon publication of the report of Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations
  3. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations on Pakistan's ballistic missile test
  4. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations on the situation in the Kyrgyz Republic
  5. Visit to Japan by Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer of the Commonwealth of Australia
  6. Visit to Japan by Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)
  7. Grant aid for conflict prevention and peace building for the financial reform of the Palestinian Authority
  8. Food assistance for Palestinians
  9. Food assistance through the World Food Programme (WFP)
  10. Grant assistance for the Republic of Sierra Leone for Arms for Development (AFD) Programme
  11. Grant assistance for farmers in Mindanao, Republic of the Philippines
  12. Question concerning East Asian Summit

  1. Release of crew members of a Japanese tugboat

    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.

    The first announcement is about the release of Japanese crew members who were captured by an unknown armed group in the Malacca Strait.

    The Government of Japan is pleased and relieved that the three crew members of a Japanese tugboat Idaten who were captured by an unknown armed group in the Malacca Strait on 14 March were released and placed under the protection of the Japanese Consulate General's office in Penang, Malaysia today.

    The Government of Japan is most appreciative for the assistance given by the governments and authorities of the Republic of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Republic of Singapore and the Kingdom of Thailand to secure the early and safe return of these three crew members including two Japanese.

    In order to prevent the recurrence of this kind of act of piracy, the Government of Japan is determined to work hard, together with the governments of nations in the region, to implement various measures such as joint training, early entry into force of the draft multilateral agreement for cooperation on this issue, and provision of measures and equipment like patrol boats and others

  2. Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura upon publication of the report of Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations

    Mr. Takashima: The next announcement is about the statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura on the report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) on UN reform.

    Foreign Minister Machimura issued a statement on the report published by Secretary-General of the UN Kofi Annan on UN reform in which Foreign Minister Machimura said as follows:

    On 20 March, the report of Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, entitled "In Larger Freedom," based on the report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and the report of the UN Millennium Project, was officially released, in anticipation of the summit meeting on the Millennium Declaration to be held in September.

    The Government of Japan welcomes the resolve of the Secretary General to promote discussion among Member States through the publication of his report on four important clusters including development, peace and security, rule of law and protecting the vulnerable, and UN institutional reform, as guidelines for achieving the resolution of the challenges facing the international community. The Government of Japan highly values these efforts of the Secretary General, as well as those of all others involved in the process.

    Concerning Security Council reform, while the report does not recommend which option, Model A or Model B of the High-level Panel report, should be given priority, it does point out that "Member States should agree to take a decision on this important issue before the summit in September 2005. It would be very preferable for Member States to take this vital decision by consensus, but if they are unable to reach consensus, this must not become an excuse for postponing action."

    Japan, along with many countries, has insisted that it is important to realize reform of the Security Council in line with Model A, which is based on the idea of expanding both the permanent and non-permanent categories. As the report of the Secretary General gives momentum toward the realization of the reform in line with Japan's position, the Government of Japan welcomes and supports the report.

    With regard to development, the Government of Japan welcomes the report's wide-ranging examination of various developmental issues, including an increase in development finances to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As a major development aid donor, shouldering close to one-fifth of the total volume of worldwide development assistance over the last 10 years, Japan will continue to make such resolved effort to achieve the MDGs and, to that end, will strive increasing the level of ODA.

    Having received this report, the Government of Japan is resolved to further strengthen its efforts to realize reform of the United Nations, and its Security Council, toward the summit in September, in cooperation with Secretary-General Annan and other countries.

    Related Information (Statement by Mr. Nobutaka Machimura, Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon publication of the report of Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations)
  3. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations on Pakistan's ballistic missile test

    Mr. Takashima: The third announcement is about the ballistic missile test of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

    The Government of Japan today issued a statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Pakistan's ballistic missile test which was conducted on 19 March in which he said as follows:

    The Government of Japan expresses its regret that Pakistan test-fired a Shaheen II missile on 19 March 2005.

    The Government of Japan calls on Pakistan to sincerely respond to the efforts of the international community to promote disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles which act as their means of delivery.

    Related Information (Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Pakistan's Ballistic Missile Test)
  4. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations on the situation in the Kyrgyz Republic

    Mr. Takashima: The Press Secretary issued a statement on the situation in the Kyrgyz Republic in which he said as follows:

    The Government of Japan is carefully observing the development of the situation in the southern provinces of the Kyrgyz Republic where turmoil has followed in relation to the recent results of the parliamentary elections of the Kyrgyz Republic.

    The Government of Japan has been supporting the democratization of the Kyrgyz Republic since its independence and strongly expects that the situation will be settled in a peaceful manner.

    Related Information (Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the Situation in the Kyrgyz Republic)
  5. Visit to Japan by Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer of the Commonwealth of Australia

    Mr. Takashima: Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer of the Commonwealth of Australia arrived in Japan yesterday for a three-day visit. Today, Foreign Minister Downer met with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Mr. Katsuya Okada, President of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) this morning. This afternoon, Foreign Minister Downer will be meeting with four ministers: Mr. Yoshinobu Shimamura, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; Mr. Yoshinori Ohno, Minister of State for Defense; Mr. Shoichi Nakagawa, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry; and Foreign Minister Machimura.

    Foreign Minister Machimura will be hosting a welcoming dinner for the Australian Foreign Minister this evening in Tokyo. Foreign Minister Downer will return to Australia from the Kansai Airport tomorrow.

    Related Information (Japan-Australia Relations)
  6. Visit to Japan by Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

    Mr. Takashima: The next announcement is about the visit of Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

    Secretary General De Hoop Scheffer will be visiting Japan from 3 to 5 April at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While in Tokyo, Secretary General De Hoop Scheffer will meet with Foreign Minister Machimura and others.

  7. Grant aid for conflict prevention and peace building for the financial reform of the Palestinian Authority

    Mr. Takashima: The Government of Japan has announced the following official development assistance (ODA).

    One is to support and help the Palestinian Authority with its efforts for financial reform. The Government of Japan will extend a grant aid of US$30.0 million through the World Bank's West Bank and Gaza Public Financial Management Reform Trust Fund.

    This assistance is a part of the US$600.0 million additional assistance for the Middle East peace process compiled on 1 February of this year.

    It is expected that this grant assistance of US$30.0 million will improve the difficult budgetary situation of the Palestinian Authority and help its Government advance its reform.

    Related Information (Grant Aid for Conflict Prevention and Peace Building for the Financial Reform of the Palestinian Authority through the World Bank)

  8. Food assistance for Palestinians

    Mr. Takashima: The Government of Japan will give US$6.0 million worth of food assistance for Palestinian refugees and other residents residing in Palestinian Autonomous Areas through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

    Related Information (Food Aid for Palestine)
  9. Food assistance through the World Food Programme (WFP)

    Mr. Takashima: Including this food assistance for Palestinians, the Government of Japan decided to extend food assistance of 1.9 billion yen or approximately US$19.0 million for the people in Africa, Central America and Asia through the WFP.

    Food will be provided to the people in need in the following areas and nations: Palestinian territories, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of Mozambique, Republic of Mali, Burkina Faso, Republic of Ghana, Republic of Sierra Leone, Republic of Guinea, Republic of Burundi, Republic of Rwanda, Republic of El Salvador, Republic of Guatemala, Republic of Honduras, Republic of Nicaragua, Georgia and Republic of Tajikistan.

    Related Information (Food Aid through the World Food Programme (WFP))
  10. Grant assistance for the Republic of Sierra Leone for Arms for Development (AFD) Programme

    Mr. Takashima: The Government of Japan decided to provide US$2.0 million worth of grant assistance to Sierra Leone through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for its Arms for Development (AFD) Programme. Under this program, small and light arms spread amongst the ex-combatants and residents will be recovered in return for development assistance which would assist the consolidation of peace in this war-torn country.

    Related Information (Grant Aid to the Republic of Sierra Leone for Arms for Development (AFD) Programme)
  11. Grant assistance for farmers in Mindanao, Republic of the Philippines

    Mr. Takashima: Finally, the Government of Japan will provide US$2.0 million worth of grant assistance for the Republic of the Philippines through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for the promotion of a food sustainability program in Mindanao. The money will be used by FAO to assist and train the poor farmers in the region to improve their productivity and henceforth increase their income.

    Related Information (Grant Aid for Increase of Food Production for Underprivileged Farmers in Mindanao, Republic of the Philippines)
  12. Question concerning East Asian Summit

    Q: This morning, Prime Minister Koizumi and Australian Foreign Minister Downer discussed the possibility of Australia joining the planned East Asian Summit. Could you clarify and explain the current position of the Government of Japan about the possibility of other Asian members participating in the possible East Asian Summit?

    Mr. Takashima: On the East Asian Summit, our basic position is that this entity should be inclusive instead of exclusive. Therefore, all those countries which have some interest and also connection with this region should be included for whatever their function may be. Whether or not they would become full members of the East Asian Summit has to be resolved among the core members of the East Asian Summit.

    From a function-oriented consideration, we believe that neighboring countries of the East Asian region should be invited to have some connection with the East Asian Summit. This is a matter that is under discussion right now among the original members of the possible East Asian Summit, that is, basically the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Plus Three (ASEAN+3) member countries. Our position is being conveyed to those countries concerned, but no conclusion or decision has been made yet.

    Related Information (Japan-Asia Relations)

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