Internet Press Chat Conference, 12 October 2006
- Visit of Ambassador in charge of Peace Building in Africa Mr. Keitaro Sato to the Republic of Sudan, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, and the United Kingdom
- Meeting between Mr. Gotaro Ogawa, Ambassador in Charge of Reconstruction Assistance to the Republic of Iraq, and Mr. Nuri al-Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq
- Submission of the Draft Resolution on Nuclear Disarmament by Japan to the United Nations General Assembly
- Visit by Mr. Yasushi Akashi, Representative of the Government of Japan, to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
- Questions concerning Japan-Russian Federation Relations
- Question regarding the Azadegan Oil Fields
- Questions concerning the UN Security Council Resolution on North Korea
I. Visit of Ambassador in charge of Peace Building in Africa Mr. Keitaro Sato to the Republic of Sudan, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, and the United Kingdom
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Let me start today's Regular Internet Chat Press Conference. I would like to make several announcements before taking questions.
From 9 to 14 October, Mr. Keitaro Sato, Ambassador in charge of Peace Building in Africa, is visiting the Republic of Sudan, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, and the United Kingdom. In the Sudan, Ambassador Sato exchanges views with high-ranking Sudanese officials for the improvement of the situation in Darfur. Following the visit to the Sudan, he will hold meetings with officials of the African Union in Ethiopia and also with Government officials in the United Kingdom to discuss the Darfur issue.
II. Meeting between Mr. Gotaro Ogawa, Ambassador in Charge of Reconstruction Assistance to the Republic of Iraq, and Mr. Nuri al-Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq
Mr. Taniguchi: On 9 October, Mr. Gotaro Ogawa, Ambassador in Charge of Reconstruction Assistance to the Republic of Iraq, held talks with Mr. Nuri al-Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq, in Baghdad. Ambassador Ogawa said that the Government of Japan will continue to contribute to reconstruction in Iraq and pays respect to Prime Minister Maliki's strong determination to work on security measures and national reconciliation and would like to invite Prime Minister Maliki to Japan.
In response, Prime Minister Maliki said that the Government of Iraq is now working on these three goals: national conciliation, economic reconstruction, and maintaining public order. The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation to the Government of Japan for its assistance and accepted the invitation to visit Japan.
III. Submission of the Draft Resolution on Nuclear Disarmament by Japan to the United Nations General Assembly
Mr. Taniguchi: On 11 October, the Government of Japan submitted its draft resolution on nuclear disarmament "Renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons" to the United Nations General Assembly. Japan submitted this draft resolution, based on its basic position as the only nation in the world to have suffered atomic bombing, aiming at the realization of a peaceful and safe world free of nuclear weapons through a practical and incremental approach. The Government of Japan recognizes the necessity of further action to maintain and reinforce the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime based on the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The description, based on the announcement of a nuclear test by North Korea on 9 October, is included in this draft resolution.
IV. Visit by Mr. Yasushi Akashi, Representative of the Government of Japan, to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Mr. Taniguchi: Mr. Yasushi Akashi, Representative of the Government of Japan on Peace Building, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, will visit Sri Lanka from 15 to 20 October 15 (Sunday to Friday).
In view of the progress being made in the coordination of holding a direct talk between the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) from 28 to 29 October in Geneva, Switzerland, Mr. Akashi will call on both Sri Lanka's leading governmental figures and the LTTE leaders for a constructive response. Mr. Akashi is also scheduled to meet with members of political parties, representatives of UN agencies, and others to exchange views on issues of Sri Lanka's peace process, future prospects and other matters.
Q: I would like to ask some questions concerning Japan's relations with the Russian Federation. The 50th anniversary of the signing of the Japan-Soviet joint declaration is coming up next week, but Japan and Russia have not yet concluded a peace treaty due to a longstanding territorial dispute. First of all, how does Japan hope to pursue this issue at this juncture?
Mr. Taniguchi: It is too broad a question for me to answer. Could you narrow down your question a little bit so that it will make it easier for me to answer?
Q: What I would like to know is whether we can expect some developments under the new administration under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. There did not seem to be much visible development in bilateral negotiations over the territorial dispute in the five-plus years of the Koizumi administration. Now that we have a new administration in Japan, and considering that the declaration anniversary is coming up, is the Japanese Government thinking about reactivating negotiations with Russia?
Mr. Taniguchi: Not even a month has passed since Mr. Abe took office as Prime Minister, and yet he has had to deal with many tasks, some of which are really daunting, so I should only ask you to pay keen heed to what will come up from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the Japan-Russia relationship (down the road). Certainly the bilateral summit is something that we should be working on. Needless to say, now as a full-fledged member of the international community, one should hope that Russia must do its homework as well.
Q: Could you please elaborate on what you mean when you say that "Russia must do its homework as well?" Also, Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned in a recent meeting with scholars and experts from around the world, including Japan, that it is "possible" to resolve the territorial dispute with Japan if both sides made efforts and compromised. How do you evaluate this comment? Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso recently mentioned in an interview that one idea to resolve the dispute is to have three of the four islands returned to Japan. How would this idea work into the bilateral negotiations? Could it be a possible compromise on the part of Japan?
Mr. Taniguchi: It is almost as if focus has been put always and solely upon the number, two, three, four, not only for years, but also for decades. Meanwhile, if you look at the bilateral relationship, its scope has gotten wider, the intensity of the relationship has been made greater, and most importantly Russia has become a country that is willing to host such important meetings as a G7 Summit Meeting. I am answering your question in a very much roundabout fashion, I know, but the simple answer is the issue is not as simple as framed in your question.
Q: Hello Sir. I would like to ask you about the Islamic Republic of Iran/Azadegan issue. One of the key elements of Japan's energy diplomacy is to develop its own oil source, and Azadegan has been a centerpiece of such efforts. How does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs see the latest deal on Azadegan oil field (reduced stake from 75 to 10 percent) affecting the "energy diplomacy" it is pursuing? How concerned is the Ministry over the reduced stake, given that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is the largest shareholder of Inpex?
Mr. Taniguchi: The first priority of Japan's "energy diplomacy" is to continue to commit itself in maintaining an open trading system. Japan has had little difficulty in procuring oil, which is one of the most frequently traded commodities. In order for this to be maintained, Japan together with its like-minded peers worldwide, such as the United States, is in my view working hard to maintain the stable system in which merchants can freely trade goods, in this case, oil. Going upstream for oil business is important and is gaining importance even further because of appreciated oil prices. To provide Japanese companies with opportunities for them to profit from the upstream related businesses is gaining importance as well. The Azadegan issue has to be understood against such a backdrop. Nonetheless, so long as it is a private deal, it is the Inpex management that has reached the decision you are talking about after examining feasibility of their business, about which I have little to say.
Q: On another topic, the UN Security Council resolution on North Korea. How optimistic is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that a UN resolution imposing punitive measures against North Korea could be adopted by the end of the week? Does this mean by "Saturday Japan time?" Also, the People's Republic of China seems to be willing to accept a resolution based on the UN Charter's Chapter 7, but apparently wants to limit it to diplomatic and economic options based on Article 41 of Chapter 7. My question is, how feasible is this? Is it possible for the resolution to contain just some elements of Chapter 7 but not entirely, and if it is possible, would this (partial reference to Chapter 7) be welcomed by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs?
Mr. Taniguchi: I can only say that the next resolution has got to be one that is much more powerful than Resolution 1695. About what actually is happening in the UN, I should refrain myself from making further comments.
Q: Just a follow-up question, Sir, on the UN issue. Hypothetically then, if a resolution of this kind, a resolution that intends to be much more powerful than Resolution 1695 to convey a stronger warning to North Korea, refers to only some parts of Chapter 7, would this make the resolution less effective? Would this compromise Japan's hope of wanting to issue a much more powerful resolution than 1695?
Mr. Taniguchi: If I were to say, "So long as the resolution refers to Chapter 7, it should be regarded as a more powerful one than 1695," you would perhaps put something like "Japanese official admitted it suffices to have a resolution only referring to Chapter 7," would you not? Once again, as this is an ongoing process, I would like to give no "noise" to the process.
I am afraid that I have to conclude today's chat conference. I hope I can give you more beef about the Russian issue next time.
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