Internet Press Chat Conference 27 April 2006

  1. Japan-China 21st Century Exchange Program
  2. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Bomb Attacks in Dahab, Egypt
  3. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the reinstatement of the House of Representatives in the Kingdom of Nepal
  4. Mr. Yasushi Akashi, Representative of the Government of Japan, to attend the Extraordinary Meeting of the Co-chairs of Tokyo Donors Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka
  5. Prof. Akiko Yamanaka, Vice-Minister (Parliamentary) for Foreign Affairs, to Visit Greece, Serbia and Montenegro and Kosovo (under UN interim administration)
  6. The second meeting of the Supervisory Committee on the agreement between Japan and the Republic of Singapore for New-Age Economic Partnership
  7. Negotiations to revise the convention between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income
  8. Japan-India Annual Dialogue on Disarmament and Non-proliferation
  9. Grant aid to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Lao People's Democratic Republic
  10. Joint exercise of the Japan Coast Guard and the Russian Border Service
  11. Follow-up questions concerning the Japan-China 21st Century Exchange Program
  12. Questions concerning Japan-ROK bilateral relation

  1. Japan-China 21st Century Exchange Program

    Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Let me start today's Regular Internet Chat Press Conference. Today, I would like to make several announcements before I take questions.

    The first is about the Japan-China 21st Century Exchange Program. Japan and China have recently confirmed the importance of youth exchanges, primarily among high school students who will forge the future of Japan-China relations, and agreed to implement the Japan-China 21st Century Exchange Program. The two parties intend to carry out the program by coordinating and cooperating with government-related sectors and the organizations concerned.

    On the Japanese side, the Japan-China Friendship Center will hold a short-term (around ten days) invitation program for high school students from China (1,100 people). In addition, the Japan Foundation will launch a China Center and hold, among others, a mid- to long-term invitation program primarily for high school students from China (100 to 150 people, for around three weeks to one year). On the Chinese side, the Ministry of Education of China will be dispatching the students.

    Related Information (Japan-China Relations)

  2. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Bomb Attacks in Dahab, Egypt

    Mr. Taniguchi: The next is about a statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations on the bomb attacks in Dahab, Egypt.

    The Government of Japan is deeply shocked at the serial explosions that occurred at Dahab, a resort town on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, on the night of 24 April, which caused a large number of civilian casualties. Japan expresses its deepest sorrow for the victims of the attacks, and condolences to the bereaved families and heartfelt sympathy for those injured.

    Terrorism cannot be justified for any reason, and Japan firmly condemns these atrocious acts of terrorism that have victimized many innocent people.

    Related Information (Press Release)

  3. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the reinstatement of the House of Representatives in the Kingdom of Nepal

    Mr. Taniguchi: The next one is also about the statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations on the reinstatement of the House of Representatives in the Kingdom of Nepal.

    The Government of Japan appraises that His Majesty King Gyanendra took the decision to reinstate the House of Representatives and summon the session on 28 April, and that the political parties accepted the royal decision.

    This progress is a victory of the Nepalese people who have pursued the restoration of democracy and peace. Japan hopes that further progress will be made in the political process towards the consolidation of democracy and the realization of permanent peace.

    Japan urges the Maoists, who expressed criticism towards the decision taken by the political parties, to respect the national consensus, renounce violence, and participate in the political process through dialogue.

    Related Information (Press Release)

  4. Mr. Yasushi Akashi, Representative of the Government of Japan, to attend the Extraordinary Meeting of the Co-chairs of Tokyo Donors Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka

    Mr. Taniguchi: The next one is that Mr. Yasushi Akashi, Representative of the Government of Japan on Peace Building, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Sri Lanka, will visit Norway from 27 to 29 April (Thu to Sat) to attend an extraordinary meeting of the four Co-chairs of the Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka to be held on April 28 (Fri) in Oslo.

    Attending the meeting will be Mr. Akashi of Japan, Minister of Development Cooperation Erik Solheim of Norway, United States (US) Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher of the State Department, and Deputy Director-General Herve Jouanjean of the EU Commission for External Relations.

    The Government of Norway proposed this hastily-arranged meeting, following the postponement of the second direct talk on the implementation of the ceasefire agreement, scheduled to be held between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The meeting will exchange views on the increasing tension in Sri Lanka's peace process, as demonstrated by the terrorist bombing at the Army Headquarters in Colombo on 25 April, and other matters such as future prospects and necessary measures.

    This meeting will be the seventh of its kind.

    Related Information (Press Release)

  5. Prof. Akiko Yamanaka, Vice-Minister (Parliamentary) for Foreign Affairs, to Visit Greece, Serbia and Montenegro and Kosovo (under UN interim administration)

    Mr. Taniguchi: The next one is about the Vice-Minister (Parliamentary) for Foreign Affairs Akiko Yamanaka's visit to Greece, Serbia and Montenegro, and Kosovo (under U.N. interim administration) from 2 to 7 May (Tue to Sun).

    In Greece, Prof. Yamanaka will attend the Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP), a regional co-operation forum of the Balkan region, and taking this opportunity of the meeting, will also exchange views with the foreign ministers of Greece, Serbia and Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania on bilateral relations, the regional situation, and other issues.

    To exchange views on the regional situation and other issues, Prof. Yamanaka will meet in Serbia and Montenegro with dignitaries of the government, and in Kosovo with senior officials of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and key figures of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG).

    Related Information (Press Release)

  6. The second meeting of the Supervisory Committee on the agreement between Japan and the Republic of Singapore for New-Age Economic Partnership

    Mr. Taniguchi: The next one is about the second meeting of the Supervisory Committee on the agreement between Japan and the Republic of Singapore for New-Age Economic Partnership, which is being held 27 and 28 April (Thu and Fri) in Tokyo.

    From the Japanese side the officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Ministry of Finance (MOF), and other Ministries concerned are attending the meeting, and from the Singaporean side, officials from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, among others are present.

    In the meeting, the officials are discussing the situation of the two countries' economic relations and cooperation based on the agreement between Japan and the Republic of Singapore for New-Age Economic Partnership and other issues.

    Related Information (Japan-Singapore Relations)

  7. Negotiations to revise the convention between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income

    Mr. Taniguchi: The next item is about the first round of formal negotiations to revise the convention between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income, which will be held from 10 to 11 May (Wed to Thu) in Manila, the Philippines.

    These negotiations will be attended by relevant officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Ministry of Finance (MOF) on the Japanese side, and those of the Department of Finance on the Philippine side.

    These negotiations for the revision will be the first since its effect in 1980.

    Related Information (Press Release)

  8. Japan-India Annual Dialogue on Disarmament and Non-proliferation

    Mr. Taniguchi: The next item is the Japan-India Annual Dialogue on Disarmament and Non-proliferation which will be held on 1 May in New Delhi, India. The Japanese side will be led by Director-General Takeshi Nakane of the Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Indian side will be led by Joint Secretary Hamid Ali Rao of Disarmament and International Security Affairs of the Ministry of External Affairs. In the meeting, they will discuss issues such as nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, biological weapons, and so on.

    This will be the first dialogue since both governments had agreed to hold such meetings on the occasion of the visit by Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso of Japan to India in January.

    Related Information (Japan-India Relations)

  9. Grant aid to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Lao People's Democratic Republic

    The next item is about Japan's decisions to extend grant aid from 25 to 27 April (Tue to Thu).

    Firstly, on 25 April, Japan decided to provide emergency grant aid totaling about US$1,140,000 (approximately 133 million yen) to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to assist the smooth implementation of a series of elections to be held in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

    The contribution will be allocated for part of the expenditure necessary to support a series of elections in the country beginning with a national referendum for constitutional amendment scheduled for 24 June.

    Japan has proactively exerted efforts for the consolidation of peace in Africa, regarding it as one of the pillars for supporting Africa, by holding, for example, the TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) Conference on Consolidation of Peace in February this year. This support for the electoral process in Mauritania is part of this effort.

    Japan also decided to extend food aid amounting up to US$2.8 million (approximately 320 million yen) to the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

    The exchange of notes was done yesterday, on 26 April (Wed), in Vientiane, between Ambassador to Laos Makoto Katsura of Japan and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Somsavat Lengsavad of Laos.

    It is expected that the program will support the Lao Government's measures against poverty.

    Related Information (Japan-Laos Relations)

  10. Joint exercise of the Japan Coast Guard and the Russian Border Service

    Mr. Taniguchi: Last but not least, there will be an important development between Japan and the Russian Federation.

    Commandant Hiroki Ishikawa of Japan Coast Guard will visit Russia for four days beginning 3 May (Wed).

    Commandant Ishikawa will meet his counterpart, Senior Admiral Viktor Pronichev, Head of the Russian Border Service and First Deputy Director of Russian Federal Security Service, 3 May (Wed) in Vladivostok.

    To coincide with the meeting, the Japan Coast Guard and the Russian Border Service will conduct their first ever joint exercise off Vladivostok 4 May (Thu).

    From the Japanese side a helicopter equipped Patrol Vessel Echigo of the 9th Region will be dispatched to join the exercise. Messrs. Ishikawa and Pronichev will inspect the exercise, together with observers from the US and other nations.

    The visit of the head of Japan Coast Guard was discussed and agreed upon between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin when the Russian President came to Tokyo last year in November 2005.

    The first joint Japan-Russia exercise will be an integral part of the anti-terrorism and crime effort, an area Japan and Russia are working harder together now. It is expected that there will be even more coast guard to coast guard cooperation in a variety of ways between the two nations.

    Related Information (Japan-Russia Relations)

  11. Follow-up questions concerning the Japan-China 21st Century Exchange Program

    Q: Hello Mr. Taniguchi.

    Regarding the Japan-China 21st Century Exchange Program, how different is this program from similar programs the Japanese Foreign Ministry has been involved in the past?

    How does MOFA view the role of this kind of program in its overall policy on Japan-China relations?

    Mr. Taniguchi: Thank you very much for your question.

    One of the programs that MOFA has been running in the area of people to people exchange is the so-called JET.

    It is to invite college graduates from many nations and let them work as English teaching assistants and the like in schools and municipalities nationwide. While extremely successful this program is for grown-ups, so to say.

    The new program we are about to launch is significant in that it would invite teens, high school students from China. One could say they are undergoing a formative period of their lives and hence it is to be hoped the experiences they will have in Japan will have lasting impacts. I call this program personally, to plant seeds of mutual understanding and love in the hearts and minds of Chinese teens.

    Q: Just a follow-up on that, the timing of launching this kind of program coincides with recent developments in Japan-China relations. Is this one way MOFA intends to bring such relations, which are rather at its lowest point politically speaking, back on track by focusing on grassroots level exchanges?

    Mr. Taniguchi: The fact is this program was first planned last year when we were thinking of budgeting for the fiscal year 2006. Enhancing ties between the two nations on a grassroots level is always important.

    Related Information (Japan-China Relations)

  12. Questions concerning Japan-ROK bilateral relation

    Q: Let me ask about an issue concerning Japan's relations with another neighbor, the Republic of Korea ROK.

    On the Takeshima islets dispute, there seems to be a difference in interpretation between Japan and ROK on what has been agreed over the weekend between Vice-Minister Yachi and Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Yu Myung Hwan of ROK.

    Just to set the records straight, during the meeting, Japan and ROK agreed that ROK will not conduct a survey in June? Or is it simply Japan's interpretation on what ROK has told Japan?

    Mr. Taniguchi: The ROK Government is making no proposal for the up-coming meeting to be held in Germany regarding the naming of underwater oceanic structures. This is what the Japanese members of the negotiation team brought home.

    Q: There are views that the Takeshima dispute at best could be resolved by bringing the matter to the World Court. What is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs's position on this?

    Mr. Taniguchi: In order to bring issues to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) both parties should agree that it be brought there. In other words, no unilateral decision or action will work so far as the ICJ is concerned.

    Q: In the event that both parties agree to bring the issue to the ICJ, how confident is Japan that it has a strong case compared to the ROK?

    Mr. Taniguchi: We are 100% confident yet it is too much of a speculative question for me to answer.

    Q: What are the grounds (laws?) on which Japan feels confident it can win a case over ROK with regard to the Takeshima issue in the event it is brought to the ICJ?

    Mr. Taniguchi: To win the case, as is the case with civil suits, you have to bring as many pieces of evidence as you can. For instance, the record we can bring into the court dates back further than Korea's. But for us to discuss this it will take hours not minutes. Let us have an off-line chat about it.

    Related Information (Japan-ROK Relations)


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