Press Conference, 19 May 2006
- Japan-China 21st Century Exchange Program
- Preliminary discussion with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
- Second round of the negotiations on the Japan-Chile Economic Partnership Agreement
- Mr. Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, to attend the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) and other meetings
- Japan-ROK Press Secretary Consultation
- Ambassador Tatsuo Arima, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan, to attend the World Economic Forum on the Middle East
- Dispatch of an observer for the referendum in Montenegro
- The 12th Annual Meeting of the Japan-Russia Agreement on Avoiding Incidents at Sea
- Handover ceremony of grassroots human security grant aid to the Governorate of Al-Muthanna
- Grant aid to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
- Grant aid to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
- Question concerning alleged ballistic missile testing by North Korea
- Question concerning Japan-China foreign ministers' meeting
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon and thank you very much for coming. At this very moment at 14:00 today, 19 May, His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince is granting an audience to 30 Chinese high school students who are among the approximately 200 high school students now visiting Japan on the invitation of the government-supported program.
I went to the reception hosting those 200 Chinese high school students, and that was a good one indeed. When a group of Japanese high school students started to sing a song of SMAP, a group of Chinese students rushed to the stage to take photographs. That was an interesting moment.
Mr. Taniguchi: The next one, on 20 and 21 May in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Government of Japan will hold a preliminary discussion for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) comprising six countries, namely, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The discussion will be attended on the Japanese side by Mr. Shinsuke Sugiyama, Deputy Director-General of the Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other Deputy Director-General-level officials of the bureaus of each ministry, who will co-chair the discussion.
With a view to launching official negotiations at an early date, the attendees will discuss the framework for the negotiations and will coordinate the future schedule. The discussion will also exchange wide-ranging views on trade in goods and services.
Mr. Taniguchi: In terms of FTA/EPA, the second round of the negotiations on the Japan-Chile Economic Partnership Agreement (JCEPA) is being held in Santiago, Republic of Chile, from 18 to 24 May.
From the Japanese side, representatives of the ministries concerned headed by Mr. Seiichi Kondo, Ambassador for International Trade and Economic Relations, and, from the Chilean side, representatives of the ministries concerned headed by Mr. Carlos Furche, Vice Minister of Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are respectively participating in the negotiations.
IV. Mr. Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, to attend the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) and other meetings
Mr. Taniguchi: Fourthly, Mr. Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, will visit the French Republic from 22 to 24 May to attend the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) and other meetings to be held in Paris.
Taking this opportunity, Mr. Shiozaki will have talks with Mr. Angel Gurria, who will be the next Secretary-General of the OECD, and related officials of the Government of France.
Mr. Taniguchi: The next one, Mr. Yoshinori Katori, Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is now in the Republic of Korea (ROK). He went to the ROK on 18 May and is due back on 20 May. He is there to hold the first Japan-ROK Press Secretary Consultation.
At the Meeting, Mr. Katori will exchange views with Mr. Choo Kyu-ho, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the ROK, on such matters as Japan-ROK cooperation in the field of public diplomacy.
VI. Ambassador Tatsuo Arima, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan, to attend the World Economic Forum on the Middle East
Mr. Taniguchi: Ambassador Tatsuo Arima, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan, will visit the Arab Republic of Egypt from 19 to 24 May to attend the World Economic Forum on the Middle East to be held in Sharm El Sheikh.
Ambassador Arima, Special Envoy in charge of Peace in the Middle East, will attend the session on Palestinian relations on 21 May and will exchange views with participants from Middle Eastern countries on the Middle East peace process.
Mr. Taniguchi: Also, the Government of Japan has decided to dispatch Mr. Tsutomu Sunada, First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy in Serbia and Montenegro, to the Referendum Observation Mission of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to assist the fair execution of the referendum in Montenegro which is scheduled to take place on 21 May to enable the residents to vote on its independence.
For the Mission, about 200 short-term observers from such countries as the United States (US) and European countries are to be sent. The Government of Japan has decided to dispatch a mission as part of Japan's contribution to the stability of Montenegro.
Mr. Taniguchi: Next, there is going to a bilateral meeting between Japan and the Russian Federation, and it is called the 12th Annual Meeting of the Japan-Russia Agreement on Avoiding Incidents at Sea. There is actually a longer title for this, i.e. the 12th Annual Meeting to review progress of the implementation of "the Japan-Russia Agreement on Prevention of Incidents on and over the High Seas to prevent maritime accidents." That is a long title but it tells what it is about.
To this meeting, from the Japanese side, Mr. Takeshi Yagi, Deputy Director-General of the European Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is going to attend, together with other officials from the Japan Defense Agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From the Russian side, Rear Admiral Katsyuba Vladimir Vasilievich, Deputy Chief of Staff, Main Naval Headquarters, is going to attend, together with his colleagues.
Mr. Taniguchi: A couple of items about Japan's official development assistance (ODA).
There was a handover ceremony of grassroots human security grant aid to the Governorate of Al-Muthanna in Iraq.
The Department of Wells of the Governorate of Al-Muthanna completed the project to cope with the shortage of water in the Governorate of Al-Muthanna with Japan's grassroots human security grant aid totaling about US$220,000 (approximately 2.4 million yen).
The handover ceremony was held on 18 May starting at 15:30 Japan time at the etape of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force in Samawah, attended on the Japanese side by representatives of the Liaison Office in Samawah of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force and on the Iraqi side by representatives of the Department of Wells of the Governorate of Al-Muthanna and officials from Al-Busayyah.
There are four wells that have been built and completed in a place called Al-Busayyah, which is about 200 km south of Samawah, right in the middle of the desert close to the border with Saudi Arabia where water has been in extreme shortage. These four wells created by Japan's grassroots human security grant aid are expected to serve the community.
Mr. Taniguchi: Now, the Government of Japan is going to extend grant aid to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for the Project for Improving Medical Equipment of Southern Region's Hospitals and Al-Basheer Hospital. The amount is going to be up to 523 million yen (approximately US$4.7 million).
Mr. Taniguchi: The Japanese Government has also decided to extend grant aid to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste for the Project for the Rehabilitation of Dili Port. The amount is going to be up to 922 million yen (approximately US$8.4 million).
Q: Does the Japanese Government have any comment on the possibility of North Korea testing its ballistic missile? There were a lot of rumors and information from so-called sources.
Mr. Taniguchi: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi refused to give any comment to that question. That said, it is part of the Japanese Government's ongoing duty to get as much information and intelligence as possible. We have never failed to pay keen attention to what is happening or what could be happening in North Korea for that matter. As for further details, I should refrain myself from making any comment.
Q: What are the prospects for Japan and the People's Republic of China to hold a foreign ministerial meeting at the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD)?
Mr. Taniguchi: You will hear more details very much soon, but I cannot tell you whether or not at the moment. The two countries are working hard to make it happen on the sidelines of the ACD.
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