Press Conference, 20 June 2006

  1. The Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in Iraq
  2. Provision of yen loan to Iraq (prior notification)
  3. Follow-up question concerning provision of yen loan to Iraq
  4. Questions concerning North Korean missile
  5. Questions concerning Takeshima

I. The Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in Iraq

Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon, and thank you very much for coming.

Regarding the redeployment of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and the dispatch of airlift support, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi gave a press conference a short while ago and elaborated on what the Government of Japan is going to do in Iraq. He also mentioned that the Japanese Government is going to continue to support the reconstruction effort of the Iraqi people by providing further aid in the shape of official development assistance (ODA) and so on. I am not going to touch on the details of what he has already said.

In terms of the related statement that Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso made last night, it is already up on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so I am not going to make a further announcement about it either.

Related Information (Press Release)

II. Provision of yen loan to Iraq (prior notification)

Mr. Taniguchi: Let me just simply mention the yen loan that the Japanese Government is going to provide to Iraq. The press release reads as follows:

The Government of Japan has announced its intention to provide a yen loan up to the amount of 3,348 million yen to Iraq for implementing "Samawah Bridges and Roads Construction Project." After prior notification to the Iraqi side, the Exchange of Notes will be signed regarding the provision of this loan.

The terms and conditions of the loan are as follows:
(1) Interest rate: 0.75%
(2) Repayment period: 40 years (including a 10-year grace period)
(3) Procurement method: general untied

The outline of the project goes as follows:
Development of transportation network is an urgent challenge in reconstructing the economy and the society of Iraq. However, National Road No.1, which connects north and south, has an undeveloped section, causing heavy traffic congestion in its detour route, National Road No.8, at downtown Samawah where it crosses the Euphrates.

Therefore, by constructing a new bridge called the Samawah North Bridge, rebuilding provisional bridges (Mahdi Bridge and Hillal Bridge) to cross over the Euphrates and constructing their connecting roads in Al-Samawah and its vicinity, this project aims to alleviate traffic congestion and envisage efficient north-south transportation.

Related Information (Press Release)

III. Follow-up question concerning provision of yen loan to Iraq

Q: I would just like to check the amount. Did you say 3,340 million yen, in other words it is 3.34 billion yen? Is that what you are saying?

Mr. Taniguchi: Yes, that is correct, it is 3.3 billion yen.

Related Information (Press Release)

IV. Questions concerning North Korean missile

Q: I would like to ask you a question about the North Korean missile. Does Japan suggest that its tough action against North Korea will depend at all on the trajectory of the missile launch, or is it irrespective of the trajectory?

Mr. Taniguchi: Foreign Minister Aso gave remarks to the members of the Japanese press corps when he was asked what the Japanese Government would be doing in response to the launch. He said that the Japanese Government, together with the United States (US) Government, is going to bring this issue immediately to the United Nations (UN) Security Council.

Already a Japanese legislation has been enacted at the last Diet session that would enable the Japanese Government to exercise further means to pressure North Korea. Foreign Minister Aso also said that the Japanese Government is going to use this newly introduced law to further pressure North Korea by using a variety of means. These are the points that Foreign Minister Aso has already mentioned.

Q: Just to follow-up, has Foreign Minister Aso or any other minister said that this action will be taken irrespective of whether or not the missile, if it is launched, passes over Japan? Simply the act of launch of the missile would provoke an action?

Mr. Taniguchi: He did not go into any details of that sort. When you say irrespective of the launch, you are suggesting perhaps that the North Korean government may have a couple of different objectives with respect to the launch. However, I cannot say anything about it because it has not happened. When it happens, there may be other elements to be taken into consideration. We have got to carefully see what the situation is going to look like, and by pulling together all the elements worthy of consideration, we will be coming up with a concrete decision about what to do.

Q: The Republic of Korea (ROK) Government seems to make the impression that this might not be a missile launch, or they are trying to make a distinction between a missile launch and a satellite rocket launch. Is there any difference whether it is a satellite rocket launch or a missile launch?

Mr. Taniguchi: Well it will surely involve technical details. I am not an expert on that so you should ask someone who has got a proper knowledge about that. I would say that immediately after the launch, given the technicalities and the expertise shared by the Japanese, US and ROK Governments, it would be made clear what sort of intention the North Korean government has had.

Q: I understand that the Japanese Government has been sending warnings to North Korea through various diplomatic channels. As of yesterday, I believe there has been no response from them. Is that still the case?

Mr. Taniguchi: There has been no response.

Q: No response back from the North Koreans?

Mr. Taniguchi: No response yet.

Q: There was an article in one of the ROK's dailies today suggesting that some of the technology used in the electronic parts for the Taepodong-2 actually came from Japan. Is the Japanese Government aware of those suggestions?

Mr. Taniguchi: Me, personally, I do not know anything about it. I have not read the article either.

Q: Just further elaboration, various countries are continually testing missiles of various kinds. So Japan's objection to this potential missile is not solely based on the possibility of it crossing over Japanese territory. Is that the correct characterization, that it is based on the act of launch?

Mr. Taniguchi: The opposition of the Japanese Government toward any attempt of a missile launch has been firmly backed by the pledge made between the Japanese and North Korean governments when the leaders of the two nations met in September 2001. This was clearly stated in the so-called Pyongyang Declaration; the moratorium for the missile test launch was clearly stated there. So by launching a missile, the North Korean government is going to violate both the spirit and text of the Pyongyang Declaration.

I should also add that the North Korean government has been widely known to be a proliferator of technologies associated with missiles. So it is going to pose a danger, of course not only to Japan but also to the wider world. For these two reasons, any attempt to launch missiles has to be powerfully condemned not only by the Japanese Government but also by the international community as well.

Q: If the missile accidentally lands in Japan or somewhere near Japan, would this be perceived as an attack by North Korea?

Mr. Taniguchi: A judgment of that sort will depend on many subtle differences and elements. The decision has to be made as quickly as possible, that is the bottom line. But in order for the Japanese Government to reach that decision, it is also the case that you have got to take into consideration many elements. But that said, I should say that even if it is a terrible accident, the North Korean government is going to shoulder all the responsibility and it goes without saying that it has got to apologize most sincerely to the people and for the property that may be damaged by the accidental occurrence.

Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)

V. Questions concerning Takeshima

Q: I have a question on Takeshima/Dokdo. Can you tell me what the status is with regard to issuing visas? Who is in power to issue visas to anyone who wants to visit those islands including journalists?

Mr. Taniguchi: In theory the Japanese Government has never ceased to have that power and right to issue visas. But in practice, it may be a different matter.

I should also add that the ROK Government cannot claim unilaterally that it holds the power and right to issue visas simply because this is a territorial issue and a disputed area. For both governments, the Japanese and ROK Governments, to think about the kinds of issues that you are addressing, it is vitally important for Japan and the ROK to sit down and talk.

Q: I agree that sounds very logical but when you say the ROK Government "cannot claim unilaterally", what do you mean by "cannot"? You mean "cannot" in the sense of international law or treaty or that they should not?

Mr. Taniguchi: One way to resolve these issues is to bring that issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). However, as you may probably know, to bring issues of this nature to the ICJ, you need to convince your counterpart of the necessity to bring that issue to the ICJ. Otherwise you cannot do any unilateral action to bring that issue to the ICJ. Therefore, even if the Japanese Government decides to bring that issue to the ICJ, so long as the ROK Government is not interested in following suit, nothing can happen. So international law, when it comes to these territorial issues, is not the kind of domestic law backed by enforcement.

Q: To follow-up on the ICJ, so I just want to clarify that the present position of Japan is that Japan is supportive or wants to bring the issue to the ICJ?

Mr. Taniguchi: No, I did not want to suggest that. I was talking only about what is going to happen in terms of bringing any sort of issue to the ICJ. I just wanted to stress that both parties have got to agree before bringing any issue to the ICJ.

Q: So just to clarify once again, when you said the ROK Government cannot claim unilateralism in issuing visas, you meant simply that they do not have any legal right to do that? Why cannot the ROK Government do this? Is there any legal clause or treaty or anything like that which gives one country or the other the right to issue visas? Or are they supposed to consult others?

Mr. Taniguchi: There is no such law or treaty so far as this issue is concerned between the Japanese and ROK Governments. The position of the Japanese Government has never been changed, that is, the jurisdiction over Takeshima has continued to be under the sovereignty of the Japanese Government.

Q: In what way is that jurisdiction normally exercised? Is there anything Japan does to sort of maintain jurisdiction over the islands? How does it actually exercise its jurisdiction in practice?

Mr. Taniguchi: One way to do that is by never ceasing to address this issue on a bilateral basis. Therefore, the Japanese Government has continued to reiterate this point. The Japanese Government is currently doing exactly the same, vis-à-vis the ROK Government. It has been repeating its stance about the jurisdiction and sovereignty over Takeshima.

Q: Has Japan in reality or in fact issued visas? If so, under what circumstances and to whom?

Mr. Taniguchi: There is no such visa specially designed for the entry into Takeshima because Takeshima is part of Japan. If you need a visa to get an entry into Japan, you do not have to get any further legal arrangement for you to enter Takeshima.

Q: Is there any indication at this stage that the ROK might be willing to take this issue to the ICJ?

Mr. Taniguchi: I have never been aware of that, I have never heard of it.

Related Information (The Issue of Takeshima)

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