Internet Press Chat Conference, 22 June 2006
- Visit to the Middle East by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
- Mr. Shintaro Ito, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, to attend the UN Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons
- Visit to Japan by Mr. Mohamed Benaissa, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Kingdom of Morocco
- Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq expresses gratitude for the activities of the Self-Defense Forces
- Emergency grant aid for humanitarian assistance to the Darfur region, Sudan
- Grant aid
- Questions concerning North Korean ballistic missile
- Question concerning resumption of US beef import
- Question concerning redeployment of Ground Self-Defense Force from Iraq
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.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will be visiting Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan before participating in the G8 Summit Meeting in St. Petersburg. The prime minister will be departing for the Middle East on 11 July. The detail of the visit is yet to be finalized.
II. Mr. Shintaro Ito, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, to attend the UN Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons
Mr. Taniguchi: Mr. Shintaro Ito, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, will visit New York from 26 to 27 June to attend the United Nations (UN) Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.
At the Conference, Mr. Ito will deliver a statement on how Japan addresses the issue of small arms and light weapons and will have separate meetings with UN officials and delegates from other countries.
The Conference will review how the Programme of Action, which was adopted in 2001, has been implemented in each country and discuss a final document that will guide the efforts of the international community in this field.
III. Visit to Japan by Mr. Mohamed Benaissa, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Kingdom of Morocco
Mr. Taniguchi: Mr. Mohamed Benaissa, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Kingdom of Morocco, is visiting Japan from 21 to 24 June. During his stay in Japan, Mr. Benaissa will hold the first meeting of the Japan-Morocco Policy Consultations, agreed upon between the two countries when His Majesty King Mohamed VI of Morocco paid a state visit to Japan in November 2005, with Mr. Taro Aso, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The visit is also aimed at celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Japan and Morocco and further promoting mutual understanding and the friendly relations existing between the two countries.
Mr. Benaissa assumed his present post in 1999 after serving as Minister of Culture (1985-1993) and Moroccan Ambassador to the United States (1993-1999).
Mr. Taniguchi: In response to Prime Minister Koizumi's statement on 20 June, Prime Minister Jawad al-Maliki of Iraq sent a statement to the Japanese Embassy in Iraq. The gist of the statement is as follows:
The Government of Iraq expresses its gratitude for the activities of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in the Governorate of Al-Muthanna. The SDF has contributed to humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in Iraq.
The Government of Iraq also expresses its gratitude to the Government of Japan, the Japanese people, and the families of the SDF personnel who were dispatched to Iraq.
The Iraqi security forces will take over security responsibilities in the Governorate of Al-Muthanna from next month.
Mr. Taniguchi: On 22 June, the Government of Japan decided to extend the following grant aid totaling about US$10 million (about 1,100 million yen) to contribute to improving the humanitarian situation in the Darfur region, Sudan: about US$5 million to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), about US$3.68 million to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and about US$1.32 million for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The aid incarnates the assistance for the Darfur region announced by Prime Minister Koizumi during his visit to Africa in May, and will be extended for the following projects:
- Construction and restoration of water supply facilities and primary schools, and provision of textbooks and school supplies (UNICEF)
- Assistance for protection, repatriation and resettlement of refugees and internally displaced persons (including those in Chad) (UNHCR)
- Medical Assistance (ICRC)
In April last year, Japan pledged assistance of US$100 million for the near term to help consolidate peace in Sudan, and the upcoming aid will be made as part of this. The total amount of assistance provided so far including the upcoming aid will be about US$99 million (about 11 billion yen), nearly full of the pledged amount.
Japan hopes that peace will be promptly consolidated in every region of Africa including Sudan, and intends to continue proactive support toward that goal.
Mr. Taniguchi: Let me briefly go through the list of the latest grant aid projects announced by the Government of Japan:
- Grant aid to Bhutan for the Project for Construction of Educational Facilities
(up to 307 million yen)
- Grant aid to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania for the Project for the Construction of Classrooms for Basic Primary and Secondary Education in the Cities of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou
(up to 1,073 million yen)
- Grant aid to Egypt for the Project for Upgrading of El Mahala El Kobra Water Treatment Plant
(up to a total of 2,423 million yen)
- Grant aid to Cameroon for the Project to Supply Water in Rural Provinces (Phase IV) and one other Project
(up to a total of 1,447 million yen)
- Cultural grant aid to Cameroon for the Project for the Rehabilitation of Ahmadou Ahidjo Omnisports Stadium
(up to 299 million yen)
- Grant aid to Syria for the Project for the Improvement of Equipment for Solid Waste Treatment in Local Cities
(up to 583 million yen)
Q: There have been reports of North Korea preparing itself for the launch of the Taepodong. As it is viewed that the missile is not aimed toward Japan, do you not think the Japanese media are playing up its threat toward Japan?
Mr. Taniguchi: Many thanks for your question which if I may say is puzzling. Where did you get your impression that the missile is not aimed at Japan?
Q: I heard that the Taepodong is long ranged, so it may fly over Japan but not land in Japan.
Mr. Taniguchi: What is important is that any launch of a ballistic missile could pose a serious threat to the countries within its range, which is exactly the reason why North Korea has agreed not once but multiple times that they would be putting a moratorium on themselves so that no ballistic missile would be launched. Therefore, it may constitute a violation against the Pyongyang Declaration and against the US-North Korea Joint Communiqué as well.
You know as I know that no one in this country is panicking. But as I said as above, so long as it could constitute a violation against an agreed pledge and a threat toward regional security, we must continue sending a warning to Pyongyang that they should never launch the kind of missile we are talking about.
Q: I have a question on the resumption of United States (US) beef import. According to reports there will be a delegation sent to the US to inspect 34 meat packers as early as this weekend. If the delegation finds any fault in the way those facilities are handling beef, would Japan reconsider the import of US beef?
Mr. Taniguchi: As spelled out in the Joint Press Statement on the arrangement for the resumption of US beef import procedures by the Government of Japan and the US Government, in the event that establishments with noncompliances are identified, after consulting with the Government of Japan, the US Government will confirm corrective measures necessary to bring those establishments into compliance. Once those corrective measures are in place, the Government of Japan will be notified and provided the opportunity to confirm corrective measures. The US Government will certify those establishments as eligible to export to Japan.
Q: The Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) is preparing to pull out from Iraq. So far, no one has been hurt. But as it pulls out, what kind of precautions is it taking?
Mr. Taniguchi: I must say I am not an expert on that. However, as they say, the operations for redeployment are among the most difficult. I would assume, given the professionalism that the JGSDF has exhibited so far, that it will be able to proceed smoothly.
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