Press Conference, 14 July 2006
- Policy evaluations
- Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the situation on the Israel-Lebanon border
- Japan's assistance to the Palestinians on the occasion of the visit of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
- Visit to the State of Kuwait by Mr. Katsutoshi Kaneda, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs
- Visit to Japan by Mr. Angel Gurr, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
- Follow-up questions concerning the visit to Kuwait by Mr. Kaneda
- Question concerning Japan's position on a United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution for North Korea
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon, thank you for joining me. I do not have many announcements to make this afternoon.
First, about what is called policy evaluation. You may or may not know this, but national government administrative organs are now required to measure and analyze the effects of their own policies and objectively assess them so as to provide useful information for more precise planning and implementation of policies. It is called a policy evaluation system. Under the Government Policy Evaluations Act enacted in April 2002, we at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have just completed the evaluations and published the results. To make it as objective an assessment as possible, from outside the ministry 40 experts, comprising those from academia and professional communities, have taken part in the evaluation process.
The expectation is that from FY2008 onward the budget for each government ministry will be appropriated in accordance with the findings of the policy evaluation for the ministry. Obviously this is in line with the so-called new public management (NPM) which has been in vogue since the mid 1990s. New Zealand among others has been a forerunner in this field, and I am pleased to be able to tell you that Japan has caught up with the trend.
As they say sunshine is the best disinfectant. For you to know which direction Japan is headed and what really is cooking inside Kasumigaseki, rest assured because now you have a powerful means with which you can have an objective picture as to the conduct of the Japanese Government. I am saying this because over the last couple of days I have seen lots of headlines saying Japan is thinking of what they say preemptive such and such. If that is really the case, it can most easily be verified by looking into the budget allocation process. It is the motto of the Japanese Government that the more transparent its conduct is the less room there would be for any misunderstanding. The only regret is that this thick book of evaluation for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is available only in Japanese, but that is simply because we do not have the money to get it translated into other languages.
According to the results, by the way, only two policy objectives are said to be attained. There seem to be many missions that are incomplete.
II. Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the situation on the Israel-Lebanon border
Mr. Taniguchi: Next, available already on the ministry's website is the Press Secretary's statement on the situation on the Israel-Palestine border. I will read it out nonetheless.
The Government of Japan calls on Hezbollah to immediately release the two Israeli soldiers who were abducted on 12 July.
The Israeli military operations on 13 July that have caused many civilian casualties and the destruction of airport facilities in Lebanon increases tension in the region and never contributes to the solution of the problem.
The Government of Japan calls on the Government of Lebanon to make every effort to secure the release of the Israeli soldiers and to bring an end to the violence by the militias. The Government of Japan also strongly calls on the Government of Israel to exercise its self-restraint.
The Government of Japan is deeply concerned that these events may negatively affect the future efforts toward peace in the region. The Government of Japan renews its call on all parties concerned to exercise their utmost self-restraint to prevent further deterioration of the situation.
III. Japan's assistance to the Palestinians on the occasion of the visit of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
In conjunction with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Palestinian territories, a path-breaking announcement was made in terms of Japan's assistance toward the Palestinians. In addition to the total US$3.1 million worth of assistance to help strengthen President Mahmoud Abbas's office, the Japanese Government has pledged US$25 million to substantially improve the health, water supply, and employment situation in Gaza and the West Bank areas.
Also, based on the principle which Prime Minister Koizumi repeatedly mentioned during his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories that co-existence and co-prosperity should be pursued, Japan has proposed a concept called the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity, which aims at creating a prosperous region in the Jordan River rift valley. Japanese Government also made sure that it would implement such programs as improvement of maternal and child health in Jericho. Also, the Government of Japan will contribute US$2 million for the feasibility study for the construction of a Red Sea-Dead Sea water conveyance to develop the Jordan River rift valley and to secure water resources.
There are two more. One is about the visit by Mr. Katsutoshi Kaneda, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, to the State of Kuwait from Monday, 17 to Tuesday, 18 July. He will go to Kuwait together with Mr. Fukushiro Nukaga, Minister of State for Defense, to greet the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel who are coming back from Iraq to Japan.
V. Visit to Japan by Mr. Angel Gurr, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
The other announcement is about the visit to Japan by Mr. Angel Gurr, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). He is coming to Japan on Wednesday, 19 and leaving on Saturday, 22 July. He is going to visit Japan as a guest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During his stay he is going to attend the OECD Tokyo Policy Forum and exchange views with business community leaders and government leaders such as Mr. Taro Aso, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
That is it for me, any questions please?
Q: Can you repeat please the timing of Mr. Kaneda's visit to Kuwait? I just did not hear it.
Mr. Taniguchi: He is going to arrive in Kuwait on Monday, 17, July. He is leaving Japan on Sunday, 16 and arriving on Monday, 17, leaving Kuwait on Tuesday, 18 and arriving in Haneda Airport on Wednesday, 19 July.
Q: They are traveling together with Mr. Nukaga?
Mr. Taniguchi: He is traveling together with Mr. Nukaga, yes. He is going to see the Japanese Air Self-Defense Forces (ASDF) that are engaged in activities there.
VII. Question concerning Japan's position on a United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution for North Korea
Q: One more question. Do you have any new information about the position of Japan concerning this resolution of the United Nations (UN) Security Council? There is so much difference news about it; one is that Japan is going to agree with the resolution from the Russian Federation and People's Republic of Chinese. Another one by Foreign Minister Aso is that Japan is going to push for a separate resolution today or tomorrow. Do you have something new?
Mr. Taniguchi: Thank you very much. Obviously the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is what you would call the headquarters, and we have been in close contact with our colleagues working in New York. It is about 1:00 AM Thursday night or Friday morning New York time, so envoys of the different nations are in bed, I suppose. So the negotiation process will resume in perhaps six or seven hours time from now. The expectation is that by the end of Friday New York Time the so-called "blue version," the set text of the resolution, is going to be agreed upon by the participating nations. So I cannot tell you much about which part is changed or which part is not changed. But that is the process which is now ongoing.
The bottom line is simply that there are a couple of reports saying that the Japanese position is slightly leaning towards the direction set by the Russians and the Chinese. I must strongly deny that. the Japanese position has not changed in terms of the following; that any sort of-let me be precise-North Korea should not be allowed to go unscathed, without having any sanctions and with its conduct not being regarded as a threat to the international community. So that is the basic position of the Japanese Government. In terms of wording, in terms of the document, I cannot say at all, precisely because that is the process which is going on in New York now.
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