Press Conference, 23 January 2007
- Telephone Conversation between Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora of the Republic of Lebanon
- Visit to Japan by Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, for a Conference of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
- Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Kingdom of Cambodia
- Questions concerning Talks between US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill and his North Korean Counterpart
- Questions concerning Japan's Response to the New US Policy on Iraq
I. Telephone Conversation between Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora of the Republic of Lebanon
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon and thanks again for joining me. My opening statements are brief with three points to make.
First, yesterday on Monday, 22 January, Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso talked over telephone with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora of the Republic of Lebanon for about 15 minutes. The telephone conversation took place at the request of the Lebanese side.
If I may briefly introduce what they talked of, first Mr. Siniora thanked Foreign Minister Aso for Japan's continued support toward Lebanon. He also said he had been grateful that Japan intends to take part in the international donor conference for Lebanon to be held in Paris on 25 January, while expressing his expectations both for Japan's continued effective support toward Lebanon and on his visiting Japan.
In response, Foreign Minister Aso reiterated Japan's view that stability in Lebanon is indispensable for the overall peace and stability of the region and for the Middle East Peace Process, and assured him that Japan would continue to do its utmost to help support Lebanon.
Mr. Aso also noted that since taking office as Prime Minister in July 2005 Mr. Siniora had done a remarkable job in promoting democracy and reforming the country's economic structure, of which Mr. Aso added that he had been in strong support. Mr. Aso ended the conversation by stating that both countries should seek appropriate timing for Mr. Siniora's pending visit to Japan.
II. Visit to Japan by Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, for a Conference of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
Mr. Taniguchi: Next, to address the one-day conference that the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources will hold on Saturday, 27 January in Tokyo, Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, will be visiting Japan between 23 and 27 January. The Government of Japan is hoping to invite the COP10 meeting scheduled to be held in 2010 to Japan, and will covey the interest directly to Dr. Djoghlaf while he will be in town.
Mr. Taniguchi: The third and last statement is about Japan's Official Developmental Assistance (ODA).
The Government of Japan and the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia had an Exchange of Notes on Monday, 22 January in Phnom Penh about Japan's grant aid, totaling 1.249 billion yen. Out of the total amount 1.2 billion yen constitutes what is called sector-program grant aid, which is to help the recipient government procure basic industrial materials upon the premise that the amount of money equal to the grant aid will be earmarked for such projects as education and fiscal reforms. The new grant aid, needless to say, is in line with our pledge that the Government of Japan will increase ODA toward the CLV (Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam) region.
IV. Questions concerning Talks between US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill and his North Korean Counterpart
Q: What is the Government of Japan's reaction to the talks held in Berlin by US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill with his North Korean counterpart?
Mr. Taniguchi: Mr. Christopher Hill, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, came to Japan on Saturday and met his Japanese counterpart Mr. Kenichiro Sasae, Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Hill briefed Mr. Sasae extensively on what he talked about (with the North Korean side). We are not allowed to disclose what he actually told Mr. Sasae, but my impression is that Mr. Hill was forthcoming and very hopeful that the next round of Six-Party Talks is going to be a little bit more fruitful than was the case in the past. We are not so sure yet when the meeting is actually going to take place, probably in Beijing, and to what extent North Korea is, this time around, going to come to the Six-Party Talks with more concrete programs about their denuclearization.
Q: There seems to be some sort of compromise by the US in regard to the North Korean nuclear issue. If the US is compromising, does that have any effect on the Japanese position?
Mr. Taniguchi: I do not know what kind of compromise the US is or is not willing to make toward North Korea, so I cannot directly answer your question.
Q: Has the Japanese Government made any comment on the result?
Mr. Taniguchi: No. The Japanese Government has been briefed by Mr. Hill about his talks with the North Korean side, but beyond that we have made no official announcement, remarks, or comments of any sort, except that we have been saying that without North Korea coming back to the Six-Party Dialogue with more verifiable, concrete plans about their denuclearization, the next round is going to be of even less significance.
Q: In regards to US President George W. Bush's new policy on Iraq, has the Japanese Government or Prime Minister Shinzo Abe supported it? It was not clear to me last week when I went to his press conference.
Mr. Taniguchi: When it comes to the exact wording of Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki or Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, I should suggest that you check the available records. But the spirit is that the Government of Japan is continuing its support toward the nation-building process of Iraq, and the Government of Japan has been in support of the Iraqi Government. The Japanese Government is hoping very much that peace and stability will prevail in Iraq. I understand that President George W. Bush, by adding military force to Iraq, is committed to the same purpose. That is the spirit which you may find is behind the remarks of Mr. Shiozaki's and Prime Minister Abe's.
Q: But it is wrong to say that the Japanese Government supports the US policy of adding more troops in Iraq?
Mr. Taniguchi: It was a decision on the side of the US Government that it would be necessary for them to increase the number of troops in Iraq. I should not really make any comment on the US Government's decision. What I am saying is that the US and Japan are bound by the same goal and purpose; that is to say, both the US and Japan are still very much committed to bringing peace and stability to the people in Iraq. The Japanese Government is hoping very much that reconciliation will take shape sooner rather than later among the various sectarian groups in Iraq. That is what I can say and that is what I believe many members of the Japanese Government have continued to say.
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