Press Conference, 23 February 2007
- Visit to Japan by Vice President Richard B. Cheney of the United States of America
- Additional Official Development Assistance to the Republic of Iraq
- Follow-up questions concerning visit to Japan by Vice President Richard B. Cheney of the United States of America
- Questions concerning the Northern Territories issue
- Question concerning the possibility of a visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Russian Federation
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon, let me take this opportunity to brief you on the visit to Japan of Vice President Richard Cheney of the United States of America.
From the afternoon of Tuesday, 20 February, until the morning of Thursday, 22 February, while he was in Japan, the Vice President got granted an audience with His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, flew to Yokosuka to meet the city mayor, cheered up the Unites States servicemen and women, and got briefed on the security situation by the top-brass people from both the US military and Japan's Self-Defense Forces, and had meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso.
I am going to focus my attention on the gist of the dialogue Vice President Cheney had with Prime Minister Abe.
Prime Minister Abe welcomed Vice President Cheney, who had chosen Japan and the Commonwealth of Australia, both alliance partners of the US, to visit. Prime Minister Abe mentioned:
- 1) The Japan-US alliance has developed and gained strength, driven by mutual respect and shared values and interests, to become an indispensable alliance for both parties, thereby growing to become something worthy to be called, "The Japan-US Alliance for the World and Asia."
- 2) Through his meeting with the Vice President, Prime Minister Abe wanted to confirm the importance of the alliance and further empower it.
- 3) A steady implementation of the US base realignment in Japan and to accelerate the cooperation on ballistic missile defense are both important.
- 4) The reforms of the United Nations (UN) still hold the key.
- 5) While the agreement made by the latest round of the Six-Party Talks has been the first step in the right direction, Japan and the US must work closely together.
- 6) Prime Minister Abe understands and supports the US effort in the Republic of Iraq to stabilize and reconstruct the nation, and Japan will continue to get the Air Self-Defense Force engaged, as well as provide Official Development Assistance (ODA).
- 7) The refueling operation will continue in the Indian Ocean, and Japan will additionally provide the Islamic State of Afghanistan with US$300 million as ODA, and as Prime Minister Abe had told earlier this year to the North Atlantic Council, his government is sorting out what Japan can do with NATO Provincial Reconstruction Teams.
- 8) It is important for Japan to enhance its ties with Gulf Cooperation Council member countries, and to advance the Middle East peace process. Prime Minister Abe also said that he would like to have a quartet meeting, involving Japan, the US, Australia, and the Republic of India.
In return, Vice President Cheney first said that he had been happy to come to Japan and see His Majesty, and visit Yokosuka. Vice President Cheney reaffirmed his government's commitment in making the extremely important Japan-US alliance, which is built upon shared interests, still more formidable. He appreciated the contributions made by Japan in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more broadly in the fight against terrorism. He said he was proud that the US is able to closely collaborate with Japan on the North Korean issue, including the Six-Party Talks. The Vice President also referred to the abduction issue as a tragedy whose solution makes a part of the common interest of the US and Japan. He saw the bilateral relationship being in its best shape, and hoped the situation will continue for years to come.
On the UN reforms, Vice President Cheney yet again made clear that he had been in support of Japan seeking a permanent membership at the UN Security Council.
On the abduction issue, Vice President Cheney expressed his deep understanding on that, and added that he would be meeting Mr. and Mrs. Yokota, Megumi's parents, the next morning.
Both leaders, Prime Minister Abe and Vice President Cheney, shared the view that they need to engage the People's Republic of China so that it can become a constructive force in the international arena, and that China's developed capacity in space operations deserves close watch, and that China's rapid military expansion would remain a matter of concern.
Mr. Taniguchi: Next, let me say that this morning the Government of Japan decided to provide Iraq with additional ODA that amounts to US$104.5 million. The money will reach the Iraqi people through a host of international aid organizations, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). A part of that will help build a police force in Basra, another to mend hospital in Ramadi and Tikrit, while yet another to provide assistance to conflict victims in the northern part of Iraq, and so on and so forth.
III. Follow-up questions concerning visit to Japan by Vice President Richard B. Cheney of the United States of America
Q: I just want to confirm, with regard to Vice President Cheney's talks with Prime Minister Abe; are you aware if Prime Minister Abe explained the Japanese Government's position on the abduction issue and energy aid? Japan has always said that it will not provide energy assistance to North Korea unless there is a full resolution of the abduction issue. Are you aware if Prime Minister Abe told this to Vice President Cheney, because Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki, in his meeting, did explain that position?
Mr. Taniguchi: I do not think that Prime Minister Abe specifically mentioned that. I suppose the position of the Japanese Government had already been well understood by Vice President Cheney.
Q: Even without saying it, it is more on the premise that Vice President Cheney, or the US, understands that?
Mr. Taniguchi: I think that is the case.
Q: How about with regard to North Korea being on the US' list of states sponsoring terror?
Mr. Taniguchi: Equally, Prime Minister Abe said nothing about it.
Q: Next week Prime Minister Mikhail Efimovich Fradkov of the Russian Federation is coming, and I wanted to ask the view of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with regard to Japan's diplomacy with regard to Russia, because it seems that there are active efforts for Japan to pursue dialogue with Russia and work with the strategic dialogue between Russia and Japan; the first strategic dialogue with Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Shotaro Yachi going to Russia. Foreign Minister Aso himself is saying that he wants to resolve the Northern Territories issue during President Vladimir Putin of Russia's term. All the recent movements seem to show that Japan is really keen on moving these issues with Russia forward. How do you see this? Is this really part of Japan's strategy?
Mr. Taniguchi: Thank you for your question. Prime Minister Fradkov is not necessarily in charge of political issues, he is rather in charge of economic affairs. That said, this upcoming meeting, together with Minister of Industry and Energy Viktor Borisovich Khristenko of Russia, will bolster the Japan-Russia relationship, and it is in line with the action program cut and agreed by both governments. What is significant about this trip from the Russian side to Japan is to have as wide an array of dialogues as possible between the two business communities -- Russia's and Japan's -- and I understand some kind of document will be signed by the business leaders from both sides, in addition to the document scheduled to be signed by both governments. In a nutshell, I should say that this is among the most important trips that Japan and Russia have had of late, especially to boost bilateral economic ties.
Q: This is hoping that by bolstering economic ties between the two nations it would further strengthen the overall ties and somehow, maybe, in the long run lead to a resolution in the years to come?
Mr. Taniguchi: To solve the territorial issue, the Northern Territories issue has been the single most important thing for Japan's diplomacy towards Russia, so you should not be surprised if that issue is going to be raised when the two leaders, Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister Fradkov, will meet together. But, let me just repeat what I have said, that Prime Minister Fradkov is going to be focusing his attention rather on business and economic issues.
V. Question concerning the possibility of a visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Russian Federation
Q: There was talk that Prime Minister Abe might be going to Russia by the end of this year. Would that probably also be possible?
Mr. Taniguchi: That still remains a rumor I cannot confirm.
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