Press Conference, 6 April 2007

  1. Visit to Japan by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of the Republic of Iraq
  2. Japan-China Consultation Meeting in Beijing
  3. Questions concerning the visit to Japan by Premier Wen Jiabao of the People's Republic of China
  4. Follow-up questions concerning the announcement of a new yen loan to Iraq
  5. Follow-up questions concerning the Japan-China consultation meeting
  6. Questions concerning the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Detective Conan pamphlet

I. Visit to Japan by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of the Republic of Iraq

Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon and thank you very much for coming to join me for today's press conference.

Now as part of our intensive investment in Japan's diplomatic relations with the Republic of Iraq, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and five Iraqi Cabinet ministers are coming to Tokyo this coming Sunday, 8 April. His delegation will leave Japan for Seoul, Republic of Korea (ROK), on Wednesday, 11 April.

Mr. Nuri al-Maliki will head a delegation comprising the following five ministers: Dr. Kareem Wahid, Minister of Electricity; Dr. Husayn Ibrahim Saleh al-Shaharistani, Minister of Oil; Mr. Fawzi Hariri, Minister of Industry and Minerals; Mr. Riyadh Gareeb, Minister of Municipalities and Public Works; and Mr. Rafaa Jiad Thiyab al-Esawi, Minister of State for Foreign Relations.

On Monday, 9 April, the Iraqi Prime Minister is going to be granted an audience by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan. On the same day he is meeting Minister of Defense Fumio Kyuma, Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso, and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Akira Amari before having a summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is hosting a dinner on his behalf afterwards. On the following day, Tuesday, 10 April, Prime Minister Maliki is going to address the Japan Press Club and meet the legislative members of the Iraqi Special Committee at the House of Representatives.

As it is opportune for the Government of Japan to express its will to continue to help support the nation-building process in Iraq, a couple of announcements will be made shortly as regards Japan's further assistance for the development in Iraq. One of them is a new yen loan program on which exchanges of notes will take place in Tokyo while Ambassador to Iraq Kenjiro Monji is in town between him and the Iraqi Ambassador to Japan, Dr. Ghanim al-Jumaily.

The visit of the Prime Minister is to follow the preceding visits to Japan of Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, which was between 21 and 24 March, and a group of 15 Iraqi leaders, legislative and others, headed by the Minister of National Reconciliation Akram al-Hakim, which was in Japan between 25 and 31 March to undergo a seminar on the reconciliation among ethnic and religious groups in Iraq.

What we are wishing to convey from the side of the Japanese Government to Prime Minister Maliki will be that first and foremost Japan will continue to support as earnestly as ever the Iraqi reconstruction process, and that the Cabinet has made a decision to extend for two more years the special legislation with which the Government of Japan has provided the nation with humanitarian relief and security efforts, and that Japan seeks to develop a partnership that is long-term and strategic with Iraq. We will also make sure that we will continue to support Prime Minister Maliki.

All in all, to host his high-powered delegation will give a final finishing touch to the intensive diplomacy Japan has been engaged in vis-à-vis Iraq for the last couple weeks.

Related Information (Press Release)

II. Japan-China Consultation Meeting in Beijing

Mr. Taniguchi: Next, today, Friday 6 April, the Japan-China Consultation Meeting is taking place in Beijing, the People's Republic of China. That is about the East China Sea, involving technical experts from both sides. Mr. Shin Hosoda, Director of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Division of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, leads the Japanese team, which includes members from the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC). The Chinese State Development and Reform Commission has sent its experts to the meeting.

Related Information (Japan-China Relations)

III. Questions concerning the visit to Japan by Premier Wen Jiabao of the People's Republic of China

Q: About the visit to Japan by Premier Web Jiabao of China, my first question is, are there any plans for a joint press conference after the summit meeting?

Mr. Taniguchi: What is the other question?

Q: Is a more detailed itinerary of his visit to Japan going to be made available?

Mr. Taniguchi: Regarding Premier Wen's visit, which is scheduled between Wednesday, 11 April and Friday, 13 April, I am afraid that for security concerns and other reasons the detailed itinerary of Premier Wen's visit to Japan is yet to be disclosed, and there is no joint press conference scheduled at the moment to be held after the summit meeting.

Q: Also, is there going to be a joint communiqué issued after the meeting?

Mr. Taniguchi: I am afraid I cannot say anything about that either.

Related Information (Press Release)

IV. Follow-up questions concerning the announcement of a new yen loan to Iraq

Q: To clarify, you mentioned about the new yen loan for Iraq. Has this already been announced or is it going to be announced next week?

Mr. Taniguchi: The exchange of notes will take place next week.

Q: So that will be on Monday?

Mr. Taniguchi: Let me check. The exchange of notes will take place on Monday, 9 April.

Q: Basically this yen loan will be for what kind of project?

Mr. Taniguchi: It is to support reconstruction of facilities for oil exportation, and to support also the electricity sector. Basically, energy and electricity-related projects, in addition to a fertilizer project, but at the moment I cannot give you the detailed picture of this program. Right after the exchange of note has taken place, I can tell you more about the detailed picture. But the fact that the Japanese Government is going to provide a substantial amount of new loan to Iraq is already all right to be put into print.

Related Information (The Issue of Iraq)

V. Follow-up questions concerning the Japan-China consultation meeting

Q: About the Japan-China gas related talks right now, currently being held in Beijing, do you have any information on the progress?

Mr. Taniguchi: Not at the moment.

Q: Do you have any idea if Japan is going to propose anything? Or is it basically going to be stating the position that has been made before?

Mr. Taniguchi: It has been agreed by both parties, Japan and China, to hold as many consultation meetings as possible, not only on a high level between the vice ministers, but also between experts. You may know that both Governments have sent their legal experts to let them talk about legal aspects of this dispute, and the meeting that is right now taking place in Beijing, China, involves technical experts in fields like digging and exploration of the resources. I understand that the meeting is looking at the technical aspects of the East China Sea.

Q: It looks like Japan and China are very keen on making some kind of progress at least before Premier Wen's visit, but there is also information that China is asking Japan to allow China's unilateral move to open its own operation in the Chunxiao gas field. Is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Government of Japan still upbeat that some kind of progress could be made in this issue?

Mr. Taniguchi: It is always difficult for me to answer such questions asking whether I am upbeat or optimistic; it is just a state of mind. But I can tell you that there has been heat given to the discussion process, it is gaining steam, and both sides seem to have come to an idea that the development in the East China Sea gas field has to be a good symbol of the so-called strategic win-win relationship between China and Japan. So the spirit that is driving the whole consultation process is to make the disputed area rather like a symbol of cooperation and peace so that it can symbolize the growing strategic, win-win relationship between the two countries.

Q: More about the problem of development of the gas fields in the East China Seas, would you say you are optimistic, or are there still areas of concern?

Mr. Taniguchi: To answer whether or not I am optimistic about the prospect of this issue being solved, it is hard to answer. As I replied to the previous question, the discussions about the gas fields have gained steam, and this whole consultation process has got to symbolize growing win-win and strategic relationship between China and Japan. In addition to repeating what I said earlier, as to whether there are any problems, I should say that it is because there is a degree of problems remaining that the two sides are talking to one another, and the area of concern for both parties largely regards the definition of the area for joint development.

Q: Does it have anything to do with the demarcation line between China and Japan?

Mr. Taniguchi: Precisely because this issue involves the difference of views between China and Japan as to the demarcation line between the two territories, I cannot tell you exactly now what they are discussing because the consultation process is going on now.

Related Information (Japan-China Relations)

VI. Questions concerning the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Detective Conan pamphlet

Q: On a lighter topic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs just issued this pamphlet on Detective Conan, and I was wondering if there is going to be English or any other foreign language versions available?

Mr. Taniguchi: Would you like to have one in the future?

Q: In English? Yes.

Mr. Taniguchi: I will have to check. I wish I had one. That is my answer at the moment.

Q: If you have one I would also like to get one.

Mr. Taniguchi: Well, it is already available in Japanese.

Also, next week I am going to be out of the office, so Assistant Press Secretary Noriyuki Shikata is going to give you conferences in my stead.

Related Information (Detective Conan Pamphlet in Japanese)

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