Press Conference, 22 May 2007
- Visit by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan to the Kingdom of Sweden, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- Visit to Japan by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Republic of the Philippines and Prime Minister Dato' Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia
- The Eighth Japan-China Consultations concerning the East China Sea and Other Matters
- Launch of the International MANGA Award
- Questions concerning the Eighth Japan-China Consultations concerning the East China Sea and Other Matters
- Questions concerning North Korea
- Question concerning extrajudicial killing in the Philippines
- Question concerning the comfort women issue
I. Visit by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan to the Kingdom of Sweden, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon and thanks for coming.
The first item to touch upon is that Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan are now in the Kingdom of Sweden as part of their 10-day tour that covers Sweden, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is our hope that they have a safe journey.
II. Visit to Japan by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Republic of the Philippines and Prime Minister Dato' Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia
Mr. Taniguchi: Next, on Thursday, 24 May, President Arroyo of the Philippines and Prime Minister Abdullah of Malaysia are both addressing a gathering that a Japanese newspaper company will hold in Tokyo.
President of the Republic of the Philippines, Ms. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Dato' Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia, are both spending a couple of days in Japan, during which each of them will meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Mr. Taniguchi: On Friday, 25 May in Beijing, People's Republic of China, there will take place the Eighth Japan-China Consultations concerning the East China Sea and Other Matters.
From Japan Mr. Kenichiro Sasae, Director-General, Asia and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Harufumi Mochizuki, Director-General, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, among others, will be attending a meeting with the Chinese side headed by Mr. Hu Zhengyue, Director-General, Department of Asian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Premier Wen Jiabao of China made an agreement when Premier Wen came to Japan last month in April that the consultation process should be accelerated in tempo so that it could report to each one of them by the autumn of this year regarding concrete measures for the joint development of resources in the East China Sea, and that the joint development should take place in such area as is comparatively large and acceptable for either party.
Mr. Taniguchi: Lastly, Foreign Minister Taro Aso made an announcement this morning that he is going to fulfill a pledge he made last year when he talked of Japan's new cultural and public diplomacy, by launching what is called the International MANGA Award. With him being head of the steering committee, it will reward such non-Japanese authors as have published Japanese-style manga and are promising.
V. Questions concerning the Eighth Japan-China Consultations concerning the East China Sea and Other Matters
Q: With regard to the East China Sea discussions, what is the Chinese response towards this idea of joint development proposed by the Japanese?
Mr. Taniguchi: We have not heard it officially yet from the Chinese side but some of the leading members of the Chinese Communist Government have expressed to the visitors from Japan that they are thinking of their own proposal for a joint development, and we are looking forward to learning what sort of a proposal that would be.
Q: Will there be any decisions or agreements made at this particular meeting on the 25th?
Mr. Taniguchi: I think it is the hope of everyone, but frankly and honestly speaking we should take a little bit more time because the timeframe is such that by the autumn period this year the study group is going to come back to each side and report to the respective leader about the concrete steps to be taken for the joint development. My sense is that we are still in a consultation process.
Q: It has been well over a month since North Korea missed the deadline to freeze their Yongbyon reactors and facilities there. In the meantime it has been also reported that they have tested and developed an intermediate-range missile, the Musudan.
What is the Japanese Government's response to this sort of development?
Mr. Taniguchi: Perhaps I should repeat something that is very much obvious, which is that there is no reason for them to spend more time to fulfill the promises that they made to the international community. They have been saying that one of the inhibiting factors has been a problem related to their bank account. The issue related to Banco Delta Asia (BDA) has long been solved, apparently, by the US, so there is no longer any excuse with which they can prolong the process. What I should say and lay stress on is that now is the time for them to come back to the negotiation table first, and then to invite all the necessary arrangements to their nuclear facility.
Q: What about in regard to the new missile?
Mr. Taniguchi: The development of the missiles is part of the grave concern for the Japanese because Japan is well within its shooting range. In order for North Korea to have a sound relationship with Japan they also have to solve not only the nuclear issue but also, of course, other issues. The abduction issue and the missile issue are among the most important issues.
Q: Why have Washington and Tokyo not filed an official complaint to Pyongyang with regard to building this new missile capability?
Mr. Taniguchi: I think the Japanese Government is looking into their development closely. As to why they have not made a complaint to North Korea, the answer would be that the Japanese side has continued to convey its gravest concern to North Korea.
Q: With regard to the BDA issue, it has been reported that the State Department in Washington has asked a few banks, including Wachovia Bank, which is based in North Carolina, in regards to accepting these funds from BDA, which would then be transferred to another bank in a third country. Will that not sort of be like the US money laundering for the North Koreans?
Mr. Taniguchi: That is the kind of story that I read daily from the international press. I am in no position to verify or to look further into the situation, so I cannot make a comment on that.
Q: In regards to this whole stalled process, I understand that the abduction issue is supposed to be discussed within the Japan-North Korea working group. Since this working group has been stalled, is the Japanese Government looking for another avenue for discussing this issue with the North Koreans?
Mr. Taniguchi: Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso and others have from time to time expressed their will to examine what sort of other measures they should take towards North Korea if indeed North Korea still wants to put the whole process on hold and try to buy time. I do not think that now it is appropriate to speculate on what sort of other measures Japan can and should take towards North Korea.
Q: About the extrajudicial killing in the Philippines; it is a cause for concern for Japan-based human rights groups. I understand that Foreign Minister Aso and other Japanese officials have in the past expressed their concern to the Philippine officials when they had talks. I wanted to ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' position: How concerned are you about these so-called "extrajudicial killings" and what kind of discussions are being made between Japan and the Philippines in this regard?
Mr. Taniguchi: I am sorry, I have to learn a little bit more about the situation. I have got very scant knowledge about it, so it is better for me not to make a comment on that at this point.
Q: With regard to this comfort women bill in the US Congress calling for a resolution to push the Japanese Government to formally apologize for the comfort women issue, I understand that they will vote on this resolution in a matter of a few weeks. What is the Japanese Government's position on this whole bill again?
Mr. Taniguchi: The answer to that question is that there has been no change at all in the stance and the policies of the Japanese Government towards the comfort women issue. I should remind you that when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a visit to Washington, DC recently, he had a chance to talk to leading Members on Capital Hill from both parties. When he met them he also said once again that he felt deeply sorry about the miserable situation that the women in question had to go through during the war and that he stood firmly by the statement issued by the then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono back in 1993. I do not think I have any further points to make in addition to that.
Back to Index