Internet Press Chat Conference, 28 June 2007
- Inauguration of Japan as Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission
- First Technical-Level Meeting of the Four-Party Consultative Unit for the Concept of the "Corridor for Peace and Prosperity"
- Japan-Sri Lanka Foreign-Ministerial Meeting and Working Lunch
- Sixteenth Japan-Iran Vice-Ministerial Regular Consultation
- Question concerning the reported North Korean missile launch
- Questions concerning the Iranian nuclear issue
Assistant Press Secretary Noriyuki Shikata: Let me start today's Regular Internet Chat Press Conference. Today, I have altogether four points for my opening statement.
Yesterday, 27 June (New York (US) time), Japan was elected chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission by consensus in a formal meeting of its organizing committee, and was inaugurated as its chair on that day. This proved that Japan's active contribution to peacebuilding is highly evaluated by other countries. Japan welcomes this and hopes to meet international expectations.
Peacebuilding starts with promotion of the peace process aiming at making continuous efforts to secure stability immediately after a conflict and then providing humanitarian assistance for reconstruction and nation building. The Government of Japan highly values the activities of the UN Peacebuilding Commission which plays an important role in global peacebuilding. As a founding member country of the commission, Japan has been actively participating in its activities.
Towards the G8 summit and TICAD IV (the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development), which will both be held in Japan next year, the Government of Japan is determined to further contribute in the field of peacebuilding for the sake of international peace and security. Japan has recently provided personnel cooperation for Peace Keeping Operations (PKOs) in Timor-Leste and the Kingdom of Nepal, and US$20 million for the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund. Japan has also just launched a program for human resource development (the Hiroshima Peacebuilders Center) in the field of peacebuilding.
As the chair of the UN Peacebuilding Committee, which is in the second year since the start of its activities, the Government of Japan will redouble efforts for realizing peacebuilding.
II. First Technical-Level Meeting of the Four-Party Consultative Unit for the Concept of the "Corridor for Peace and Prosperity"
Mr. Shikata: Related to Japan's peacebuilding efforts, on 27 June the first technical-level meeting of the Four-Party Consultative Unit for the concept of the "Corridor for Peace and Prosperity" was held at the Dead Sea in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with the participation of officials and experts from Japan (headed by Mr. Shinsuke Sugiyama, Deputy Director-General of the Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau), the State of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories. This meeting was a follow-up on the agreement reached at the Start-up Meeting of the Four-Party Consultative Unit hosted by the Japanese Government last March.
The meeting was conducted in a frank and friendly atmosphere and the Four Parties had a constructive exchange of views on various issues related to the development of this concept.
The outcome of the meeting is as follows:
- The Japanese side gave a brief on the current status of the Feasibility Study (F/S) and its future schedule. Each of the Four Parties explained about their respective cooperation efforts, which are to be extended in order to formulate related projects.
- The Four Parties expressed their views on the possible location of the agro-industrial park, and agreed to decide the location as soon as possible while taking the progress of the F/S into consideration.
- The Israeli side expressed its agreement on the reconstruction of Damiya (Prince Mohammad) Bridge and the other Parties welcomed the decision. The Four Parties agreed to further discuss the details of this issue.
- The Four Parties agreed to establish a contact mechanism which is aimed at directly sharing information and coordinating among the Four Parties in order to materialize the concept.
- The Four Parties agreed to hold the next technical-level meeting in the region in the second half of October.
Mr. Shikata: Also, yesterday, on 27 June, Mr. Taro Aso, Minister for Foreign Affairs, held talks and a working lunch with Mr. Rohitha Bogollagama, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, who is now visiting Japan, at Iikura House. The two ministers discussed bilateral relations between the two countries, UN reform, the North Korean issue, and climate change. The gist of the talks will soon be available on our website.
Mr. Shikata: This morning, 28 June, the Sixteenth Japan-Iran Vice-Ministerial Regular Consultation was held in Tokyo. The Consultation is attended on the Japanese side by Mr. Mitoji Yabunaka, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, and others, and on the Iranian side by Dr. Mahdi Safari, Vice Foreign Minister for Asia, Oceania and the Commonwealth of Independent States, and others. At the Consultation, they discussed Japan-Islamic Republic of Iran bilateral relations, regional and international affairs such as Iran's nuclear issues, the situation in the Republic of Iraq and the Islamic State of Afghanistan, as well as the Middle East peace process.
Now, I would like to take questions.
Q: I would like to ask if you have any information or update on the reported missile launch of North Korea. Is it ballistic? If it is verified to be ballistic, would that mean North Korea violated the Security Council resolutions?
Mr. Shikata: We are aware of the report of the North Korean missile launch yesterday. We are carefully following North Korean missile-related activities with much interest. However, as for concrete information, since it is related to intelligence, I refrain from making comments.
North Korea should not take any actions that could escalate tensions in the region. Generally speaking, if North Korea launched a ballistic missile, we think it is in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1718, which was adopted after the North Korean missile launch in July of last year.
Q: On the Iranian nuclear standoff. In the event that Iran continues to refuse to heed international calls to halt the uranium enrichment program, what will Japan do? Will Japan be willing to say yes to a tougher sanctions resolution on Iran? From Japan's viewpoint, what is an effective way of dealing with Iran: more on pressure and less on dialogue or the other way around?
Mr. Shikata: From the viewpoint of the Japanese Government, we strongly hope Iran will, following successive UN Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolutions, extend all the necessary cooperation that is requested from the IAEA and this will lead to resolution of unresolved problems surrounding Iran's nuclear issues.
As I mentioned at the outset, today we have had the Sixteenth Japan-Iran Vice-Ministerial Regular Consultation in Tokyo. We discussed Iran's nuclear issues and it is our policy to engage in dialogue with Iran to resolve this issue. At the same time, as you know well, Japan has been implementing measures required under the UN Security Council Resolution 1737 and 1747.
Q: Just a follow-up on Iran. So, in engaging Iran to dialogue, Japan is not too keen on putting too much pressure on Iran to resolve the issue?
Mr. Shikata: As I mentioned, Japan has been implementing Iran-related measures required under the UN Security Council resolutions. We think it is appropriate to take a "dialogue and pressure" approach in addressing Iran's nuclear issues. We think we should continue to make diplomatic efforts to dispel concerns surrounding Iran's nuclear program, and as part of the efforts it is appropriate to engage in dialogue with Iran.
As it seems that you have no more questions, I would like to end today's Regular Internet Chat Press Conference. See you at the next Regular Internet Chat Press Conference.
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