Press Conference, 22 January 2008
- The Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers' Meeting
- Visit to Japan by Minister for Trade Simon Crean of the Commonwealth of Australia
- The "Building Peace - Japan and UN" symposium
- Question concerning the "Building Peace - Japan and UN" symposium
- Questions concerning TICAD IV
- Questions concerning the visit to Japan by Minister for Trade Simon Crean of the Commonwealth of Australia
- Question concerning President Sarkozy of the Republic of France
- Question concerning the Republic of India's candidacy for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council
- Question concerning North Korea
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good Afternoon. Thank you for coming.
My opening statement goes as follows. Let me begin by introducing what happened between Tokyo and the Mekong countries.
On Wednesday last week, the 16th of January, Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura hosted the Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers' Meeting. I should have put "the First," quote unquote, because it was the first meeting of its kind, inviting all the foreign ministers from the Mekong region countries, that is to say the Kingdom of Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, the Union of Myanmar, the Kingdom of Thailand and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.
Consensus was reached during the meeting to hold it in a regularized fashion, with host nations rotating.
You might remember when former Foreign Minister Taro Aso launched the initiative of Arc of Freedom and Prosperity more than a year ago, he said that the Japanese Government would invest its diplomatic capital more into such regions and countries as are doing lots of efforts to achieve exactly those, freedom and prosperity, by singling out, amongst others, such countries as share the great Mekong Delta.
You may also be reminded that of late, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda launched a new program to enrich people to people connections between Japan and the Mekong nations. The plan is that as many as 10,000 students and pupils will get engaged in exchanges for five years from now between Japan and the Mekong countries. I should perhaps invite you to read Chair's Statement that's already available in English on our web site, http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/mekong/meet0801.html as there are more items equally of note.
Mr. Taniguchi: Secondly, Australian Minister for Trade Simon Crean is now visiting Japan until Thursday, the 24th. Foreign Minister Koumura will be meeting him later this afternoon. You know that the two nations are working to have an EPA, Economic Partnership Agreement, and Trade Minister Crean's visit is important as well as most timely.
Mr. Taniguchi: Lastly, on Friday this week, the 24th of January, I should suggest you go to Hotel Okura as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be hosting a symposium, open to the public, entitled "Building Peace - Japan and UN" there. Foreign Minister Koumura will make a concluding speech, which is to lay out what lies ahead for Japan's peacebuilding diplomacy.
Q: It will be at which time at the Okura Hotel?
Mr. Taniguchi: It's an all day event. Registration begins at 09:30. Session One starts at 10:00. It is expected that the Foreign Minister is going to come to make the speech at about 17:30. It is going to last for 20 minutes. By the way, for your information, from the Republic of Sierra Leone and from the Republic of Burundi, the Minister of Foreign and International Cooperation and Minister of Interior and Communal Development respectively are going to come. These two nations are the first two nations that the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission decided to give support to.
Q: Speaking about some African countries, did Japan start to receive answers from African leaders who will participate in Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) that will be held in Yokohama in May?
Mr. Taniguchi: Yes. The clock is ticking, as you say. We have only a couple months left before TICAD IV meeting. So far, to my knowledge approximately or slightly more than 30 nations have given an answer to Japan that heads of each state will be coming to Yokohama to join the conference. So the rough number is 30 at the moment.
Q: Heads of state?
Mr. Taniguchi: Heads of state, yes.
Q: Between them, some Arab African countries, like Egypt or Libya?
Mr. Taniguchi: I would imagine the answer is definitely yes.
VI. Questions concerning the visit to Japan by Minister for Trade Simon Crean of the Commonwealth of Australia
Q: I have one question regarding Minister Crean's visit through Thursday. Was this visit planned early on? Was this a planned visit?
Mr. Taniguchi: How early is a difficult question to answer, because you have a newly formed cabinet in Australia. The election took place not long ago. So, the duration of the time between the election day and now, you may say it is long enough or short enough. But it has been pre-arranged and pre-planned. It's not a last minute, short notice visit.
Q: You mentioned that one of the key issues that will be discussed today is working to have an EPA. Will the issue of whaling be raised? Would you have any idea if the Foreign Minister, Mr. Koumura, is anticipating any discussion on the whaling issue?
Mr. Taniguchi: I will be able to answer your question more clearly after the foreign minister's meeting that will take place afterwards today. But at the moment I don't think I can speculate on that.
Q: Have there been any notices in advance?
Mr. Taniguchi: Well, that is the kind of thing that we are not allowed to disclose.
Q: Is the meeting scheduled to be, the duration, about an hour?
Mr. Taniguchi: Let me check. It will be about 30 to 40 minutes.
Q: Is there going to be a briefing today, afterwards?
Mr. Taniguchi: I am sure there is going to be a briefing, and the Director of the Oceanic Division is going to make a briefing.
Q: Do you have a time for that?
Mr. Taniguchi: No, I don't. I would imagine that it is going to be at 18:00 or something like that.
Q: Will you first have a regular press conference at that time, a Japanese press conference?
Mr. Taniguchi: No, there is not going to be any regular press conference.
Q: So there is going to be an actual briefing?
Mr. Taniguchi: An ad hoc briefing.
Q: Is anybody from the Australian side going to be attending the meeting, on the sidelines perhaps? Is the Minister coming with an entourage, a delegation?
Mr. Taniguchi: You mean the members of the delegation?
Mr. Taniguchi: What are they going to do?
Q: No. Are they going to be holding separate meetings?
Mr. Taniguchi: I have no idea. Probably the Australian embassy might do that, but I have got absolutely no idea about that.
Q: There is no dinner or anything scheduled? State dinner?
Mr. Taniguchi: It looks like the Trade Minister is going to have dinner with opinion leaders, and people closely associated with Australia-Japan relationships, twice during the stay. He is going to meet, also, leaders of the business community over lunch.
Q: So there is not going to be a dinner involving Mr. Crean and Mr. Koumura?
Mr. Taniguchi: Mr. Koumura is not going to have dinner with Mr. Crean. But it is very much a businesslike visit, and that is in line with most other cases between foreign ministers.
Q: About the visit of British Prime Minister Brown to China and India, we heard lately, unfortunately, that President Sarkozy did not visit Japan during a visit to the Far East countries, like China and India - cancelled Japan.
Mr. Taniguchi: I have no idea. I do not think I can answer your question. I'm not in a position to make any speculation as to why, or as to whether or not there is any reason or his motivation or whatever.
VIII. Question concerning the Republic of India's candidacy for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council
Q: Prime Minister Brown mentioned that India must be a permanent member of the Security Council. Did that affect in any way Tokyo's effort to represent Asia as a permanent member in the Security Council?
Mr. Taniguchi: I don't think that will affect in any way because if you look at what Japan and India together have done in the past, India and Japan have always been in close consultation with one another. These two nations wanted to join the United Nations Security Council as permanent members. So, I do not think there is any reason for Japan doing other than welcoming Mr. Brown's endorsement of India's candidacy towards permanent membership.
Q: Last question. Any news about the North Korean nuclear file, because Pyongyang had until the end of last December to close this file?
Mr. Taniguchi: Obviously the process is temporarily put into a halt because North Korea apparently has not complied with the obligations that the international community requested that they do. So, we are still waiting for North Korea to finalize the obligation by closing down, shutting down the facilities, and by making declarations in a complete fashion of their nuclear capacity and so on.
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