Press Conference, 4 March 2008
- Statements on the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1803 concerning the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear issue and on the agreement on the coalition government in the Republic of Kenya
- The Japan-Africa Journalists Symposium on African Development
- Visit to Japan by Foreign Minister Sanjaasurengiin Oyun of Mongolia and President Stjepan Mesic of the Republic of Croatia
- Provision of loan assistance by Japan to the Republic of Ghana and the Republic of Niger
- Japan-Federal Republic of Germany exchange of notes concerning the replenishment of vessels engaged in duties related to counter-terrorism maritime interdiction activities
- "Dispatches from Japan" available on the MOFA website
- Questions concerning the People's Republic of China
- Questions concerning Japan-Socialist Republic of Viet Nam relations
I. Statements on the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1803 concerning the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear issue and on the agreement on the coalition government in the Republic of Kenya
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon. Thank you very much for coming.
I have six points to touch on before taking your questions.
First, over the past weekend, Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura issued two statements. One is on the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1803 concerning Iran's nuclear issue. The other is on the Kenyan agreement on the coalition government. Both statements are now available for you to look at on our website.
Mr. Taniguchi: The second announcement is on "Japan-Africa Journalists Symposium on African Development" currently held at this very moment here in Tokyo. This symposium is a preliminary event to TICAD IV and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. At the symposium journalists from Africa and experts from Japan discuss how to address the current situation and the challenges in, and facing, Africa. Also this symposium is aimed at providing an opportunity to heighten awareness towards Africa in Japan while giving recognition to the important role played by the media.
III. Visit to Japan by Foreign Minister Sanjaasurengiin Oyun of Mongolia and President Stjepan Mesic of the Republic of Croatia
Mr. Taniguchi: The third is on incoming visits by foreign dignitaries. Mongolian Foreign Minister Sanjaasurengiin Oyun is now visiting Japan as a guest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Minister Oyun arrived in Japan on Sunday, the 2nd, and will stay here until Friday, the 7th. Foreign Minister Koumura had a bilateral meeting with her at Ikura House yesterday.
In conjunction with the bilateral meeting, notes to the loan assistance of up to 28,807 million yen, or about US$280 million, for "the New Ulaanbaatar International Airport Construction Project" were exchanged yesterday. The project is intended to contribute to the further economic development of Mongolia, by building a new airport on a site with no geographical restrictions, making it much more convenient to use, introducing a state-of-the-art airport security system that utilizes Japan's advanced technology and know-how, and raising the credibility and safety of Mongolia's air transportation. I know this project is long overdue, and I'm glad that the arrangement was made possible.
Now, His Excellency Mr. Stjepan Mesic, President of the Republic of Croatia, is also paying an Official Working Visit to Japan and will stay here until Saturday, the 8th.
Mr. Taniguchi: Fourth, Japan has decided to provide loan assistance to the Republic of Ghana and the Republic of Niger. In order to alleviate food scarcity in the two countries, 650 million yen or about US$6.3 million to Ghana, and 500 million yen or about US$4.9 million to Niger will be provided to purchase rice, which is the staple food of both countries.
V. Japan-Federal Republic of Germany exchange of notes concerning the replenishment of vessels engaged in duties related to counter-terrorism maritime interdiction activities
Mr. Taniguchi: Fifth, on Friday, the 29th of February, Foreign Minister Koumura and German Ambassador Hans-Joachim Daerr signed and exchanged notes concerning the replenishment of vessels engaged in duties related to counter-terrorism maritime interdiction activities based on the Replenishment Support Special Measures Law. The Government of Japan had already signed and exchanged similar notes with the governments of France, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and the United States on Tuesday, the 5th of February.
Mr. Taniguchi: Sixth and last, I would like to introduce a new content on the MOFA English Website that is called "Dispatches from Japan" which is intended to disseminate more information on Japan in English to overseas and that consists of three parts, namely: "Issues," "Impressions" and "Perspectives." "Issues" explains Japanese foreign policy on some major diplomatic issues in a readable fashion. "Impressions" introduces interviews of the non-Japanese residents knowledgeable about Japan. This time it is the interview of the first Western sake sommelier, Sarah Marie Cummings. "Perspectives" presents you a series of columns by Japanese experts, analysts and academics. Currently the column by Tsuneo Watanabe, Senior Fellow, Mitsui Global Strategic Studies Institute, and Adjunct Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies, is uploaded and available. You can see these contents by clicking the banner "Dispatches from Japan" on the first page of the MOFA English Website. You can go to the English Website, you can see the banner "Dispatches from Japan," and by the way you can download wallpapers from the content page.
Q: If I may start with a question related to the US concerns expressed yesterday about China's cyber-warfare capabilities and its counter-space capabilities. Does Japan share the same concerns and if so, what are the measures that the Japanese Government, the Foreign Ministry, is taking now? Has the Foreign Ministry experienced similar intrusions into its network?
Mr. Taniguchi: In terms of the latter, space warfare capability of the Chinese military -- when the Chinese Government attempted to implement kinetic attack against one of the satellites some time ago, the Japanese Foreign Ministry expressed concerns about the possible misuse in space.
In terms of the lack of transparency in the Chinese military buildup -- repeatedly the Japanese Government has made it clear that absolute transparency is desirable on the part of the Chinese Government. You may recall that of late the Chinese Government made an announcement that last year, also, there was a double-digit growth in their military buildup. It is one of the concerns shared widely by the international community that there is a considerable lack of transparency in their military buildup.
Q: The announcement just today of the increase in defense spending by 17.6 percent -- is that still considered not yet transparent enough?
Mr. Taniguchi: Experts vary on how accurate the figure has been, but the position of the Japanese Government has been made, repeatedly, clear, many times, to the Chinese Government that more transparency is definitely desirable. In terms of the cyber-warfare, I'll have to study a bit more before being able to answer your question more precisely.
Q: Just another question about China. I read reports that, yesterday, yellow sand from China has hit mostly the western side of Japan, for the first time this year. Parts of Tokyo were also affected. Japan, China and the Republic of Korea are having a joint research on this issue, I heard. Has China been cooperative in this research? What kind of achievements have been made so far?
Mr. Taniguchi: In terms of the surveillance effort, the degree to which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is engaged is relatively limited. But this morning I saw myself particles of yellow sand on my car. A lot of people in Japan have been under the influence of the incoming yellow sand, and I would say there is a region-wide concern about that. One should expect that more forthcoming cooperation should come from the Chinese side in order to better manage the events of this scale and magnitude.
Q: My questions are regarding the scheduled upcoming visit of the chairman of the Vietnamese Parliament to Japan. My first question is about how you view the current situation in terms of the Vietnamese-Japan bilateral relationship, considering the fact that there has been a series of visits made by high-ranking officials, like the President and the Chairman of the Parliament, to Japan.
Mr. Taniguchi: The bilateral relationship between (the Socialist Republic of) Viet Nam and Japan is good and is getting even better. There are many positive tasks to be tackled jointly by the two countries, like forging an Economic Partnership Agreement between Viet Nam and Japan. Before the high-ranking visits from Viet Nam to Japan, there was a prime ministerial visit made (by then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, November, 2006) to Viet Nam from Japan, which was accompanied by a rather big delegation comprising the leaders of the Japanese business community. That indicates that both in the economic relationship and in the political relationship, the bilateral relationship between the two nations is being improved. In terms of (outgoing) direct investment from Japan, the importance of Viet Nam as an investment destination is on the rise. So overall I view the bilateral relationship as being in extremely good shape.
Q: With the scheduled visit from Viet Nam to Japan by the head of the Parliament of Viet Nam, do you expect that parliamentary exchanges between Japan and Viet Nam will be enhanced? And how do you assess the tempo with which other areas of bilateral cooperation are advancing?
Mr. Taniguchi: I have no doubt given the fact that there are a considerable number of parliamentarians in Japan who are interested very much in Viet Nam, the parliamentarian exchanges would be greater in scope and width. That is the first part answer.
The second part is Viet Nam, obviously, is one of the nations that share the great Mekong Delta region. To the countries that share the Mekong Delta, the Japanese Government has recently increased its Official Development Assistance, again in scope and in amount. Taking that into consideration, I have no doubt, either, that the bilateral ties between Viet Nam and Japan would be greater and in even better shape.
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