Press Conference, 26 March 2009

  1. Japan's commitment to African Development (First TICAD Ministerial Follow-up Meeting in Botswana)
  2. Hosting of Pakistan Donors Conference in Tokyo
  3. Questions concerning press reports on preparations for a missile launch by North Korea

I. Japan's commitment to African Development (First TICAD Ministerial Follow-up Meeting in Botswana)

Deputy Press Secretary Yasuhisa Kawamura: Good afternoon, and welcome to the conference.

Let me start with two announcements today.

One of them is related to the main theme of today.

First, about Japan's commitment to African Development. The Ministers and delegations of Japan and African countries, together with international and regional organizations, private sector and civil societies, altogether, met in Gaborone, Botswana, on 21 and 22 March at the First TICAD Ministerial Follow-up Meeting after the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development(TICAD IV) in Yokohama last year.

Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone and Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobuhide Minorikawa attended the conference as co-chairs. The meeting was opened by former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's address.

I am very pleased to report that the meeting was ended with a great success. The Participants commended the progress achieved for the first nine months of implementation in many areas of the TICAD's Yokohama Action Plan. In this regard Japan confirmed that it would fulfill the commitments made at TICAD IV in two areas: (1) to double its ODA to Africa from US$0.9 billion to US$1.8 billion by the year 2012, and (2) to assist in doubling Japanese private investments into Africa from US$1.7 billion to US$3.4 billion, again by 2012.

Japan shared with the Participants concern over the serious negative impact on Africa of the current global financial and economic crisis and joined the call for all development partners to honor the steady and effective implementation of all existing commitments. Japan is of the strong view that the upcoming London Summit should listen to the voices of Africa and address the particular difficulties Africa is facing now. Foreign Minister Nakasone said in his address of the Ministerial meeting that Prime Minister Taro Aso would take his message of Africa to the Summit and reflect the voices of Africa in the discussions there.

Related Information (TICAD Ministerial Follow-up Meeting)

II. Hosting of Pakistan Donors Conference in Tokyo

Mr. Kawamura: Second and last, Japan and the World Bank will co-host a Pakistan Donors Conference on April 17 in Tokyo. On the same day in Tokyo, the Government of Pakistan will host the Friends of Democratic Pakistan Group Ministerial Meeting.

Expected participants for the Pakistan Donors Conference include Japan, Pakistan, the World Bank, members of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan Group Ministerial Meeting, and other countries and international organizations that have been providing economic assistance to Pakistan. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is expected to visit Japan on this occasion.

At the conclusion of the Conference, a joint chairman's statement compiling the assistance announced by each country and international organizations will be issued.

Related Information (Press Release)

III. Questions concerning press reports on preparations for a missile launch by North Korea

Q: I would like to have a statement about the report that said that North Korea has set up a missile for launch.

Mr. Kawamura: We know of the press report about it, but I am not sure whether there has been a statement or not. Has the North Korean government issued a statement?

Q: No, it was from the joint committee in the US, between Japan and the US. They said that they have a report that said that North Korea has set a missile in the launch pad. That news came from the US.

Mr. Kawamura: From the US? Let me check with the news itself. But aside from the news itself, we know this kind of press report has been continued over the past couple of days, but on this kind of intelligence "report", we would refrain from making any specific comments. But in general the Government of Japan together with the United States and the Republic of Korea and other like minded countries will do our best to stabilize the situation.

Q: Could you follow up on that. What are the steps and measures that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs plans to take should North Korea go ahead with the launch?

Mr. Kawamura: First of all we sent a message through diplomatic channels to the North Korea side, that the actions to destabilize the regional situation would not be appropriate, and we urge North Korea to exercise its self restraint not to take the provocative action. That is the first step. We have taken this step up to today. Also we discuss the situation and the issue with our partner countries, such as the United States and the Republic of Korea and we continue to discuss and keep the contact.

Q: Do you plan to issue any kind of statement in protest or anything?

Mr. Kawamura: Do you mean after it is launched?

Q: Yes, after a launch.

Mr. Kawamura: It would not be appropriate for us to make clear what we would do if there were to be a launch. The first and most important thing for us is to urge North Korea to exercise self-restraint not to launch the missiles. So we wouldn't say that the concrete measures or statements, or whether we will make them on the occasion of a launch, at this moment.

Q: Has the Government of Japan confirmed the report that North Korea had positioned the first missile on the launch pad. Have you confirmed that report?

Mr. Kawamura: The report you mention, is that an official report or a press report?

Q: It is not official. We haven't confirmed it yet. I just would like to know how you are going to deal with the report. You are going to confirm it?

Mr. Kawamura: Can I ask you; the report is issued by whom?

Q: The media.

Mr. Kawamura: A media report. Information reported by the media?

Q: But the sources came from US Government.

Mr. Kawamura: I have no comment on that. We do information collection from various sources, and it is natural as a sovereign state to do that. The bottom line is that we do not make any comment on what kind of information we have gathered, and what kind of assessment we have made out of that collection of data or information. But we will monitor very carefully the situation an development in this region.

Q: Japan has said that it will take the issue to the UN Security Council if North Korea launches a rocket or missile or satellite, but at the same time North Korea has threatened that any sanctions or further punishment from the Security Council will derail the Six-Party Talks. What kind of diplomatic efforts is Japan making currently with other members of the Security Council, especially China and Russia.

Mr. Kawamura: First of all, there is no launch at this moment, so it is not appropriate to discuss in detail about if a launch is made and such and such actions should be taken. Therefore we keep in touch with the member countries of the Security Council of the United Nations, and we exchange information, and think about the options. But the first diplomatic efforts that we should make is to urge the North Korea side to exercise self-restraint, not to destabilize the situation in the region. So, through diplomatic channels with our partner countries we are making the maximum efforts toward that goal.

Q: How confident is Tokyo that you will be able to convince China and Russia to cooperate in whatever kind of action that you hope to take at the Security Council?

Mr. Kawamura: As a matter of course, we will provide the best possible effort to get the cooperation from the other countries.

Any other questions?

Thank you very much.

Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)
Related Information (North Korea's Missile Launch)

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