Press Conference by the Deputy Press Secretary, 16 June 2011

  1. Present situation after the Great East Japan Earthquake
  2. Support for Middle Eastern and North African Countries' Reform and Transition Efforts
  3. Third meeting of the Contact Group on Libya
  4. IAEA Board of Governors' Resolution on Syria's Nuclear Issue
  5. Protest of Japan Regarding the Visit of an ROK Cabinet Member to Takeshima
  6. VIP visits
  7. Questions Concerning Communication among the Japanese Government and Foreign Communities Living in Japan

  1. Present situation after the Great East Japan Earthquake
  2. Deputy Press Secretary Hidenobu Sobashima: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

    First, on the situation after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Mr. Goshi Hosono, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, visited France earlier this week, on 13 and 14 June, to explain to the French Government once again Japan's appreciation for the support and sympathy given by France, not only for the disaster in general, but also particularly vis-à-vis the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Also, he explained the report that the Government of Japan already submitted to the IAEA for discussions at the Ministerial Conference to begin early next week, from 20 – 24 June.

    On 14 June, that is last Tuesday, Mr. Hosono held a press conference in Paris, with the participation of the French, Japanese, and international media. There he explained the purpose of his visit, that is to express appreciation, and also explain the report the Government of Japan submitted to the IAEA. He particularly emphasized the importance of sharing the information with the international community with maximum transparency, particularly the lessons learned from the accident.

    I already explained the conclusion part of the report of the Japanese Government to the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety last week. Today we have distributed the text of the part of the lessons learned. It's section XII "Lessons Learned from the Accident Thus Far". We have classified the lessons into five categories. On page XII-1, in the third paragraph from the bottom, it refers to Category 1, that is lessons learned, based on the fact that this accident has been a severe accident, and from reviewing the sufficiency of preventive measures against a severe accident. The lessons in Category 2 are those on the adequacy of the responses to this severe accident. The lessons in Category 3 are on the adequacy of the emergency responses to the nuclear disaster arising from this accident. On the next page we have category 4. The lessons in Category 4 are those on the robustness of the safety infrastructure established at nuclear power stations. Finally, lessons in category 5 are those on safety culture, so to speak, taking into account all lessons as a whole. So we have in total 28 lessons, and certainly we will update these as necessary.

    Another topic is a development in Canada. On Monday this week, 13 June, local time, the Government of Canada decided to lift the special measures imposed on food items imported from Japan to Canada. Canada decided to lift the additional restrictions, and therefore the procedure for importation of food from Japan is the same as that that existed before 11 March. We welcome this. Just for your information, the number of the Embassies in Tokyo that were temporarily closed was at one point 32, but by the end of May, all Embassies which were temporarily closed resumed their activities. This is good news. Certainly we will provide information regularly through the briefings conducted for foreign missions and for foreign journalists - conducted regularly, not necessarily daily now.

    Sorry, I should have mentioned this earlier. We have distributed a paper entitled "Overview of the Deauville G8 Summit". On the nuclear safety section, that is subsection three, we explain what the Prime Minister proposed in the G8 meeting.

    "Prime Minister Kan made a five-point proposal to promote the highest levels of nuclear safety worldwide: (a) strengthening of the Safety Standards of IAEA and promotion of their utilization, (b) expansion of the IAEA's Operational Safety Review Mission, (c) enhancement of an international support system in times of accidents, (d) strengthening of cooperation among national safety authorities, and (e) ratification of nuclear safety-related conventions". He also announced an initiative to host an international meeting in Japan in the latter half of 2012 in cooperation with the IAEA.

    The Prime Minister already proposed, for the purpose of enhancing nuclear safety, a five-point proposal. These proposals are standing, and perhaps the participants in the IAEA Ministerial Conference to be held next week will discuss various related issues, including these five proposals

    These are about the current situation after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

  3. Support for Middle Eastern and North African Countries' Reform and Transition Efforts
  4. Mr. Sobashima: Next is about the paper entitled "Japan Will Support Middle Eastern and North African Countries' Reform and Transition Efforts". This is the position explained by Prime Minister Kan on the occasion of the Deauville G8 Summit. This is a policy of the Government of Japan for the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries. Therefore I will read the main part of these sentences.

    Paragraph one says "Prime Minister Naoto Kan stated that Japan, on the basis of experience and knowledge gained through its contributions to promoting democracy, stability and growth, would continue to support self-help efforts by countries in the Middle East and North Africa for transition to a stable regime and for domestic reforms. He specifically stated that Japan's support would mainly focus on the following areas: (1) equitable political and administrative management; (2) nurturing of human resources; and (3) job creation and industrial development".

    Then we have the attached paper, entitled "Fact sheet". As for the priorities in our support to MENA countries' reform, we list three pillars which correspond to what that the Prime Minister mentioned. The first pillar is fair political process and government. We have three elements under this pillar. The first is electoral assistance – support for free and fair elections. The second is support for good governance. The third is addressing disparity and enhancing stability.

    On the next page, the second item, that is human resources development. We have again three elements. The first is development of vocational training and other educational facilities. The second is capacity building of industrial engineers. Third, higher education in science and technology.

    With respect to job creation, fostering of industries, again we have three elements. The first is continuing infrastructure development. The second is industry diversification, including for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and improvement of investment environment, and the third element is sharing Japanese experience and know-how. These are about our main pillars for support.

    Next we have another aspect, that is, forging a multi-layered relationship between Japan and MENA countries: advancing economic relationships and mutual understanding with these countries. We list "economic diplomacy", with its elements being economic treaties, and promoting business-to-business relationships, then as a second pillar, "forging people-to-people relationships and dialogues", with its elements for of expanding the network of personal contacts in these countries through our human resources development activities, secondly, promoting the understanding of Japanese culture and society in this region, thirdly, dialogue for the future between Japan and the Islamic world, fourthly, people-to-people exchange for the next generation, and fifthly, government-sponsored scholarships. These are the components of our support and our relationship with MENA countries.

  5. Third meeting of the Contact Group on Libya
  6. Mr. Sobashima: Thursday last week, that is, 9 June, the third meeting of the Contact Group on Libya was held in Abu Dhabi. For your information, the first meeting of the contact group was held in Doha in April, and the second meeting in May in Rome. The meeting held last week was the third meeting of the Contact Group on Libya. The participants included various countries including Japan and also the African Union, the Arab League, the European Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council, NATO, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the United Nations. Also, a representative of the Interim National Council (INC) participated. The meeting discussed the efforts of the international community, with a view to contributing to ending the conflict in Libya, and also supporting the INC. This is an example of what is happening the region.

  7. IAEA Board of Governors' Resolution on Syria's Nuclear Issue
  8. Mr. Sobashima: We have distributed another paper that is the statement by the Press Secretary on the IAEA Board of Governors' Resolution on Syria's Nuclear Issue. On Thursday, 9 June, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution on Syria's nuclear issue.

    The resolution confirms that the IAEA Board of Governors finds Syria's undeclared construction of a nuclear reactor at Dair Alzour and other places constitute non-compliance with its obligations under its IAEA Safeguards Agreement and further decides to report Syria's non-compliance with its Safeguards Agreement to all Members of the IAEA, and to the Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations.

    Japan strongly hopes that Syria takes this resolution seriously and will fully cooperate with the IAEA and that the facts of this case will be clarified. Japan also believes that it is vital that Syria sign, bring into force and implement the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement.

    So this is the text of the statement by the Press Secretary.

  9. Protest of Japan Regarding the Visit of an ROK Cabinet Member to Takeshima
  10. Mr. Sobashima: Another thing I would like to explain is the protest made by Japan to the Republic of Korea (ROK) in relation to the visit to Takeshima by Mr. Maeng Hyung-kyu, Minister of Public Administration and Security of the Republic of Korea. Vice-Minister Sasae protested to Mr. Shin Gak-su, Ambassador Designate of the Republic of Korea. The Vice-Minister said that despite the repeated requests to refrain from visiting Takeshima, the fact that the visit by the minister to Takeshima took place is unacceptable in the light of the position of Japan, and is very regrettable. He made this protest under the instructions from Minister Matsumoto. He requested the Government of the Republic of Korea to refrain from repeating the visit.

    In response to this, the Ambassador-Designate explained the position of the Republic of Korea on Takeshima and said that he would report what Vice-Minister Sasae said to his home Government.

    So these are the topics.

  11. VIP visits
  12. Mr. Sobashima: As for the visits, I think already the Hon. Henry Puna, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands is visiting Japan from yesterday, June 15, until Sunday, June 19, as a guest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The purpose of his visit includes the formal establishment of diplomatic relations between the Cook Islands and Japan. On the occasion of his meeting with Prime Minister Kan, among other meetings, it is expected that the strengthening of bilateral relations, among other topics, will be discussed.

    From Indonesia, His Excellency Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will be visiting from today, June 16, until Saturday, June 18. The President and Mrs. Yudhoyono will be visiting Japan. The President and Mrs. Yudhoyono will be paying a state call to the Emperor and Empress during their stay, and the President will have a Summit Meeting with Prime Minister Kan, among other items on the itinerary of his visit to Japan.

    We hope that this visit will further enhance the strategic partnership between Japan and Indonesia.

    His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Naruhito will be visiting Germany from June 21 to June 25 to participate in the ceremonies to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Japan-Germany exchanges.

    These are what I would like to share. Now I invite your questions, please.

  13. Questions Concerning Communication among the Japanese Government and Foreign Communities Living in Japan
  14. Q: You mentioned about the Japanese Government's communication with international communities. Maybe I have not gone through the full paper here, does it mention about foreign communities already living in Japan? There is a difference. "International community" means other foreign countries, but what about the foreign communities who are already living in Japan? Is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Government of Japan considering, after this experience, to prepare information to connect with the foreign communities that are already living here?

    Mr. Sobashima: Excuse me, on what subject? Is it about nuclear safety?

    Q: The disaster information exchange. Because, the Japanese, they can get information through televisions and newspapers and other media, but some foreign communities who are living in Japan are unable unfortunately to read Japanese newspapers, and even from the media they cannot obtain information – the foreign communities who are living in Japan.

    Mr. Sobashima: So for example, you are referring to the safety information regarding radiation?

    Q: Yes. Maybe through media of Japanese organizations Japanese citizens can get information, but it is difficult for foreign communities to understand the Japanese media.

    Mr. Sobashima: Thank you. I can offer several methods that foreign communities in Japan can gain access to information. One is to access the websites of relevant Ministries, such as the Prime Minister's office and the other Ministries. The Prime Minister's office has an English website, and the press conferences of the Chief Cabinet Secretary are uploaded there. The information related to the accident of the nuclear power station is uploaded on the website of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), because the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) under METI is providing information not only in Japanese but also in English. Foreign residents in Japan can have access to relevant information by checking the information available on the website of the Prime Minister's Office or the relevant Ministries or Agencies.

    Another thing is that, as I said, we are continuing to conduct regular briefings, not only for foreign media, but also for foreign Embassies. So, Embassies may provide that information to their nationals living in Japan. We intend to provide information to not only the Japanese people in Japan, but also foreign residents in Japan. I can think of at least those two ways that foreign residents can obtain information. Certainly, if there is some particular question that a particular foreigner has, he or she can ask the Ministry or Agency concerned or perhaps the local municipality office for information and advice.

    Q: Thank you. You mentioned that the foreign community can get information through Embassies. So I do not have a question, but just a comment.

    The foreign communities living here now get very uptight sometimes in disasters. They are not getting direct information. Some communities living here do not have access to websites. So they may get information through the Embassies. But if the Embassies are closed – what happened during this incident is that 32 Embassies closed and others were so busy that they had no opportunities to communicate. So there needs to be some arrangement in the future to have some kind of direct communication instead of through the Embassies. If you are going to the Embassies and 32 are already closed, how can you communicate? If you have direct relations with some disaster management center then they do not need the Ministry, they can get direct information. You mentioned 32 Embassies were closed, so what happens with their citizens?

    Mr. Sobashima: Thank you very much. If the residents are registered with certain municipalities, I presume that the municipalities concerned would be able to provide information to the registered residents. I am not able to explain all the details of what sorts of tools and measures are available now, but your comment is well taken. We should be aware of people who do not have good access to information.

    Q: One more question that arose from your answer. I understand your answer, that if not through their Embassy they can get it through their ward office. That is, frankly speaking, if not impossible, difficult. Because if in some prefecture there are about 300 or 400, or perhaps more, 2,000 or 3,000 foreigners living there, it is difficult to contact with all the residents. What I am thinking is that there should be a center which should be informed in advance of community organizations and NGOs so that they can pass on this information directly to their own communities. Because it is difficult to inform all individuals. So if they can do some sort of arrangement to contact through them, it is easy. And it saves time. Because every community living here has some sort of organization.

    Mr. Sobashima: Well, thank you for the comment. If there is a certain need, we should be attentive to it. Can we discuss later what sort of specific needs there are and what sort of specific measures may be available? The Government intends to make every possible effort to send out necessary information and advice to foreign residents here. If there is some good proposal to improve the situation, we should consider it.

    Any other questions?

    If you have no further questions, thank you very much for coming.

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