Press Conference by the Deputy Press Secretary, 4 August 2011

  1. APEC in Sendai
  2. JET in Tohoku
  3. Unwarranted Allegations of Information Control
  4. Middle East and North Africa
  5. Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  6. Visit to Japan of the UN Secretary-General
  7. World Cosplay Summit 2011
  8. Planned Visits & Events
  9. Question concerning the Media on the Website
  10. Questions concerning the Invitation to Prime Minister Kan's "Iftar"

  1. APEC in Sendai
  2. Deputy Press Secretary Hidenobu Sobashima: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

    Mr. Sobashima: As shown in the agenda, we will have several topics. The first topic is APEC in Sendai. We have distributed a paper entitled, "APEC Workshop on Emergency Preparedness", together with the joint press statement for this by the co-hosts, the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States. The Government of Japan and the Government of the United States co-hosted the APEC Workshop on Private Sector Emergency Preparedness from 1-3 August in Sendai. The workshop was very well attended by representatives of 17 economies. The Government of Japan was represented by State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Mr. Chiaki Takahashi and senior officials from METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) and the Cabinet Office. The United States Government was represented by Mr. Timothy Manning, the Deputy Administrator for Protection and National Preparedness of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as officials from the Department of State and the USAID.

    This workshop was the first inter-government, international conference conducted in an area affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. This workshop is one of APEC's activities that contribute to the area of emergency preparedness, which is a priority issue for APEC this year. The results of the workshop will be reported to Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum (SDMOF) in San Francisco in September. The agenda and focus of this workshop were as follows:
    1. Concept and Importance of Business Continuity Plan (BCP)
    2. Status of BCP installation in the APEC Region
    3. BCP Case Studies
    4. BCP Reference Guide
    5. Public-Private Partnership and Inter-APEC cooperation to promote BCP in the APEC Region
    6. Fieldtrip to the Disaster-affected Areas.

    Among the topics discussed in the workshop were the ways to raise awareness of and promote BCP by legal, market-orientated and social mechanisms, the importance of standards to help private sector organizations evaluate their readiness for emergencies, and the necessity for capacity building, accumulation of "lessons learned" from the past disasters among the stakeholders, and discussion at high-level officials for cooperation on BCP among APEC economies.

    Chinese Taipei, for example, expressed its willingness to officially propose a "Multi-year Project on Disaster Resilience Building for SMEs in APEC". Participants expressed the expectation that further cooperation on BCP will be promoted within the APEC framework.

    This is the summary and we also attached the Joint Statement by the Co-Hosts. And, for your information, State Secretary Takahashi met, of course, his co-chair, Mr. Manning, from the USA, and, also, he had a meeting with the Mayor of Sendai City, Ms. Emiko Okuyama. Mayor Okuyama expressed her gratitude to State Secretary Takahashi for organizing this kind of meeting, as, she said, this would encourage the people of Sendai City and Miyagi Prefecture.

    This has been the first topic.

  3. JET in Tohoku
  4. Mr. Sobashima: The second topic is "JET in Tohoku". We have distributed a paper entitled, "Program to Invite Former JET Participants to the Disaster Stricken Areas in Tohoku". The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is cooperating with the Japan Tourism Agency to hold a program that will support the "homecoming" of experienced former Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) participants who worked for two years or more as Assistant Language Teachers or Coordinators for International Relations in disaster-stricken areas. The homecoming program is for two months, from 1 August, and this is conducted with the cooperation of the Prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima and the City of Sendai.

    The first batch of participants in the program consists of a total of 14 people: eight people from the United States, three from Australia, two from Canada, and one from the United Kingdom. They will be split up to make their respective "homecomings" to Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures and Sendai City.

    If you are interested in covering the program, please contact the International Press Division. They will provide you with information on how to do that.

  5. Unwarranted Allegations of Information Control
  6. Mr. Sobashima: I have an announcement in connection with the disaster. We are concerned to have found that a certain website alleges that the Government of Japan has enacted a law to censor and delete negative views and information regarding the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima on the Internet. However, this is not true at all. Yes, the Government of Japan has been conducting information-gathering activities to understand various views expressed in Japan. However, this is conducted for the Government to provide correct information, taking these expressed views into account. We do never plan to censor information on the Internet or to delete information contrary to the announcements made by the Government.

    This website also insists that the National Police Agency has revised a law to enable the Agency to freely delete negative information about the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima. For your information, the so-called "Cyber Criminal Law", which is a law to partially revise laws, including the Criminal Law to deal with advanced information processing, was enacted on 17 June to criminate producing and spreading computer viruses and take appropriate measures in the development of IT technology. What this website alleges is not included in this law. So, this is the announcement I would like to make in connection with the countermeasures we are taking after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

  7. Middle East and North Africa
  8. Mr. Sobashima: The next topic is about the Middle East and North Africa. We have distributed a few papers.

    The first is, "Extension of the Dispatch of the International Peace Cooperation Corps in the Golan Heights". This is already last month's. On 29 July, the Government of Japan made a Cabinet decision to extend the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) for another six months. In response to requests from the United Nations and under the International Peace Cooperation Law, Japan has dispatched Self-Defense Forces personnel to UNDOF since February 1996. Presently, a Ground Self-Defense Force unit consisting of 43 personnel carries out the transportation of everyday necessities, the restoration of roads, and other activities. In addition, three officers stationed at the Headquarters of the UNDOF perform duties such as public relations. So, the Government decided to extend the period for dispatching the Self-Defense Force personnel in the Golan Heights.

    The next is the Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the Situation in Syria. This was issued on 1 August, last Monday.

    The Government of Japan is deeply concerned about the continuing clashes that have been taking place between the security authorities and demonstrators in Syria since March this year. It is regrettable that the large-scale repression against civilians by the Syrian security authorities conducted in a number of cities, including Hama, on Sunday, 31 July, has resulted in a large number of casualties. The Government of Japan firmly condemns the use of excessive force by the authorities against the civilians, and at the same time urges an immediate halt to such violence. The Government of Japan also strongly urges the Government of Syria to engage promptly in dialogue with the people, to implement various reforms in the political and economic realms requested by the people without delay, and to restore the security and stability of the country.

    For your information, the Minister made a statement on the situation in Syria earlier on 11 May, and already expressed concern about the violence. In this statement, there is a reference that the Government of Japan decided to suspend extending ODA to Syria, except for emergency and humanitarian assistance, for the time being. This suspension continues.

    I will now give an oral presentation on Bahrain. Yesterday, Press Secretary Sato made an announcement in his press conference, on Bahrain, roughly as follows.

    The National Dialogue, which started on 2 July, in Bahrain, completed all its sessions on 25 July. The Chairman of the Dialogue H.E. Mr. Khalifa Al Dhahrani submitted the final outcomes of the Dialogue to H.M. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on 28 July, and the King directed the executive and legislative authorities to take the necessary steps to implement its recommendations agreed upon in the Dialogue.

    The Government of Japan welcomes the completion of the Dialogue as a positive step forward, and hopes that the various recommendations of the Dialogue will be steadily implemented and progress will be made on the reforms, reflecting further views and opinions of the people in Bahrain. Japan will closely observe the future development of the reforms by the Government of Bahrain.

    This is the statement made by the Press Secretary on Bahrain.

    Mr. Sobashima: For your reference, we have distributed a paper on the "Iftar" dinner hosted by the Prime Minister. Last Tuesday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan invited the Ambassadors of Islamic nations and others to an "Iftar", which is a fast-breaking dinner during the Holy Month of Ramadan, at his office, on the evening of 2 August. 

    The purpose of this invitation was to promote the mutual understanding between Japan and the Islamic world. The invitations were extended to 48 representatives.

    These have been my comments on the Middle East and North Africa.

  9. Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  10. Mr. Sobashima: Now, concerning Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As announced by the Chief Cabinet Secretary on 1 August, Prime Minister Naoto Kan will be participating in the peace memorial ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 August and 9 August, respectively.

    Earlier this morning, the United States announced the participation of its Chargé d'Affaires in the ceremony of Hiroshima. I have a press release issued by the Embassy of the United States in Tokyo.

    Chargé d'Affaires Mr. James Zumwalt will represent the United States of America at the 6 August Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony.

    While numbers will change, we understand that, as far as the data available to me at this moment, about 65 foreign countries will be participating in the Hiroshima ceremony, and about 44 countries will be participating in the Nagasaki ceremony. As these numbers are subject to change, these are not the final numbers. We hope as many countries as possible will be participating in these ceremonies.

    In this connection, we have distributed a paper entitled, "Testimony of Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors)". This is the print-out from our website. We have uploaded voice messages of 11 hibakusha in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean. As for the written statements by hibakusha, we have uploaded 15 written statements in Japanese and six foreign languages: English, Chinese, French, Korean, Russian and Spanish. Depending on the statement, some do not include all these foreign languages yet, but we will be updating all testimonies.

  11. Visit to Japan of the UN Secretary-General
  12. Mr. Sobashima: The next topic is the visit to Japan by His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. We have distributed the press release announcing the visit of the UN Secretary-General. Mr. Ban Ki-moon will be visiting Japan from Sunday, 7 August to Tuesday, 9 August upon the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. During his stay, the Secretary-General is scheduled to pay a courtesy call to Prime Minister Kan and have a meeting with Foreign Minister Matsumoto. The Secretary-General will also visit Fukushima during his stay. In Fukushima, the Secretary-General will exchange views on the situation of affected areas and the efforts towards rehabilitation and restoration with the relevant people, including the Governor of Fukushima Prefecture, as well as interact with the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake. It is hoped that the visit to Japan by the Secretary-General will further strengthen the cooperative relationship between Japan and the United Nations. We have attached his schedule. He is expected to arrive in Japan on Sunday, 7 August, and after his arrival in Japan he will go to Fukushima Prefecture, and on the following day, Monday, 8 July, he will have a breakfast hosted by State Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Chiaki Takahashi, and in the morning he will visit an evacuation center. Then he will have a meeting with high school students in Fukushima. In the afternoon, he will move to Soma City, and then he will come to Tokyo. He will pay a courtesy call to the Prime Minister, followed by a meeting with the Foreign Minister in Iikura House. After the meeting, Foreign Minister Matsumoto and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will hold a joint press conference in Iikura house, followed by a dinner hosted by Foreign Minister Matsumoto. The following day, he will leave Japan. This is the schedule of the Secretary-General.

  13. World Cosplay Summit 2011
  14. Mr. Sobashima: Finally, we have distributed a paper on World Cosplay Summit 2011. You will notice that participants from seventeen countries will participate in this summit. On the map, from the upper left down to the lower right: Finland, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, China, The Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, United States of America, Mexico, and Brazil. I think I covered all seventeen countries. This World Cosplay Summit started in Nagoya City in 2003, so this is the ninth World Cosplay Summit, and the championship competition will be conducted on the coming Sunday, that is on 7 August, and the winner of the competition will be given a certificate by Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto. Several cosplayers paid a courtesy call on State Secretary Takahashi yesterday. Some of the participants will go to affected areas, Sendai, and other areas, and are expected to have exchanges with local cosplayers. We hope these would also encourage Japan and people in the affected areas for their efforts for reconstruction and recovery.

  15. Planned Visits & Events
  16. As for the planned visits and events, I already covered these in the topics, but I didn't mention that the First Vice Prime-Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic was in Japan from 29 July until 3 August, that is, yesterday, and the Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Laos has been in Japan from 1 August until 4 August, that is, today. I already mentioned the peace ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I don't have any announcement to make about outgoing visits from Japan, so I'd now like to invite your questions. Thank you for your patience.

  17. Question concerning the Media on the Website
  18. Q: I just would like to confirm that the site or the media you mentioned with regard to Government censorship – is this some foreign media spreading wrong information about the Government's policies?

    Mr. Sobashima: I understand it's a foreign medium, but I'd like to refrain from identifying it.

  19. Questions concerning the Invitation to Prime Minister Kan's "Iftar"
  20. Q: About the dinner, the Iftar dinner, by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    Mr. Sobashima: By the Prime Minister.

    Q: Oh, by the Prime Minister. How many Ambassadors? 48 Ambassadors?

    Mr. Sobashima: Yes. I'm sorry, I don't know who actually participated. However we have the names of the countries invited on the note part, you notice. Did we distribute the paper?

    Q: Yes, I think I have it, but my question is that it's only the Ambassadors. What about some Muslim organizations, like Islamic centers, Islamic centers here in Japan, and some Muslim media who can even send news to their home countries, which would really add to this kind of encouraging relations between Muslim countries and Japan if it is really meant for strengthening relations, or if it's only for the Ambassadors to come and have dinner and go back. Maybe it's not the real purpose. We cannot check this kind of news because we cannot cover that kind of event.

    Mr. Sobashima: Thank you for the comment. I'm afraid that the announcement was made on short notice, but we understand that the announcement of holding this Iftar was also dispatched to foreign media, not only to the Japanese media. This is my understanding. This is one thing. As for the invitees, I understand that the Prime Minister invited representatives of the diplomatic corps, the Islamic diplomatic corps, this time. So my understanding is that invitees were only members of the diplomatic corps - only Embassies. But I stated that the purpose of this Iftar is to promote mutual understanding between Japan and the Islamic world. Therefore I would like to relay your comment to the people concerned with this. Thank you very much for pointing that out.

    If there are no further questions, thank you for coming, and have a happy holiday, if you're going to have one.

    We will not have regular press conferences next week and the week after next.

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