Press Conference by Deputy Press Secretary Naoko Saiki
Thursday, May 16, 2013, 1:30 p.m.   Briefing Room No. 381 Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Deputy Press Secretary Ms. Naoko Saiki: Good afternoon. I would like to make several announcements before taking questions.

Admission of Japan’s Observer status in the Arctic Council

Ms. Saiki: First, on the admission of Japan’s observer status in the Arctic Council. On May 15 (local time) in Kiruna, Sweden, a ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council decided to grant the observer status to Japan. In fact, Japan has requested its observer status since July 2009. We wholeheartedly welcome this decision. Japan intends to participate in a variety of meetings to be held under the auspices of the Arctic Council, further cooperate with members of the council as well as the indigenous arctic communities, and make contributions to the council’s activities through attending a number of working groups in a more stable and proactive manner.

Adoption of the United Nations General Assembly resolution on Syria

Ms. Saiki: Second, on the adoption of the resolution on Syria by the United Nations General Assembly. The Government of Japan welcomes that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution on Syria on May 15 (local time) in New York. We believe that in order to improve the situation in Syria, it is necessary for the international community to send a strong message with a united effort, and thus we have actively contributed as a member of the Friends of Syria Group. Accordingly, Japan co-sponsored and voted in favor of the resolution. The Government of Japan continues to strongly urge the Syrian authorities to discharge their duties including stopping all the violence and to closely cooperate with the international community.

Fifth GUAM + Japan meeting

Ms. Saiki: Third, on the fifth GUAM + Japan meeting. On May 17 the fifth meeting between Japan and the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development, the so-called GUAM, will be held in Tokyo. GUAM will be represented by its secretary, Mr. Valeri Chechelashvili and national coordinators from the member nations of GUAM: Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova. At the fifth GUAM + Japan meeting, Deputy Director General of the European Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Special Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of GUAM, Takeshi Hikihara, and the representatives of GUAM will discuss policy on future cooperation between Japan and GUAM and exchange views on regional and international situations.

Second round of negotiations for a Japan-Colombia Economic Partnership Agreement

Ms. Saiki:Fourth, on the second round of negotiations for a Japan-Colombia Economic Partnership Agreement. The second round of negotiations for an EPA between Japan and Colombia will be held in Cali, Colombia, from May 20. From the Japanese side, Mr. Jun Yokota, Ambassador in charge of Economic Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and representatives from other relevant ministries will attend the meeting. From the Colombian side, Mr. Javier Humberto Gamboa Benavides, Chief Negotiator, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, and representatives from other relevant ministries and agencies will attend the meeting. In this round of negotiations, issues in the areas of Trade in Goods, Trade in Services, Rules of Origin, Custom Procedures, Intellectual Property, Competition, Cooperation, and Improvement of Business Environment are scheduled to be discussed.

Visit to Japan by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

Ms. Saiki: Fifth, on a visit to Japan by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. Dr. Maia Panjikidze, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, will visit Japan from May 19 to 24. During her stay in Japan, Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida will hold a meeting with Foreign Minister Panjikidze. Minister Panjikidze’s visit is expected to further strengthen the two countries’ friendly relations.

Visit to Japan by Prime Minister of India

Ms. Saiki: Sixth, on a visit to Japan by Prime Minister of India. Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, and Mrs. Gursharan Kaur will pay an official working visit to Japan from May 27 to 30. During their stay in Japan, the Prime Minister and Mrs. Kaur will be received in audience by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will hold a meeting with the Prime Minister. The Government of Japan sincerely welcomes the visit of Prime Minister Singh and Mrs. Kaur, which will further strengthen the friendly relations between Japan and India.

Convention between Japan and the State of Kuwait for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income

Ms. Saiki: Seventh, on the Convention between Japan and the State of Kuwait for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income. The Notes for the entry into force of the Convention between Japan and the State of Kuwait for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income were exchanged on May 15 in Kuwait. The Convention will enter into force on June 14. This Convention adjusts the taxation rights between Japan and the State of Kuwait to avoid international double taxation arising from economic and human exchanges. Reflecting the strengthened economic relations between Japan and the State of Kuwait, and to promote mutual investments, this Convention clarifies the limit of withholding tax rates imposed on dividends, interest and royalties. It is expected that the Convention will further strengthen economic relations and human exchanges between both countries and contribute to the prevention of fiscal evasion.
 
With these initial announcements I would be happy to take questions.
Are there any questions? I see none. So, this concludes today’s conference. Thank you for coming.