Press Conference by Deputy Press Secretary Naoko Saiki
Thursday, May 30, 2013, 1:30 p.m. Briefing Room No. 381 Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development
Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize award ceremony and commemorative banquet
Japan-India Summit Meeting
The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the steady growth of political exchanges, dialogue and policy coordination at all levels. They welcomed the expanding defense relations between the two countries, noted with satisfaction that the first bilateral exercise between the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Indian Navy was held in June 2012 off the coast of Japan, and decided to conduct such exercises on a regular basis with increased frequency.
With respect to the Official Development Assistance, Prime Minister Singh expressed his appreciation to the Government and people of Japan for their continued and unwavering support to India’s development. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of the Exchange of Notes for yen loan totaling 71 billion yen for the "Mumbai Metro Line-III project,” as well as the yen loan of the fiscal year 2012 totaling 353 billion yen for eight projects.
On the economic front, the two Prime Ministers touched on issues relating to the CEPA, the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, and welcomed the signing of the Agreement between Japan and India on social security.
Then, regarding civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries, the two Prime Ministers reaffirmed its importance and directed their officials to accelerate the negotiations of an Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy towards an early conclusion.
And, the two Prime Ministers reiterated the commitment of Japan and India to the freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce based on the principles of international law, including UNCLOS. And they welcomed the joint exercises between the coast guards of Japan and India.
The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their support for the East Asia Summit (EAS) as a forum for dialogue on broad strategic, political and economic issues of common interest and concern with the aim of promoting peace, stability and economic prosperity in East Asia. In that context, they welcomed the successful first meeting of the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum.
The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed the importance of bringing into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) at an early date. Prime Minister Singh reiterated India’s commitment to its unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. Moreover, they reaffirmed and resolved to continue cooperation between the two countries on such issues as Afghanistan, North Korea, counter-terrorism, climate change, and United Nations Security Council Reform.
Visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Election of the Members of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances
Japan-U.S. Space Situational Awareness Cooperation Agreement
Ms. Saiki: Sixth - that is going to be the last - on the Japan-U.S. Space Situational Awareness Cooperation Agreement. On May 28, Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida and Ambassador John V. Roos of the United States exchanged letters concerning cooperation on space situational awareness (SSA). The agreement will enable the United States Government to provide SSA services and information to the Government of Japan on a broader basis, and in a swifter manner. It is expected to contribute to the safe operation of Japan’s satellites. We will continue promoting cooperation with the United States regarding space.
With these initial announcements, I will be happy to take your questions.
Questions concerning the Japan-India Joint Statement
Q: The Joint Statement between Japan and India was issued last night, and it arrived on my desk anyway quite late in the evening. There doesn’t seem to be any briefing by the Kantei on this.
Ms. Saiki: Oh, there was. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato briefed last night.
Q: Okay. I mean - does the Gaimusho plan to hold any English language briefings on this, because there is quite a lot of substance in this statement and many issues?
Ms. Saiki: Have you received a copy of the Joint Statement in English?
Ms. Saiki: Of course, it consists of pages and pages. On your point let me see what we can do, and I’ll let you know.
Q: Okay, thanks.
Questions concerning the Japan-India agreement for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy
Q: On that, I mean the talk of accelerating the agreement on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy; can you follow that with what Japan’s anxieties or what its desires are in that? I mean, presumably it’s to get India to agree to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and prohibit use in nuclear technology for military uses. Is that what Japan’s main concern in accelerating these discussions?
Ms. Saiki: First, we are committed to the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime in the international community. And second, we believe that it’s quite important for Japan to share lessons learned from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident with the international community.
Taking into account that nuclear non-proliferation regime will have to be further enhanced and that safety and security of nuclear equipment, materials and technology will have to be ensured, we intend to accelerate negotiations toward a conclusion of an agreement for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy with India. And with respect to NPT, in fact Prime Minister Abe, during discussions with Dr. Manmohan Singh yesterday, clearly stated the basic position of the Japanese Government on NPT. The position is that we urge India to join the regime as well as to sign the CTBT at an early date.
Q: Did Manmohan Singh give any indication of whether India is prepared to do that?
Ms. Saiki: As I explained at the outset, he reiterated India’s commitment to its unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing as far as the CTBT is concerned. And with respect to the NPT and other issues, I will not make comments on what the Indian Prime Minister stated in the meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan. Perhaps I would like to refer you to the Indian Government.
Questions concerning transparency in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
Q: I have one more question. It’s completely different. I was at a briefing this morning on the TPP.
Ms. Saiki: A briefing by whom?
Q: From a former professor of international law, at Tokyo University. A man called Junji Nakagawa.
Ms. Saiki: Ah, Nakagawa Junji sensei. Yes.
Q: He is always generally in favor of TPP. He is very critical of the atmosphere of secrecy in which the negotiations are being carried ? the non-transparency as to what is actually being discussed. And he said this also applies to the Gaimusho website. If you look on the website you will see reports, he said, that a negotiating session was held, but no substantive mention of what was discussed. So my specific question is, is that true? In the Gaimusho website, is it true that you don’t actually list the topics that were discussed? And what plans are there for greater transparency?
Ms. Saiki: Let me say at the outset that transparency is very, very important. So, this Ministry or the Japanese Government as a whole places great importance on providing as much information as possible to the public. That being stated, on TPP or other negotiations, if and when they are underway, I hope you’d understand the extent to which the Government is limited in disclosing related information. Because if we were to disclose all the documents or discussions held with our counterparts in negotiations, that would mean that we would reveal our strategy, tactics, or future direction of our negotiating position. So, in conclusion I would say when something is being negotiated, the Government is not in a position to disclose every single paper or every single conversation.
Q: Okay. But when the negotiations are completed ? I mean before Japan makes a final decision on joining, will there be greater dispersion on that point?
Ms. Saiki: Before concluding an official or formal agreement is the Japanese Government going to be in the position to disclose everything? Is this what you’re asking?
Q: Well, in putting it very crudely, the public needs to know what it is letting itself in for. So will there be more disclosure or explanation of what Japan is actually committing to under TPP before people actually sign on the document?
Ms. Saiki: Yes, a very good question, thank you. I understand very important trade agreements including a possible TPP agreement, will be submitted to the Diet for its approval, before Japan concludes the TPP or whatever agreements. And you see the Diet consists of representatives of the people of Japan.
Follow-up questions concerning importance of the TPP for Japan
Q: I just have one very small question. From the Foreign Ministry’s perspective, what is the importance of TPP for Japan?
Ms. Saiki: There are quite a few reasons why the Japanese Government is pushing ahead toward concluding a TPP agreement. Firstly, to revive or to revitalize Japan’s economy, it needs trading partners on a broader basis. So the TPP, we hope, is going to provide a common platform, so to speak, for a freer trading system in the Asia Pacific region.
And secondly, we always attach importance to the rule of law. We would like to continue and enhance our role to lead rule-making in the region on various issues, including trade and investment. So the TPP is going to be a very important forum where trade and investment liberalization or rules harmonization will be advanced, toward which Japan is ready and committed to take the initiative.
Thirdly, considering the changing strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region, we believe that to make collaboration and cooperation with various countries, in particular the United States and our Asian partners, in a variety of areas is of great importance. So the TPP is one of those efforts on the part of Japan to enhance our commitment to the region.
Perhaps there are quite a few more but, in the interest of time, I will stop here.
Follow-up questions concerning South Korea and China to join the TPP framework
Q: Please add one more point to that. Do you believe that South Korea and China should also join the TPP framework?
Ms. Saiki: It is up to the PRC or the ROK to decide what to do with respect to the TPP. But may I remind you of the fact that Japan, China and South Korea - these three countries - have already launched negotiations towards a trilateral FTA. Furthermore, Japan, China and South Korea, with other countries, are members to the APEC, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. And in the framework of the APEC, the leaders have already decided to seek an FTAAP, Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific region. We believe that the TPP, the trilateral FTA amongst Japan, China and South Korea, the RCEP, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and maybe some others will make a good contribution towards FTAAP. In fact the TPP is one of the very meaningful efforts towards FTAAP.
Follow-up questions concerning the TPP
Q: Nakagawa-san said this morning that because Japan joins the negotiations rather late, he said, “I doubt very much whether Japan can have any substantive influence on negotiations” because there is a timeframe, obviously there is a deadline, and Japan has joined rather late.” Do you accept that?
Ms. Saiki: I do not know on what basis Professor Nakagawa made that statement this morning. We believe that in July there is going to be another round of negotiations on the TPP in Malaysia, and Japan is going to join in negotiations on that occasion. And we will make our best efforts to take the lead and to let other trading partners understand what the Japanese Government’s position is with respect to trade and investment liberalization, rule-making, rules harmonization, trade facilitation, and other areas.
Q: Very quickly, on the name “TPP”. Before is it the “strategic economic partnership?”
Ms. Saiki: No, TPP is Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Q: No, I am just quoting Nakagawa. He said the full name is actually the Strategic Economic Partnership. That is what it was originally called, the Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement, not just Economic Partnership Agreement. This is what he said and he is, I suppose, an expert. I was wondering what the word strategic actually means though? Does that mean it has a particular self-importance in the context of security?
Ms. Saiki: I am afraid I have to check with Nakagawa-sensei and will get back to you with his response and perhaps with my comments as well.
Q: Ok, thank you.
Ms. Saiki: Thank you. Do you have any other questions? Very good. Thank you for coming. Have a good afternoon.