Press Conference by Deputy Press Secretary Naoko Saiki
Thursday, June 13, 2013, 1:35 p.m.   Briefing Room No. 381 Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Deputy Press Secretary Ms. Naoko Saiki: Good afternoon. Let me begin by touching upon several topics before I take questions.

Trip by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Europe

Ms. Saiki: First, on a trip by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Europe. The Prime Minister is going to visit Poland, Lough Erne of the United Kingdom, Ireland, and London from June 15 to 20, if circumstances allow. In Poland, the Prime Minister plans to hold the first summit meeting of V4 plus Japan. The V4 stands for the Visegrad 4 and is a framework of regional cooperation comprised of four countries, namely the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and the Slovak Republic.
Then the Prime Minister is going to visit Lough Erne of the United Kingdom, where he will be participating in the Group of Eight Summit Meeting. The G8 leaders will have a frank exchange of opinions on the current global economic situation. They will discuss various measures that lead to global economic growth, such as maintaining a balance between ensuring growth and employment and pursuing fiscal discipline. Japan intends to present Abenomics including the latest Growth Strategy. Trade liberalization through regional trade agreements such as TPP, Japan-EU EPA, US-EU FTA, and others will also be discussed. Japan will value trade as one of the engines of growth, and it will also appeal the results of the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development held at the beginning of this month in Yokohama.
With respect to the foreign policy, the leaders of the Group of Eight will have a frank discussion on issues such as Syria and Iran. Japan intends to lead a discussion on North Korea. They will also discuss a number of important issues, including counter-terrorism, tax and anti-money laundering, and the so-called 3Ts: trade, tax, and transparency.
After the Group of Eight meeting in Lough Erne, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is going to visit Ireland at the invitation of the country. It is the first ever visit of Japan’s incumbent Prime Minister. Given the fact that Ireland holds the EU Presidency in the first half of this year, we expect that through the summit meeting between the Prime Minister of Ireland, Mr. Enda Kenny, and Prime Minister Abe, Japan-EU relations as well as ones between Japan and Ireland will be further enhanced.

Visit by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida to New Zealand

Ms. Saiki: Second, on the visit by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida to New Zealand. Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida paid an official visit to New Zealand on June 8 and 9. Trough the foreign ministers’ meeting with Mr. Murray McCully and the courtesy call on Prime Minister John Key as well as the meeting with Trade Minister Tim Groser, the two countries reaffirmed the importance of cooperation in various areas, in particular in rule-making efforts towards a more stable region based on the principle of the rule of law as the strategic environment has been dramatically changing. Furthermore, it was reconfirmed that both countries will closely work together to achieve a comprehensive high-ambition set of economic rules in the Asia Pacific region through TPP negotiations. After the foreign ministers’ meeting, the two ministers were able to issue the “Joint Statement on a Strategic Cooperative Partnership between Japan and New Zealand-shared values and vision-”.

Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

Ms. Saiki: Third, on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Yesterday, on June 12, the House of Councillors at its plenary session unanimously approved the legislation which stipulates domestic implementation procedures for the 1980 Hague Convention. The Diet already endorsed the conclusion of the treaty on May 22. The Government of Japan wholeheartedly welcomes these actions taken by the legislature. We intend to complete necessary preparations for domestic procedures in order to implement the convention.

Japan's new policy of support within Syria

Ms. Saiki: Fourth, on Japan’s new policy of support within Syria. Japan is gravely concerned about the protracted violent conflict in Syria. The future of Syria, which is significant for the realization of stability throughout the entire Middle East, should be decided by the Syrian people themselves. Japan strongly desires to see the earliest possible cessation of violence and realization of a stable situation in which all Syrians, without the exclusion of minority groups, possess fundamental human rights and can enjoy freedom and prosperity. Japan therefore intends to continuously contribute to improving the situation in Syria.
Japan has thus far collaborated with international organizations and non-governmental organizations and offered humanitarian assistance totaling approximately 80 million US dollars in support of Syrian refugees and displaced persons. However, there are some regions within the country that cannot be reached by the support of the Syrian Government and international organizations. Support for people in these regions is a matter of urgency.
In order to offer support for them, Japan has decided to implement initiatives as early as this summer by coordinating and cooperating with the assistance units of opposition groups who have actually controlled these areas, as well as non-governmental organizations. Japan will offer support in such fields as healthcare with an appropriate implementing mechanism. In addition, we intend to give adequate consideration to other fields as well when the need is confirmed. Through such support, Japan will respond to the humanitarian need of the regions to the greatest extent possible.

Series of terrorist attacks in Iraq

Ms. Saiki: Fifth, on a series of terrorist attacks in Iraq. Japan has been greatly shocked and is indignant at a series of recent terrorist attacks in Iraq, including the latest attacks in Baghdad and other northern cities such as Mosul and Kirkuk on June 10, which caused many deaths and injuries. Japan expresses its deepest condolences for those who have been killed in the attacks and their bereaved families.
Terrorism cannot be justified for any reason, and Japan condemns these atrocious acts of terrorism that indiscriminately target innocent people.
Japan hopes that despite these despicable acts of terrorism, the Government of Iraq and its people will continue to tackle their domestic problems through further progress in national reconciliation and the political and democratic process. Japan will continue to support such efforts of the Iraqi government and its people.

Nomination of Judge Shunji Yanai as a candidate for the Election of Judges of ITLOS in 2014

Ms. Saiki: Sixth, on the nomination of Judge Shunji Yanai as a candidate for the Election of Judges of ITLOS in 2014. On June 11 (Japan time) or on June 10 (local time), at the 23rd Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Japanese Delegation announced that the Government of Japan had decided to re-nominate President Shunji Yanai of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) as a candidate for the election of judges of ITLOS, which is to be held in mid-2014 during the 24th Meeting of States Parties to UNCLOS.
ITLOS plays a significant role for peaceful settlement of maritime disputes, and the maintenance and development of legal order for the oceans. For Japan, as a maritime nation promoting the rule of law in the international community, providing continuously competent judges to ITLOS is not only important for Japan itself but also a significant contribution to the international community.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues actively seeking the support of States Parties to UNCLOS for President Yanai's candidature.
With these initial announcements, I would be happy to take questions. Are there no questions? Then I will end here. Thank you very much for coming.