Press Conference by Deputy Press Secretary Naoko Saiki
Thursday, March 21, 2013, 1:35 p.m.   Briefing Room No. 381 Ministry of Foreign Affairs

TICAD V Ministerial Preparatory Meeting

Ms. Saiki: First, on the TICAD V Ministerial Preparatory Meeting. Ministers and delegations of African countries and the TICAD co-organizers, namely the Government of Japan, the African Union Commission, the United Nations, the United Nations Development Program, and the World Bank, together with representatives of other partner countries, international and regional organizations, the private sector and civil society organizations, met in Addis Ababa, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, on March 16 and 17 at the TICAD V Ministerial Preparatory Meeting. The agenda of the meeting was “outcome documents of TICAD V”, “inclusive and resilient society”, “peace and stability in Africa” and “trade and investment”. Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida co-chaired the meeting with Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the chairperson of the Executive Council of the African Union. On the agenda item of “outcome documents of TICAD V”, the draft outcome documents of TICAD V were adopted at the ministerial level. The participants noted that the outcome documents will be recommended as ministerial draft to be adopted by the heads of state at TICAD V on June 1 to 3 in Yokohama, Japan. With two and a half months remaining towards TICAD V, the participants emphasized the need to further accelerate efforts to develop specific measures in line with the Yokohama Declaration 2013 and the Yokohama Action Plan 2013 to 2017. The participants expressed their firm determination to work closely towards TICAD V under the theme of “Hand in Hand with a More Dynamic Africa.”

Seven Foreign Ministers call for Arms Trade Treaty Now

Ms. Saiki: Second, on the Arms Trade Treaty. Foreign Ministers of Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya and the United Kingdom, the seven foreign ministers, issued a press release on the Arms Trade Treaty on March 18 local time in New York, the United States. The press release of the seven foreign ministers states that “We are today starting negotiations with the aim of finalizing the Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations. Our efforts have continued for seven years. Now it is time to have the Treaty. It is long overdue.... We call for positive engagement from all. We need flexibility and commitment from everyone in order to secure a Treaty which will save lives and reduce human suffering and to bring transparency and consistency to the global arms trade whose legacy will endure for generations to come.” Actually these seven countries – again, Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya and the United Kingdom – are the co-author states of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the Arms Trade Treaty, which launched the UN process on the Arms Trade Treaty process back in 2006.

Japan-Bangladesh Low Carbon Growth Partnership

Ms. Saiki: Third, on the Low Carbon Growth Partnership between Japan and Bangladesh. Japan and Bangladesh signed a document regarding the establishment of Bilateral Offset Credit Mechanism (BOCM) on March 19. The Government of Japan intends to further contribute to international efforts for tackling global warming by cooperating with Bangladesh in reducing greenhouse gases emissions through the BOCM.

Appointment of Ambassador in charge of Arctic Affairs

Ms. Saiki: Fourth, on the appointment of Ambassador in charge of Arctic Affairs. On March 19, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs appointed Mr. Masuo Nishibayashi, Ambassador in charge of Cultural Exchange, to be concurrently in charge of Arctic Affairs. As you know, as Arctic sea ice has been melting at an accelerated rate in recent years due to climate change, possibilities for the commercial navigation of Arctic Ocean routes or development of natural resources in the Arctic Ocean are expanding. On the other hand, it has been pointed out that such activities may bring about a negative impact on the environment and the lives of inhabitants in the Arctic region, such as indigenous people. These changes in the Arctic are the focus of much international attention. Japan is, of course, located outside the Arctic region; however, as a maritime state and one that attaches great importance to global environmental issues, it needs to be appropriately involved in international discussions regarding the Arctic. Ambassador Nishibayashi will attend Arctic Council meetings and he will also exchange views on Arctic policies with his international counterparts on various occasions.

The Seventh International MANGA Award

Ms. Saiki: Fifth, on the Seventh International MANGA Award. Today, on March 21, the Seventh International MANGA Award Executive Committee, chaired by Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida, announced this year’s selection schedule. Entries for the Seventh International MANGA Award will be accepted from April 15th to May 31st. Guidelines for application and entry forms will be available on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as of today. The International MANGA Award was established to share Japanese pop culture and to help promote understanding of Japan. It was created in 2007 to honor manga artists who have contributed to the promotion of manga overseas based on the strong initiative by then Foreign Minister Taro Asao. This is the seventh such award, the selection of which was officially decided to be carried out at the Seventh International MANGA Award Executive Committee.

First round of negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement among Japan, PRC and ROK

Ms. Saiki: Sixth, on the first round of negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement among Japan, China, and South Korea. The first round of negotiations for Free Trade Agreement among Japan, the PRC, and the ROK will be held in Seoul from March 26 to 28. From the Japanese side, Mr. Koji Tsuruoka, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, and representatives from other relevant ministries will attend the meeting. From the Chinese side, Mr. Yu Jianhua, Assistant Minister for FTA of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, and other representatives will attend. From the Korean side, Mr. Choi Kyong-lim, Deputy Minister for FTA of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea, and other representatives will participate in the meeting. In this round of negotiations, it is expected that the scope and method of negotiations among others will be discussed. With these initial announcements, I would be happy to take questions.

Questions concerning the Arctic ambassador

Q: Just a couple questions on the Arctic ambassador, do you know any other meeting nations that have ambassadors to the Arctic?
Ms. Saiki: No, unfortunately I don’t have specific data as to which country has been represented by Ambassadorial level officials in the Council. But what I can tell you today is that since the Arctic has become very important in terms of security, trade, resources and navigation as well as environmental ramifications, very many countries have expressed their interests in being involved in discussions on the Arctic.

Follow-up questions concerning the Arctic Council

Q: What is the Arctic Council about?
Ms. Saiki: The Arctic Council is a high level intergovernmental forum established in 1996 to provide a means for promoting cooperation, coordination, and interaction among eight Arctic states, namely Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States of America. These eight Arctic states with the involvement of the indigenous Arctic communities, other Arctic inhabitants and so forth have been discussing common Arctic issues –- in particular, sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. Japan submitted its application for observer status in the council in July 2009.
Q: Can I have that piece of paper?
Ms. Saiki: It is written in Japanese, but I hope maybe today or tomorrow an English version will come out. I will get back to you with the English version.
Q: It sounds as though it’s becoming more developed. That’s why Japan is taking more interest, I guess. There is probably something on the Internet. It’s quite interesting. Ms. Saiki: Yes indeed.

Follow-up questions concerning Arctic resources

Q: You mentioned natural resources. Do you have any information on what kind of natural resources?
Ms. Saiki: Presumably oil and gas, and some others. And of course I would be happy to provide you with more detailed information about what kind of natural resources we are expecting to find in the Arctic area; but, more importantly, as you see, Japan, with high cutting edge technologies, believes that its participation in the Arctic Council as observer will be beneficial to all the members in the Arctic Council as well as other countries concerned in the international community. That is why we have been applying for the observer status, in order to make a better contribution to work and discussion on Arctic issues.

Questions concerning TICAD V

Q: TICAD V meeting in Yokohama on 1 – 3 of June, is that going to be open to the press?
Ms. Saiki: Not all the meetings will be open to the press or open to the public. But there will be quite a few press occasions or media availabilities including official press conferences, background briefings and so on and so forth. I will let you know more detailed information in due course.
Q: I presume that there are some briefings here?
Ms. Saiki: Here, and in Yokohama as well. If there are no more questions, I will end today’s official press conference. Thank you for coming.