Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, July 5, 2016, 4:08 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to explain safety measures for Official Development Assistance (ODA) projects in light of the recent despicable terrorist attack. The lives of precious fellow Japanese who had been contributing to the development of developing countries were lost as a result of this incident, but the Government of Japan’s determination to seriously engage in the advancement of developing countries will remain unchanged. For that reason also, we must once again consider the safety measures for those individuals who are pursuing the ODA projects that Japan is undertaking in various developing countries.
In light of that, I have decided to establish a council on safety measures for international cooperation projects between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), under my leadership, in order to once again assess the engagements implemented thus far and formulate new safety measures. I intend to promptly consider specific measures at this council going forward, and announce those outcomes next month.
Furthermore, with regard to the safety measures for Japanese nationals abroad targeted to all Japanese, following the incident in which Japanese hostages were murdered in Syria last year I set up the Task Force on Bolstering Safety Measures for Japanese Nationals Overseas. The team has compiled its recommendations, and measures are in the process of being successively implemented. I have just instructed that those recommendations be reviewed once again based on recent changes in the circumstances surrounding the safety of Japanese nationals, such as this latest incident. I intend to announce the conclusions of that review next month as well.
Next, I would like to mention our support for the families of the victims of the latest incident. MOFA intends to continue providing support that is aligned to the families’ feelings as much as possible. From that standpoint, today I prepared a support structure by assigning one MOFA staff member with ample consular experience to each family. MOFA intends to continue providing finely-tuned support.
Reporter: My question concerns the council on safety measures for international cooperation projects. If the outcomes are to be announced next month then I imagine time will be quite limited. In general terms, how frequently or how many times is it scheduled to hold meetings?
Minister Kishida: We will make the necessary efforts to reach a conclusion next month. Specifically, I think the number of meetings and other details are likely to be decided as the discussions progress from here on. The number of meetings is not fixed at the outset.
Reporter: Could you possibly discuss what sorts of people the Council will be made up of, and what its main discussion theme will be?
Minister Kishida: First, as I said earlier, the members will mainly be drawn from MOFA and JICA. Naturally, in the course of the discussion, we will also consult external experts. That will also be necessary, I imagine. The main theme is, obiously, safety measures for ODA projects. Japan must continue to earnestly engage in the development of developing countries, and we have to firmly reconsider the safety measures and make necessary responses. Discussing how to achieve this will be the main theme of this Council.
Reporter: You noted recent changes to the situation and circumstances surrounding ODA projects. Could you explain a little about specifically what sorts of changes have occurred with the times, what areas form the basis for your awareness, and what your awareness of the issues is?
Minister Kishida: The changes to the circumstances that I mentioned referred to the latter, but in any event, various matters are changing from moment to moment. In the case of ODA projects, to begin with, they involve the participation of consultants and personnel from a broad range of fields, including construction. The teams are created through the participation of a large number of individuals from the public and private sectors combined. Under these circumstances, naturally, a large number of small- and medium-sized enterprises also take part, which I believe can be cited as one notable aspect of the projects. Furthermore, I think awareness of the issues also relates to how much grasp JICA has to have of the overall situation with regard to this large number of individuals from the public and private sectors. I decided to set up this council based on my awareness that when we consider safety measures that take the current conditions of ODA projects into account, it will be necessary to discuss what sorts of efforts are needed and what sorts of schemes are required.
Reporter: Could you tell us when the Council will hold its first meeting? Also, in light of the latest incident, do you think the response to the activities that JICA is undertaking in Bangladesh will be changed, such as scaling them back until safety is ensured?
Minister Kishida: I intend to hold the first meeting when the preparations for the first meeting are in place.
Reporter: Do you mean this week?
Minister Kishida: As soon as the preparations are in place. We will do it promptly. We will hold the first meeting as soon as we can. Also, with regard to the response to Bangladesh, the specific responses also relate to the decisions by JICA and others. I believe we need to have JICA in particular firmly grasp the current conditions and promptly consider how to respond specifically, while attaching importance to safety measures. After those considerations, we will promptly decide specific responses.
Reporter: This incident occurred on a Friday during the holy month of Ramadan, and MOFA had also been issuing alerts in that respect, but will this council verify issues such as whether there were problems with the safety measures in connection with this latest incident?
Minister Kishida: Naturally, this is about safety measures for ODA projects, and so I believe the council will have to discuss all problems and all examples. Where the content of that discussion is concerned, however, I have only just instructed that the council be set up, so I think I should refrain from predicting whether it will or will not take up a particular topic. In any event, I expect the various participants to hold vigorous discussions on all the content.