Media Briefing by the Japanese Assistant Press Secretary
International Media Centre, Savannah, June 9, 2004, 21h00
MR. OKUYAMA:: Thank you very much for coming, and good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I will start where we left off this afternoon and what was not covered. We will start with the outreach to discuss with the Middle Eastern leaders on the partnership initiative with broader Middle East and North Africa.
In fact, Prime Minister's remarks, Prime Minister Koizumi's remarks were the last of the series of remarks made by summiteers at the lunch. And I will limit myself to what he said.
He mentioned that the resolution the Security Council adopted with a unanimous vote the resolution on the reconstruction of Iraq, and it is important for the Iraqi people to demonstrate to the rest of the international community that it is anyone else but the Iraqis who will create a stable nation in Iraq. It's not the United States, it's not the United Nations, it's not G8, it will be Iraqis.
And since there is a willingness on the part of Iraqis to reconstruct their country, the G8 will assist the reconstruction process. He referred to the Autobiography of Smiles of Britain, and he mentioned that there are a few good things written in there.
Iraq is different from Japan in that it has oil. And Prime Minister Koizumi also said that he didn't believe in this theory of clashes among the civilization. Each country has different customs and habits, and the important thing is that each nation will build its own Ð will engage in its own nation-building.
And that's just about what he said at the end of the working lunch.
In relation to this, I would like to draw your attention to the G8 Plan of Support for Reform, which was issued on this partnership with broader Middle East and North Africa. And there are various programs which have already taken place, or are now taking place. It refers to the examples of G8 countries and among them, Japan 's efforts for empowerment of women and capacity-building relating to Palestinian Authorities, and also building of elementary schools and secondary education schools and other training and capacity-building projects relating to such countries like Jordan, Egypt, PA, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are listed.
In addition to this, what is new as Japan's own initiative, as contribution to this support plan is for the next Ð over the next three years, Japan will carry out assistance which would benefit the 100,000 people in the field of education and literacy. And also, such assistance which would benefit 10,000 people in the job training field.
Japan will also extend cooperation relating to education programs and distance learning.
Japan has also pledged to contribute up to $10 million U.S. dollars to the facility which will be put up at the IFC, International Finance Corporation, in order to provide technical assistance to small to medium-sized enterprises in the region.
The last session in the afternoon took place from around 4:30 p.m. for about 30, 40 minutes, and that was about security. And Prime Minister explained his visit to Pyongyang. The first point that he emphasized was that in between the two visits which took place September two years ago, and the one which has just taken place, there was a noticeable difference on the part of North Korea. And he mentioned that there was a more forthcoming Ð he felt a more forthcoming attitude was visible on the part of North Korea.
The Chairman, Kim Jong-Il, mentioned that the ultimate goal would be the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and North Korea would like to use the Six Party Talks to reach a peaceful settlement.
The nuclear freeze would be the first step towards denuclearization, and it will necessarily have to be accompanied by verification. He also confirmed the moratorium, continuation of the moratorium on the launching of long-range missiles.
Prime Minister also mentioned that there would be a world of difference between the benefit that North Korea would get from the complete dismantlement of its nuclear programs, and the benefit that North Korea would get by keeping its nuclear arsenal nuclear programs.
And he reiterated Japan 's basic position of seeking normalization after having reached a comprehensive package, including the solution to the issue of abduction and security concerns, including the nuclear development, thereby full-scale economic assistance to North Korea would be available. And in doing so, he asked the other G8 leaders to provide their own support to this process.
A number of other leaders made mention on North Korea, there was an opinion in which North Korea was regarded as a threat, along with Iran. Some gave their strong support to the Six Party Talks and a peaceful settlement through six-part talks. Some mentioned agreement to what Prime Minister Koizumi said.
There was one mention about North Korea and Iran are threats, and Pakistan needs careful attention.
So much for this security element, and I would now like to move on to Prime Minister Koizumi's bilateral discussion with President Putin of Russia. The talk went on from 6:00 p.m. this evening for about 50 minutes. And it was the first occasion for Prime Minister Koizumi to see President Putin after President Putin's reelection earlier this year in March. They touched on the bilateral relations and North Korea, and the Kyoto Protocol and their cooperation on the denuclearization.
And we have two announcements at the outset to make as a result of this bilateral discussion. One: the both sides agreed that each side will hold commemorative events in order to mark the 150 th anniversary of the conclusion of the Japan-Russo Treaty of Navigation and Commerce. And this will be the year 2005.
Secondly, it was agreed that President Putin would pay a visit at the beginning of 2005, and the actual specific schedule and the timing of the visit will be decided through the diplomatic channel.
In the bilateral context, Prime Minister Koizumi mentioned to President Putin that in order to expand, fully, the economic relations and other relations between the two countries, it would be indispensable for the two countries to resolve this issue of attribution of four northern islands, thereby establish partnership of trust genuine trust . and reach a full normalization establish full normalization between the two countries.
President Putin replied that he attached strategic importance to Russia 's relations with Japan. And Prime Minister Koizumi said that there should be specific and substantial progress made in relation to a conclusion of a peace treaty, President Putin acknowledged that the importance of a conclusion of the peace treaty through resolution of the territorial issue, and he acknowledged this as a major issue to be solved in the bilateral context. And the two sides agreed to accelerate the discussion which has been taking place at various levels, including the summit level and the foreign ministerial level and expert level.
They agreed that this Asia-Pacific pipeline project Ð sometimes it's called Saharan project the project which will serve to the development of the Far Eastern region of Russia, would be something that would deepen the strategic relations between the two countries.
On the Kyoto Protocol, Prime Minister Koizumi mentioned that the environment conservation and protection would be important from the point of view of revitalization of the economy, and he strongly called, requested that the President Putin, himself, will take a leadership role aiming towards the early ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.
President Putin agreed with the Prime Minister's opinion that the Kyoto Protocol is indeed important. But at the same time, he said that there are difficulties involved in the process of ratification. And right now, there was a discussion going on between the administration and the Russian parliament on how to proceed towards a ratification of the Kyoto protocol.
There was a mention from President Putin about the global partnership which came up on the occasion of the G8 Summit in Kananaskis, and President Putin stated that Japan was not very forthcoming and cautious about this global partnership at first. But when, once Japan decided to extend cooperation to Russia, Japan is making progress at a much quicker pace than some other countries. And Japan 's cooperation is bearing fruit.
What he is referring to here is the dismantlement of the decommissioned nuclear submarines of Russia. Perhaps for those of you who have come to my briefing for the first time, the dismantlement of the first Russian nuclear sub for which Japan has pledged up to $10 million U.S. dollars will be completed by Ð at around autumn this year, and this process, the dismantlement of the first nuclear sub actually started in August last year.
On the international situation, President Putin showed understanding and support and recognized Prime Minister Koizumi's visit to Pyongyang as something extremely important. And he commended the great achievements being made as a result of the Prime Minister's visit. And he mentioned that Russia would like to continue to cooperate with the Six Party process.
So much for me, and I'm happy to take your questions.
Q Sir, you've mentioned the discussion on Iraq, the reconstruction of Iraq. And also, there is a paragraph in the resolution saying that before the next donors' conference in Tokyo, the leaders committed themselves to some kind of meeting to decide in what way each of them Ð countries might contribute to the reconstruction effort. And second question is, these $10 million you mentioned for the disassembling of the Russian submarines Ð for how many submarines are these $10 million planned?
MR. OKUYAMA: I'm not quite clear about the first question. Is it the conference which will be held before the Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction?
Q Looks like, if I read the text correctly, they mention something called a separate meeting, separate from the Tokyo Conference. Number 7.
MR. OKUYAMA: On that first question, I will check and then come back to you. Sorry, I made some error relating to figures. Japan has pledged Ð the right figure is, Japan has pledged $200 million for the global partnership that is intended for Russia, and out of that $200 million, half Ð that is $100 million USD, will be allotted for the specific purpose of dismantling decommissioned nuclear submarines.
We do not have a specific figure as to how many we will take care of within this pledged amount. But we have a number of submarines actually waiting for the treatment. The delay which happened with the initial start of very first dismantlement of the first submarine came from various sensitivity involved because the nuclear submarine actually belongs to the Russian Navy and we felt that there was a certain unwillingness on the part of Russia in the initial negotiations as to Ð I mean there was some reticence on the Russian side to reveal certain information relating to the submarine, which is actually necessary for the activities of dismantlement. But now the process is well established and we believe that this first example will actually be Ð provide a good model for the following ones. So I think that the process will be expedited.
Q I have a couple of questions on the North Korean issue. First, Prime Minister Koizumi explained his visit and Ð which sounded pretty optimistic and he used the working forthcoming attitude by Kim Jong-Il and Ð did any other leader raise kind of an objection to this optimistic view? Did any other leader raise a kind of pessimistic view on the situation of North Korea right now.
Any my second question is was there any discussion about the possibility of referring the issue of North Korea Ð nuclear issue to United Nations Ð I mean, targeting the U.N. sanction or U.N. resolution Ð did any other leader Ð did any leader raise an issue Ð it's a possibility of referring the issue to a U.N. Ð United Nations?
And also my last question on North Korea. Do you see based on the document issued CIVD complete, irreversible, verifiable, dismantlement of nuclear weapons and that do you see any discrepancy on the view of each leader how to proceed with this process. I mean, the United States and Japan is quite adamant on the North Korea has to show their commitment to a CIVD first and then we can show a kind of a concrete benefit and return what they can get. But the maybe Russia and the other countries quite little bit different from this adamant position. So did you see any discrepancy among the definition I mean the process how to move this Six Party talk.
MR. OKUYAMA: The in the discussion the North Korean issue actually came up in the multilateral context of G8, as such, and also through his meetings in his meetings with President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and President Chirac yesterday. And in none of these occasions the there was specific mention about the due caution is necessary vis-à-vis this Prime Minister Koizumi's expose about what Kim Jong-Il told him and how he felt about his remarks.
Basically there was a general Ð generally very strong support for what Japan is doing and, perhaps since over dinner they may be discussing something more on North Korea. Perhaps it may not appear because it's already been discussed, but we don't know yet. So that is the answer to your first question.
When Prime Minister Ð and the following is my interpretation Ð when Prime Minister mentioned that he felt that he was more forthcoming, it may not necessarily mean that the Prime Minister is actually optimistic about the Kim Jong-Il Ð or North Korea's a general attitude about the Ð what's going to happen in the next round of the Six Party Talks.
The leaders discussed Ð but then there will have to be responses which actually will appear from the North Korean side in the intergovernmental discussion that we have with them in the Six Party format. And how this Six Party leaders discussion will be reflected in the actual progress Ð or not Ð in the Six Party talks is something that we need to carefully observe.
And on the question of whether there was any discussion about taking this to the U.N. arena, this issue was already discussed in the informal meeting of the Security Council members when North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT. There was, if I remember correctly Ð there were two occasions in which this was discussed in the Security Council Ð among the Security Council members. But recently, there is no discussion and also among the G8 leaders there was no specific mention of, or proposal to the effect that it might be better to take this issue up to the arena of the United Nations.
On approach Ð how we approach the Six Party talks Ð we have been saying, and Prime Minister himself has been saying, as there are six countries, there are six different approaches. And even among the Japan, U.S. and the Republic of Korea, we do not have 100 percent identical viewpoints as to how we proceed and how we should make progress and how we approach North Korea.
But given that, what we are trying to do is Ð of course, we rely heavily on the cooperation from China Ð and China has been doing a lot as host of the series of Six Party Talks which have taken place so far, and also the cooperation from Russia, and the same time we attach a great importance to a very close coordination Ð policy coordination and consultation and contacts between Japan, the United States and the Republic of Korea so that we would make Ð we would be able to achieve progress by creating a united approach to North Korea. The CVID is of course one issue. And this acronym, CVID, implies that it's a well established formula with which we approach North Korea and we will continue on this road Ð complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement.
Q My question is about Iraq. When Japan says G8 countries should Ð creditors should give up Ð forgive their claim to Iraqi debt Ð substantial Ð what does it mean? Some countries say that's over half or two-thirds of it. Is it a big chunk or Ð that's the first question. And what's the total financial aid Japan has promised to Iraq and is there any more coming?
MR. OKUYAMA: Well, on the first question, we have been certainly looking at the political statement on Iraq which actually has some reference to the Iraqi debt issue. And the talks will continue as the paragraphs say to which is aimed at the conclusion of this issue within the course of 2004, with a close consultation with the Paris Club members and non-Paris Club members. Japan 's position has been very clear and when we mentioned to Mr. Baker, as U.S. Special Envoy on the Iraqi debt issue he came to Japan to meet Prime Minister Koizumi at the end of last year we mentioned to him that Japan would be ready to substantially reduce its Iraqi debt.
And to be more specific, there is this set phrase of Japan would be ready to eliminate Ð prepared to eliminate the vast majority of its Iraqi debt if the other creditor countries of the Paris Club would be prepared to do likewise. I think the IMF has put in its own input Ð you know, has submitted its own input about the debt sustainability and the discussion will go on. So at this moment we can't be specific about exactly how much Ð the percentage of the debt that we would reduce. But generally speaking, we would be ready to show flexibility as to the exact amount. But that actually depends not only on Japan,but also to the other creditor nations.
Q So that means other countries are also countries are also saying if the Paris Club reaches any agreement, then they will Ð is that a condition attached?
MR. OKUYAMA: Well, basically it is something that needs to be done in the context of a Paris Club agreement. There needs to be an agreement first. And that agreement actually refers to how much is for this nation and how much for this nation. And that's going to be one package involving all the creditor nations. So what I'm saying is that we need a balance among those ratio and also the absolute amount and that is something that we need to work on. But it's not a unilateral action by each country. But we need a collective discussion on this. And we haven't reached a conclusion yet.
Q Second question? I'm a little bit confused about what Mr. Koizumi has said. He said Japan will continue providing both financial aid and keeping troops in Iraq, but does that mean Japan is going to offer more in financial aid to Iraq or just going to execute what's already been on the table and how much Japan has already pledged?
MR. OKUYAMA: Sorry to ask you to remind me. Japan has pledged $1.5 billion for the immediate need for the immediate need of Iraq reconstruction of Iraq. And the basic time frame that we have in mind is the remainder it was is an immediate need. And then we have a medium to long term perspective and for that purpose we pledged up to $3.5 billion USD. So taken together it will be $5 USD. And that will take us something like 2 to 3 years from now. Out of this, more than $800 million have either been implemented or designated for specific projects. And we also have a long project list with us. So as far as this immediate future or medium to long term future is concerned, we are working within this framework of up to $5 billion USD. And there is no discussion of providing more on top of this $5 billion USD.
Thank you very much.
Source: Official G8 Sea Island site
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