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Press Secretary Kazuo Kodama: Good afternoon everybody. Thank you again for joining me for this press briefing.
I will start by giving you the outcome of two summit meetings: one between Prime Minister Fukuda and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and the other between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Fukuda. Then, after that, I will be very happy to answer your questions on today's Outreach Meeting between the G8 and African leaders. I am very happy to also answer any of your questions with respect to the G8 Summit agenda.
I will start with a briefing on the outcome of the Japan-United Kingdom Summit Meeting. This morning Prime Minister Fukuda and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown met at the Windsor Hotel for 45 minutes, starting from 10:30. This meeting was held in the wake of the Summit Meeting between the two that took place in June, when Prime Minister Fukuda visited London to discuss the preparation of the Summit Meeting between the two. They mainly discussed the major agenda items for the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. Naturally, they touched on the issue of climate change, the issue of rising food prices, energy prices, Africa and development, and some regional issues, including Zimbabwe.
First on the G8 Summit agenda, Prime Minister Fukuda stated as follows: "I have received very valuable advice from Prime Minister Gordon Brown on all the major agenda items of the G8 Summit. They are all very useful and I am grateful for that. At this Summit I really intend to send out a good message to the world out of the in-depth discussions amongst the G8 leaders." Prime Minister Brown responded saying something like this: "In recent months, we have been confronted with such issues as rising oil prices, energy prices, the contraction of credit, and so on. On all these issues, Japan, as the G8 Chair, has been doing its utmost to provide strong messages in dealing with these issues; that I appreciated very much. It is also very important for the G8 to continue cooperation in addressing these issues, thereby showing the world that the G8 is united in addressing these issues."
On climate change, very briefly, I will give you the exchanges between Prime Minister Fukuda and Prime Minister Brown. They exchanged their views on this issue, and in the end they shared the view that they will continue cooperation so as to achieve a meaningful outcome on this issue at the end of the G8 Summit Meeting. This is my footnote: since this is one of the most important issues to be addressed at this G8 Summit, the sherpas, I am sure, have been working to find a meaningful outcome on this issue. I will not go into the details now.
On the issue of rising food prices, Prime Minister Fukuda made, basically, two points. Number one, for the time being it is very important to reverse a declining trend of agricultural assistance from OECD countries to the developing countries. So the point is to reverse the trend of declining assistance from OECD countries to the agricultural sector. Number two, it is also important to remove export controls on food. In response, Prime Minister Brown mentioned three things. Number one, he agreed with Prime Minister Fukuda when he said this issue is related to the restrictions on the trade of food and agricultural produce, and is also related to the issue of tariffs on agriculture. Number two, it is also important to expand agricultural assistance to the developing world. Number three, it is also important for us to tackle the issue of biofuels.
On energy prices, Prime Minister Brown made three points. Number one, with respect to rising energy prices, most recently, in Jeddah, a meeting involving both oil-producing and oil-consuming countries was held. The British Government is going to host a follow-up meeting on the same issue in the latter part of this year. Number three, Prime Minister Brown hopes Japan will actively participate in this meeting, and also on this issue. Prime Minister Fukuda responded saying the Jeddah meeting was very important as a dialogue forum between oil-producing and oil-consuming countries. Prime Minister Fukuda very much looks forward to a successful outcome of this London follow-up meeting.
On Africa and development, Prime Minister Fukuda mentioned as follows. He believes that we have been making progress in helping African countries to achieve their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In this Summit, Prime Minister Fukuda believes it is very important for the G8 to issue a robust message on this matter. Prime Minister Brown responded that he appreciates Prime Minister Fukuda's efforts to address the issue of MDGs at this Summit. Number two, Prime Minister Brown believes that amongst the G8, African development and the issue of health are very important - especially, he believes, the G8 should endeavor to take a concerted approach to eradicating malaria and other infectious diseases.
On Zimbabwe, Prime Minister Brown mentioned that today, at lunchtime, we have an Outreach Working Lunch with African leaders. On the issue of Zimbabwe, Prime Minister Brown said "I believe the G8 should send a strong message so as to ensure that democracy in Zimbabwe will be protected." Prime Minister Fukuda responded that he is very much concerned with the Zimbabwean situation and he hopes to have an in-depth discussion on this issue amongst the G8 leaders, and it will be necessary to send out a message as the G8 on this issue.
Finally, a few words on the bilateral front. Prime Minister Brown mentioned that he believes UK-Japan relations are on very solid ground. Secondly, he is grateful to the Japanese companies that have made investments in the UK. Thirdly, he really hopes that the bilateral relationship will be further strengthened. In response, Prime Minister Fukuda mentioned that he also would also like to see even closer relations with the UK, and also he hopes that UK companies will make further investments in Japan. That is all on the Japan-UK Summit Meeting.
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Mr. Kodama: Now on the Japan-Germany Summit Meeting. In this Meeting, Prime Minister Fukuda met with German Chancellor Merkel, again at the Windsor Hotel. Their Meeting started at 11:30 and lasted about 25 minutes. On the G8 in general, the Prime Minister started the discussion saying this Summit is being held against a backdrop of difficult issues like the world economy, climate change, MDGs, and so on: "I really would like to send a very clear-cut message in addressing these issues." Chancellor Merkel responded saying that issues like rising food prices or rising oil prices are some of the most important themes at this Summit. Also, she hopes that the discussion on Africa and development will be conducted in a meaningful manner. Chancellor Merkel believes that at the end of day one, today, 7 July, after this G8 plus African Leaders Outreach Meeting, if we will be able to receive a forward-looking evaluation of the G8 responses by the African leaders it will be a very positive outcome to this Outreach Meeting. In any case, she would like to do her best to make a constructive contribution to the success of this G8 Summit, held in Hokkaido, Japan.
On climate change, just very briefly, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Fukuda agreed that they would continue to work together so as to achieve a "meaningful outcome" on the issue of climate change at the end of the G8 Summit.
On biofuels, Prime Minister Fukuda introduced that currently in Japan the research and development on biofuels produced from non-edible cellulose materials are progressing. Indeed, in the Windsor Hotel lobby area, the Japanese Government has put on a display of this type of experimental equipment to produce biofuels from cellulose. Using this equipment we can produce about 250cc of ethanol out of one kilogram of grain. So we hope that in the not too distant future such technology will be available on a commercial basis. Chancellor Merkel mentioned that such second-generation biofuels is one of the areas where Germany and Japan could cooperate with each other.
Finally, on Zimbabwe, Prime Minister Fukuda repeated the same message he gave to Prime Minister Brown earlier: he is concerned about the Zimbabwean situation. As to how to address this issue as the G8, Prime Minister Fukuda would really like to discuss it with other G8 leaders. Chancellor Merkel agreed with what Prime Minister Fukuda said on this. At the same time, she also mentioned that on this issue she hopes that in the Outreach Meeting with African leaders, African leaders would also express their own views on this issue - that kind of exchange would be very important.
Finally, if I may, just on today's African agenda, let me just tell you this briefly - this Outreach Working Lunch will focus on the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV), which was hosted by the Japanese Government at the end of May this year in Yokohama, plus global challenges including rising food prices. After the lunch, there will be an afternoon Outreach Working Session where the leaders will focus on MDGs and other global challenges.
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Q: As Chair and host of the G8, specifically what kind of message does Prime Minister Fukuda want to send on Zimbabwe, and will part of his message be that southern African countries, especially South Africa, should do more in helping to resolve the crisis there?
Mr. Kodama: Let me respond as follows to your question. About a week ago, on 27 June, the G8 foreign ministers met to discuss all these political issues to prepare for the discussion by the G8 leaders - this took place in Kyoto. At the end of the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting they issued a special G8 Foreign Ministers' Statement. I would expect that this G8 Foreign Ministers' Statement will form a basis from which the G8 leaders, including Prime Minister Fukuda, will work. The elements I will share with you are the elements I can identify in this Foreign Ministers' Statement. One is, of course, that the G8 foreign ministers deplore the actions of the Zimbabwean authorities and urge the Zimbabwean authorities to work with the opposition to achieve a prompt, peaceful resolution of the crisis. The results of the 29 March election must be respected and any dialogue between the parties must allow a legitimate government to be formed. The G8 foreign ministers will not accept the legitimacy of any government that does not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people. Also, in this Foreign Ministers' Statement, there was a reference - "Strongly urge the Zimbabwean authorities to cooperate fully with the international efforts, including those of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN)." So these are, I think, the major elements.
Q: So you don't expect the leaders to add substantively to what the foreign ministers said?
Mr. Kodama: I cannot say yes or no, but I am saying this will form a basis from which the leaders will work out their own statement.
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Q: Prime Minister Fukuda agreed with both the other leaders on the importance of a meaningful outcome on climate change. In this context, what does "meaningful" mean?
Mr. Kodama: Yesterday, if you recall, Prime Minister Fukuda conducted the Joint Press Conference with President Bush, in which he said he would really like to work out a positive, forward-looking message by the G8 on the issue of climate change. He wrapped up by saying please look forward to the final outcome the day after tomorrow. From the Japanese perspective, of course, I can tell you a couple of points which we think should be reflected in the outcome of this G8 Summit Meeting, which are these. There should be a shared sense of crisis on the issue of climate change. Then, based on that shared sense of crisis, the G8 leaders should agree that the issue requires the total participation of all the major countries. That is why the Major Economies Meeting (MEM) leaders' meeting is scheduled back-to-back following the G8 Summit tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. And finally, of course, I am sure the G8 leaders, including Prime Minister Fukuda, will work hard to show the world that the G8 leaders will move forward from their Heiligendamm commitment.
Q: Would that be numerical targets for emission reductions tied to dates, or not?
Mr. Kodama: At this moment I think I had better withhold comment on this. I had better wait for the outcome.
Q: Is that because Prime Minister Fukuda has not decided one way or another?
Mr. Kodama: I am told that the sherpas have been working day and night, without sleeping at all. They have been working hard to form a consensus on the wording. Surely they also keep posted on their respective leaders who have gathered here at Toyako. Anyway, tomorrow the leaders themselves will discuss this issue.
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Q: A question regarding biofuels. There has been a discussion about biofuels between Prime Minister Brown and Prime Minister Fukuda. What exactly did Prime Minister Brown say about biofuels in relation to rising food prices?
Mr. Kodama: I am sorry, I have not got the exact expressions used by Prime Minister Fukuda. However, I could share with you the points which in any case Prime Minister Fukuda is going to make when he hosts the G8 leaders' meeting tomorrow. The points are something like this. Biofuels production must be made sustainable by accelerating research on second-generation biofuels. This is one of the key messages on the issue of the food crisis which Prime Minister Fukuda would like to deliver. Then, of course, increased food production and agricultural productivity will be a key to respond to a medium-term food crisis. Now, of course, apart from this biofuels issue, the leaders will certainly touch on the necessity to continue ongoing emergency responses to calm the very tight international food market. Further emergency food assistance will be asked for. On this matter, the Government of Japan decided last week on a new food aid package of 50 million US dollars to be implemented by October this year; this is in addition to 200 million US dollars of food aid implemented or announced this year. So Japan is taking the lead on this front as well.
Q: What exactly did Prime Minister Brown say on biofuel?
Mr. Kodama: According to my notes, Prime Minister Brown said that he also believes that the international community should tackle the biofuels issue. That is the message. That is all, actually, I can tell you on this.
Q: According to the Japanese press briefing, several weeks ago Prime Minister Brown said something in relation to rising food prices was this biofuels.
Mr. Kodama: I think, in a nutshell, the same thing. As I said earlier, when Prime Minister Fukuda went to Rome to attend the FAO-hosted Food Security Summit he made the same point, actually again and again: the advancement of the production of biofuels should under no circumstances impair food production. So, the same message.
Q: What was Prime Minister Fukuda's response to Prime Minister Brown's statement?
Mr. Kodama: I'm sorry, I don't have any further responses by Prime Minister Fukuda on this.
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Q: In 10 days, on 18 July, Nelson Mandela will celebrate his 80th birthday, and it could well be that this G8 Summit has decided to send him our congratulations. In 30 days, 8 August will mark a sadder occasion, the 20th anniversary of the Burmese military massacring students and other democratic opponents. In past years, the European Council and other European leaders have sent messages of solidarity to the Asian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Will Japan and the G8 mark this August anniversary by sending a message of encouragement to Aung San Suu Kyi and the citizens of Burma?
Mr. Kodama: I don't have any definite, direct answer to your question. But again, I really would like to draw your attention to the most recently adopted G8 Foreign Ministers' Statement. This statement is easily available through our Japanese Foreign Ministry website. In any case, let me read out the relevant part of the Chairman's Statement from the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting. This is the Chairman's Statement, but it is adopted unanimously by all the participating G8 foreign ministers. On Myanmar, the G8 foreign ministers, including Foreign Minister Koumura, agreed to say this: "The foreign ministers remain committed to ensuring aid reaches those affected by Cyclone Nargis. We therefore call on the authorities of Myanmar to lift all remaining restrictions on the flow of aid and to improve access for foreign aid workers to the affected areas." The ministers expressed concern about the current political situation in Myanmar: "We call on Myanmar to foster a peaceful transition to a legitimate democratic civilian government. We encourage the authorities of Myanmar to engage all stakeholders in an inclusive and transparent political process. In this context, we call on Myanmar to immediately release political detainees, including Aung San Suu Kyi." Also, the final sentence is something new: "We are prepared to respond positively to substantive political progress undertaken by Myanmar." This is really the concept of action for action, or maybe you may call it also a dialogue and pressure dual-track approach, which has also been employed in dealing with the issue of Iranian nuclear problems, maybe in dealing with DPRK denuclearization, and some other issues.<
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Q: You mentioned the TICAD conference in Kyoto. The Japanese Government on this occasion gathered some opinions from African leaders. Could you explain to us how these opinions found their way into the agenda of this Summit?
Mr. Kodama: You mean the conference which was hosted by the Japanese Government in Yokohama at the end of May? Indeed, very briefly, we call this the TICAD process - the formal title of TICAD is the Tokyo International Conference on African Development. This TICAD process was started by the Japanese Government together with UN institutions, the World Bank and some others in 1993 - 15 years ago - when the world's attention on Africa was very low, partly or maybe primarily because the Cold War was over. There was no more such rivalry between the East and West to attract support from the African countries to wage the Cold War; United States versus the Soviet Union. That was also the period of what we call "aid fatigue." The amount of ODA given to the African continent was very low at that time, so that was why Japan, having no historical contact with the continent, took the lead to redirect the world's attention on African development - for this we are very proud that we have taken this lead over the last 15 years.
This year's TICAD was convened with the aim of gathering the views of African leaders and those views will certainly be reflected by the G8 Chair, Prime Minister Fukuda, who also chaired this TICAD meeting, in the discussion of Africa and development during this Outreach and also G8 leaders' meeting itself. Now, what Prime Minister Fukuda is going to do is based on this TICAD discussion goes something like this.
Number one, this year marks the halfway point for achieving the MDGs and so the G8 will deliver a concrete message to help African countries to achieve MDGs focusing on health, water and education; these are the major areas. On health, tomorrow, possibly, you will receive the Toyako Framework for Action on Global Health. This is a report of the G8 Health Experts Group, including a comprehensive approach involving the fight against infectious diseases, maternal and child health, and the strengthening of health systems. The G8 leaders fully recognize that health-related MDGs are seriously lagging behind in Africa while the 2010 universal access year is approaching, therefore, the G8 leaders will renew their determination to help the developing countries achieve the MDGs. I would say that the allegation of the G8 trying to abandon the 2050 universal access on AIDS target is false and unfounded.
Another important possible outcome on health is the G8 leaders will probably agree to work toward WHO's (World Health Organization) threshold goal of 2.3 health workers per 1,000 people. This is a very concrete assistance target in the area of training skilled health workers who are locally recruited. It is also expected they will agree to establish the follow-up mechanism on monitoring the implementation of the G8 commitment on health. I think monitoring mechanisms are always relevant.
Then on water, meaning securing access to water and sanitation, Japan has been the world's largest donor in the water and sanitation sector since the 1990s. I think Prime Minister Fukuda will convince G8 leaders to agree that the G8 will launch the concept of what we call "cyclic water resources management," and to agree on the importance of its implementation - so cyclic use of water resources. Treated sewage water will be returned to the river and so on. And also to revitalize the implementation of the Evian Water Action Plan which was adopted in 2003 and also to strengthen its approach to realize good water governance in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.
Regarding education, I think we all know the "education for all" target. To obtain education for all, basic education should be further expanded and enhanced in both quantity and quality, and to recognize the importance of the approach to support education comprehensively, including technical education, vocational training, and also secondary and higher education.
And finally, in direct answer to your question, Prime Minister Fukuda is anxious to reflect the outcomes of the TICAD IV conference, i.e. the views and expectations on the part of the African leaders who will also be present here in Hokkaido this time around is this. Number one, the G8 should certainly and steadfastly implement our joint Gleneagles commitment of doubling ODA to Africa by 2010. Japan is hopeful in forging a G8 consensus on further increasing ODA to Africa beyond 2010. This is yet to be discussed and agreed upon. The Japanese Government, for our part, is committed to double our ODA to Africa by 2012; this was a new commitment made by Prime Minister Fukuda on the occasion of the TICAD conference. So again, as a press spokesman, let me say that there was a press report that "the G8 leaders are ready to backtrack on aid," and that is not true. The Prime Minister is determined to reflect the views of African leaders at the G8 Summit. That is why he has hosted this G8 plus African leaders meeting on day one of the G8 leaders' summit. Algeria, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Jean Ping, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and also World Bank President Robert Zoellick are all present in the ongoing lunch and following Working Meeting.
And finally, this is also the TICAD message, to reach a shared view that in order to achieve economic growth and MDGs, it is both important for Africa to improve on all of the following fronts: the business environment, infrastructure development including road networking, the enhancement of electricity transmission lines and connectivity, as well as agriculture, good governance and peace and stability.
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Q: I would like to follow-up on the Africa subject because one of the big criticisms about the Gleneagles commitments is that so far it seems that only half of the commitments are going to be achieved by 2012. How can you seek to reassure African attendees at this conference that commitments like those made at Gleneagles will actually be carried out?
Mr. Kodama: As I mentioned, we don't believe there will be any backtracking on the commitments made by our G8 leaders at previous summits, so I don't understand why there has been such criticism. Always there is a discrepancy between the original commitment and the disbursement, I mean the amounts being implemented or disbursed based on such commitment. We are still in 2008, less than one year and a half, but surely I think the G8 leaders are very anxious of their commitments in the past to help Africa, and today I am sure they will listen to the views of the African leaders on the issue of Africa and development.
On top of that, I also want to emphasize that the Japanese Prime Minister, being both the TICAD Chair as well as the G8 Chair, is very committed to shed light on the importance of African development, as strong as, I would say, Tony Blair when he was prime minister at the Gleneagles Summit. In the end, we will leave it to you to interpret the final outcome of this G8 Summit when they issue the statement on this matter.
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Q: Mr. Kodama, I have three questions. Did Prime Minister Fukuda and Chancellor Merkel talk about the issue of nuclear energy in combating climate change? Can you comment on that?
Mr. Kodama: In my notes, there was no such reference to that. They touched on the issue of the peaceful use of nuclear energy in relation to the issue of climate change or the issue of the rising petroleum prices, so that is my short answer. Also maybe because they only had 20 minutes to cover all these issues so that is why they did not touch on this issue.
Q: Isn't it one of the most interesting questions between the G8 about how to tackle climate change? Because Germany doesn't have the same position as the other ones, so wouldn't that be a good topic for discussion during bilateral talks?
Mr. Kodama: This is my personal observation: when the leaders will discuss the issue of rising energy prices, certainly they will discuss the importance of diversifying the energy sources, so naturally we would expect the leaders will find the merit of utilizing non-fossil fuels including nuclear energy. On this issue of nuclear energy, since you asked this question, I know the German position on this is a very established position not to construct any more nuclear power plants. Japan is now trying to seek support to forge some consensus on the principles to allow the future construction of nuclear power plants. These are the principles of "3S." The first 'S' stands for safeguards - this is very important - to prevent the non-proliferation of nuclear technologies. This is a very important challenge: we have to fully involve the IAEA. The second 'S' means safety, so safety for workers or those people who live near the nuclear power station. And the third 'S' means security, security against a potential terrorist attack on this power station or potential terrorist attack to grab those nuclear materials and so on. Therefore the establishment of the 3S principles will be very important and I am sure this will be discussed very extensively over the course of the G8 Summit Meeting.
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Q: The second question is concerning the outreach talks today. Will the G8 leaders discuss with the outreach countries the clean technology funds, and will there be any commitments made today?
Mr. Kodama: I don't know the answer to your question, but over the course of the three-day long outreach, G8 and MEM summit meetings, I think the issue of the Clean Technology Fund will definitely be discussed. After all, in order for developed countries to persuade developing countries to come forward to embrace the principle of inclusiveness so that all the major economies, including India and China, will take part in this post-Kyoto Protocol framework, we have to give them some kind of incentive, incentive meaning technology plus money to purchase or introduce such technologies. So, the establishment of a Clean Technology Fund is a part of such incentives so I think this will be discussed in due course.
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Q: I have one last question. There was criticism by NGOs on the Japanese promise to double development aid until 2012 - that was the timeframe I think - and the criticism goes that this is only doubling of bilateral aid and not all development assistance that Japan is giving to other countries. Could you elaborate on these Japanese ODA or development aid numbers? How much is bilateral aid and how much is given to international organizations, and what exactly has been promised?
Mr. Kodama: I was actually asked this same question one month ago when I took part in this TICAD conference. My answer then was something like the Prime Minister's commitment of doubling Japan's ODA to Africa, so long as we can trace the money being given to the international organization, will certainly incorporate the amount, so when we say "doubling our ODA to Africa," it does somehow include our contribution to international organizations. That is point one.
The other point is according to the most recent statistics available, the ratio of Japan's bilateral ODA versus the multilateral ODA to Africa is something like 80% versus 20% so the commitment of doubling Japanese ODA to Africa in five years' time would be very relevant and meaningful, based on the fact that 80% of our ODA to Africa is channeled through bilateral routes.
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Q: Just a follow-up question on oil prices. Did Prime Minister Fukuda discuss specific measures against high oil prices with the two leaders this morning?
Mr. Kodama: No, I don't think so.
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Q: Japan announced a few weeks ago that it would partly donate, I think it was 100 million tons of the rice you imported because you were forced to by the WTO, and then there was a reservation about that expressed by the US because it would distort the markets, so that means the markets were more important than the food crisis. Is this a topic of the Summit and has this process stalled? We haven't heard anything about that rice donation anymore. Thank you.
Mr. Kodama: Thank you very much. Point one, yes, Prime Minister Fukuda announced when he attended the Rome FAO Food Security Summit that Japan would consider releasing over 300,000 tons of imported rice in the near future to the international rice market and when Prime Minister Fukuda announced that, we are very much mindful of countries like the Philippines that have been suffering from the worldwide market shortage of rice. So we have been working to provide rice to the Philippines and we are still working on it.
More generally speaking, I think this relates to the issue of how best to calm down a rather heated international food market, and of course I can't be definitive, however the G8 leaders are expected to discuss or to suggest that countries capable of releasing their food stocks are encouraged to do so to return some sort of equilibrium to the food market. So this is the sort of idea that will be discussed among the G8 leaders.
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Q: I have just a very simple question. Were there any discussion on the Doha Round during the two bilateral meetings?
Mr. Kodama: Again, I read my talking points but I couldn't find any reference to that. Thank you very much.
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Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
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