Report on Mr. Hatsuhisa Takashima's Press Conference
Kae Nomura (Waseda University, GLOCOM Platform)
|Report on Mr. Hatsuhisa Takashima's Press Conference|
|Date/Time:||April 25 (Mon.) 10:45-11:30|
|Place:||Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan|
|Program:||Briefing followed by Q & A|
Speaker: Hatsuhisa Takashima (Foreign Ministry's Director-General for Press and Public Relations)
Topic: Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura's visit to China; Prime Minister Koizumi's speech and meeting with Chinese President Hu at Asian-African Summit
||Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (http://www.fccj.or.jp) |
A press conference by Mr. Hatsuhisa Takashima was given at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on April 25, 2005. Mr. Takashima spent the majority of his time talking about Prime Minister Koizumi's speech given at the Asian-African Summit on April 22, 2005 in Jakarta, Indonesia, and answered several questions fielded by the guests.
The significance of the bilateral talks between Japan and China during the Asian-African summit and some interesting background information was addressed first. Calling the meeting a success and epoch-making, Mr. Takashima conveyed a sense of optimism in what was achieved between the two Asian leaders. Interestingly, however, Mr. Takashima disclosed that the headline that many newspapers carried, "Koizumi apologizes to China," was only partially true. Although he stressed the fact that Koizumi was sincere in his words of remorse, both the meeting and speech were prepared in January before the text book issues and demonstrations surfaced. This indicates that the speech was not triggered by recent anti-Japanese demonstrations in China and thus was not intended to be a complete apology in those regards, but they were certainly not empty words. Mr. Takashima later went on to say that the main purpose of the speech was not an apology, as many newspapers alluded.
A few minutes were spent on explaining the background of the African-Asian Summit in Jakarta. Mr. Takashima shared that back in January 2005, Foreign Minister Machimura urged Koizumi to take this summit as the best opportunity for him to express his own opinion and show the world the direction Japan would take under the Koizumi administration. It would appear that Koizumi did just that at this summit. Furthermore, due to the devastation of the tsunami, Indonesia was reluctant to go through with the summit plans, but from the encouragement of Japan and other nations, the summit was realized.
Mr. Takashima then went on to discuss Koizumi's speech, touching upon its language and its true purpose. The prime minister used many of same words of remorse that former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama used in his speech at the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, such as "deep-felt remorse" and "heart-felt apology", but Mr. Takashima stressed that Koizumi was sincere in his feelings. It was pointed out that Koizumi did not allude to Murayama in his speech, indicating that the words were his own and a true reflection of his personal feelings. Again, despite the fact that the speech was not entirely an apology, Mr. Takashima repeatedly stressed that the prime minister was not mustering empty words. It was further stressed that Koizumi is very firm, even stubborn, for Japanese-Sino relations to improve. It was expressed that work towards better relations will continue forth.
Nationwide newspaper coverage made it appear as if the true purpose of
Koizumi's speech was to apologize for its wartime violence, but Mr.
Takashima shared that the real thrust was in regards to Official
Development Assistance (ODA), especially to Africa. Koizumi proclaimed that
Japan is determined to double its ODA to Africa in three years
time. Moreover, Japan will continue to work towards providing 0.7% of the nation's gross national income as assistance, although it was expressed that a deadline for this goal could not be set due to the current slow state of the Japanese economy.
The topic of the United Nations Security Council and Japan's bid for a seat was also mentioned. Mr. Takashima said that Japan is very determined for UN reforms to take place, with the realization of a Council seat amongst the current top foreign policy goals. He expressed hope that by June a resolution regarding the extension of the Council would be made and that by September a second resolution would be made, naming the possible nations to join the Council.
After Mr. Takashima's briefing, several minutes were allotted for the guests to ask questions. One journalist asked about the lack of discussion between Prime Minister Koizumi and President Hu regarding the disputed oil exploration and Yasukuni Shrine. In response, Mr. Takashima said that the oil exploration issue was not discussed because both sides have already agreed to meet for an official consultation in May. Although the venue and exact date is yet to be determined, it is expected that they will discuss the possibilities of a joint exploration. As for the controversial visits by Koizumi to Yasukuni Shrine, it was the wish of President Hu for the issue to not be discussed because he felt that the Chinese position was clear.
Another reporter asked if China is cornering Japan for East Asian dominance, especially in regards to the Security Council bid, but Mr. Takashima was adamant that Japanese-Sino relations are not about competition, but cooperation. A question about future visits to Yasukuni Shrine by Koizumi was also asked of Mr. Takashima, but since that is up to the personal decision of the prime minister, Mr. Takashima was not able to make a clear comment on that issue, but said that it was very complicated and sensitive.
It is hoped that Premier Wen will visit Japan by September this year to further discuss the future of Japanese-Sino relations, and with the invitation to President Hu still standing, a visit from him may be taking place in the near future, as well. It is with hope that the optimism that Mr. Takashima conveyed in his briefing will continue in the improvement of relations between Japan and China.