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Rice Remarks With Japanese FM Nobutaka Machimura

Remarks to the Press With Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Iikura House
Tokyo, Japan
March 19, 2005


FOREIGN MINISTER MACHIMURA (voice of translator): It has been exactly one month since I met with Secretary Rice previously. I'm very happy to have her here in Tokyo, and today we were able to discuss a variety of issues -- including bilateral issues as well as international issues -- very frankly, and with very good atmosphere.

We had discussions from the viewpoint of the Japan-U.S. alliance in the global context. One of the issues that we discussed was, coming from the previous 2+2 meeting we had, concerning the force realignment of U.S. Forces Japan. On this issue, we are having good discussions on the official level, so we agreed again to accelerate the discussions between our two countries in this regard.

And one of the issues that we discussed on the bilateral front was the BSE issue. We have to ensure the food security for the people of Japan, but also, we need to resolve this issue at an early stage and I explained to the Secretary what we're doing to promote an early resolution of the issue on the Japanese side. We understand fully the deep interest on this issue that the U.S. side has. We understand that. And we would like to work on our domestic procedures with a view to resolving the issue as soon as possible.

Also, Secretary Rice launched the Japan-U.S. Strategic Development Alliance initiative in her speech at Sophia University this morning. This is a very good idea, we support this whole-heartedly, and we agreed that we would discuss amongst officials on how to materialize this initiative in the future.

On North Korea, we confirmed that it was necessary to resume the Six-Party Talks as early as possible and that the North Koreans have to come back to the talks without putting any pre-conditions. We agreed on the importance of the trilateral coordination among Japan, the United States and the Republic of Korea. We also agreed that, in addition to the important role that China has been playing in the past, we hope that China could play an even greater role on working on the North Koreans through (inaudible).

On the issue of abductions, I explained to the Secretary our position that we would take into account the hopes of the families of the abductees, and we would like to work extensively to reach a resolution of this issue. We explained to the Secretary our position, and the Secretary expressed her kind understanding and support.

On the issue of U.N. reform, the Secretary kindly expressed the United States' support for Japan's seat on the Security Council, and we agreed that we should work together to promote reform of the U.N. organization as a whole. In addition to that, we discussed various other issues, including the Middle East peace process, Iran, Iraq and the cooperation that we have in Afghanistan, and also China -- that we would like for China to play a constructive role in the international community. We discussed various issues such as these.

I hope that from time to time, myself and Secretary Rice will have the chance to meet and discuss frankly and in a friendly fashion various issues that the international community is faced with, and hoping that Japan and the United States will continue to cooperate in our alliance in the global context.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Minister Machimura. We indeed continued our very productive and important discussions that had begun not too long ago -- about a month ago -- in Washington, when we gathered also with our defense colleagues to discuss the strategic framework for U.S.-Japan relations.

We talked about the remarkable evolution of this alliance; one that has, for the last almost 60 years, maintained peace and stability here in the Asia-Pacific, but it's now transforming, and has transformed into a global one.

That relationship has a firm foundation in our defense cooperation, and of course, we are continuing to modernize our defense alliance. We do have a defense realignment review underway, which is proceeding well. We expect the defense alliance to continue to be a stabilizing presence in this region.

But of course, another element of that foundation is our economic cooperation. Trade, the fact that we work together on technology, and indeed are leaders in innovative technologies that drive global growth.

In that regard, I did note my concern, and the concern of the American administration and the American Congress and people about the recent disruption in our trade in beef products.

American beef is safe. We care greatly about food security and safety in the United States, and about the food security and safety of our trading partners. And I urged the minister to resolve, or to put in place, efforts to resolve these issues as quickly as possible, given that there is indeed a science-based standard that is global on this issue.

Based on the firm foundation of our relationship with Japan, a relationship that is based first and foremost on democratic values, we are today reaffirming and finding better ways to coordinate our assistance to the developing world, so that the prosperity and well-being that we enjoy can indeed be spread to peoples who do not yet enjoy them.

We know that economic openness, structurally sound economies -- we ourselves have worked towards structural reforms here in Japan -- are continuing and are very important. We know that this is a recipe for success, and in our development assistance, we try and promote good governance, economic openness and care for the fate of individual people in this society.

And of course, we are also involved in promoting humanitarian assistance as we did in the tsunami. And, of course, in meeting the challenges to our security that are posed by a number of factors including, perhaps most importantly, the North Korean nuclear weapons program.

We agreed that the Six-Party Talks constitute the only means by which North Korea can get the respect that it desires and can get the assistance that it needs, and we are joining today in encouraging all the parties to the Six-Party Talks to do everything possible to get the North Koreans to return to the table in a spirit that is designed to solve the problem, and we especially urge China to do so, and I will do that when I go to Beijing.

And finally, we are very grateful for Japan's role in helping the Iraqi people, in helping the Afghan people, and the role that Japan plays in Middle East peace. It is, from our point of view, a very strong commitment to democracy and the betterment of people's lives that drives Japan to do that. We are united in that commitment and we look forward to continuing to work together with Japan in this way. It is on the basis of this and many other examples of Japan's willingness to accept global responsibility, that the United States indeed does support a permanent seat for Japan on the U.N. Security Council, in the context of broader U.N. reform.

QUESTION (voice of translator): Asahi Shimbun. Concerning the BSE issue, I have a question to both Secretary Rice and Foreign Minister Machimura. Concerning the resumption of imports of U.S. beef to Japan, is it your view that the Japanese government should clearly state a deadline or a timeframe? This issue may impact the bilateral relationship between Japan and the United States, but how do you hope to deal with the issue in the future?

FOREIGN MINISTER MACHIMURA (voice of translator): Yes, this issue has taken a significant amount of time, and we understand the sentiments on the American side that they are hoping for the resumption of beef trade. I explained where we are in the domestic procedures, and the Food Safety Commission has, at present, explained to her that the next meeting of that commission is scheduled to be held on the 28th of this month, and I explained to her that the chairman of that commission has made comments, too perhaps that he was hoping for final resolution of the consideration of the domestic procedures on BSE.

After which, I also explained to her that the consideration of the resumption of trade would be triggered in the Food Safety Commission. I explained to her the various aspects of the future procedures in that commission which we expect. I also explained to her that it was not possible for us to clearly state a deadline or a timeframe for the resumption of beef trade, but that we were going to consider what we can do to resume or accelerate the trade of beef at an early stage, and this is something that the Food Safety Commission should consider as an independent body. But we would also, as a government of Japan, would consider what we can do to resume the issue as soon as possible. And I also presented the Secretary with the view that we should work hard so that this issue will not negatively impact the good relationship between Japan and the United States.

SECRETARY RICE: And I made the following point to the Minister that this has gone on for a very long time. That in fact, there is a science-based standard internationally, and we would hope that Japan would follow that science-based standard, and that food safety is extremely important to the United States. American beef is safe. And we hope for an early resumption of the beef imports because this is a very, very important concern of the United States and the United States government.

MODERATOR: We just have time for one quick question from Reuters.

QUESTION: I'll try to be quick. This morning's speech by the Secretary, you said that the North Koreans need to return immediately to the Six-Party Talks. That sounds like an ultimatum, but it's not clear what happens if they don't listen to you. And if it isn't an ultimatum, why should they listen to you? And then certainly today, you travel on to Seoul. There, will you urge or will you ask the South Koreans not to go ahead with their plans to provide fertilizer to the North Koreans and other economic assistance?

SECRETARY RICE: The United States is one of five countries that has told North Korea that it's time to return to the talks. They, on February 10th, made a statement that was not appreciated by any of their neighbors, and frankly, by the global community. It's time that they return to the talks. And the reason that they should is that it is the only way that they can resolve this issue in a way that gives them access to the international system and to the benefits thereof. While they are pursuing nuclear weapons development and continuing to brandish it in front of the international community, there are going to be constraints on their relations with everybody. And that includes even -- I think you can see that South Korea, the relationship is not what it once was. We have not told the South Koreans what they should or should not do with the North Koreans, but we are urging everyone to use whatever leverage they can to bring the North Koreans back to the table, because that is the way to resolve this issue. We're committed to diplomacy, but I think it goes without saying that no one is going to be prepared to allow the North Koreans to just continue down a road that threatens everyone.

QUESTION: You won't ask them about the

SECRETARY RICE: We have been very careful to have people choose their own diplomatic paths and their own mix of incentives and leverage to deal with the North Korean problem. I think that's the way to deal with sovereign countries in this framework. I don't think there is any doubt that the South Koreans, the Chinese, the Russians, Japan and the United States are unified in the notion that there cannot be a North Korean nuclear weapon; that there must be a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

2005/T4-17

Released on March 19, 2005


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