Tomohiko Taniguchi, Deputy Press Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
Hokkaido Toyako Summit
July 7, 2008
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good evening everybody. The focus for this press conference is rather narrow. It is not so much about Africa in general as it is about bilateral relationships between Japan and the three countries that follow.
First, South Africa; second, Algeria; and the third, Nigeria. The bilaterals took place in that order. The first, the South Africa-Japan bilateral, took place from 16:30 to 16:50. It was immediately followed by the second one, which was the one between Algeria and Japan which started at 17:00 and ended at 17:30. The third one, Nigeria-Japan, started at 17:45 and ended at 18:10. On the bilateral relationships I will briefly walk you through what has just happened.
President Mbeki and Prime Minister Fukuda talked on issues such as the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) and its connection with the G8 Summit Meeting. The fourth TICAD actually took place at the end of May and one of the important ideas for the G8 Summit meeting this year is to convey the messages that Japan gathered from the African nations to the attention of the G8 leaders. For that purpose, once again, President Mbeki and Prime Minister Fukuda talked about the importance of TICAD and then President Mbeki said that the fact that the Japanese Government has invested so much into the development of Africa should be understood more thoroughly by the G8 leaders; that is what President Mbeki told Prime Minister Fukuda.
For the rest, they spoke briefly about the positive development in terms of the business-to-business relationships between South Africa and Japan. They turned then to the issue of climate change and Prime Minister Fukuda told President Mbeki that by the year 2050, Japan is going to reduce its emissions by 60% to 80%, as a long-term target. Touching on the importance of setting the mid-term target, Prime Minister Fukuda said that it has got to be something you can implement and it has got to be backed by technological and scientific feasibility. You cannot just easily set the target and then say, "I couldn't fulfill that." So that is what Prime Minister Fukuda said to President Mbeki.
During the South Africa-Japan bilateral they also talked about the situation in Zimbabwe. Prime Minister Fukuda said to President Mbeki that it was very much instructive to listen to what he had to say about the situation in Zimbabwe and reiterated by saying that an early solution would be of definite necessity for the situation in Zimbabwe and the longer you spend, the more deteriorated would the situation be in Zimbabwe. That is what Prime Minister Fukuda told President Mbeki. President Mbeki responded by saying that there is no legitimate government there (President Mbeki responded by saying that the government in Zimbabwe was still in the making, in the process of being formulated, annotated ex post facto)and the African Union is urging Zimbabwe to form a unity government...... so that is basically the position that President Mbeki actually said in the Outreach Session as well.
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Mr. Taniguchi: From 17:00 to 17:30 there was a bilateral between Algeria and Japan. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Prime Minister Fukuda met. They also started off by talking about African development and then quickly turned to the aspects related to the Japan-Algeria relationship. They talked about a number of issues of business-to-business relationships. If you are interested I would be happy to touch on those later on in the question and answer session, but I will just skip it now.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika divided African nations into three categories: one being those with no natural resources that need aid from developed nations; the second category being those with relatively limited amounts of natural resources, but still being able to collaborate with developed nations; and the third being those nations that can fully cooperate with developed nations. According to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria fits into the third, the last category and therefore, the Algerian Government and Japanese Government should cooperate fully for the development of Africa.
They talked briefly about Zimbabwe but it was actually an extension of the Outreach Session.
In this bilateral dialogue, there was no mention about climate change, due primarily to the time constraint.
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Mr. Taniguchi: Now on Japan-Nigeria...... The biggest focus in this meeting was the Nigerian president explaining the deteriorated situation in the Niger Delta. Oil theft was mentioned as a source of grave concern. The Nigerian president explained quite a bit about what is happening in Nigeria, especially the Niger Delta, or what they call the Oil River region and the oil theft. He dubbed oil theft as a killer that kills people. And the Nigerian president made a request that the United Nations (UN) and the G8 give support to help tame this violent action.
To that, Prime Minister Fukuda did not actually respond. He listened carefully to what the Nigerian president had to say on that matter. They talked about the importance of containing polio. Nigeria has to eradicate polio totally - that is what was mentioned again as well.
Lastly, what I should say is that throughout the three bilateral meetings, all three countries expressed positive endorsement toward the candidacy of Japan for the non-permanent membership at the Security Council of the United Nations. Especially with South Africa, both leaders, President Mbeki and Prime Minister Fukuda, talked of the necessity to improve the structure of the UN, especially the UN Security Council.
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Q: That means the UN Security Council was a subject of the talks, only in bilateral talks or overall? A permanent seat in the UN Security Council for Japan - this was a subject of bilateral talks, not of a talk with the whole group?
Mr. Taniguchi: If your question is about whether it was discussed in the Outreach Session, the answer is, no. It was raised only in the bilateral sessions, in this case, the three bilateral sessions between the three nations and Japan.
Q: Did the Prime Minister of Japan also mention something about South Africa's desire to become a permanent member of the Security Council?
Mr. Taniguchi: It was actually not necessary for both leaders to remind themselves of the fact that both nations are eager to get a seat, each, at the UN Security Council, so they just talked only about the imperative necessity for the UN to be improved, to change its structure.
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Q: Did President Mbeki give any explanation to Prime Minister Fukuda about the progress of his mediation and specifically his efforts to persuade the Zimbabwean parties to form a government of national unity? You said that he told the Prime Minister that the AU wanted them to form a unity government.
Mr. Taniguchi: I have to disappoint you. Because of the time constraint, that lasted for only 20 minutes and because President Mbeki talked about the issue extendedly in the afternoon throughout the Outreach Session, he did not specify that much.
Q: Did he perhaps deal with that particular issue then in the Outreach Session? If I redirect that question toward what happened in the Outreach Session, did he give a progress report on the efforts to form a government of national unity?
Mr. Taniguchi: I cannot elaborate that much further. President Mbeki and other leaders from African nations all talked about the situation in Zimbabwe. I know President Mbeki, from his own viewpoint, from a nation that is playing a mediator's role, talked about the issue extendedly, but the issue was the focal point among the African leaders and the G8 member nations and as is customary, it is not allowed to name who said what, so I should rather hesitate to answer your question.
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Q: Could I ask another question about global warming? Was there any indication from Prime Minister Fukuda about a base year for the 50-50 plan? I think there is some disagreement between South Africa and Japan about that?
Mr. Taniguchi: The baseline should be the present time. You are talking about reducing the greenhouse gas, which has actually increased quite a bit for the last couple of years so the common understanding being that you have to start from now. But let us wait a little bit more for the official announcement to come out, but that is a sneak preview for you.
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Q: I have two questions. Regarding talks with Nigeria and Algeria, the first question is about what exactly the Nigerian president said about the situation in the Niger Delta.
Mr. Taniguchi: I don't have a verbatim record as such, but I will try to be as specific as I can. What I should have said is the following. The Nigerian president introduced an idea that the Nigerian Government is soon to launch a process to have a summit meeting among the conflicting ethnic groups in the Niger Delta. So that is point number one that the President of Nigeria mentioned. He also stressed how important it would be to dismantle the militant groups that have been gaining power through oil theft and that is point number two that he mentioned. And point number three was what I said in the opening statement, that the Nigerian president really wants the UN and the G8 nations to condemn the oil theft; those are the three points the Nigerian president introduced.
Q: Was there any specific mention for the timeline?
Mr. Taniguchi: No, there was no specific mention about the timeline.
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Q: The second question is did Japan and Algeria discuss liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade amongst the agenda with the B2B talks?
Mr. Taniguchi: About the LNG trade, there was a mention indeed, but not much actually. Both leaders, Prime Minister Fukuda and the Algerian president, just walked through some of the developments that have been taking place, positively rather, in the bilateral relationship. Among the projects mentioned were the East-West Highway Corridor project that is going on, sustained and based by the financial help provided by Japan. They also mentioned that the expanded trade relationship does include LNG trade, so that is as much as what they had to say.
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Q: We heard earlier that some of the G8 leaders in the Outreach Meeting were in favor of strengthened sanctions against Zimbabwe because of the presidential election. Is that something which was carried further in the bilateral talks and is that something we are likely to see in the G8 Statement?
Mr. Taniguchi: The answer to your question is, currently, I don't know. It is a matter to be discussed, frankly and cordially by the leaders themselves. But I can remind you of what came out of the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting which took place in Kyoto. After the Kyoto G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting there was a separate document that called the Zimbabwean political situation, "lacking legitimacy" and it was short of giving sanctions. It did not mention sanctions.
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Q: Why is it that only three bilateral meetings took place?
Mr. Taniguchi: That is a good question. There were other participants who joined the Outreach Session but they were actually greeted on Sunday over dinner. Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura met the following four over dinner: Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal; John Kufuor, President of Ghana; Manez Zanawai, the Ethiopian Prime Minister; and Jean Ping, African Union Chairperson. So there was an occasion for Japan to familiarize itself with what these leaders had to say. That is something that took place separately in Tokyo.
Q: But apparently the three countries with whom the Prime Minister met today are extremely important to Japan?
Mr. Taniguchi: They are important partners for Japan. I should mention there is something called the "Cool Earth Partnership." The idea is to provide as much as 10 billion US dollars on the grounds that the recipient government maintains good governance and comes out with a feasible plan for first of all their own development and second of all for the conservation of the environment and only with countries that have those plans worked out together with the Japanese Government and institutions such as the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), would Japan be able to provide financial assistance. These countries as you can imagine, can be powerful candidates for those projects.
Q: Should we expect more such bilateral meetings over the next two days in order to compare notes or to keep the African leaders acquainted with the decisions the G8 leaders are going to take as far as Africa is concerned?
Mr. Taniguchi: I wish I could say yes, but I have to categorically deny that possibility because this is one of the most packed summit meetings. In addition to that, Prime Minister Fukuda I think is the leader amongst the developed nations who has met the largest number of African leaders over the past couple of months. At the end of May he met 41 leaders from African nations on the sidelines of the TICAD meeting and then he is meeting these people.
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Q: I want to know in most clear terms what was the call by Nigeria's president on the volatile Niger Delta? Was it that the G8 countries and the UN should join in condemning the crisis or they should help in stemming the tide?
Mr. Taniguchi: The second part?
Q: They should help in abetting the violence, stemming the tide.
Mr. Taniguchi: As far as I understand, the Nigerian President requested that the UN and the G8 express condemnation towards the kind of criminality that he mentioned - those people who are engaged in oil theft, in other words.
Q: Could we expect any formal message from the Nigerian president during the G8 Summit at the formal session calling for G8 and UN condemnation of the Niger Delta situation?
Mr. Taniguchi: I should not speculate on that. I should really not say anything.
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Q: Returning to Algeria, the President of Algeria said that he divided his African counterparts into three different categories. Did he suggest what role the G8 might play in those countries that he suggested have no natural resources or limited ones?
Mr. Taniguchi: The classification was mentioned in a context of his talking, not about the African situation in general, but about the bilateral relationship that Algeria has with Japan. So he did not go on to say anything like that or about what sort of relationship the G8 as a whole should have with these countries or groups of countries.
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Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan