I. Self-introduction of new Deputy Press Secretary Ken Shimanouchi Acting Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ken Shimanouchi: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Although I have already met most of you, since this is my first briefing session with the foreign press in Tokyo, I would like to introduce myself very briefly. My name is Ken Shimanouchi. I came back from a two-year tour in Hong Kong last week, and replaced Mr. Kishichiro Amae as the Deputy Press Secretary as of 15 February. I am looking forward to working with you, and I am hopeful that my briefing sessions with the foreign press here in Tokyo will be lively, intellectually stimulating, and free from blood-letting. II. Announcement of a joint framework document by the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the Republic of Ireland concerning the Northern Ireland issue Acting Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ken Shimanouchi: I would like to read the Foreign Ministry press release: "Statement by the Press Secretary/Director-General for Public Information and Cultural Affairs of the Foreign Ministry on the Announcement of 'A New Framework for Agreement,' the Joint Framework Document by the British and Irish Governments concerning the Northern Ireland Issue." "Japan, which has maintained its position of hoping for a peaceful solution to the Northern Ireland issue, welcomes the announcement on 22 February by the British and the Irish Governments of the Joint Framework Document concerning the Northern Ireland issue -- 'A New Framework for Agreement' -- in which suggestions for a solution through discussion and negotiation are compiled. Japan highly commends the efforts of the two Governments and, at the same time, expects that the announcement of this Document, following the "Downing Street Declaration" announced in December 1993 and the declarations of cessation of violence by the Irish Republic Army (IRA) and by the loyalist paramilitary organizations announced in the latter half of last year, will lead to the progress of discussion and negotiation toward a peaceful settlement of the Northern Ireland issue." III. Dispatch of a Survey Mission on Abandoned Chemical Weapons to the People's Republic of China Acting Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ken Shimanouchi: The Government of Japan has decided to dispatch to the People's Republic of China, from 26 February to 13 March, a Survey Mission on Abandoned Chemical Weapons headed by Senior Assistant of the Policy Coordination Division Kazuya Ogawa of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The mission will conduct surveys in four cities in China. In Hangzhou and Chujiang, in places where chemical weapons are being kept, the mission will investigate the present condition and the kinds of abandoned chemical weapons, and then seal and transport them to a place where they will be stored. In Hangzhou and Nanjing, in places where chemical weapons are buried underground, the mission will conduct on-the-spot inspection and have discussions on the problems concerning digging them up for investigation. The mission, comprising officials of the Foreign Ministry, the Prime Minister's Office, the Japanese Embassy in China, the Defense Agency, and related persons of private companies, will conduct the surveys in cooperation with China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of National Defense. Q: On the survey mission to China -- the statement that you have just handed out says, "related persons in private companies." Can you perhaps be a little more specific about which companies and what kind of people this refers to? A: We will be dealing with highly technical issues in this mission, so we have to draw on the expertise of private sector people regarding ammunition, chemical substances and other matters. I am sorry I cannot be more specific than that about the private sector members of the mission. Q: What is the number of people in the mission? How many members are there? A: Around 15. Q: One question was related to the private companies. The other one regards mention of "transport to a place where they will be stored." Can you elaborate on this? Will the place be in Japan or in China? A: My understanding is that this refers to a safe storage facility somewhere in China. Q: In China? They have agreed to this? A: Yes. That is my understanding. Q: Can I follow up on this? Would the Government of Japan or the Diet hold up the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention until this mission is complete? A: No. Of course, this mission is being sent in keeping with the spirit of the treaty which you just mentioned. It has nothing to do with our time schedule for ratification of the treaty. Q: This will be financed by the Japanese side? A: Yes. IV. Visit to Japan by Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikolai Kozyrev of the Russian Federation and various issues in Japan-Russian Federation relations Q: Questions about Foreign Minister Kozyrev's visit to Japan -- can you say a few words about the agenda of his visit, and the main points of the discussions? A: Right now the two sides are working on the agenda, so I cannot tell you at this point in time what will be discussed in the meeting of the foreign ministers. But, I can take an educated guess, although this is just guesswork. Both sides, of course, will discuss important bilateral issues, including the territorial issue, which I am sure you are very well aware of, and of course, international issues which both sides share an interest in. Q: Can we expect any discussions of Russia's participation in the Korean Energy Development Organization (KEDO)? A: Regarding the KEDO, we have been approaching countries in the Asia-Pacific region, in Europe, and some oil- producing Middle East States, to have them participate in KEDO, since we consider it desirable for the KEDO to have as wide a participation as possible, but for diplomatic reasons, I cannot name the countries that we have been approaching. Q: As you know the Russian Deputy Defense Minister will be a member of the Russian delegation. Do you sense a special problem for him? Will there be any discussions between the Deputy Defense Minister and the Foreign Ministry or Defense Agency? A: I do not have anything for you on that. V. Shipment of radioactive waste to Japan Q: On the vitrified waste, two questions on that. You have seen this problem which you are undergoing currently -- the barrage of criticism and things like that. This has been going on for more than two years. Would it be correct to assume that within the Foreign Ministry or in the Japanese Government you have discussed alternatives to this, or even with the French perhaps, or are you going to take this sort of thing twice-a-year for the next ten years? There have been suggestions from Greenpeace and others of better alternatives to this sort of transportation. Have any of these alternatives been discussed internally or with the French? A: The recent decision was announced a few days ago, and I think you have a copy of the translation of the Foreign Ministry press release on that decision. What we are doing now is executing the shipment of the vitrified residue in accordance with that decision. Q: About the shipment, the route has been kept secret. Some countries have banned the transit of this ship through their territorial waters; we are not aware of the details. But, is it possible that this entire shipment could be transported only through the high seas -- without any problem regarding bunkering, refueling, which can also be done on the high seas -- and come straight to Japan? A: I think you are well aware that we cannot disclose any information regarding the exact route of the shipment, and in reaching this decision, as mentioned in our press release, we took, among others, two factors into consideration. First is the need to ensure the transparency of the shipment and to provide information to the public to the greatest extent possible, on the one hand; and on the other, to avoid any obstacles to the safe and smooth transport of the vitrified waste. We reached a decision to disclose the name of the vessel as well as the departure date, but to withhold the route, after careful consideration of these factors that I have just mentioned. Q: There are many countries -- at least 10 to my knowledge -- which have announced that they would not let this ship transit through their territorial waters. Whether they will, or whether the route doesn't pass through them, we don't know. But to avoid all this, has it ever been considered to ship this all through the high seas rather than through anyone's territorial waters? A: We have been in close touch with the countries which have expressed their concern about the shipment. We intend to continue these contacts, if they prove necessary. I cannot disclose the names of the countries with which we have had these contacts, or the contents of our discussions with them, except to say that we have told them that the shipment meets international standards and that it is safe, so as to dispel any concerns that they may have. VI. North Korean youth festival Q: On North Korea -- this youth festival which they are organizing towards the end of April -- the North Korean news agency has announced that they are expecting all in all 7,000 people from Japan. Has any contact been made through official channels with North Korea on this? Have they invited anybody, or are you planning to send anybody under official passport -- not diplomatic passport, but official passport? Will there be any Government role in this whole thing? A: I do not have any information on that at the moment.