Vol. 3, No. 12 (December 21, 2007)
The opinions and materials contained herein do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the Government of Japan.
Koumura's Visit to China
|Foreign Minister Koumura with Mr. Hu Jintao, President of the People's Republic of China|
On December 1, Foreign Minister Koumura, who was on official visit to China, held a meeting in Beijing with Mr. Yang Jiechi, the Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China. They discussed Japan- China relations, including their determination to increase bilateral economic trade and human exchange, as well as topics such as political cooperation in East Asia, climate change and reform of the UN Security Council. On the same day, Foreign Minister Koumura attended the first Japan-China High-Level Economic Dialogue (click here for the press communique, and here for a Japan Brief article about the dialogue).
The following are answers to questions by the media concerning Foreign Minister Koumura's visit to China and the future of Japan-China relations:
Japan-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting
Q: What was discussed between Foreign Minister Koumura and his Chinese counterpart in Beijing on December 1? What did they accomplish?
A: The two ministers addressed a wide range of topics, including the bilateral relationship, exchanges at a high level as well as youth exchanges, history, Taiwan, joint exploitation in the East China Sea, North Korea, Myanmar, regional cooperation in East Asia, climate change, and reforms of the UN.
In particular, Foreign Minister Koumura stated that our job is to bring about the successful completion of a series of major events, namely Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's visit to China, President Hu Jintao's visit to Japan, the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and make next year, which marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, one to be remembered for many years to come as the year in which Japan-China relations took a major leap forward. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi agreed with this Foreign Minister Koumura's statement.
Foreign Minister Yang stated that he wants to enrich the substance of the "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests" and also that he very much valued the fact that China and Japan had achieved solid results in various aspects of their bilateral relations over the past year.
Finally, both sides confirmed that they would begin coordination of the 2008 Friendly Exchange Year of the Youth, which had been agreed upon at the most recent Japan-China summit meeting in Singapore in November.
East China Sea Issue
Q: Was any progress made on the East China Sea issue between Japan and China while Foreign Minister Koumura and other cabinet ministers visited China last weekend?
A: Little progress was made as Foreign Minister Koumura stated, and it seems quite difficult to bridge the gap between the positions of the both sides. However, it can be said that on both sides, political will to manage to resolve the issue is now stronger than before. We strongly hope that China would make a brave political decision, hopefully before the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda to China, which we hope to take place sometime soon, to make the joint development of natural resources in the East China Sea a symbol of the great leap forward in Japan-China relations.
Possible Visit of the Japanese Prime Minister to China
Q: The timing of the Prime Minister's visit has not been decided yet. It is not likely to be this year, presumably?
A: It has been repeatedly expressed that the Prime Minister's visit should take place sooner rather than later, but the specific date when Prime Minister Fukuda can make a visit to Beijing depends on the situation in the Diet.
by Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura
(November 25, 2007)
|Foreign Minister Koumura speaking at the Tokyo International Forum|
On November 25, Foreign Minister Koumura gave a speech at the Tokyo International Forum about global health, addressing in particular Japan's efforts to combat infectious diseases since the 2000 G8 Summit in Okinawa, and goals for the upcoming Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) IV and the 2008 G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, both of which will be hosted by Japan. (For more information on Japan's contribution to global health, please see the article "Global Health and Japan's Initiatives," originally published in AJISS-Commentary, an online publication of The Association of Japanese Institutes of Strategic Studies (AJISS) consisting of four leading Japanese think tanks: Institute for International Policy Studies (IIPS), The Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR), The Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), and Research Institute for Peace and Security (RIPS).) The following is Foreign Minister Koumura's speech:
(Embassy of Japan)
|Ambassador Ryozo Kato (left) and Mrs. Hanayo Kato (right) with Stevens Elementary School Principal, Dr. Polly Brown (second from left), and Stevens Elementary School Teacher, Mrs. Charlene Hubbard (second from right)|
The numerous embassies and foreign governments in Washington, D.C. offer superb resources to children in the nation's capital to learn about the world. The Embassy Adoption Program, a cultural program that is part of the Washington Performing Arts Society, makes the most of this opportunity by pairing fifth- and sixth-grade students at public elementary schools in Washington, D.C. with participating embassies. Throughout the academic year, these students have the chance to learn about their assigned country in depth.
More than 35,000 students and 103 embassies from Algeria to Zimbabwe have participated in the Embassy Adoption Program since its inception in 1974. But this year, the Embassy Adoption Program received a special endowment from the Washington Performing Arts Society Lawyers Committee, which pledged to raise $50,000 in new money to support the program. To thank the Committee, on November 28, Ambassador Ryozo Kato and Mrs. Hanayo Kato, in association with the Washington Performing Arts Society, hosted a reception at the Ambassador's Residence.
The Embassy of Japan, through the Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC), has long participated in the Embassy Adoption Program. For the year 2006-07, the Embassy of Japan adopted Stevens Elementary School--a mere block away from JICC--and the students and JICC staff members alternately visited each other once a month, cumulating in a final project in May where students showcased their knowledge of Japan at the Embassy. Another highlight for the students of Stevens was welcoming to their classroom Mrs. Akie Abe--the wife of Mr. Shinzo Abe, who was the Prime Minister of Japan at the time--when the couple visited the United States in April 2007.
It was in light of these facts that the Embassy of Japan - Stevens Elementary School partnership was chosen as a model pair of the Program. The event at the Residence on November 28 featured a presentation by Mrs. Charlene Hubbard, the teacher at Stevens who was instrumental in fostering interest and enthusiasm about Japan in her students. Mrs. Hubbard gave a heartfelt speech about her experience, accompanied by photos capturing scenes of cultural exchange between her students and JICC staff. This was followed by remarks by Co-Chairs of the Washington Performing Arts Society Lawyers Committee, Jerome Libin, Esq., and James Sandman, Esq., who asked the guests for their financial support. Mr. John Johnson, a young professional and past participant of the Embassy Adoption Program, also inspired the audience with his energetic speech about how his year learning about Senegal has influenced who he is today.
Courtesy of the Washington Performing Arts Society, guests also had the special opportunity to hear a performance by the young violinist Mr. Ryu Goto, who flew in from Boston that morning just for the event. Accompanied by pianist Mr. Evan Solomon, Mr. Goto played Waxman, Prokofiev, Paganini and, as an encore, Mendelssohn. Their performance was greeted with standing ovation by the audience, who were eager to meet the artists during the dinner reception after the recital.
For more information about
the Embassy Adoption Program, please see:
(Embassy of Japan)
|Mr. Shoubei Tamaya IX explaining the mechanism of the tea-serving doll and the archer doll at JICC|
During the holiday season, electronic or clockwork Santa dolls in the windows of American department stores fascinate children with their life-like demeanor and expressive movements. Although rarer than their western equivalent today, Japan has its own clockwork dolls as well. Dating back to the 9th century and popularized during the Edo era, they are called karakuri dolls (karakuri means "contraption to trick or surprise"), and are considered the origin of Japanese robots. Karakuri dolls use no electricity, the mechanism inside them is made almost entirely of wood, and their faces are immobile, instead relying on lighting and different angles to convey their emotions.
On December 6, the Japan Information & Culture Center welcomed Mr. Shoubei Tamaya IX, karakuri master, and Dr. Yoshikazu Suematsu, Dean of the Toyota National College of Technology and Professor Emeritus at Nagoya University, for two demonstration-lectures on karakuri dolls. For the afternoon presentation, the audience consisted of Mrs. Hanayo Kato, the wife of Ambassador Ryozo Kato, and 18 students, parents and teachers from Janney Elementary School, the school that the Embassy of Japan adopted for the year 2007-08 as part of the Embassy Adoption Program. A second demonstration-lecture in the evening welcomed 71 people from the public. For both events, Mr. Tamaya--ninth in the line of the only karakuri-making family in Japan--demonstrated how two karakuri dolls, a tea-serving doll and an arrow-shooting doll, worked, discussing their mechanism and materials. Dean Suematsu entertained the students in the afternoon with a build-it-yourself kit of a device called the South-Pointing Chariot, which is considered to be the origin of karakuri. In the evening, he gave a lecture about the history and classification of karakuri dolls and the evolvement of robots in Japan.
Dean Suematsu will return
to Washington, DC on February 9 to once again speak about karakuri
dolls. His presentation will be part of the Robotopia Rising lecture series,
featured during the Japan! culture + hyperculture festival at the Kennedy
Center. For more information about Dean Suematsu's lecture in February,
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