Brief bit on tonight’s Hatoyama-Obama press conference; discussion of Obama’s Japan visit


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Hi Blog.  Just a quick word, having watched the the 8:30-9:05 joint press conference tonight between PM Hatoyama and Pres Obama.

For those who did not see it, they focussed on issues that were of a larger geopolitical nature, including Afghanistan, nuclear weapons, North Korea, global warming, moving Guantanamo trials to the US, and, foremost, the need for maintaining the strength of the Japan-US Alliance and its positive effects on the wealth, security, and stability of East Asia as a region.

They took only one question each from the press corps (so each of them asked lots of questions).  The child abductions, the point most germane to at this time, did not come up.

I open this blog entry so that others can discuss what they thought about the press conference, as well as Obama’s Japan visit this time around in general.  Go for it.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

6 comments on “Brief bit on tonight’s Hatoyama-Obama press conference; discussion of Obama’s Japan visit

  • I didn’t think the Child Abduction issue would be raised in a public forum, since neither Secretary Clinton nor Assistant Secretary Campbell have raised it publicly yet. However, I was holding out hope of the slim possibility that the western press pool would raise the issue. I was disappointed, however, that the AP reporter raised the issue of KSM’s trial in New York, which has nothing to do with Japan at all. The big question now is, did they raise the issue during their 90 minute meeting and what was said?

  • Thanks for this. It’s obvious Japan is not the top foreign policy priority for Obama. He probably knew about the incident but chose not to talk about it, skating on the safe side. It doesn’t particularly help him to get into the battle. I’m curious about the identities of the two journalists (One Japanese, the other American) — on Japanese side, probably from the corrupt Kisha Club, and on the American side … only 1 person to ask Qs from each side? Who decides these rules? Pshhh.

  • Japan Times/Kyodo offers this overview. Nice mention of Obama’s curtsey towards the DPRK abductions of Japanese, no mention as yet of Japanese abductions of children after divorce, alas, despite letter from 22 US Senators asking Obama to bring it up. Disappointing. Debito

    Japan Times Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009
    Abductees’ kin hail Obama’s North stance
    Kyodo News
    Relatives of people abducted by North Korea praised U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech Saturday for delivering a strong, clear message that the matter should be settled.

    “He sent a clear message to North Korea and it meant that (Pyongyang) needs to change its approach to international society,” said Shigeru Yokota, whose daughter, Megumi, was taken to the reclusive country in 1977 at age 13.

    Yokota, who turned 77 on Saturday, and his wife, Sakie, 73, were among invitees to Suntory Hall in Tokyo where Obama touched on the abduction issue in a major address on his first trip to Asia since taking office in January.

    “The path for North Korea to realize this future is clear: a return to the six-party talks; upholding previous commitments, including a return to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty; and the full and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Obama said.

    “And full normalization with its neighbors can only come if Japanese families receive a full accounting of those who have been abducted,” he said.

    Sakie Yokota said she hopes the North will take Obama’s speech seriously.

    “It was a strong message and I’m pleased with it,” she said. “Obama took up the abduction issue with impressive words that clearly showed his policy. I feel things will start moving in the right direction.”

    Obama’s remarks on North Korea’s past abductions of Japanese nationals came in his first major speech about his foreign policy on Asia, in which he also pledged to strengthen the relationships between the United States and other Asia-Pacific nations.

    “We will do so through our close friendship with Japan — which will always be a centerpiece of our efforts in the region,” Obama told the audience of about 1,500 people, which included invitees from the political and business circles, as well as traditional Japanese arts.

    Among the lawmakers in the audience, Deputy Prime Minister Naoto Kan of the Democratic Party of Japan described Obama’s speech as “impressive.”

    “I was impressed with the way he made clear that the United States places importance on its ties with the Asia-Pacific region,” Kan said of the speech, which also stated that the U.S. commitment to Japan’s and Asia’s security is “unshakable.”

    However, Mizuho Fukushima, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, a minor coalition partner of the DPJ, voiced disappointment with Obama’s remarks for lacking an in-depth reference to the issue of U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

    “He referred little to contentious issues, including on Okinawa bases, which is currently the most crucial, so I was disappointed somewhat,” said Fukushima, who is also state minister in charge of consumer affairs.

    The rift over how to relocate U.S. Marines Corps Air Station Futenma has cast a shadow over Japan-U.S. relations. In Saturday’s address, Obama said both have agreed to “move expeditiously” through a joint working group to implement the agreement that the two reached in 2006 on restructuring U.S. forces in Okinawa.

    Nakaima upset
    NAHA , Okinawa Pref. (Kyodo) Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima says he is disappointed Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and U.S. President Barack Obama did not touch on the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in their talks Friday.

    “It was disappointing that no specific reference was made” to the issue of the air base in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, Nakaima said in a statement. “I hope strong efforts will be made from now on to steadily advance the reduction of the burden on the prefecture of hosting the bases.”

    Okinawa hosts the bulk of U.S. forces in Japan.

    Gist of U.S. policy on Asia
    Kyodo News
    • The United States’ commitment to security in Japan and Asia is unshakable.

    • North Korea should return to the six-party talks.

    • For North Korea’s relations with its neighbors to be normalized, the abductions of Japanese nationals must be resolved.

    • The United States welcomes China’s efforts to play a greater role on the world stage.

    • The United States will seek a world without nuclear weapons.

    • As long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States will maintain its nuclear deterrent for its allies, including Japan.

    During a joint news conference after their talks, Hatoyama and Obama said they agreed their countries will seek to reach a speedy conclusion on Futenma’s relocation, stressing their talks were successful and meaningful.

    Under a bilateral accord struck in 2006, the flight operations of the Futenma base are to be moved to the less densely populated city of Nago in northern Okinawa by 2014.

    While Hatoyama’s government, launched in September, has begun to review the realignment plan, the United States maintains that Japan should abide by the original accord.

    The two countries have agreed to set up a high-level working group to discuss the Futenma issue.

    Lunch with royals
    Kyodo News
    Visiting U.S. President Barack Obama met with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko over lunch on Saturday.

    The Emperor and Empress greeted Obama with handshakes at the entrance to the residence in the Imperial Palace before the three had lunch with only an interpreter attending, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

    The Imperial Couple normally host top foreign leaders at the main building of the Imperial Palace. But their residence was chosen for the lunch with Obama because of tight schedules for both parties, the agency said.

    The same arrangement in hosting a U.S. president was last made in November 1998 when Bill Clinton visited Japan.

    In a speech in Tokyo earlier in the day, Obama said it would be an “extraordinary honor” to meet with the Emperor and Empress in the year that marks the Emperor’s 20th anniversary of his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

    The Emperor was enthroned Jan. 7, 1989, following the death of his father, Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa, and ceremonies commemorating the anniversary were held Thursday.

    Obama arrived in Tokyo on Friday afternoon and held talks with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama later in the day.


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