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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2004 > August

Interview with Toshiyuki Matsuyama of Fuji Television

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
August 13, 2004

(10:30 p.m. EDT)

MR. MATSUYAMA: First of all, let me begin with the latest news. Today, a U.S. Marine chopper crashed into the university campus in Okinawa. I wondered if you have any comment on that.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I'd like to say we regret very much that an accident happened; several of our people were injured. But I am so pleased that nobody on the ground was injured. And a full investigation will be conducted and there is very good and close cooperation between our military authorities and the Okinawan police authorities and Okinawan government, and our commanders have expressed their regrets to the Okinawan government leadership.

MR. MATSUYAMA: It happened to be next to the Futenma Air Base and some critics are saying that if the Futenma was removed a long time ago it could [have] never happened. So do you have any comment on that?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, if there is not an air base there then there won't be accidents, but there is always the possibility of an accident of this type at any air base, whether it's civilian or military. And we do everything we can to fly safely, to make sure that our equipment is safe and our helicopters are safe, well maintained and our pilots are well trained. And, as I say, we regret this incident and we will get to the bottom of it to find out what happened and make sure that we are taking every precaution so that something like that does not happen again.

MR. MATSUYAMA: Okay, let me ask you on the permanent UN Security Council membership, Japan is now trying to be the permanent member of UNSC and some Japanese diplomats are saying now is the best chance to be a permanent member. And what do you think is the obstacle to be a member for Japan -- the Article 9 or the limitation of the collective self-defense right?

SECRETARY POWELL: No. As you know, the Security Council membership is now fixed at five permanent members and the ten elected members. Secretary General Kofi Annan has a study going on to examine the structure, the structure of all UN institutions, to see whether change is appropriate in the Security Council. And if a change is appropriate, then the United States would certainly support Japan's desire to be a member of the Security Council. And it is not Article 9 or constitutional restrictions that would keep Japan from becoming a member, but because of Article 9 one would have to look at how Japan would participate in the work of the Security Council since the Security Council takes action with respect to peacekeeping operations and with respect to collective efforts on the part of the Security Council.

But with respect to Article 9 and its place in Japanese political life and in the Japanese constitution, this is entirely a matter for the Japanese people to decide and, in our mind, that's the only answer we can give. Japan is a democracy and its people decide whether Article 9 is still appropriate in today's environment and we would not link any change to Article 9 to Security Council membership or our support for Japan's desire for Security Council membership.

MR. MATSUYAMA: You believe the Japan should examine the Article 9 itself?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think there is a discussion taking place now, but it is up to Japan to make that decision as to whether it should be examined and whether it should be modified in any way. The United States respects the sovereign right of the Japanese people to make such decisions unbothered by any outsider.

MR. MATSUYAMA: On North Korea, this week Li Gun, North Korean official Li Gun, and Special Envoy DeTrani attended a seminar in New York City. And did anything positive came up, came out from that meeting?

SECRETARY POWELL: It was an academic seminar and we were pleased that the North Koreans were able to attend it. So were many other individuals from around the world with an interest in this. Mr. DeTrani and Minister Li had a brief exchange, as one would have with any other attendee at such a conference, but there was no substantive discussions. All of the substantive discussions that we were having on the Korean nuclear question we are doing within the context of the six-party framework.

MR. MATSUYAMA: Do you believe the six-party talk can produce any kind of agreement before the general election or before the first term of Bush Administration is over?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I can't tell. I don't know the answer to that question, but I think the six-party talks are making progress. All members of the six-party framework agree that the Korean Peninsula should be denuclearized. Even the North Koreans agree with that. So we are trying now to move forward to see how to bring that about.

The North Koreans want assurances that they are not going to be attacked or invaded and that the United States has no hostile intent towards them, and we have given those assurances and we are prepared, in the context of the six-party talks, to give written assurances of that kind. I think all of the parties are willing to do that.

And we have to be assured that the North Koreans understand that, unlike with the Agreed Framework of 1994, any agreement that we make now has to be an agreement that completely, and in a verifiable way, totally dismantles the North Korean nuclear programs.

MR. MATSUYAMA: Japan and North Korea began working level talks on the fate of ten Japanese abductees this week. And how do you assess Koizumi's approach? Because some critics are saying, like, Koizumi is rushing to normalize the relationship with North Korea. How do you respond to that?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think that Prime Minister Koizumi has approached his discussions with the North Koreans in a very, very prudent and sensible manner. It's been going on for some time now and I think he has achieved some successes with the release of some abductees, but there are still remaining questions to be dealt with. So the United States supports Prime Minister Koizumi and the approach that he is taking. Now, whether he is moving too fast or too slow, that is up for Japanese political leaders to make a determination, not the United States.

MR. MATSUYAMA: On to Sgt. Jenkins. When will the U.S. request custody of him? Now he is in a hospital in Japan.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we have made no decision on that. He is a deserter of the Armed Forces of the United States and we have to resolve that matter, so the charges are still pending. He has been provided access to a U.S. military lawyer to give him guidance and we are now just interested in seeing that he gets proper medical care, as he is receiving in Japan, and at an appropriate time in the future we will make a judgment as to whether and when custody and under what circumstances custody should be requested or how the case will be resolved.

MR. MATSUYAMA: Last question. What kind of contribution of Japanese Self-Defense Forces in Iraq do you expect at this point?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces are making an important contribution now in the southern part of the country doing medical work, construction activities. We are so pleased that the Japanese Government, but especially the Japanese people, recognize that in this 21st Century world we live in, a country like Iraq is in need and wants to be a democracy and wants the same kind of freedom that Japan now enjoys. And we have gotten rid of a dictatorial regime, but the Japanese people were willing to let their troops come and be a part of this effort to bring peace and democracy to a country that is in need.

It was a difficult political choice for Prime Minister Koizumi and for the Japanese Government and people, but it was the right choice and we applaud that choice and your troops are doing a very, very good job in Iraq now.

MR. MATSUYAMA: Okay. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY POWELL: You're welcome.


Released on August 13, 2004

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