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Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Ministry to hold special courses for handling foreign press
The Foreign Ministry will start giving senior officials special training so they can better handle foreign journalists during interviews and news conferences, the ministry said Monday.
"One of the government's current priorities is to strengthen its capability to disseminate (the government's information) abroad," Seiichiro Takahashi, an official of the international press division, told The Japan Times.
The training, the first of its kind here, will be introduced around April to strengthen that capability, he said.
Takahashi said the ministry does not have any problems explaining its positions but added, "Broadly speaking, the Japanese government's, or Japan's, stances will be understood more accurately" by the foreign media once the courses are completed.
The planned sessions, which will be offered to several officials, including the vice minister, will be getting under way just as Japan gets ready to host several international conferences, including the Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido in July.
The upcoming sessions will include exercises on how to respond to questions from foreign journalists in English during mock interviews and news conferences, and review sessions to evaluate their responses. The envoys' gestures, responses and clothing also will be subject to review, he said.
Takahashi said the training would be realistic.
"There cannot be any training without using the most difficult topic to answer," he said, hinting the contentious whaling issue may also be taken up during the courses.
The training will be conducted by a private PR company that will be hired soon. The official refused to disclose the budget for the training program, but said the amount would be "extremely tiny."
According to the ministry, most of the G8 member states require officials to take training courses on handling the media when they join the ministries or are sent to overseas offices.