ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)

July 14, 2023
Foreign Minister attends the 30th ASEAN Regional Forum
Foreign Minister attends the 30th ASEAN Regional Forum
(Photo) The 30th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)

On July 14, commencing at 3:25 p.m. local time (5:25 pm, JST) for about 200 minutes, the 30th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) (Chair: H.E. Ms. Retno Marsudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Indonesia) was held in Jakarta, Indonesia. Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, attended the meeting. The overview of the meeting is as follows.

1. Opening Remarks and Regional issues

Given the increasingly severe security environment in the Indo-Pacific, Minister Hayashi spoke on the increasing importance of the ARF and expressed that Japan continues to strengthen cooperation with ASEAN while supporting ASEAN centrality and unity. The overview of his remarks after that are as follows.

  1. Japan strongly condemns Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Russia’s nuclear threats, let alone its use of nuclear weapons, is absolutely unacceptable. Japan urges Russia to immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine.
    (Other participating countries expressed serious concerns over the situation in Ukraine, condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and/or urged Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine.)
  2. Unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force should never be tolerated anywhere in the world. Japan strongly opposes such attempts in the East China Sea and South China Sea. As for the South China Sea, the Code of Conduct (COC) should respect the legitimate rights and interests of all stakeholders who use the South China Sea. The Arbitral Tribunal's award between the Philippines and China in 2016 is final and legally-binding on the parties to the dispute. The peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is also important for the region and the international community.
    (Other participating counties expressed concerns over the situation in the South China Sea, mentioned the importance of the freedom of navigation and overflight, of the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, and of the peace and stability of across the Taiwan Strait, and/or expressed concerns over the increasing tensions.)
  3. Japan strongly condemns the launch of an ICBM-class ballistic missile by North Korea on July 12 as it threatens the peace and security of the international community. Japan welcomes the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Joint Statement issued yesterday which expressed grave concern over this launch by North Korea. Japan’s policy vis-à-vis North Korea remains unchanged which is to seek normalization of its relationship with North Korea through comprehensively resolving the outstanding issues of concern, such as the abductions, nuclear and missile issues, and settle the unfortunate past, in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration of September 2002. Prime Minister Kishida has expressed his determination, on various occasions, to meet directly with Chairman Kim Jong-un without any preconditions. We call on North Korea to resume substantive dialogue with the countries concerned toward complete denuclearization.
    (Other participating countries spoke on concerns over North Korea’s provocative actions, and on the importance of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the full implementation of the relevant UNSCRs. Some also expressed support for efforts to immediately resolve the abductions issue.)
  4. Japan is seriously concerned about Myanmar, where the violence has not been stopped and the situation continues to deteriorate. Japan will continue to strongly urge the Myanmar military to faithfully work towards a peaceful solution by taking concrete actions to immediately stop the violence, to release those who are detained, and to swiftly restore Myanmar’s democratic political system, and swiftly implementing ASEAN’s “Five-Point Consensus”.
    (Other participating counties also expressed serious concerns over the situation in Myanmar and emphasized the importance of the implementation of “the Five-Point Consensus.”)
  5. Japan is of the view that, even in a severe security environment, we must steadily advance our efforts towards a world without nuclear weapons. The NPT is the foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. Japan will continue to take realistic and practical efforts in line with the "Hiroshima Action Plan". We expect China to play an active role in enhancing transparency of nuclear forces in the region as a nuclear-weapon State and as an important player in the international community. Furthermore, Japan expresses strong hope for dialogues leading to the development of broader framework of arms control, where a wide variety of countries are involved to deal with a wider range of weapon systems.

2. Closing Remarks

In the end, Minister Hayashi stated that the ARF, which marks 30th anniversary this year, has accumulated a great number of achievements, and that Japan will continue to contribute to the ARF.

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