Interviews & Articles

June 19, 2023

Thank you for the opportunity to give a speech here today. The last time I spoke at the FCCJ was in September 2021, before I became the Minister for Foreign Affairs. At that time, the COVID-19 pandemic was placing major constraints on the diplomacy of Japan and of other countries.

I understand that the pandemic affected the FCCJ as well - you were not able to carry out in-person speeches and had to continually come up with new ways to provide information. I am sure that you faced many difficulties behind the scenes. But with the passing of time, today, I am pleased to be with you again for the first time in two years in person and, for some of you, virtually.

The global situations have changed dramatically over the past two years. In February last year, Russia commenced its aggression against Ukraine.
The international community, including Japan, strongly condemned Russia and imposed sanctions against Russia. However, regrettably, Russia’s outrageous acts continue.

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is not a problem for Europe alone.
The security of Europe and that of the Indo-Pacific are inseparable. “Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow.” We have repeatedly conveyed this message to the international community.

With the world facing various global challenges, last year alone, I attended the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meetings for 11 times. This year Japan took the baton of the G7 Presidency from Germany. In February, I hosted the first G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting under Japan’s Presidency when we got together for the Munich Security Conference.

Then I convened the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Karuizawa, Nagano, in April. We had good discussions in preparation for the Hiroshima Summit.

As an outcome of the meeting, we issued the G7 Foreign Ministers' Communique. In the Communique, the G7 confirmed for the first time in writing its commitment to the “free and open international order based on the rule of law” and its strong opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo “anywhere in the world”.

Furthermore, we discussed nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in detail. We also talked about our cooperation with the countries of the so-called “Global South” and global issues such as energy and food security.

Then, as you may recall, we successfully convened the G7 Summit in Hiroshima last month. The G7 Leaders held candid and in-depth discussions among themselves and with invited countries and organizations.

Today, I would like to present some of the outcomes of the G7 Hiroshima Summit and Japan’s future diplomacy.

The Summit was held at a time when the international community is at a historic turning point. The G7 Leaders reaffirmed their unwavering unity at the G7 Hiroshima Summit.

The participants, including the invited countries, agreed on some of the key points, and I will highlight them now.
Firstly, all countries should adhere to the principles of the United Nations (UN) Charter.
Secondly, confrontation should be resolved peacefully through dialogue, and we support a just and durable peace based on respect for international law and the principles of the UN Charter.
Thirdly, any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force is unacceptable anywhere in the world.
Fourthly, we strive to uphold the free and open international order based on the rule of law.
With these points agreed, I believe we achieved the objectives that we initially set out for the Summit.

In addition, we deepened our discussions on the global economy, including food and energy issues. Discussions also covered a broad range of global challenges, including climate change, development, global health, and artificial intelligence (AI). The G7 Leaders confirmed the direction of our response to these challenges.

On top of these, our aim of holding the Summit in Hiroshima was also to allow the leaders to experience the reality of the nuclear weapons use and communicate them to the world. In that regard, I feel that the visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was a historic and valuable opportunity for all the leaders. I believe that they deepened their understanding of the reality of the nuclear weapons use in a serene and solemn atmosphere. The messages the leaders wrote in the guest book clearly show it.

At this Summit, we issued the G7 Leaders’ Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament, the first G7 Leaders’ stand-alone document focusing on nuclear disarmament.
We will continue and strengthen our realistic and practical efforts to realize this vision.

President Zelenskyy joined the discussions on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The G7 Leaders demonstrated their unwavering solidarity with Ukraine. We also confirmed that the G7 would continue its severe sanctions against Russia and strong support for Ukraine, and make every effort to bring peace to Ukraine.

At Hiroshima, there was a session exclusively dedicated to economic resilience and economic security for the first time in the history of the G7 Summit. The importance of a multilateral trading system remains unchanged. However, we must also strengthen the economic resilience and economic security of the entire international community, together with the “Global South” partners.

To this end, the G7 will step up collaborative efforts among its Members such as strengthening the resilience of supply chains and critical infrastructure, launching the Coordination Platform on Economic Coercion and other initiatives.

Since Japan is the only G7 member from Asia, we took the lead in discussions on the Indo-Pacific. Prime Minister Kishida explained his new plan for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP). The G7 concurred that we would continue to work together to realize the FOIP.

The idea of the FOIP is fundamentally underpinned by the principles of defending “freedom” and “the rule of law”. The rule of law is most needed by vulnerable countries. If the international community is to enjoy freedom, we need respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, peaceful resolution of disputes, non-use of force, and other principles of the UN Charter, as important preconditions.

The equally important principles of the FOIP are respect for diversity, inclusiveness, and openness. This means not excluding anyone, not creating different camps, and not imposing values on others.

The current historic turning point is characterized by the lack of a universally accepted notion on the nature of the international order.
The paradigm of international relations is shifting and we are searching for an approach that will set the tone for the next era.
The fundamental concept of the FOIP I just described is becoming increasingly relevant.

Now we need to share the FOIP vision of maintaining and strengthening a free and open international order based on the rule of law among a broad range of partners in the international community. We must lead the world towards cooperation, not division or confrontation.

The G7 Hiroshima Summit is over. However, Japan holds the G7 Presidency until the end of the year.
There are many chances to work with international partners, including the “Global South”, such as the G20 Summit in New Delhi and the SDG Summit in September and the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit in December.

The G20 is a group of highly influential countries in the international community, and cooperation with and within the G20 is especially important today. Japan will work hard to ensure that the outcomes of the G7 Hiroshima Summit will provide constructive inputs to the G20 New Delhi Summit in India.
We will launch and deliver on concrete cooperation initiatives to tackle challenges such as food, development, and health.
We will also continue to promote cooperation with a broad range of international partners beyond the G7.

I have to mention our relationship with ASEAN. We invited Indonesia, the ASEAN Chair, and Viet Nam, an ASEAN Member State, to the G7 Hiroshima Summit.

This year marks the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. It is a relationship that has developed remarkably since 1973. Japan fully supports the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), which shares the fundamental principles with the FOIP.

Japan will continue to promote concrete cooperation projects in line with the four priority areas of the AOIP namely maritime cooperation, connectivity, the SDGs, and the economic and other possible areas of cooperation. To this end we announced a new contribution of 100 million US dollars to the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund in March.

Japan will take the opportunity of the 50th anniversary to invigorate these efforts.
We will engage in close dialogue with the ASEAN and listen to their needs carefully. At the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit in December, we will set forth a new vision for cooperation and a wide range of concrete cooperation.

Turning to the United Nations, Japan holds a seat on the UN Security Council in 2023, coinciding our G7 Presidency. This puts us in a position where we have the responsibility of taking a greater leadership role in the international community. This January, during Japan’s Security Council Presidency, I hosted the Security Council ministerial open debate on the rule of law in New York. I chose this topic because I believe that the rule of law is essential for today’s world, which faces a variety of challenges.

The rule of law is also relevant to UN Security Council reform. Promotion of the rule of law is the foundation of multilateralism. The UN is the core of multilateralism, and the Security Council is its guardian.
So the reform of the Council is an urgent task.

In addition, we need to strengthen the UN as a whole, including the roles of the General Assembly and of the Secretary-General. We will continue our efforts to strengthen the UN’s functions, including the Security Council reform.

Japan’s G7 Presidency continues throughout the year. I will continue to engage in dialogue with my counterparts, the G7 foreign ministers.
We will uphold and strengthen the free and open international order based on the rule of law, and enhance relations with our international partners.

From these perspectives, I will continue to lead the discussions in the G7 and make extensive diplomatic efforts to fulfill Japan’s responsibilities as the G7 Presidency.

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