Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Friday, February 12, 2021, 10:18 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
U.S.-China Summit Telephone Talk
NHK, Yamamoto: A U.S.-China Summit Telephone Talk was held yesterday Japan time. President Biden stated his concerns that China is strengthening its unilateral actions against Taiwan and others. What is the Government of Japan’s assessment of the summit telephone talk?
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I believe that President Biden spoke about four major points during his telephone talk with President Xi. The first was that protecting a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” is a priority for the United States. He also conveyed his fundamental concerns about the issue of China’s coercive and unfair economic practices, human rights abuses, and China’s increasingly assertive actions in the region. Japan also shares these concerns.
In addition, it is my understanding that President Biden and President Xi held an exchange of views regarding regional issues and issues of the international community, including responding to the novel coronavirus and climate change. As the importance of international cooperation is currently growing due to the global spread of the novel coronavirus, stable U.S.-China relations are extremely important for the international community. From this perspective, we will monitor such developments in U.S.-China relations, including the summit telephone talk this time.
Launch of the Mars Probe by Japan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Pan Orient News, AZHARI: The United Arab Emirates succeeded in bringing in the Hope Probe to the Mars orbit a few days ago. That was a really good example of good cooperation between Japan and the United Arab Emirates. What is the Japanese government's view on this success? And what is your vision for future bilateral cooperation?
Minister Motegi: I would like to express my sincere congratulations that the UAE’s Hope probe to Mars reached Mars’ orbit without incident. This is the first time that a probe from an Arab country in the Middle East has reached Mars, and I would like to commend this great achievement.
HOPE was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center through Japan’s H2-A rocket. Japan is very pleased that we could contribute to this achievement.
Based on the “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Initiative,” Japan and the UAE have been advancing wide-ranging cooperation, including in the space field. I believe that this success is a symbolic example of that. We will continue to advance cooperation in various fields.
Situation in Myanmar (U.S. Sanctions against Myanmar)
Asahi Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about the situation in Myanmar. During your recent telephone talk with Secretary of State Blinken, you confirmed close cooperation on the situation in Myanmar. The United States has announced that it will impose sanctions on the leaders of the Myanmar military. Please tell us again Japan’s position on such sanctions.
Minister Motegi: I held a telephone talk with Secretary of State Blinken for approximately 40 minutes late at night the day before yesterday, which I believe was in the early morning of the preceding day U.S. time. We discussed the situation in Myanmar for the majority of the talk. Japan and the United States share strong concerns about the current situation in Myanmar. Secretary of State Blinken and I agreed on the points that it is necessary for the violent response to civilians to be immediately suspended, for those who were detained including State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to be released, and for Myanmar’s democratic political system to be swiftly restored. We will further deepen Japan-U.S. cooperation.
In this way, Japan and the United States both share the objective of the swift restoration of the democratic political system in Myanmar. Japan understands the United States’ decision from the perspective that in a sense it will urge Myanmar in an extremely limited form.
Japan will closely cooperate with like-minded countries such as the United States while playing our own role, including urging the Myanmar military.
China’s Coast Guard Law
Nikkei Shimbun, Kato: I would like to ask about China’s Coast Guard Law. You pointed out in a recent press conference that the actions of China’s Coast Guard vessels based on China’s unique claims within Japan’s territory near the Senkaku Islands are a breach of international law. I believe you were referring to the actions of the Coast Guard. It is also being pointed out that China’s Coast Guard Law itself is questioned in terms of international law. Can you please tell us the issues of the Coast Guard Law itself in terms of international law?
Minister Motegi: As I recently stated, I believe China’s Coast Guard Law includes stipulations that are problematic from the perspective of conformity with international law, including being vague about the maritime areas it applies to and providing the authority to use force. We believe that the Law must be applied in conformity with international law.
Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games (Statement by Chairman Mori)
Asahi Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about the Tokyo Olympic Games. Chairman Mori’s discriminatory statement about women is attracting high interest even internationally. Statements are being made one after the other in Japan and overseas that Japan is backwards in terms of gender equality. What is your view of this controversy?
Minister Motegi: I believe the Olympic Games should be held with a spirit of opposing all forms of discrimination. The Games must be held safely and securely, and will be proof that humankind has defeated the novel coronavirus. We will also make them an opportunity to appeal to the world that Fukushima Prefecture and the rest of the Tohoku region has recovered splendidly from the Great East Japan Earthquake, as exactly 10 years have passed since the start of Fukushima’s recovery with the support that has been received from various countries.