Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Friday, November 20, 2020, 11:18 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Opening Remarks - Visit to Japan by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: From Tuesday, November 24 to 25 next week, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit Japan. His visit to Japan will be the first high-level dignitary visit between Japan and China since the spread of the novel coronavirus.
I plan to hold a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on November 24 as well as a working dinner with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang. The meeting will be my first in-person meeting with him since we met in Munich in February this year. I would like to hold a frank exchange of views regarding Japan-China bilateral relations as well as regional and international situations with him. That is all from me.
Visit to Japan by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China
NHK, YAMAMOTO: In regard to the visit to Japan by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang, I believe there is a wide range of discussion themes concerning relations with China. What themes in particular would you like to have in-depth discussions about? Also, in regard to allowing resumption of cross-border travel for which the final consultations are ongoing, would you like to achieve an agreement to a certain extent at the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting? Thank you.
Minister MOTEGI: Firstly, I would like to refrain from speaking about the particular topics of the content of my discussion with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang. There are various unresolved issues in our bilateral relations. As I have stated through now, I believe it is important to resolve each pending issue one by one through high-level meetings. I would like to hold a frank exchange of views regarding regional issues, the global spread of the novel coronavirus, and various international situations.
At the same time, the final consultations are being held on the “Business Track” with China. China has been recently issuing alerts concerning overseas travel to Chinese citizens due to the situation of novel coronavirus infections within China. Japan has been monitoring China’s movements related to that. In any event, before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, China was the country that Japan shared the most cross-border travel with, including tourism between our two countries. I would thus like to have good consultations on how to allow resumption of travel in a way that prevents the spread of infections.
Negotiations on Host Nation Support (HNS) for the U.S. Forces Japan
NHK, YAMAMOTO: In regard to HNS, when will the second round of negotiations be held and what is the status of coordination? Also, is there a possibility the negotiations will not be concluded within the year?
Minister MOTEGI: As stated, the first round of formal negotiations has already been held in Washington D.C. The schedule and other details of the second round of negotiations has not been decided.
In any event, HNS is an extremely important component of the Japan-U.S. security arrangements, and the security environment surrounding Japan is growing increasingly severe. At the same time, Japan’s financial situation is extremely severe. The United States is also currently in an administration transition period. We will respond appropriately in consideration of these matters.
Japan’s Trade-Related Diplomacy
Sankei Shimbun, ISHINABE: I would like to ask about trade-related diplomacy. The negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) were recently concluded. In the Diet, deliberations are advancing on the Japan-U.K. Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Can you please tell us again about the importance of advancing such free trade? Also, I believe there will be focus on participation by the United Kingdom in the TPP as well as the United States rejoining the TPP. What matters will Japan focus on as it advances trade-related diplomacy?
Minister MOTEGI: Japan believes that it is important to develop the free trade system amidst inward-looking attitudes that are gaining traction around the world. In consideration of this, we have expanded various economic cooperation agreements, such as the TPP11, the Japan-EU EPA, the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement, the Japan-U.S. Digital Trade Agreement, as well as the Japan-U.K. Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement for which deliberations are currently advancing in the Diet, and the RCEP that was signed last week. I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that Japan has taken the lead in creating such agreements.
This is not simply limited to trade, but also encompasses investment, creating new rules on digital fields, and protecting intellectual property in various ways. This 21st century-style rule-making is extremely important. Japan will continue to play a leading role in creating rules for the global free trade system and the DFFT.
Additionally, as I have stated thus far in regard to the TPP, firstly there are countries among the signatory nations where the domestic procedures have not ended yet, so we will urge those countries to finish those procedures as quickly as possible. We also welcome participation in the TPP by countries that are prepared to accept the high-standard content of the TPP. Thailand and the United Kingdom have indicated their interest thus far. We welcome that and will provide information in various ways, among other actions.
During U.K. Secretary of State for International Trade Truss’ recent visit to Japan, there was a mentioning that the United Kingdom would formally request to participate in the TPP in the first half of next year. Japan will provide support in whatever ways we can with interest in the situation.
In the United States, I believe that President-elect Biden and his administration transition team are advancing various forms of consideration. We will firstly monitor what policies the next administration will coordinate, including for trade-related diplomacy.
As stated, the new Biden administration in the United States is currently coordinating its novel coronavirus measures as well as its domestic priority policies such as on race issues and environmental issues. If we look at the composition of the U.S. Congress, it seems that domestic measures will take a considerable amount of time. On the other hand, the Biden administration is coordinating the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement on the day of the inauguration, as well as other paths for international cooperation such as commitment to the WHO and strengthening of relations with allies. We will monitor what direction the administration will coordinate for trade-related diplomacy with interest, and would like to have frank discussions at some point.
State Visit to Japan by President Xi Jinping of China
TV Asahi, SATO: I would like to return to the subject of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang’s visit to Japan. This will be the first visit by a high-level dignitary since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Can you please tell us your thoughts on the future outlook of this possibly leading to a state visit to Japan by President Xi Jinping?
Minister MOTEGI: Firstly, I believe that visits by high-level dignitaries are extremely important to resolve various pending issues with China. On the other hand, as I have stated through now concerning the state visit to Japan by President Xi, it is now the time to prioritize working on winding down the novel coronavirus, and we are currently not at the stage of coordinating the specific schedule of the visit.
Visit to Japan by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China (Courtesy Call to Prime Minister Suga)
Nikkei Shimbun, KATO: I would like to ask about the visit to Japan by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang. Can you please confirm if coordination is being conducted for him to meet with Prime Minister Suga during his visit?
Minister MOTEGI: A courtesy call to Prime Minister Suga is currently being coordinated while monitoring the Diet schedule and other matters.