Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Friday, March 5, 2021, 1:37 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Excuse me, the Diet meeting went a little late this morning and it seems it will resume a little early this afternoon. That will be the schedule, so please ask your questions.
National People’s Congress (NPC) of China
NHK, Yamamoto: I would like to ask about the NPC of China. For the session of the NPC that began today, overhauling Hong Kong’s electoral system is on the agenda and is expected to be deliberated upon.
It is expected that changes to the system which will lead to the elimination of the influence of pro-democracy proponents will be implemented. How does the Government of Japan view these movements by China?
Minister Motegi: The session of the NPC began today, and Japan is monitoring the movements you mentioned with high concern. Japan’s recognition of the recent situation in Hong Kong is as I have conveyed repeatedly. Our serious concerns are growing about the effects of the series of incidents thus far on freedom of speech and freedom of the press, which have been the foundation of the democratic, stable development that Hong Kong has enjoyed.
Hong Kong is an extremely important partner for Japan with which Japan maintains close economic ties and people-to-people exchanges. It is the long-standing policy of Japan to attach great importance to upholding the free and open system which Hong Kong has been enjoying and the democratic and stable development of Hong Kong under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework. I have taken various opportunities to convey Japan’s concerns and views to the Chinese side.
In any event, firstly we will closely monitor what situation will arise from today.
Plan for Drill in the Waters Off the Senkaku Islands by the U.S. Forces Japan
Yomiuri Shimbun, Fukuda: Recently there have been reports that the U.S. Forces Japan planned to hold a drill assuming an emergency at the Senkaku Islands. It seems that the drill was not ultimately implemented due to bad weather. Implementation of a drill assuming an emergency at the Senkaku Islands seems to show that the Biden administration’s commitment for the Senkaku Islands is growing. What is your reaction?
Minister Motegi: The U.S. Forces Japan implements drills necessary to achieve the objectives of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty under normal circumstances. Your question concerns the operations of the U.S. Forces, and we usually refrain from answering such questions.
We have confirmed with the United States on repeated occasions the application of Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty to the Senkaku Islands. The Government of Japan will continue to respond firmly but in a calm manner to the situation concerning the Senkaku Islands in cooperation with the United States.
Vaccine Cooperation Between Japan, the United States, Australia, and India
Reuters, Takenaka: Today, the Financial Times (FT) reported that the “Quad” consisting of Japan, the United States, Australia, and India is formulating a plan to work together to supply vaccines to various Asian countries. What is the current status of such a movement? Japan is still working on its own vaccine rollout within the country. Was this discussed during the “Quad” meeting on February 18?
Minister Motegi: Japan, the United States, Australia, and India conduct wide-ranging discussions in order to advance practical cooperation in various fields toward realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” We have also discussed novel coronavirus countermeasures including vaccines. On February 18 during the Japan-Australia-India-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Meeting, in regard to novel coronavirus countermeasures, we discussed the necessity and importance of international cooperation for ensuring fair access to vaccines, including for developing countries, and affirmed Japan-U.S.-Australia-India cooperation. That is what has happened thus far, and nothing has been decided beyond that.
National Public Service Ethics Act
Indonesia JIEF Economic Monthly, Susilo: An investigation of Vice Minister for Policy Coordination Taniwaki at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications on the issue of wining and dining has begun. I would like to ask about the internal regulations at MOFA. If the same issue occurred, what response should be taken?
Minister Motegi: I believe it is extremely important to firmly follow the National Public Service Ethics Act.
(Press Conference Adjourned Due to the Diet Schedule)
Minister Motegi: We will swiftly announce major diplomatic schedules when decided.