Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu

Tuesday, March 23, 2021, 4:36 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

(Video) Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

Expanded Edition of the “Golgo 13 Overseas Safety Manual”

Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would firstly like to speak about the “Golgo 13 Overseas Safety Manual,” which I believe has been distributed to you. As shown in what has been distributed to you, an expanded edition of the “Golgo 13 Overseas Safety Manual for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises” has been created with the addition of a new story due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

I believe that I am shown in the first five pages, and make appearances in eight parts as “Foreign Minister Takakura.”

MOFA has been working on strengthening measures to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals living overseas due to the terrorist attack in Dhaka in 2016. As part of this, we published the “Golgo 13 Overseas Safety Manual for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises” utilizing the “Golgo 13” manga in 2017. The manual has been very popular through now.

As risk management grows more complicated to require infection control measures, including for the novel coronavirus, in addition to terrorism risks, we have added a new story to the existing manual. It has been made available on the MOFA website from today.

I would like to take this opportunity to again express my gratitude to Mr. SAITO Takao, the creator of “Golgo 13,” for his cooperation in revising the manual. I hope that many people read the manual and use it as a reference for overseas safety measures. That is all from me.

Human Rights Situation of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

NHK, Yamamoto: I would like to ask about the human rights situation of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China. In regard to sanctions on China by the United States and the EU, you answered this afternoon in the Diet that it is important to urge China while each country considers what would be effective.

How do you believe Japan should respond and urge China?

Minister Motegi: Many reports are being issued that serious human rights violations are occurring in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which is causing increasing concern in the international community. In addition to the United States, the EU, the United Kingdom, and Canada have recently announced new measures against China. Japan is also seriously concerned about the human rights situation in the region. We are urging the Government of China to provide a transparent explanation.

During the visit to Japan by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in November 2020, I directly urged him. Japan and the United States also shared our serious concerns about the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region during the recent Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (Japan-U.S. “2+2”).

It is important for the international community to closely cooperate to strongly urge China. Of course Japan and the United States, as well as the countries I mentioned earlier, have been conducting various forms of communication on this point up until now. I believe the issue is how to urge China with a united voice.

Japan will further deepen consideration on how to respond going forward.

Low Altitude Flying by Helicopters of the U.S. Forces Japan

Mainichi Shimbun, Tadokoro: I would like to ask about low altitude flying by helicopters of the U.S. Forces.

The position of the Government of Japan is that the conduct standards stipulated by Japan’s Civil Aeronautics Act also apply to the helicopters of the U.S. Forces based on the Japan-U.S. agreement in 1999. However, in response to coverage by the Mainichi Shimbun, the U.S. Forces Japan recently indicated a different view that the Act applies to fixed wing jet aircraft and not helicopters.

This was discussed during today’s meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense of the House of Councillors. What is your reaction to this?

Does the Government of Japan intend to confirm with the U.S. Forces that the Act does not apply to helicopters? I would also like to ask that.

Minister Motegi: I am aware of the report. We have conducted various forms of communication including at a high level of the U.S. Forces Japan in regard to aviation by the U.S. Forces. At the present point, we have received explanations on four points from the U.S. side. The first is that there has not been confirmation of flying that breaches the rules of the U.S. Forces that conform with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rules and Japan’s Civil Aeronautics Act. Also, time has passed since the flying that is being reported on and it is not easy to confirm the facts in detail. The third point is that ensuring safety is of course the top priority for aviation, and flying by the U.S. Forces is conducted according to the rules of the U.S. Forces that conform with ICAO rules and Japan’s Civil Aeronautics Act. The fourth point was that each unit was again instructed to make sure their flying is in accordance with the rules of the U.S. Forces.

We will strongly urge the U.S. side to pay utmost attention to safety matters and minimize the effects on local residents, and consider ensuring safety during flying to be the top priority. We would like to have Japan-U.S. cooperation on this.

Expanded Edition of the “Golgo 13 Overseas Safety Manual”

Shimotsuke Shimbun, Tazaki: I would like to ask two questions about the manual. First, what is your impression of how you are drawn? Second, what is your impression of “Golgo 13,” such as what you remember and what you are fond of?

Minister Motegi: Mr. SAITO Takao took time to draw me, and I believe he has excellent skills. My strongest impression of “Golgo 13” is that Mr. Aso, who always sits next to me in the Budget Committee, is a big fan.

First Trial for the Canadians Detained in China

NTV, Maeno: I would like to ask about the trial of the former male diplomats from Canada who were arrested and are being prosecuted for espionage in China. The first trial of the men was held behind closed doors yesterday in Beijing, and diplomats from over 20 countries gathered outside the courthouse and requested to attend. Criticism, mainly from Canada, is growing about China’s approach to secrecy. Please tell us your thoughts on this.

Minister Motegi: Japan has been monitoring with concern the case you mentioned concerning the two Canadian men detained in China since the beginning. We have been communicating with Canada about this matter, including the exchange of views during the Japan-Canada Summit Meeting in February.

Japan believes it is important for the international community’s universal values of freedom, respect for fundamental human rights, and the rule of law to be ensured in China as well.

Situation in Yemen

Pan Orient News, Azhari:
What kind of communication had or has Japan been making with related countries in the Middle East over the continued attacks by the Houthis in Yemen on oil facilities in the region? I think last time you mentioned that Japan is making some communication with countries including Iran. Any development on this?

Minister Motegi: I believe I also said this last time, but I have taken various opportunities, including my visit to Saudi Arabia in October 2020 and my telephone talk with Foreign Minister Zarif of Iran this month, to urge various related countries to work toward realizing a ceasefire and peace in Yemen.

Japan is concerned about the continuing long-term conflict in Yemen and the difficult human rights situation that many civilians have been placed in. We also strongly condemn the repeated cross-border attacks by the Houthis in Saudi Arabia and the attacks in Marib.

We welcome that the Government of Saudi Arabia announced its proposal for a comprehensive ceasefire for all of Yemen yesterday. We would like to again call on all the parties concerned, including the Houthis, to immediately implement a ceasefire and begin dialogue at an early stage toward a political solution.

In addition, the Government of Japan will continue to support the efforts of Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Yemen Griffiths toward ending the conflict in Yemen.

Situation in Afghanistan

Pan Orient News, Azhari:
What is Japan's position on the situation in Afghanistan and the so-called War on Terror in Afghanistan? It has been a long time since that war was launched and it seems it’s going on forever. It is jousting all the countries helping Afghanistan including Japan. Also Japan had some casualties last year, I think Mr. Nakayama. What is Japan's position on how to end this war?

Minister Motegi: I do not think it has been “forever.” We are deeply concerned about the continuing violence throughout Afghanistan. In particular, we strongly condemn the recent targeted assassinations in Kabul and the frequent attacks on vehicles of the authorities.

Reducing violence as well as an early-stage ceasefire are essential for the stability of Afghanistan. Japan supports the peace process led by Afghanistan. We will continue to play a constructive role for peace progression while cooperating with the international community.

Speaking specifically, I announced at the Afghanistan Conference in Geneva in November 2020 that Japan would work to provide support of $180 million per year for four years. We also decided in January 2021 to provide support of $120 million for novel coronavirus countermeasures and other matters.

Going forward, we will continue to contribute to stabilizing Afghanistan through support in development fields in which Japan excels such as agriculture, education, and healthcare, as well as support for improving security capabilities.

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