Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu

Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 12:30 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

Arrival in Japan of the People who Left Afghanistan

Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Firstly, I have one announcement. In regard to the arrival in Japan of people who left Afghanistan, on Friday, October 8 last week, with the support from the Government of Qatar, 53 local staff members of Japanese embassy in Afghanistan and JICA’s Afghanistan office as well as other people arrived in Japan after leaving Afghanistan.

The Government of Japan has been making various diplomatic efforts until now to enable local staff members and others to leave Afghanistan. This time, we were able to realize the entry of 53 people into Japan after successfully urging the Government of Qatar. In addition, out of just under 140 local staff members who are scheduled to arrive in Japan after leaving Qatar with the support of Japan, about 50 people are scheduled to arrive in Japan tomorrow. Furthermore, as of now, over 300 Afghani people related to Japan have left Afghanistan, and 118 of them have already entered Japan.

I directly requested Foreign Minister Mohammed of Qatar for cooperation when I met him during my visit to Qatar when I visited the Middle East in August as well as during the United Nations General Assembly in September. I would like to take this opportunity to express sincere gratitude to the Government of Qatar for making effort in response to our request.

In close cooperation with relevant countries, including the United States and Qatar, the Government of Japan will continue to exert all efforts to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals, local staff members, and others and provide necessary support for their departure from Afghanistan through diplomatic efforts including negotiations with the Taliban. That is all from me.

Situation in Afghanistan (Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan)

Asahi Shimbun, Aibara: I would like to ask about Afghanistan. The U.S. government delegation and the Taliban recently held talks in Qatar. It is said that they discussed humanitarian assistance. The Government of Japan has dispatched Government Representative Uemura to Qatar for negotiations. Please tell us what direction you will take on humanitarian assistance.

Minister Motegi: I believe that the talks between the United States and the Taliban were on terrorism, human rights, and safe travel, as well as humanitarian assistance which you have mentioned.

Due to the rising humanitarian assistance needs in Afghanistan and neighboring countries, Japan has already announced that we will provide assistance totaling $200 million within this year, including $65 million in new assistance through international organizations.

I believe it is important for the international community to unite to persistently urge the Taliban to firstly protect the lives and assets of all Afghani people and restore social order, secondly to protect and improve fundamental human rights and particularly women’s rights, and thirdly to respect inclusive political processes which include diverse ethnic and sectarian groups. It is also important for the international community to monitor the actions taken by the Taliban.

As I mentioned earlier, Japan will continue to exert all efforts in cooperation with countries such as the United States and Qatar to protect the safety of Japanese nationals, local staff members, and others and provide support for their departure from Afghanistan.

Situation in Afghanistan (Support for Evacuation from Afghanistan)

Nikkei Shimbun, Tobita: I would like to ask about the evacuation of Afghani people from Afghanistan, which you have mentioned in your opening remarks. You have mentioned that over 300 people will arrive in Japan. I believe this is a result of negotiations between the Government of Japan and the Taliban. Please tell us a little more of the details. In addition, I believe the negotiations will continue for the remaining 200 people, so please share with us the policy for them.

Minister Motegi: We are of course directly negotiating with the Taliban. Furthermore, as I mentioned earlier, we have been able to bring about departure from Afghanistan and entry into Japan by Japanese nationals as well as local staff of the embassy and JICA with efforts made by various relevant parties, including the Government of Qatar which has relations with the Taliban.

The remaining people have their own different circumstances. We will continue to work to the maximum extent to enable safe departure from Afghanistan for those who wish to do so.

Face-to-face Diplomacy by Prime Minister Kishida

NHK, Yamamoto: I would like to ask about foreign visits by Prime Minister Kishida. On a television show last night, Prime Minister Kishida stated that the first foreign leader he would like to meet in person is President Biden, and that firstly it is fundamental to build a relationship of mutual trust between Japan and the United States. Do you have the same recognition? In addition, what is the current status of coordination toward holding an in-person Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting?

Minister Motegi: The Japan-U.S. Alliance is the linchpin of Japan’s diplomacy and security, and I believe it is extremely important to strengthen the Alliance. At the same time, cooperation with the United States, Australia, India, and other such countries has also become important from the perspective of realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” Prime Minister Kishida has already held several telephone talks from such perspectives. He firstly held a telephone talk with President Biden of the United States, as well as telephone talks with Australia and India.

In that sense, I believe the United States is the top priority for an in-person meeting, and I am in complete agreement with Prime Minister Kishida on that. Coordination on the meeting schedule will be made from now, and it will depend on the scheduling circumstances of both sides. I do not think it is the case that we absolutely would not conduct an in-person meeting with a different country before the United States.

Cooperation with the Minister in Charge of Economic Security

Independent Web Journal, Hamamoto: I would like to ask about the Minister in charge of Economic Security, newly established post under the Kishida administration. Secretary-General AMARI Akira of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) stated on “The PRIME” Sunday television news show on October 3 that strategic decoupling from China is a key for economic security.

During a press conference by Minister in charge of Economic Security KOBAYASHI Takayuki on October 5, when the Independent Web Journal (IWJ), which I work for, asked whether he would be the minister mainly with the duty of decoupling from China as told by Secretary-General Amari, he answered that he personally thinks that Japan and China have extremely deep trade and investment connections as the world’s second and third largest economies, and that decoupling would be extremely unrealistic and unnecessary.

The LDP administration and the Minister in charge of Economic Security are making statements that are totally opposite. What are the thoughts of MOFA, which will cooperate with the Minister in charge of Economic Security, on the aim to decouple from China as stated by Secretary-General Amari? I believe that diplomacy with China is naturally the job of MOFA, while military security and the like are under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Defense.

Amidst this situation, please tell us your recognition on the reason that the Kishida administration newly established the Minister in charge of Economic Security position, as well as the division of roles with MOFA. Moreover, what are your thoughts on the difference in the statements made by Secretary-General Amari and Minister in charge of Economic Security Kobayashi?

Minister Motegi: I will state what I should and what I can say as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Firstly, in cooperation with countries that share universal values, Japan will state what should be stated and request China to take responsible actions, at the same time continue dialogue and cooperation on shared issues.

In recent years, the scope of security has been rapidly expanding beyond conventional areas to include economic and technological areas, and cross-national competition has surfaced in the economic security field. Amidst this development, I believe there is no doubt that it has become more important than ever before to safeguard strategic goods and key technologies and prevent technology leaks.

It is important for the entire government to steadily advance necessary efforts toward ensuring economic security, including necessary legislation, with cooperation of relevant ministries and agencies. MOFA will actively contribute to whole-government initiatives in this field in cooperation with the Minister in charge of Economic Security.

Situation in Taiwan

Nikkei Shimbun, Tobita: In a show on TV Tokyo last night, Prime Minister Kishida stated that Japan must develop a system and legislation to be able to respond to any situation in regard to Taiwan. You also mentioned in a recent press conference that Japan will not simply observe the developments, but also firmly consider what responses could be taken and what preparation would need to be advanced in thinking about various situations. Please tell us if you have anything in mind on countermeasures such as setting up a system or passing a legislation.

Minister Motegi: In relation to what you asked in your question, at this point, we are currently discussing which direction we should move forward. I would like to refrain from answering specifically due to the nature of the issue.

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