Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Friday, November 19, 2021, 11:00 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Visit to Japan by Foreign Minister of the Republic of Paraguay

Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Good morning. I have two announcements at the outset.

As it has been announced in a press release, Dr. Euclides Acevedo Candia, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Paraguay, will visit Japan from November 20 to 22 as a guest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Japan-Paraguay Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is scheduled to be held on November 22.

Through the upcoming meeting, Japan will work to further strengthen bilateral political and economic relations with Paraguay, a country with which Japan shares fundamental values, and discuss regional issues and measures against various international issues, including climate change.

(2) Provision of Vaccines by Japan

Minister Hayashi: My other announcement is about the provision of vaccines by Japan.

Regarding the provision of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility, Japan has decided to provide 3.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced in Japan to Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh, Tonga, Vanuatu, Nicaragua, Egypt, Syria, and Yemen, once the necessary arrangements are made. This will be the first instance of Japan providing vaccines to the continent of Africa as well as Latin America and the Caribbean.

We plan to transport the vaccines to the respective countries once the preparations are complete.

In addition, we are currently coordinating the provision of additional vaccines directly to Viet Nam.

Japan has already provided 30 million doses of vaccines to other countries. We will continue the provision of vaccines while taking into consideration Japan’s domestic vaccine production and usage conditions, as well as the number of cases of infection and vaccine needs in various countries and regions. That is all from me.

Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

Nikkei Shimbun, Miki: President Biden of the United States has said that he is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Games. Could you please tell us the Government of Japan’s reaction and the current state of arrangements concerning Japan’s participation in the Winter Games?

Minister Hayashi: I am aware that President Biden made such a remark in his exchange with the press. I would like to refrain from commenting on how other countries are approaching the Beijing 2022 Winter Games.

In any event, Japan expects that the Beijing Winter Games will be held as a festival for peace in line with the principles of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Japan’s Legislation for Economic Security

Mainichi Shimbun, Kaite: The Advisory Board for the Promotion of Economic Security has just been launched, and the establishment of a preparatory office for economic security legislation will follow. Could you once again share your views on the importance of economic security and its positioning in the revision of the National Security Strategy? In addition, please also tell us your thoughts on the effects of economic security on diplomacies, such as Japan-U.S. and Japan-China relations.

Minister Hayashi: As you have just mentioned, the first meeting of the Advisory Board for the Promotion of Economic Security, chaired by Prime Minister Kishida, was held at the Prime Minister’s Office, and I also participated in this meeting. The participants discussed various topics including bills to promote economic security and the process for reviewing the bills.

The background to these discussions is the rapid expansion, in recent years, of the scope of security beyond conventional areas to include economic and technological matters, as well as the emergence of significant inter-state competition in the field of economic security. In this context, it has become ever more important to safeguard strategic goods and key technologies and to prevent technology leaks.

The Government as a whole is steadily advancing the necessary efforts to ensure economic security, and MOFA will actively contribute to such government-wide initiatives, while also strengthening cooperation with the United States and various other countries.

Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk (Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games)

Asahi Shimbun, Sato: I would like to ask another question related to the Beijing Winter Games, which are scheduled to take place in February 2022. According to the announcement by the Chinese side, during yesterday’s Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk, Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned that the two sides should take the opportunity of the Beijing Winter Games to create positive public opinion around Japan-China relations. I understand that you cannot go into detail on what the Chinese side said, but could you please tell us what kind of views the Japanese side conveyed in regard to the Beijing Winter Games during yesterday’s telephone talk?

Minister Hayashi: State Councilor Wang Yi mentioned China’s holding of the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games next year, but we did not have any detailed exchanges regarding this topic.

Japan-Taiwan Relations

Sankei Shimbun, Chiba: I would like to ask about Taiwan. I believe that Taiwan is a region that is currently attracting a lot of attention globally for security reasons. I believe Japan-Taiwan relations have consistently been on a very favorable trajectory, in part due to the recent exchanges concerning COVID-19 vaccines. On the other hand, the new administration is an administration of the Kochikai, which is said to have traditionally emphasized relations with China. In addition, I believe the fact that Minister Hayashi who is an expert on China assumed the post of Foreign Minister, is attracting further attention in terms of the future development of Japan-Taiwan relations. Minister Hayashi, what is your vision for the future of Japan-Taiwan relations? Please also tell us about any involvement you have had with Taiwan in your career so far if any.

Minister Hayashi: Japan will promote relations with Taiwan following the same principles as before. As for my own experience related to Taiwan, I remember that soon after becoming a member of the Diet, I attended and participated in discussions at a Taiwan-related forum, which, if memory serves, was hosted by the private sector.

Japan’s Policy toward Southeast Asia

Tribune News, Susilo: Good morning, Minister Hayashi. Congratulations on your appointment. I am Susilo from Indonesia’s Tribune News.

Yesterday (November 18), at around 7 p.m., Prime Minister Kishida and President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo held a summit telephone talk. The talk covered the topics of Indo-Pacific cooperation, cooperation on the abductions issue, the East and the South China Sea issues, and issues related to Myanmar and ASEAN. In 2022, Indonesia will assume the G20 presidency, and Japan and ASEAN will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. Apart from these topics, do you, as the newly appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs, have any new policies on Japan-Indonesia and Japan-ASEAN relations?

Minister Hayashi: Thank you. Southeast Asian countries are longstanding partners for Japan, and we consider good relations with each country to be essential for Japan’s peace and prosperity.

Furthermore, the Southeast Asian region is the world’s growth center with a population of 670 million and is also located in a geopolitically important strategic point. Japan recognizes the region as being key to realizing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP).

Based on this recognition, Japan will continue to promote close cooperation with Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, in a wide range of fields.

As for myself, before I was appointed as Minister for Foreign Affairs, I had been participating in exchanges with Southeast Asian politicians and we engaged in various discussions. I hope that I can find a way to utilize those experiences.

Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

Jiji Press, Tanaka: I would like to ask another question about the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The rationale behind the United States’ consideration of a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics is the grave human rights situation in China. Could you please tell us your thoughts on how Japan should respond to the situation, including whether Japan should dispatch Government dignitaries to the Games?

Minister Hayashi: Regarding the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, my answer is the same as before. As for the attendance of foreign dignitaries at the Beijing Winter Games, the procedure requires that the Olympic and Paralympic Committees of each country and region first make the applications, and then these are approved by the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee. Thus, I believe the attendance of dignitaries from Japan at the Beijing Winter Games will be considered based on these procedures. That being said, at this point, nothing has been decided regarding the attendance of Japanese dignitaries.

Japan-U.S.-ROK Vice Ministers’ Meeting

TV Asahi, Sawai: I would like to ask two questions regarding the Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) Vice Ministers’ Meeting, which was held in Washington on November 17. The joint press conference was scheduled to be held yesterday morning but was canceled, as I understand, in response to the visit to Takeshima by the chief of the ROK police, which took place immediately before the meeting. Please share with us the background and also your views.

In addition, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman stated that in Japan-U.S.-ROK trilateral meetings and various bilateral meetings, there have been discussions on a declaration of the end of the Korean War, which was proposed by President Moon Jae-in of the ROK as a means of bringing North Korea back to the negotiating table regarding the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Could you please tell us the current state of discussions concerning this declaration and also Japan’s stance on the matter?

Minister Hayashi: I will start with the cancellation of the joint press conference. Concerning the joint press conference in Washington that you mentioned, this was scheduled while Japan was lodging strong protests to the ROK side in response to the recent incident concerning Takeshima, which the Government of Japan considers to be completely unacceptable given Japan’s position on the matter. For this reason, the Government of Japan considered that it would be inappropriate to hold the joint press conference.

Moving onto the declaration of the end of the Korean War, there have been thorough exchanges of views among Japan, the United States, and the ROK, including the Japan-U.S.-ROK Vice Ministers’ Meeting, held in Washington D.C. on November 17. I would like to refrain from commenting on the details as these are diplomatic exchanges, but what I can say is that Japan has been discussing the matter with the United States and the ROK based on our consistent position.

Regarding our response to North Korea, Japan, the United States, and the ROK will continue to coordinate closely.

WTO Ministerial Conference (Attendance by Foreign Minister Hayashi)

Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: The WTO Ministerial Conference is scheduled to be held toward the end of this month. Please tell us what kind of discussions you expect will take place and whether you intend to attend the conference. If you do attend, it will be your first foreign visit as Foreign Minister, and I would like to hear your thoughts on the significance of that.

Minister Hayashi: About my attendance at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference, nothing has been decided as of now. Furthermore, as you are aware, the WTO is the foundation of the multilateral trading system. However, it is facing some urgent issues, such as responding to new challenges and dealing with its reform. In light of this, the Government of Japan recognizes the 12th Ministerial Conference, which is the first such conference in four years, as an important opportunity for the WTO to present the role it will play in overcoming the pandemic and promoting economic recovery. Japan, as a country that places importance on the rules-based, free and open economic and trade order, considers it necessary to lead the discussions and demonstrate its contribution, in close collaboration with the other countries.

G7 Summit 2023 (Host City)

Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: I would like to ask about the G7 Summit to be held in Japan in 2023. It has been reported that Hiroshima City and Hiroshima Prefecture are currently preparing a bid to host the Summit. There are high hopes among the citizens of Hiroshima that holding the Summit there, a place that has suffered an atomic bombing, will be an opportunity to widely convey the preciousness of peace to the world. As Foreign Minister, could you please first share your thoughts on the attractiveness and potential of Hiroshima as a host city/prefecture? In addition, Fukuoka City has also expressed its intention to bid to host the Summit, so could you please also tell us from what perspectives and by when the Government of Japan will decide on the host city?

Minister Hayashi: Regarding the selection of the host city of the G7 Summit 2023, we are currently inviting bids to host the Summit from local governments. I am also aware from the media reports that Hiroshima Prefecture and Hiroshima City are hoping to host the Summit. The final decision on the selection of the host city will be made based on a comprehensive review from all perspectives including accommodation, meeting venues, traffic access, and security. I am also aware that Fukuoka Prefecture and Fukuoka City have announced their intention to bid to host the Summit.

Japan’s Efforts for Decarbonization

Video News Dot Com, Jimbo: I have only started attending your press conferences from today. Excuse me if my question was asked last week. At the 26th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), (Prime) Minister Kishida delivered a speech in which he expressed his strong commitment but not Japan’s intention to reduce emissions from coal-fired power generation. After returning to Japan, the Prime Minister made the same comment at his press conference and has maintained the position that Japan can reduce emissions by its initial target of 46% by 2030 or achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 using ammonia and hydrogen. However, the rest of the world is questioning Japan’s motivation, stating that using ammonia and hydrogen technologies is unrealistic.

While this may not be an issue the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for, I would still like to pose this question to you, Minister Hayashi. With regards to global warming measures, looking at per-capita emissions to GDP, Japan is not, in fact, one of the world’s so-called “villains” and yet it is treated as such, having even received the Fossil of the Day Award from an NGO, simply because Japan continues to use coal-based power generation, which has developed into a major point of contention.

Moreover, this has become the only area in diplomacy in which it seems that the United States and China can truly work together. While this issue is turning into a key diplomatic issue, is it acceptable that Japan is treated as lagging in this area and Japan’s actual efforts are not recognized simply because Japan continues to use coal-fired power generation? Some note that this situation is hindering Japan’s ability to take diplomatic initiative. Could you please share your thoughts on this, if you have any?

Minister Hayashi: The COP cover decision contains the statement that parties will accelerate efforts toward the phasedown of unabated coal power. This is in line with Japan’s policy, and Japan intends to make steady progress toward decarbonization.

Each country’s energy situation varies extensively. Japan, in particular, has few resources and is surrounded by the sea. As such, we do not have a single perfect energy source that meets the requirements for safety, self-sufficiency, economic efficiency, and environmental compatibility. Under these circumstances, Japan must use a diverse mix of energy sources. However, as you just stated, coal power produces significant carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore, we must decrease our ratio of coal-fired power generation as much as possible while securing a stable energy supply. Accordingly, we need to steadily phase out inefficient coal power toward 2030. At the same time, we need to shift our efforts toward continuing to promote initiatives for transitioning to a decarbonized society by 2050, making use of hydrogen, ammonia, carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS), and other technologies.

Nuclear Issues in the Middle East

Pan Orient News, Azhari: The International Atomic Energy Agency says or claims Iran is continuing to produce highly enriched uranium for beyond limits set under the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran meanwhile could cite the world's silence on Israel that continues to be non-signatories to the NPT, nuclear non-proliferation treaty, is continuing. So what is Japan's position on these nuclear issues in the Middle East?

Minister Hayashi: Japan supports the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which contributes to the international non-proliferation regime and thereby to the stability of the Middle East. Based on this position, Japan has strong concerns over Iran’s repeated measures that undermine its commitment to the JCPOA. Japan has urged Iran to take constructive steps to return to the nuclear agreement commitment at an early date. As a non-nuclear-weapon state, Japan has also been calling on Israel to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Japan will continue to make persistent diplomatic efforts to alleviate tensions and stabilize the situation in the region, including efforts to resolve these nuclear issues, while leveraging Japan’s unique position as a nation that is building good relations with countries in the Middle East to promote stability in the region.

Japan-China Relations

Cewing News, Aoyama: Yesterday, a Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk was held. I would like to once again ask about your perception of the threat posed by China. When you announced your intention to switch from the House of Councillors to the House of Representatives at your July 15 press conference, I recall one of the reasons you gave was the rise of China and the changes in the situation facing the international community. Could you tell us once again your perception of the threat posed by China as Foreign Minister?

Minister Hayashi: I do not clearly recall if I said that was a reason for switching to the House of Representatives at the press conference. An overview of the Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk was released yesterday. As is stated there, firstly, while touching upon the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China relations, I expressed my intention to work together with State Councilor Wang Yi to realize the shared vision agreed upon between the Japanese and Chinese leaders during their Summit Telephone Talk on October 8, including establishing a constructive and stable Japan-China relationship, and State Councilor Wang Yi expressed his support.

I then expressed serious concerns regarding the situation surrounding the Senkaku Islands, as well as situations such as those in the East China Sea, the South China Sea, Hong Kong, and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and stated the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. I stated my intention to hold dialogues and consultations, including on the aforementioned issues. In this sense, I believe we were able to hold candid discussions.

OHTANI Shohei’s MVP Award

Video News Dot Com, Jimbo: Minister, since you are well versed in the United States, would you mind taking this opportunity to comment on OHTANI Shohei winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award?

Minister Hayashi: It is an incredible feat. As a fellow Japanese citizen, it has given me great courage and motivation. The Japanese people are very proud. I have high hopes that he will enjoy further success in the future.

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