Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, January 21, 2022, 12:18 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Japan-U.S. Joint Statement on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have one announcement about the release of the “Japan-U.S. Joint Statement on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).”
In the morning of January 21 Japan time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Japan and the Department of State of the United States released the “Japan-U.S. Joint Statement on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).”
After the decision on the fourth postponement of the 10th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons due to the spike in the number of novel coronavirus cases, Japan and the United States issued this joint statement through which both countries reaffirmed their commitment to the NPT, which is the cornerstone of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. By taking this action, the two countries hope that the momentum for advancing toward “a world without nuclear weapons” will be maintained and enhanced, including the early convening of the Review Conference and the achievement of a meaningful outcome.
Tonight, a Japan-U.S. Summit Video Teleconference Meeting is scheduled to take place. Japan will continue to closely cooperate with the Government of the United States, our only ally, and other countries, and firmly work to realize “a world without nuclear weapons.” That is all from me.
Measures against Novel Coronavirus Infections among the U.S. Forces in Japan (USFJ)
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about the novel coronavirus measures among the USFJ. While restrictions on off-base activities have been in place since January 10, what do you think has been the effect of this measure so far? In addition, considering that the expiration date of the measure is approaching, please tell us what discussions the Japanese and the U.S. sides are holding concerning the extension of restrictions.
Minister Hayashi: Measures including the restriction on movement (ROM) have been put in place, partly due to a strong request from different levels of the Japanese side. As the ROM measure will continue until January 23, it may be too early to talk about any outcomes. However, the current situation is that Japan and the United States are working together and taking measures to prevent the spread of infections by putting in place restrictions on non-essential off-base activities.
As I have already mentioned, I view that the implementation of these measures is based on the close Japan-U.S. coordination including at my level.
In addition, the two countries agree that necessary adjustments will be conducted for the restrictions on off-base activities in accordance with the number of novel coronavirus cases in Japan. Amid this situation, we are also communicating with the U.S. side concerning the period of the said ROM.
The Government of Japan will continue to further enhance the cooperation between Japan and the United States to ensure the thorough implementation of measures against the spread of the novel coronavirus and alleviate local anxiety.
Recommendation of Sado Island Gold Mines as a World Heritage Site
Asahi Shimbun, Nobira: I would like to ask about the Sado Island Gold Mines heritage site. Please tell us what is currently being considered by the Government of Japan regarding the recommendation of the site. I would also like to ask about UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program. This program was introduced last year under the leadership of Japan and does not allow a new application if a formal objection is made by another country. Could you tell us your thoughts on the recommendation from the standpoint of ensuring compliance with this program?
Minister Hayashi: The Government of Japan considers that the most important point regarding this issue is to realize the inscription of the recommended site. To that end, the government as a whole is conducting a comprehensive review from the perspective of what is the most effective way to achieve our goal.
Japan-U.S. Foreign and Economic Ministers’ Meeting
NHK, Aoki: It has been reported that a framework for a “2+2” meeting involving the Minister in charge of foreign affairs and the Minister in charge of the economy is being coordinated between the Governments of Japan and the United States. Could you please tell us what is being discussed?
Minister Hayashi: We are currently coordinating with the U.S. side regarding concrete outcomes of the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting.
The Situation in Ukraine
TV Asahi, Sawai: I would like to ask about the situation in Ukraine. While the local situation in the country is very tense, please tell us the current situations, including ensuring the safety of Japanese nationals in Ukraine. In addition, President Biden of the United States has referred to imposing financial and economic sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine, and that the United States would cooperate with European countries. Please tell us whether Japan will join and act together if such a situation evolves. Furthermore, in that case, could you tell us whether the Government of Japan will consider the possibility of such a decision affecting negotiations regarding the Northern Territories?
Minister Hayashi: Japan has consistently supported Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Japan is closely following with concern the current Russian military build-up in the area near the border with Ukraine while continuing to appropriately respond to the situation in cooperation with other G7 countries and the international community.
Concerning the safety of Japanese nationals, on January 19, we issued spot information, which is like a news flash, to alert those Japanese nationals in Ukraine to be prepared for unexpected situations. The Government of Japan will continue to exert all efforts to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals.
Regarding the movements of the Russian military in the area near the border with Ukraine, I would like to refrain from answering the question about Japan’s response in the case of a Russian invasion into Ukraine, as it is a hypothetical question. In any event, we will respond to the situation appropriately.
On the Northern Territories issue, Japan will continue to engage in persistent negotiations with Russia under the policy of resolving the attributions issue and concluding a peace treaty, regardless of the situation in Ukraine.
Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and “International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons”
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: One year has passed since the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came into effect. Slightly related to your opening remarks, Japan has maintained its status as a non-signatory state of this treaty, while the Government of Japan recognizes its significance to a certain extent. However, if the government recognizes the significance of the treaty, then it seems necessary to consider how we will take advantage of this treaty to advance the abolition of nuclear weapons. Please tell us your thoughts on this point. In addition, the First Meeting of State’s Parties for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will be held in March, and the International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons is planned to be held the day before the First Meeting of State’s Parties. Could you tell us if the Government of Japan currently has any intention to attend the conference? Please answer both of these two questions.
Minister Hayashi: The TPNW is an important treaty that can be described as an exit to a world without nuclear weapons. However, the cooperation of nuclear-weapon states is necessary to change the reality, but not even one nuclear-weapon state has signed the treaty.
Therefore, rather than taking the response that you have pointed out just now, Japan, as the only country to have experienced wartime atomic bombing, must work so that nuclear-weapon states participate. To that end and based on the trust of our sole ally the United States, Japan will first work to advance realistic initiatives to realize a world without nuclear weapons. From this perspective, today, Japan and the United States released the “Japan-U.S. Joint Statement on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).”
Prime Minister Kishida, at the Japan-U.S. Summit Video Teleconference Meeting with President Biden held on the evening of January 21, also stated that the two leaders had confirmed their intention to work together toward a world without nuclear weapons.
About the International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons that you have just mentioned, I am aware of the report, but we have not received an invitation to or a request to participate in that conference at this point.