Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Tuesday, February 8, 2022, 9:29 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Humanitarian Assistance to the People of Myanmar
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have one announcement.
The humanitarian situation in Myanmar has been deteriorating since the coup in February last year. On January 30, the United Nations called on the international community to assist 826 million USD over the next year.
The Government of Japan has decided to provide additional humanitarian assistance to Myanmar totaling approximately 18.5 million USD, in response to the voices of ASEAN member states which emphasize the importance of humanitarian assistance aiming at resolving the situation, and above all, the increasing poverty amongst the people of Myanmar caused by the economic stagnation triggered by the coup. Japan will deliver food, daily necessities such as shelters and mattresses, and medical supplies to the people of Myanmar through international organizations and the ASEAN Secretariat.
The Government of Japan will continue to proactively provide humanitarian assistance that reaches the people of Myanmar in need, paying close attention to the needs of the people of Myanmar who are facing difficult circumstances. Japan hopes that other countries will also implement humanitarian assistance in response to the United Nations’ appeal. For further details, please take a look at the press release that will be issued later. That is all from me.
Foreign Visits by Foreign Minister Hayashi (Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Japan-Australia-India-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting)
Kyodo News, Maeda: I would like to ask about the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. The United States has already made an announcement, but it seems that the Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held this weekend. Please tell us if you will participate, and what you would like to confirm in the meetings. Moreover, I believe there will be bilateral meetings during the Foreign Ministers’ Meetings. Please tell us if there is anything you would like to confirm during those meetings.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the announcement by the United States that you pointed out. Right now, coordination is underway for me to attend the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting if various circumstances permit.
In addition, in any event, regarding the response to North Korea, we will continue to promote the complete implementation of the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and aim for the denuclearization of North Korea while conducting close Japan-U.S. cooperation and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation, as well as cooperation with the international community.
Furthermore, I am aware of the announcement by the United States on the Japan-Australia-India-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Our four countries have agreed to hold a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting every year. Things are being worked out for me to attend the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting if various circumstances permit.
We will continue to closely cooperate with various countries to further promote cooperation in various practical fields of vaccines, infrastructure, and important emerging technologies, and together strongly advance the Free and Open Indo-Pacific.
Novel Coronavirus (Border Measures)
NHK, Aoki: I would like to ask about border measures. The Government of Japan is currently making judgments on individual cases of entry into Japan by foreign nationals depending on their circumstances. Views from the business community, students, and others are being expressed one after the other calling for the country to be opened. Please tell us your view on whether there is absolutely no room to review the framework of the current measures which will be in place until the end of February.
Minister Hayashi: I believe that by taking the strictest border measures of the G7 to respond to the Omicron variant, the Government of Japan managed to save lead time to prepare for the increase in domestic infections while minimizing the influx of the variant.
Concerning our border measures, taking into consideration the large gap in infections inside and outside Japan as well as the insufficient accumulation of scientific knowledge on the Omicron variant, the Government of Japan has decided to maintain the framework of the current border measures for the time being until the end of February. Additionally, we are examining individual cases regarding new entry into Japan and responding as necessary from a humanitarian perspective and the perspective of national interest.
Knowledge on the Omicron variant has been gradually accumulating. The Government of Japan will take a necessary and appropriate response based on infection conditions inside and outside Japan, the characteristics of the Omicron variant, the results of the border measures thus far, and other aspects.
The Situation in Ukraine (Statements by the Russian Ambassador to Japan and the Next U.S. Ambassador to Japan)
Pan Orient News, Azhari: The United States Ambassador to Japan tweeted last week in which he branded the remarks of the Russian Ambassador who said earlier at press conference of being intimidating Japan and that US stands with Japan and its Prime Minister for shared values and principles. The Russian Ambassador in fact he said that if Japan joined any sanctions that could be counterproductive. So I'm wondering if you have any comment on that exchange and what exactly Japan's position on latest Ukrainian development.
Minister Hayashi: Japan is closely following the situation in Ukraine with grave concern. During the recent Japan-U.S. Summit Video Teleconference Meeting and the Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk, we agreed that Japan and the United States will continue to cooperate on the situation in Ukraine.
Amidst this situation, I welcome that Ambassador Emanuel stated that the United States stands with Japan and Prime Minister Kishida for our shared values and principles. Japan will continue to appropriately respond in cooperation with the international community, including the United States.
Additional Tariff Measures on Steel and Aluminum by the United States (Results of the Japan-U.S. Negotiations)
Jiji Press, Tanaka: The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry recently announced that the United States agreed on a partial exemption for tariffs on Japan’s steel. Please tell us your reaction to this. In addition, consultations will continue to be conducted on aluminum tariffs, so please tell us how you will respond to this.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware that on February 8 Japan time, the Government of the United States announced the partial removal of tariffs on steel products imported from Japan under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act.
Japan considers that there is a possibility that the Section 232 tariffs are not consistent with WTO rules, and has been requesting a resolution in a complete manner regarding the steel and aluminum tariffs. We believe that the recent response by the United States is the first step toward such a resolution, but will continue to strongly request the United States for a complete resolution.
In addition, we have issued a joint statement on the steel and aluminum industries and confirmed that we will begin consultations on the excess production capacity of steel and aluminum and a global framework for carbon intensity.
We will further expand and deepen Japan-U.S. cooperation in the field of economy based on our recent agreement on cooperation.
Furthermore, on aluminum, Japan exported about 20,000 tons in 2020, which was a major difference compared to the EU exporting 280,000 tons in the same year. Although it is not adequate to simply compare our exports, we believe it is regrettable that the United States did not take some sort of measures this time.
We will continue to urge a complete resolution regarding both steel and aluminum.
The Situation in Ukraine (Sanctions Against Russia)
Kyodo News, Maeda: I would like to ask about sanctions against Russia in relation to the situation in Ukraine. Some reports are stating that Japan has started considering levying sanctions against Russia if they invade Ukraine. Please tell us what is being considered regarding Japan’s response if Russia invades Ukraine, including sanctions. Moreover, I believe it was agreed during the recent Japan-U.S. Summit Video Teleconference Meeting to coordinate and take strong action regarding this. Is it correct to understand that Japan and the United States are currently having discussions?
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the reports.
During the recent Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting, Japan agreed with the United States to consider while closely cooperating with the United States on what robust measures would be possible if Russia were to invade Ukraine. However, I would like to refrain from speaking about the details of the consideration and coordination due to the nature of the issue.
In any event, Japan is closely following the situation in Ukraine with grave concern. We will respond appropriately in cooperation with related countries, such as the G7 including the United States.
Relaxation of Taiwan’s Import Restrictions on Japanese Food Products
Jiji Press, Tanaka: According to reports, Taiwan will announce today that it will lift its embargo measure on Japanese food products. Please tell us your reaction to this.
Minister Hayashi: We have received communication from Taiwan that this morning, they plan to publicly announce their review of their import restrictions on Japanese food products.
On Taiwan’s import restriction measures, so far, we have been explaining the safety of Japanese food products on a scientific basis through the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association and others and urging that the measures be lifted. The Government of Japan’s comment on Taiwan’s revision of its restrictions will be made after we confirm Taiwan’s announcement.
The Situation in Ukraine (Effects on the Situation in the Taiwan Strait)
Independent Web Journal, Hamamoto: My question overlaps slightly with the previous question. I would like to ask about the United States’ sanctions diplomacy and Japan’s stance.
On February 4, President Xi Jinping and President Putin held a meeting and issued a joint statement showing the appeal of extensive cooperative relations between China and Russia while criticizing the United States. In response, the United States issued a strong warning that Chinese companies would face a consequence if they choose to avoid sanctions on Russia.
Will the United States sanctions on Russia not bring China and Russia closer together, and raise tensions in the Taiwan Strait? Furthermore, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was just announced last month. If trade between Japan and China falls due to the strengthening of the United States’ sanctions on China, it could cause lethal damage to the Japanese economy. Please tell us your recognition of the current situation.
Minister Hayashi: Currently, the unpredictable situation is continuing in which there are growing tensions due to the buildup of the Russian military in the border area with Ukraine. The situation could suddenly change going forward. Due to the situation, the international community, including the United States, is conducting diplomatic efforts toward easing tensions. I believe that what you just stated is not correct. We will continue to respond appropriately in cooperation with the international community, including the G7.