Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, February 11, 2022, 10:52 p.m. Melbourne
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Today, commencing at around 4 p.m., the Japan-Australia-India-U.S. (Quad) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held for approximately two hours. Prior to this meeting, I held a meeting with Secretary of State Blinken of the United States, paid a courtesy call together with the U.S. and Indian Foreign Ministers on Prime Minister Morrison of Australia, and held a meeting with External Affairs Minister Jaishankar of India.
With regard to the Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, as I stated at the joint press conference, we were able to exchange views very candidly in person and develop personal relationships of trust. It was a highly meaningful meeting. The four Ministers will be coordinating closely with each other to ensure the success of the next Quad Summit Meeting to be held in Japan in the first half of this year, including further promoting various practical cooperation.
At the Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, we held discussions which were more frank and fruitful than ever before regarding regional issues and common issues, including the economy. This was already the fifth time we met since I was appointed Foreign Minister. The meeting has certainly deepened our relationship of trust. Secretary Blinken and I will continue to maintain close communication and steadily advance the Japan-U.S. relationship.
During the courtesy call on Prime Minister Morrison, the Prime Minister indicated firmly that Australia remains committed to realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” and I stated Japan’s intention to further strengthen our coordination in the lead-up to the next Quad Summit Meeting.
Lastly, at the Japan-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in person for the first time, we exchanged views candidly regarding the bilateral relationship, regional affairs, and other matters. We concurred to deepen multi-layered cooperation in wide-ranging fields and further enhance the Japan-India relationship on this milestone year marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations. In addition, we reiterated the importance of resuming annual mutual visits of both leaders by realizing Prime Minister KISHIDA’s visit to India at an appropriate timing that is convenient for both sides.
I will hold a meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs Payne of Australia tomorrow morning and then leave for Honolulu.
Reporter: I have a question related to remarks made by Secretary Blinken at the joint press conference earlier. He expressed his strong view that there is a possibility of an invasion of Ukraine in the coming days. At the same time, he expressed his view that the Indo-Pacific is an important issue. What is your view regarding these matters?
Minister Hayashi: At this meeting as well, the situation in Ukraine was mentioned during the discussion on regional issues. Japan has consistently supported the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We shared the view that the international community would coordinate and address the situation appropriately. I would like to refrain from commenting on the remarks made by Secretary Blinken of the United States.
Reporter: You stated earlier that a highly candid exchange of views took place. However, at the joint press conference, for example, whereas Secretary Blinken made sharp remarks against Russia, the External Affairs Minister of India added that the Ministers are not confronting anyone. Can you tell us if you felt that the four countries are not fully in alignment with respect to views on Russia or China?
Minister Hayashi: In my responses to questions or in my opening remarks, I have reported on the discussions that took place by distinguishing between matters that we agreed upon and the opinions made by the respective ministers. As a matter of course, all four countries do not necessarily agree on everything. However, we concurred on many matters and confirmed that we are moving in the same direction. My view is that Minister Jaishankar of India made his remarks in the sense that the Quad will be discussing mainly the Indo-Pacific.
Reporter: You will be leaving tomorrow for the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. What concrete message do the three countries intend to send to North Korea? Also, if a Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held, what topics do you intend to raise with the Republic of Korea (ROK)?
Minister Hayashi: North Korea has repeatedly launched ballistic missiles. Furthermore, it has launched an IRBM. In this light, at the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the three countries will exchange views regarding the latest information on North Korea and coordinate the future policy on North Korea toward the complete denuclearization of North Korea in accordance with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. We will also exchange views regarding other regional and global issues. Through such discussions, the Ministers will newly confirm Japan-U.S.-ROK collaboration, with a focus on the responses to North Korea including the abductions issue.
Reporter: I have a question related to the previous question. If a Japan-ROK bilateral meeting is held and Sado Island Gold Mines is brought up as a topic, what will be your posture on this matter? Could you tell us Japan’s position that you will be explaining?
Minister Hayashi: It has not yet been decided that a Japan-ROK bilateral meeting will be held. A Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ telephone talk was held recently when I was in Tokyo. I conveyed Japan’s basic position on different issues during the telephone talk, and I will take into account this basic position of Japan if a Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is held.
Reporter: I would like to return to the issue of Ukraine. In response to the earlier question, you stated that the Quad is a forum for discussing the Indo-Pacific and does not concur on everything. What are your thoughts on the fact that views differ significantly among the Ministers, especially with respect to Russia and China?
Minister Hayashi: My intention was not to say that the four countries’ views are not necessarily in alignment. I stated that, to my understanding, Minister Jaishankar may have made his remarks as the Quad is a broad framework for discussing mainly the Indo-Pacific.
Reporter: It seems that North Korea was hardly discussed at the Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting earlier. Was there any concrete discussion on North Korea or the abductions issue?
Minister Hayashi: The four Ministers condemned the missile launches by North Korea, which violate UNSC resolutions and destabilize the region, and reaffirmed our commitment to the complete denuclearization of North Korea in accordance with UNSC resolutions. In addition, I asked for each country’s understanding and cooperation toward an immediate resolution of the abductions issue, and the countries expressed support for my remarks.