Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Friday, March 11, 2022, 11:34 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) Eleven Years Since the Great East Japan Earthquake

Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: First of all, today marks the 11th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which occurred on March 11, 2011. I would like to take this opportunity to once again pray for the repose of the souls of the victims, extend my sincerest condolences to their families, and express my heartfelt sympathy to all the affected people. I would also like to reiterate my heartfelt appreciation for the abundant support and encouraging words Japan received from around the world.

While eleven years have passed since the earthquake, dispelling harmful rumors and lifting the import restrictions on Japanese food products continue to be priorities for the Government of Japan. Under the strong determination that “without the reconstruction of Tohoku, there is no revival of Japan,” we will disseminate information regarding Japan’s initiatives to ensure the safety of Japanese food products while taking advantage of every opportunity such as foreign ministers' meetings as well as making the most of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) resources including personal connections built through the Embassies of Japan and various opportunities overseas.

(2) Emergency Humanitarian Assistance in Ukraine and Neighboring Countries

Minister Hayashi: Next, the Russian Armed Forces continue to attack violently in various parts of Ukraine, including attacks on schools, hospitals and houses, causing many injuries and deaths among civilians. Meanwhile, over 2 million civilians have evacuated from Ukraine to third-party countries. Japan has serious concerns over this situation.

On March 11, the Government of Japan decided to extend humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people who are being affected in Ukraine and those who are evacuating to neighboring countries.

This is a realization of the emergency humanitarian assistance of 100 million US dollars announced by Prime Minister Kishida on February 27. Based on the request for the support received from the United Nations and other organizations, we have coordinated with the international organizations and Japanese NGOs that are active in Ukraine. Based on the coordination, Japan decided to provide humanitarian assistance in responding to urgent needs in such areas as shelter, health and medical care, water and sanitation, food, and child protection.

The Government of Japan and the hearts of the people of Japan are with Ukraine. Japan will continue to provide support and stand by the people of Ukraine, in collaboration with the international community, including the G7 members.

(3) White Paper on Development Cooperation 2021

Minister Hayashi: Lastly, I spoke about the release of the “White Paper on Development Cooperation 2021” at the Cabinet meeting today.

The White Paper 2021 introduces the progress regarding Japan’s development cooperation during the past year. In this White Paper, the “special feature” in Part I focuses on novel coronavirus countermeasures and describes various countermeasures such as the holding of the COVAX AMC Summit and the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit, provision of Covid-19 vaccinations, and the establishment of cold chains.

Through this White Paper, while receiving the understanding and further support of citizens on Japan’s development cooperation, we will continue to actively promote development cooperation and initiatives for resolving global-scale issues in the international community. That is all from me.

Ballistic Missile Launch by North Korea

Jiji Press, Tanaka: I would like to ask about North Korea. According to an analysis of the recent two missile launches by North Korea, it was revealed that ICBM-class ballistic missiles were used. North Korea has been suggesting that it would resume ICBM and nuclear testing that had been put on ice. Could you please tell us your concerns and understanding as to whether North Korea will take further moves to resume nuclear testing?

Minister Hayashi: As it has been announced by the Ministry of Defense and the Government of the United States, we have concluded that both of the ballistic missiles launched by North Korea on February 27 and March 5 were a new type of the ICBM-class ballistic missile, based on the analysis of those ballistic missiles in close cooperation with the Government of the United States. In my understanding, it is considered that those missiles may have been launched with the aim to verify some functions before conducting a launch test at the maximum range of the missile.

North Korea’s series of actions, including the recent ballistic missile launches that further increase tension over the situation, pose a threat to the peace and stability of Japan, the region and the international community, and are totally unacceptable. It is nothing but an act of violation of the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and turning away from the international community. Japan strongly condemns such actions.

The Government of Japan will discuss any further responses regarding this matter, including perspectives on diplomacy and sanctions, in cooperation with the United States and the ROK. That is all.

Election of the next President of the ROK Yoon Suk-yeol (“Sado Island Gold Mines”)

Niigata Nippo, Endo: On the result of the ROK’s presidential election, I would like to ask about the registration of “Sado Island Gold Mines” as a World Heritage Site. Given that the Government of the ROK has been opposing the registration, how will you hold a dialogue with the new Yoon administration and explain this issue? Could you please also tell us your thoughts on the influence of the election result, which saw the change of power from a reformist to a conservative government, on the registration of “Sado Island Gold Mines” as a World Heritage Site? Please answer these two questions.

Minister Hayashi: In the recent presidential election of the ROK, the next President of the ROK Yoon Suk-yeol was elected, and Prime Minister Kishida and I sent a congratulatory message to President-elect Yoon. In addition, Prime Minister Kishida has just had a telephone talk with President-elect Yoon.

Japan and the ROK are important neighboring countries to each other. Amidst the situation in which the international community is confronted with epoch-making changes, sound Japan-ROK relations are indispensable in realizing a rules-based international order and ensuring peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world. In addition, Japan-ROK-U.S. trilateral coordination is also important.

Japan-ROK relations need to be developed based on the foundation of our friendly and cooperative relationship that has been built since the normalization of the diplomatic ties between the two countries in 1965. In this regard, we have high expectations for President-elect Yoon’s leadership, and we will cooperate with him closely to improve Japan-ROK relations.

Regarding Sado Island, as we have reiterated, Japan will engage in calm and careful discussions with the ROK and other relevant countries to ensure that the profound value of the Sado Island Gold Mines as a site of cultural heritage is appreciated by UNESCO. We will continue our discussions under the Task Force for World Heritage Registration that was established on February 1.

The Government of Japan will engage in calm and respectful discussions on this matter with President Yoon and the new administration of the ROK.

Ballistic Missile Launch by North Korea

Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: My question overlaps with the first question about the ballistic missile launches by North Korea. In January 2022, General Secretary Kim Jong-un suggested his plan to resume nuclear testing in conjunction with ICBM testing. Some media reports also indicate certain movements that seem to connect to the restoration of the nuclear test site in the northern part of North Korea. Please tell us if the Government of Japan understands these movements and how the government is analyzing North Korea’s future moves.

Minister Hayashi: Japan would like to refrain from answering declaratively about North Korea’s aims regarding the recent missile launches. However, given the fact that North Korea mentioned the promotion of ICBM-class-related projects at the Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea in January 2021, it seems that North Korea will continue to pursue the development of a longer-range of ballistic missiles.

In any event, North Korea’s series of actions, including the recent missile launches that further increase tension over the situation, pose a threat to the peace and stability of Japan, the region, and the international community. The Government of Japan thinks that these are totally unacceptable.

We will continue to have close Japan-U.S. cooperation and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation. While collaborating with the international community, we will advance the complete implementation of the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and aim for the complete denuclearization of North Korea.

Military Exercises by the Russian Armed Forces in the Northern Territories

Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: On March 10, the Russian Ministry of Defence announced that it had conducted surface-to-air missile system training in the Northern Territories. Amidst the situation in which Japan, the United States and other countries are adding further economic sanctions against and more pressure on Russia, the aim of the training seems to include putting pressure on Japan. Could you please tell us how the Government of Japan is analyzing the incident and responding to it, including lodging a protest?

Minister Hayashi: I believe that the announcement you have mentioned was made by the Russian side, but we are currently confirming the facts of the issue. In any event, Japan has been lodging protests against the strengthening of armaments by the Russian military on the Four Northern Islands, which is incompatible with Japan’s position on the islands and is unacceptable. We are continuously monitoring moves made by the Russian military in the Northern Territories and are currently gathering information and we will continue to respond appropriately.

The Situation in Ukraine (Accepting Evacuees)

Kyodo News, Ogasawara: I would like to ask about the displaced persons and evacuees from Ukraine. As you mentioned earlier, over 2 million civilians have evacuated from Ukraine. Please tell us once again your views on the significance of the Government of Japan taking in these people and the role that the international community expects of Japan in terms of receiving them. I would like to ask the current state of progress made by the Government of Japan in coordinating the system to receive Ukrainian evacuees?

Minister Hayashi: The Government of Japan is working to receive evacuees from Ukraine currently in third party countries into Japan.

I am aware that, in Japan, currently there are approximately 1,900 Ukrainians with the status of residence. As a first step, we are taking in relatives and friends of these Ukrainian residents. However, in addition to this, we will respond to the situation from a humanitarian perspective.

Regarding the procedures involved in receiving evacuees, we will issue a Visa for a Short-Term Stay to those who have relatives or friends in Japan and permit their entry into Japan. For those who do not have any relatives or friends in Japan, we will individually determine the necessity for humanitarian consideration and, in the case where it is determined necessary, we will permit the person’s entry into Japan by issuing a Visa for Short-Term Stay, in principle.

In addition, based on the situation of accepted people, the Government of Japan as a whole will respond to the matter swiftly to further decide on necessary responses from humanitarian perspectives.

Remarks by the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Osaka

Sankei Shimbun, Sugimoto: I would like to ask about Mr. Xue Jian at the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Osaka. He posted on social media that a lesson Japan should learn regarding Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which went something like “Weak people should not provoke a fight with strong people.” Could you please tell us what MOFA’s reaction is, including whether such a speech and action by Mr. Xue Jian is classified as that of an unfavorable person?

Minister Hayashi: I would like to refrain from commenting on every remark made by individuals. In any event, regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we believe that it is important for the international community to unite now in taking resolute actions to protect the foundation of the international order.

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