Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 5:44 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1. Opening Remarks
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: First of all, from this evening until May 15, I will visit Schlossgut Weissenhaus in Germany to attend the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
At the meeting, we plan to discuss various aspects of urgent issues of the international community, including the situation in Ukraine.
Amidst the growing unpredictability of international affairs, the solidarity of the G7, which shares fundamental values and principles, is becoming increasingly important. In relation to the situation in Ukraine, G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meetings have already been held six times this year. Japan has contributed to the policy coordination and external communications of the G7 as the sole member from Asia.
The meeting will last for three days, as scheduled before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On behalf of the Government of Japan, I would like to have frank discussions with my G7 counterparts on various issues, including not only the situation in Ukraine but also various matters related to the Indo-Pacific, and to further strengthen cooperation among the G7 members.
The second matter I would like to speak about is that May 15, 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of Okinawa’s reversion to Japan in 1972.
Okinawa experienced a tragic land war during World War II, and even after The Treaty of San Francisco came into force in 1952, Okinawa was placed outside Japan’s administrative authority for 20 years.
We are giving thoughts to the feelings of the people of Okinawa who have endured such hardships, and we take very seriously the fact that they still bear the huge impact of the bases. MOFA will continue to exert all efforts to mitigate the impact of the bases on Okinawa.
Following the end of World War II, Japan and the United States have consistently promoted mutual understanding, friendship and trust. Our strong alliance is now the cornerstone of peace and prosperity not only for two countries but also for the Indo-Pacific region and the international community. Japan and the United States will continue to closely cooperate, and actively work to realize a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” and address various issues of the international community.
MOFA will commemorate the 50th anniversary with a special exhibition of the original “Okinawa Reversion Agreement” at the Diplomatic Archives, the compilation and publication of the first volume of the “Okinawa Reversion” series of “Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy,” as well as the spread of Okinawa history including Ryukyu awamori in the United States. We expect that these efforts will serve as an opportunity to again think about the history of the Okinawa’s reversion to Japan and to convey Okinawa’s appeals to the world.
As for the third matter, I would like to speak about is the decision made by the Government of Japan yesterday, to extend Emergency Grant Aid of $10 million as humanitarian assistance to Yemen. Yemen, which has endured more than 7 years of conflict, is facing “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” and many people are suffering from food shortages. There are concerns that the humanitarian situation in Yemen could be further deteriorated due to the impact of rising food prices following the situation in Ukraine.
This Emergency Grant Aid will provide food assistance to the people of Yemen through the World Food Program (WFP). This assistance is to be implemented as part of Japan’s efforts to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs as well as to support the truce agreement which was achieved by the mediation efforts of Mr. Hans Grundberg, he United Nations Secretary-General’s special envoy for Yemen. The Government of Japan, once again, takes this opportunity to call on all parties to abide by the truce agreement.
The Government of Japan has been actively providing humanitarian assistance in Yemen and will continue to make efforts, in cooperation with the United Nations and countries concerned, for the realization of peace and stability in Yemen.
2. Question-and-Answer Session
Reporter: An Australian public broadcaster reported that there is a high possibility that Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China will soon visit the Solomon Islands. China and the Solomon Islands announced that they signed a security agreement last month. In response to the visit by Foreign Minister Wang, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) division meeting launched a project team for Pacific countries. As China strengthens its influence on Pacific island countries, how will you respond to this situation?
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the reports about State Council Wang Yi. We are monitoring the movements related to China, including what you pointed out. The Pacific island countries area strategically important region where sea lanes connecting Japan and Australia and the sea lanes from the Indian Ocean through the South China Sea to the Pacific Ocean intersect. Japan has been conducting frank exchanges of views with Pacific island countries through the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) and other such opportunities. Our policy is to continue to strengthen our all-Japan efforts while closely meeting the needs of each country. Toward realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” we will continue to promote cooperation with Pacific island countries in collaboration with like-minded countries such as the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. I recently visited Fiji and Palau and had fruitful discussions.
Reporter: I would like to ask about the dispatch of dignitaries to Ukraine and the reopening of the embassies. The heads of the state and foreign ministers of various countries have visited Ukraine to show solidarity with the country. Is there a possibility that the Government of Japan will dispatch dignitaries? In addition, various countries are moving to reopen their embassies in Kyiv. Please tell us about the outlook for reopening Japan’s embassy.
Minister Hayashi: In response to Russia’s invasion, in order to show Japan’s solidarity with Ukraine, I myself have held a series of telephone conferences with Foreign Minister Kuleba and in-person foreign ministers’ meeting, in addition to summit telephone conferences. If I were to say anything further, to stop Russia’s invasion as soon as possible, we will continue to cooperate with the international community, including the G7, to consider our response in a comprehensive way.
Regarding reopening the embassy, we are currently gathering information concerning the situation in Ukraine, and the Embassy of Japan in Poland and the Rzeszów liaison office are exerting maximum efforts to provide information to Japanese residents in Ukraine, ensure their safety, and support their departure. With regards to reopening the Embassy of Japan in Ukraine, we will continue to conduct comprehensive consideration while constantly monitoring the situation in Ukraine.
Reporter: I would like to ask about the security situation in East Asia. Since the beginning of this month, Chinese aircraft carriers have conducted exercises on daily basis. Please tell us what explanation you will give about the security situation in East Asia at the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
Minister Hayashi: At the meeting, we are planning to hold discussions on various urgent issues of the international community, including the situation in Ukraine. Among them, China is expected to be a topic of discussion, but I would like to refrain from speculating on what will be discussed at this point. If I were to say anything further, there is a possibility that the activities of the Chinese military that you just pointed out are aimed at enhancing China’s joint operational capabilities in more distant maritime areas and airspace such as the Pacific Ocean. The Government of Japan will continue to monitor the movements of the Chinese military in maritime areas surrounding Japan.