Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary ONO Hikariko
Wednesday, May 25, 2022, 3:47 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Opinion Poll on Japan in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021
Ms. ONO Hikariko, Press Secretary: I would like to make one announcement today. It is about the release of the opinion poll on Japan in FY2021.
MOFA has been conducting an opinion poll on the impression of Japan from the perspective of clarifying the general image of Japan overseas as well as the understanding, evaluation, and expectations of Japan’s foreign policy. The results of the FY2021 opinion poll were released today.
The opinion poll this year targeted the United States, Australia, India, ASEAN, four Central Asian countries, and seven Middle Eastern countries. To give an example regarding the member countries of the Quad Leaders’ Meeting held yesterday, there were extremely high percentages of people who answered that their countries have friendly relations with Japan: 94% in the United States, 78% in Australia, and 91% in India. Please see the handouts distributed to you for more details. That is all from me.
Opinion Poll on Japan in FY2021
Mainichi Shimbun, Aoki: In relation to the opinion poll on Japan you just mentioned, for ASEAN, China was ranked first and Japan was ranked second in the question asking respondents to pick important partner countries or organizations in the future. What were the specific figures, and how did you analyze the reasons for this result? Please also tell us how you will respond to this, given that Southeast Asia is an extremely important region.
Press Secretary Ono: Firstly, as for the figures you pointed out, China was at 48%, followed by Japan at 43% in the question of the important future partners. The details of the figures will be uploaded to the MOFA website after this press conference, so please confirm them there.
As for the individual figures, we should not waver between joy and grief by comparing them with other countries. What is important is, whether Japan is highly evaluated or not, and the trends, to firmly take the results, properly analyze the causes and other aspects, and reflect the results in future policymaking.
Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting (President Biden’s Statement During the Joint Press Conference)
Asahi Shimbun, Aibara: I would like to ask about the recent Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting. During the joint press conference afterthe Summit Meeting, President Biden answered, “Yes” to the question ofwhether the United States would become involved militarily if China were to invade Taiwan. People in Taiwan and the Japanese Democratic Party (LDP) have been welcoming this statement. What is the evaluation, reaction, or opinion of the Government of Japan regarding this statement?
Press Secretary Ono: I would like to refrain from commenting on President Biden’s statement.
In any case, during the recent Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting, the two leaders confirmed that there has been no change in the basic position of the two countries on Taiwan. They emphasized the importance of the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, as an indispensable element for the security and prosperity of the international community, and called for a peaceful resolution of the cross-Strait issues.
The peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is important not only for Japan’s security but also for the stability of the international community. Japan will continue to monitor the changes in cross-Strait relations while closely cooperating with its allies and like-minded countries, including the United States.
China’s Influence within ASEAN
Kyodo News, Fukuda: China is actively promoting vaccine diplomacy within ASEAN region, strengthening its economic ties, and bolstering its influence in the region. What is the Government of Japan’s view regarding the current situation?
Press Secretary Ono: Is it correct to understand that you are referring to the opinion poll mentioned earlier?
Kyodo News, Fukuda: I would like you to answer in general terms.
Press Secretary Ono: I would like to refrain from commenting on China’s influence on ASEAN on this occasion.
Opinion Poll on Japan in FY2021
Jiji Press, Tanaka: In relation to the opinion poll mentioned earlier, you stated that the individual figures should not be a matter of wavering between joy and grief. However, Japan’s level of importance itself has declined as a figure. By looking at these figures, it seems that Japan’s presence in ASEAN is decreasing. What is your reaction to the current situation? If you do not have any particular comment, you don’t have to answer, but if you do not think this is an issue, please tell us what should be done in the future.
Press Secretary Ono: As I stated earlier, the detailed figures will be uploaded to MOFA’s website later. There are various differences among respective countries. For example, Japan continued to be positioned as the most reliable partner in Thailand and Vietnam. As I mentioned earlier, I believe what is important is to firmly take these results and reflect them in future policymaking.
2023 G7 Summit (MOFA’s Structure)
Asahi Shimbun, Aibara: I would like to get back to the matter of the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting. During the press conference following the Summit Meeting, Prime Minister Kishida announced that the G7 meeting next year will be held in Hiroshima. In response to this official announcement, please tell us about the preparation for what kind of structure will MOFA assemble or whether you intend to conduct research in Hiroshima.
Press Secretary Ono: MOFA launched the Office for Preparation for the 2023 G7 Summit within the Economic Policy Division of the Economic Affairs Bureau as of January 1, 2022. The Office has already engaged in all forms of preparatory work in order to smoothly hold the G7 Summit next year. Based on the decision to hold the G7 Summit next year in Hiroshima, MOFA will continue to advance all efforts for the success of the 2023 G7 Summit. We are considering establishing the preparatory secretariat and further strengthening the structure following the Elmau Summit in June 2022.
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: I would like to ask a question related to the Summit. You just mentioned strengthening the future structure after the Elmau Summit. Please tell us about the aim or how you are going to get prepared. As Dignitaries will be welcomed to Hiroshima, I believe there are various issues such as accommodation facilities and security. Please tell us the aim of strengthening the structure of the secretariat.
Press Secretary Ono: As I stated earlier, the fact that the G7 Summit will be held in Hiroshima next year will be extremely important for Japan’s diplomacy. In that sense, our policy is to strengthen the structure so that we are fully prepared without any omissions. In this regard, we are strengthening the structure in order to firmly conduct preparation, including various elements that you have pointed out earlier.
Japan-Australia-India-U.S.(Quad) Leaders’ Meeting
Yomiuri Shimbun, Kaneko: I would like to ask about the Quad Leaders’ Meeting held yesterday. During Prime Minister Kishida’s press conference after the meeting, he brought up India and emphasized that member countries were able to unite over Ukraine. Please tell us the background or the reason why Prime Minister Kishida brought up India in particular, as well as the significance of India being a member of the Quad.
Press Secretary Ono: As Prime Minister Kishida himself stated at yesterday’s press conference, even among like-minded countries, their positions on international affairs may not completely match due to the historical background and geographic circumstances. This is only natural. Based on this premise, it is important to deepen mutual understanding and expand the circle of cooperation. Japan, Australia, India, and the United States have built up a shared recognition and have steadily accumulated results of cooperation.
I would like to refrain from talking about the statements made by each summit leader. In regard to the situation in Ukraine, the four leaders, including India, reaffirmed the importance of the principles such as the rule of law, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and shared the recognition that unilateral changes to the status quo by force can never be accepted in any region.
I believe it was of major significance that the four leaders could overcome the differences in their positions and convey a unified message to the world.
In addition, regarding your question about the significance of India’s participation, India is an important partner for realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” with which Japan shares fundamental values and strategic interests. Regardless of the response to the situation in Ukraine, I believe it is extremely significant for both Japan and India, as well as the Quad members, to deepen cooperation in various forms, not only in responding to the situation in Ukraine, but also through frank exchanges of views, on regional affairs.
Decision on the Unconstitutionality of the National Review for Judges of the Supreme Court
Mainichi Shimbun, Aoki: Today, the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional not to allow overseas residents to vote for the national review of the Supreme Court judges. What is MOFA’s view regarding this? Please also tell us how you will respond to it.
Press Secretary Ono: I am aware that today, on May 25, the Supreme Court made a ruling on unconstitutionality regarding the litigation concerning overseas residents not being allowed to vote for the national review of the Supreme Court judges.
In relation to this matter, we have received reports that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) will immediately consider measures in consultation with all relevant parties regarding the policy to enable overseas residents to cast for the national review based on the ruling. For more details, please contact the MIC, which has jurisdiction over this matter.
Mainichi Shimbun, Aoki: You mentioned cooperation with all relevant parties. Will MOFA firmly cooperate, if necessary?
Press Secretary Ono: MOFA is of course related to this matter, so we will be involved in the consideration on the response in close cooperation with the MIC.