Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, May 27, 2022, 5:59 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Emergency Grant Aid for the Transportation of Relief Products for Ukraine
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have two announcements to make.
The first is related to the situation in Ukraine. The needs for humanitarian assistance in Ukraine have been increasing due to the ongoing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the grave situation of the evacuees.
Under the circumstances, on May 27, the Government of Japan decided to extend an Emergency Grant Aid of approximately166 million US dollars to Ukraine, in response to the request from the Embassy of Ukraine in Tokyo. The aim is to provide transportation support for fire-fighting equipment, communication devices, medicine, medical products, and other medical equipment, through the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
The Government of Japan and the hearts of the people of Japan are with Ukraine. Japan will continue to provide support to the people of Ukraine, in collaboration with the international community, including the G7 members.
(2) Rejection of the United Nations Security Council Resolution on North Korea
Minister Hayashi: Secondly, on the morning of May27 (Japan time) the United Nations Security Council voted on a draft resolution proposed by the United States to strengthen the measures against North Korea. However, it was vetoed by China and Russia. This is extremely regrettable.
The series of nuclear and missile activities by North Korea, including the ICBM launches in March and on May 25, are in violation of successive United Nations Security Council Resolutions. Such activities by North Korea pose a serious and urgent threat to Japan’s security and are a blatant and grave challenge to the international community. This is absolutely unacceptable.
The Government of Japan expects the United Nations Security Council to fulfil its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. The government will continue to work in cooperation with the international community including the United States and strongly urge North Korea to fulfill all of its obligations under the relevant Security Council Resolutions. At the same time, we will continue to make every effort to comprehensively resolve various concerns such as abductions, and nuclear and missile issues. That is all from me.
G7 Summit 2023 in Hiroshima
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: Japan will host next year’s G7 summit in Hiroshima. With the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, please tell us the significance of holding the summit in an atomic bombing site, and how the Government of Japan intend to advance the discussions on nuclear disarmament. In addition, considering that there will be a variety of overseas participants, how will the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) proceed with preparations in terms of promoting Japan’s charms?
Minister Hayashi: As the world faces an unprecedented global crisis of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and increasing risks of using weapons of mass destruction, the Government of Japan considers it is important to show that the G7 summit 2023 demonstrate with a historical significance the firm rejection of invasions, intimidation by nuclear weapons, and attempts to overthrow the international order.
I understand that at the G7 summit 2023 in Hiroshima, Prime Minister Kishida will announce the pledge to the world that humanity will never repeat the devastation of nuclear weapons, and reaffirm the unity among the G7 leaders to protect peace, world order and values in front of the monument for peace.
Based on this view, MOFA will make every possible preparations for the success of the G7 Summit 2023 in Hiroshima.
Election of Non-Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask a question in relation to the United Nations Security Council reform that you mentioned in the opening remarks. The election of non-permanent members of the Security Council is scheduled next month. As Japan is a candidate for a seat, please tell us the views of the Government of Japan on the roles that the country will play as a non-permanent member.
Minister Hayashi: This year’s election of non-permanent members of the Security Council, for which Japan is a candidate, will be held on June 9. We will firstly exert all efforts to win the election, while the specific contribution after the election is currently being discussed.
If I were to say anything further, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, one of the permanent members of the Security Council, and the use of veto by China and Russia this morning revealed the limits of the Security Council.
Meanwhile, the Security Council’s primary responsibility is to maintain international peace and security. It is also a fact that small and medium-sized countries as well as developing countries continue to have high expectations of the overall role of the United Nations, including the Security Council.
With this perspective in mind, the Government of Japan hopes to use our ingenuity to find a way to strengthen the overall function of the United Nations, including the reform of Security Council, so that the Security Council can fulfil its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.
Visit to Pacific Island Countries by State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Wang Yi
NHK, Aoki: Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Wang Yi has visited Pacific Island countries sequentially. In response, it has been reported that China may be planning a new vision that includes security matters with these countries. Please tell us again about the stance of Japan and how the Government of Japan intend to approach these countries?
Minister Hayashi: Pacific Island countries are a very important region for Japan from the viewpoint of realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” and we have been paying consistent attention to their situations.
In particular, the Government of Japan has paid particular attention to moves that could have a major effect to the regional security environment, such as the security cooperation agreement between China and Solomon Islands, and we have been discussing these issues in Foreign Ministers’ Meetings and other occasions with countries concerned. MOFA will continue to gather information on related movements including the recent visit to Pacific Island countries by State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Wang Yi.
For the realization of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” Japan will continue to further strengthen our cooperative relations with Pacific Island countries, while cooperating with the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and other like-minded countries. To this end, we will implement support in a wide range of areas, including maritime security, climate change, disaster prevention, and sustainable economic development that meets the needs of each country, in cooperation with relevant ministries and agencies and other entities.
Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Relations
Jiji Press, Tanaka: I would like to ask few questions. In response to the missile launch by North Korea, the Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk was held immediately after the launch. Has the cooperation between Japan and the ROK in the security area improved since the administration change in ROK government? Can you also tell us your view as to whether such an improvement in cooperation will have a positive effect on the overall Japan-ROK relations? Lastly, ROK news reports indicate that ROK’s Foreign Minister Park Jin will visit Japan around late June. Please tell us the current status of coordination.
Minister Hayashi: Japan-ROK and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation are indispensable for regional stability, including the response to North Korea.
As you mentioned, on May 25, I had a telephone talk with ROK’s Foreign Minister Park Jin in response to North Korea’s missile launches, including the ICBM launch. The Japanese and the ROK side shared serious concern about North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities, and agreed to continue to closely cooperate through the Japan-ROK, the Japan-U.S., and the Japan-U.S.-ROK relations.
Japan-ROK relations are in an extremely difficult situation due to the issue of former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula, the issue of comfort women, and other issues. Considering the severe security environment in East Asia, the situation should not be left as it is.
Keeping promises between countries is the foundation of relations between countries. To restore healthy Japan-ROK relations, the Government of Japan will closely communicate with the new administration, including President Yoon Suk-yeol and Foreign Minister Park, based on Japan’s consistent position.
I am aware of the report regarding Foreign Minister Park’s visit to Japan. However, nothing has been decided regarding the matter at this point.
Reopening of the Embassy of Japan in Ukraine
Sankei Shimbun, Okada: I would like to ask about the reopening of the Embassy of Japan in Ukraine. In Ukraine, those who wish to visit Japan have been struggling to have their visas issued, and there are voices calling for a response by the Government of Japan. On the other hand, ensuring the safety of the staff of the Japanese Embassy is a crucial issue. Please tell us the current status of consideration for the reopening of the Embassy.
Minister Hayashi: As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, I am aware that domestic railway facilities in Kyiv, Lviv, and other cities were under missile attacks since the beginning of May.
The Government of Japan is gathering information on the situation in Ukraine. The government is also making utmost efforts to ensure the safety of Japanese residents in Ukraine. In addition, we will continue to closely cooperate with the government of Ukraine and the countries that have resumed activities in Kyiv.
On top of this, MOFA will comprehensively consider the matter of reopening the Embassy of Japan in Ukraine, while paying constant attention to the situation in Ukraine.