Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Tuesday, June 14, 2022, 11:12 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Relations (Visit to Japan by the Foreign Minister of the ROK)
Mainichi Shimbun, Aoki: Firstly, I am glad that you have recovered and returned to your official duties.
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Thank you.
Mainichi Shimbun, Aoki: Now, I would like to ask about Japan-ROK relations. What is the current status of coordination of the visit to Japan by Foreign Minister Park? Last month, you stated that you would like to have him come to Japan at an early timing. In addition, please tell us your current view on the significance of the Japan-ROK high-level dialogue, particularly foreign ministers’ meetings.
Minister Hayashi: Japan-ROK cooperation as well as Japan-ROK-U.S. cooperation are essential for regional stability, including response to North Korea.
Japan-ROK relations are in an extremely difficult situation due to matters such as the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula and the comfort women issue, but I believe we cannot leave this as it is.
As you pointed out, during my recent visit to the ROK to attend the presidential inauguration ceremony, I held a meeting on May 9 with Mr. Park when he was the nominee for the next ROK Foreign Minister. From the perspective I mentioned before, I stated that I would like to meet with him in Japan soon to continue our talks. In any case, nothing has been decided yet regarding his visit to Japan.
Keeping promises between countries is the foundation of relations between states. To restore healthy Japan-ROK relations, the Government of Japan will communicate closely with the ROK side based on our consistent position.
30th Anniversary of the Passage of the Act on Cooperation with United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and Other Operations
Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: I would like to ask about the Act on Cooperation with United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and Other Operations. On June 15, it will mark the 30th anniversary of the enactment of the Act. Please tell us your reaction of PKO activities to date. Also, how do you think Japan should be involved in PKO in the future?
Minister Hayashi: Since the enactment of the Act on Cooperation with United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and Other Operations 30 years ago, Japan has contributed human resources to various parts of the world, sending over 12,500 people to 29 missions, including UN PKO missions. Additionally, we have conducted 30 cases of cooperation by providing goods to international organizations and others.
It is my recognition that such PKO activities have contributed to the peace and stability of the international community and have also advanced Japan’s national interests.
As the foundation of the international order is being threatened due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Japan has been providing support to Ukraine and neighboring countries. As part of this, , the Government of Japan has provided humanitarian relief supplies to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) under the Act on Cooperation with United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and Other Operations, and dispatched Self-Defense Forces (SDF) aircraft to provide support for transporting the UNHCR supplies.
Japan will continue to build on the achievements of our past activities, and leverage our strengths to make more active contributions in the PKO field, including capacity building support.
Nuclear Disarmament (Report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) / Keynote Address by Prime Minister Kishida at the Shangri-La Dialogue)
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: I would like to ask about nuclear weapons. Yesterday, the SIPRI issued a report that stated that the number of nuclear warheads has been declining. However, the report points out that there are concerns that the number will increase due to the situation in Ukraine. Please tell us your view on the current situation. Moreover, Prime Minister Kishida reiterated his call for “a world without nuclear weapons ” at the recent Asia Security Summit. Please tell us about the results of the Summit and what efforts will be made towards “a world without nuclear weapons.”
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the report by the SIPRI that you mentioned. The Government of Japan has a positive perception of the report that states that the number of nuclear weapons has been declining. At the same time, we are monitoring the report’s analysis with concern that the number could increase in the next 10 years.
As the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings during wartime, Japan intends to lead the international community’s efforts to realize “a world without nuclear weapons,” and will continue to make firm efforts to achieve this goal.
In addition, in his keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue on June 10, Prime Minister Kishida presented to the world the role that Japan should play to ensure peace and prosperity as the international order faces major challenge. In his address, he particularly expressed his determination to strengthen Japan’s diplomatic and security role by advancing the “Kishida Vision for Peace,” which consists of five pillars.
As I stated before and as Prime Minister Kishida noted in his address, Japan will continue to exert all efforts to realize “a world without nuclear weapons” as the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings during wartime. In the process, I believe it is important to directly face the “reality” of the severe security environment and ensure national security, while promoting realistic nuclear disarmament efforts by presenting a roadmap that will lead us from the “reality” to our “ideal” of “a world without nuclear weapons.”
Suspension of Implementation of the Framework Agreement Concerning Operations in the Waters Around the Four Northern Islands
Hokkaido Shimbun, Bun: I would like to ask about the agreement on safe operations between Japan and Russia. The Government of Russia has stated that the reason for the suspension of the implementation of the agreement is that Japan has not made the payment for the cooperative project with Sakhalin. I believe that this payment refers to the Sakhalin Oblast Economic Reform Promotion Assistance Payment . Please tell us again Japan’s view on the Russian side’s assertion that the assistance payment is a precondition for implementation of the safe operations agreement.
Minister Hayashi: The Russian side links the cooperative project with Sakhalin as if it were a precondition for the implementation of the Framework Agreement Concerning Operations in the Waters Around the Four Northern Islands, unilaterally insists on the suspension of the implementation of the agreement, citing cooperative project with Sakhalin Oblast as a justification. It is regrettable that Russia announced the unilateral suspension of the implementation of the agreement in this manner.
Japan will continue to hold consultations with the Russian side to ensure that operations will be conducted under the agreement.
Hokkaido Shimbun, Bun: I believe the assistance payment regarding the cooperative project with Sakhalin is not mentioned in the safe operations agreement. In terms of the beginning of the assistance payment, I believe the payment was decided when the agreement was concluded in 1998, and has been made annually since 1999, with the exception of 2003. Based on those circumstances, please tell us again whether it can be said that the payment has nothing to do with the implementation of the safe operations agreement.
Minister Hayashi: I believe that cooperation on this matter contributes to the development of cooperation and understanding towards Japan in Sakhalin Oblast, and as a result of that, it has indirectly contributed to operations by Japanese fishing vessels based on the agreement.
On the other hand, the cooperative project with Sakhalin Oblast is outside the scope of the Framework Agreement Concerning Operations in the Waters Around the Four Northern Islands, and it is not a payment for operations under the agreement as the Russian side claims.
In any case, we are considering how to handle this cooperation in the future, taking into account various circumstances.
Missile Attack on Damascus International Airport in Syria
Pan Orient News, Azhari: Congratulations on your recovery. Syria has confirmed that Damascus International Airport has suffered major damage including to runaways following an Israeli aggression as it said. What is Japan’s position to that Israeli attack or insult and what is your comment on Israeli expansion by annexing another country’s territories as changing the status quo by force? Thank you.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the announcement made by the Syrian authorities as you pointed out. On the other hand, I am aware that Israel has not commented on this, including whether or not it has conducted the attack. In any case, Japan will continue to monitor the situation in the Middle East with a high sense of urgency, including the impact of this matter.
Japan will continue to make diplomatic efforts toease tensions and stabilize the situation in the region in close cooperation with the countries concerned.
Furthermore, in general, we recognize that the act of unilaterally annexing territories occupied by force is unacceptable under international law.
Visit to Kyiv by Prime Minister Kishida and the Outlook on the Reopening of the Embassy of Japan in Ukraine
Kyodo News, Maeda: I would like to ask about the prospects of a visit to Kyiv by Prime Minister Kishida and the reopening of the Embassy of Japan in Ukraine. During the Foreign Affairs Division meeting today, there was a view that Prime Minister Kishida should visit Kyiv in conjunction with the G7 Elmau Summit. Please tell us the status of considerations, as well as the outlook for the reopening of the Japanese embassy.
Minister Hayashi: Japan stands with the people of Ukraine who are doing their utmost to defend their homeland. We have closely communicated with the Government of Ukraine while showing our solidarity through a series of summit telephone talks andforeign ministers’ meetings.
Amidst this, Japan has firmly responded to requests from Ukraine by providing as much support as possible in a timely manner, including tough sanctions against Russia, humanitarian aid, financial assistance, and the provision of defense equipment.
Currently, we do not have any plans for visits to Ukraine by dignitaries from the Government of Japan. There are various ways to show solidary with Ukraine, and Japan will continue to respond in an appropriate manner.
In addition, with regard to the reopening of the Embassy of Japan in Ukraine, we will conduct comprehensive consideration while constantly monitoring the situation on the ground.
Japan-ROK General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)
Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: I would like to ask about the GSOMIA. During the joint press conference following his meeting with Secretary of State Blinken today, ROK Foreign Minister Park Jin, who is currently visiting the United States, stated that the GSOMIA should be normalized as soon as possible . Please tell us your understanding of this. I also believe that there has been a freeze in the situation following the notification from the previous ROK administration about the termination of the GSOMIA in 2019. Please tell us if that has caused any obstacles to information sharing between Japan and the ROK.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the statement you pointed out.
As we have stated through now, the Government of Japan recognizes that the Japan-ROK GSOMIA strengthens cooperation and collaboration in the field of security between Japan and the ROK and contributing to regional peace and stability.
Due to the current severe regional security environment, including the repeated ballistic missile launches by North Korea, it is important for the GSOMIA to continue to be implemented in a stable manner. The Government of Japan will continue to conduct information-sharing as necessary under the GSOMIA.
Japan will continue to appropriately conduct information-sharing with the ROK side as necessary under the Japan-ROK GSOMIA. However, I would like to refrain from giving an answer on the specific situation.