Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, June 17, 2022, 11:36 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
New Cooperation Framework Related to Pacific Island Countries (Remarks by the US National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator)
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: In his speech, Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell of the United States expressed a plan of establishing a new cooperation framework related to the Pacific region with the participation of Japan, Australia and other countries. Please tell us how the Government of Japan intends to be involved in the new framework.
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I am aware of the remarks that you have just pointed out, but I would like to refrain from talking about the details as this is a diplomatic communication.
Japan has long-standing friendly relations with Pacific Island countries, and we have deepened our cooperation through the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) and other opportunities. The region also plays a key role in realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” Japan has also worked in cooperation with other countries that are deeply involved in the region like Japan, including the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.
I visited Fiji and Palau in early May and reconfirmed the importance of the region. Based on the Pacific Islands’ needs, Japan will continue to advance cooperation leveraging our strengths, while strengthening the coordination with the countries involved.
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask a related question about Japan’s strengths that you have just mentioned. At last year’s PALM, the Government of Japan formulated a plan to support the region in areas such as disaster prevention, climate change, and infrastructure development. What are the specific areas in which the Government of Japan would like to further advance its contributions in the Pacific region in the future?
Minister Hayashi: As you have just mentioned, through PALM, the Government of Japan has been providing support based on the needs of Pacific Island countries, in the areas that you pointed out such as disaster prevention. During my recent visit to Palau, I attended the completion ceremony of the airport terminal.
While depending on the COVID-19 situation going forward, I am sure that when restrictions are lifted to allow free travels and tourism activities, various forms of exchange and cooperation are expected to be requested from the Pacific Islands side. I believe that it is important that we provide cooperation based on the needs of Pacific Islands, including these points, leveraging Japan’s strength, and in coordination with the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, as I stated earlier.
Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA)
Jiji Press, Tanaka: I would like to ask about the ideal development cooperation. The Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform 2022 , decided by the Cabinet in June 2022, includes the expansion of ODA. Prime Minister Kishida reiterated this policy at the recent IISS Shangri-la Dialogue, suggesting that ODA is increasing its importance as a tool for diplomacy. Could you tell us your motivation towards the expansion of ODA, including the acquisition of budgets, and the ideal form of development cooperation?
Minister Hayashi: At the recent IISS Shangri-la Dialogue 2022, Prime Minister Kishida announced Japan’s intention to enhance existing Free and Open Indo-Pacific cooperation by beefing up its diplomatic efforts including the expansion of ODA, while engaging in an optimized, efficient, and strategic use of international cooperation through ODA in order to realize a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”
This ODA is the most important tool for diplomacy. Therefore, MOFA will exert all efforts to expand and enhance ODA with the support from the ruling party.
At the same time, the international order has been changing considerably, and we would like to further advance the discussion on the ideal ways of developing cooperation adapted to the times, based on the international and the domestic situation.
Election of the Members of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) (Re-election of Professor Toshitsugu Yamazaki, The University of Tokyo )
Sankei Shimbun, Sugimoto: On June 15, the election of the CLCS members took place in New York, and Professor Yamazaki of The University of Tokyo was re-elected. Please tell us your reaction to this. In addition, I would also like to ask about the significance of the CLCS itself. Japan is making various claims over Oki-no-Tori Shima Island and the South China Sea. Could you tell us the Government of Japan’s understanding of the importance of the CLCS in developing such claims?
Minister Hayashi: On June 16, or June 15 local time, the CLCS election was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and Professor Toshitsugu Yamazaki of The University of Tokyo, who was an incumbent member, was re-elected.
Professor Yamazaki has been a CLCS member since 2017. As he was re-elected for a second term, his new term will be for another five years until June 2028.
The CLCS was established based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea . I believe that it plays a crucial role when a nation, based on international law, extends its continental shelf and determines its outer limits.
Japan, as a maritime state, is committed to promoting the legal order at sea and has contributed to the promotion of work by coastal states to establish the outer limits of their continental shelves by producing preeminent members of the CLCS.
Strengthening of Cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: Prime Minister Kishida is scheduled to attend the NATO Summit at the end of June as the first Prime Minister of Japan. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, you also attended the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs . These indicate that the Government of Japan is promoting the strengthening of the relationship and cooperation with NATO. Please clarify the significance and aim of strengthening the cooperation between Japan and NATO, a Western military alliance.
Minister Hayashi: As you have mentioned, I attended the Partner Session of the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in April for the first time in history as a Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan.
I believe that I was able to have significant discussions not only on the situation in Ukraine but also on the relations and connections between the West and Asia in the security field. Based on the understanding that the security of the West and the Indo-Pacific are indivisible, the Government of Japan hopes to make the NATO Summit Meeting that Prime Minister Kishida is scheduled to attend an opportunity to reaffirm the unity and strengthen the cooperation between Japan and NATO in dealing with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”
I would like to refrain from speculating about the content of discussions at the meeting. However, in light of the current international affairs, including the situation in Ukraine and the increasingly severe security environment in the Indo-Pacific region, I believe that Prime Minister Kishida will discuss the future cooperation with NATO and its partner nations and organizations.
Revision of Boundaries in the House of Representatives’ Single-seat Constituencies
TBS, Nakamura: I am sorry that this is out of your jurisdiction but I would like to ask about the revision of boundaries in the House of Representatives’ single-seat constituencies. As a result of the revision to correct the vote-value disparity, some changes would be made to the boundaries in Yamaguchi Prefecture, from which you are elected, among other prefectures. In Yamaguchi Prefecture, it was decided that the number of seats would be reduced from four to three, and that the Yamaguchi 3rd District that you represent would also be divided. Could you tell us your reaction to this decision, and your thoughts on the situation going forward?
Minister Hayashi: As a member of the cabinet, I would like to refrain from commenting specifically on this matter.