Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Tuesday, June 21, 2022, 10:40 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Memorial Day to Commemorate the Fallen During the Battle of Okinawa
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to make one announcement.
I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to the fallen as we mark the Memorial Day to Commemorate the Fallen During the Battle of Okinawa the day after tomorrow on June 23.
We take it very seriously that the people of Okinawa are majorly impacted even now, 77 years after the end of World War II.
On Memorial Day this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of the reversion of Okinawa to Japan , I would like to once again reflect on the sentiments of the people of Okinawa. As Minister for Foreign Affairs, I will continue to exert all efforts to reduce the impact on Okinawa. That is all from me.
Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) (Participation as an Observer)
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: The first Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW will begin today in Austria. There has been a considerable spread in the movement of participation in the meeting as observers among countries such as Germany, Australia, and Belgium that are, like Japan, considered to be under the so-called “nuclear umbrella. ” However, in Prime Minister Kishida’s recent press conference and on other occasions, Japan has stated that it will not participate, even as an observer, in the meeting because none of the nuclear-weapon states are participating as of not. Prime Minister Kishida has repeatedly stated that Japan will act as a bridge between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. If this is the case, many people, including atomic bombing survivors, have been stating that it would have been better for Japan if many non-nuclear weapon states had participated as observers in this meeting. . What is your view on this point?
Minister Hayashi: The TPNW is an important treaty that can be called an exit to “a world without nuclear weapons.” However, the cooperation of nuclear-weapon states is necessary to change the reality, but none of the nuclear-weapon states has participated in the treaty.
As the only country to have suffered atomic bombings during wartime, Japan will work to involve nuclear-weapon states and promote realistic efforts towards “a world without nuclear weapons.”
I would like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the Government of Japan on how other countries are responding to the Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW. The Government will not participate as an observer in the meeting this time based on the viewpoint I have just stated. Firstly, towards maintaining and strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the cornerstone of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime , we will exert all efforts to achieve meaningful results at the NPT Review Conference to be held in August. Additionally, we will advance step by step towards “a world without nuclear weapons” through a series of effective nuclear disarmament measures.
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: Excuse me for asking another question. I believe the hurdle for participating as an observer in the meeting is very low, as an observer does not mean formal ratification or signing of the treaty. There are concerns that in a way, Japan not participating might be sending out the wrong message as a country to have suffered atomic bombings. What are your thoughts on this?
Minister Hayashi: As I stated earlier, I believe that the cooperation of nuclear-weapon states is necessary to change the reality, but none of the nuclear-weapon states has participated in the treaty. Japan must work to involve nuclear-weapon states, so we will promote realistic efforts towards “a world without nuclear weapons” through that work. Thus, as I stated earlier, the Government of Japan will not participate as an observer in the Meeting of States Parties.
Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Relations (Public-Private Consultation Group on the Issue of the Former Civilian Workers from the Korean Peninsula)
Mainichi Shimbun, Kusakabe: I would like to ask about the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula, which is an unresolved issue between Japan and the ROK. In ROK, it is being said that a public-private consultation group will be established to resolve the issue, with the participation of ROK government officials and private organizations. Please tell us Japan’s reaction to this.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the reports you pointed out. However, I would like to refrain from commenting on each and every movement in the ROK.
Pan Orient News, Azhari: The Next TICAD conference will be held in Tunisia next August and reportedly Prime Minister Kishida is planning to attend it. Is it confirmed this attendance and what agenda Japan has in mind for the conference given the situation that we have food crisis in the world, the rising prices and energy cost also. Thank you, especially in Africa.
Minister Hayashi: With regard toTICAD8 which will be held on August 27 and 28, it is necessary to continue to monitor the situation of COVID-19, butif various circumstances permit, Prime Minister Kishida plans to visit Tunisia and attend the conference.
In addition to COVID-19, the steep rise in food and energy costs due to the situation in Ukraine is having an enormous impact on the African economy and society, I believe that international cooperation is now important than ever. At the TICAD Ministerial Meeting in March this year, which I chaired, we discussed the importance of the international community’s cooperation in addressing the impact of the situation in Ukraine on Africa.
At TICAD8 in August this year, based on the discussions at the Ministerial Meeting, we would like to have discussions on development challenges in Africa, including strengthening food security, and show the direction for development in Africa with an eye to the post-COVID-19 era.
China’s Unilateral Development of Natural Resources in the East China Sea
Kyodo News, Maeda: I would like to ask about China’s gas field development. Yesterday, MOFA announced that it has confirmed that China has completed a gas field platform in the waters on the Chinese side of the geographical equidistance line between Japan and China in the East China Sea. This development has been ongoing in May and June, and I believe that the director-general level Consultation on Maritime Affairs is scheduled to be held soon. Please tell us your reaction to such ongoing unilateral development amidst this.
Minister Hayashi: The Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and the continental shelf in the East China Sea have not yet been determined. It is extremely regrettable that China has proceeded with unilateral development and attempted to establish a fait accompli, and recently established its new platform despite repeated protests from Japan in this maritime area.
Japan has again strongly protested against the Chinese side, and strongly urged them to resume negotiations for the conclusion of an international arrangement based on the “2008 Agreement” as soon as possible and to implement the Agreement at an early stage.
Nuclear Disarmament (Efforts to Engage Nuclear-Weapon States)
Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: With regard to the TPNW, it has been pointed out that, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, nuclear deterrence is now growing its importance compared to nuclear disarmament. What specific actions will Japan take in the future in order to engage nuclear-weapon states?
Minister Hayashi: As I stated earlier, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the cornerstone of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. The NPT Review Conference will be held in August, and Japan will exert all efforts to maintain and strengthen the NPT so that we can achieve meaningful results.