Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, September 2, 2022, 10:13 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about Japan-ROK relations. Last month, President Yoon Suk-yeol of the Republic of Korea (ROK) made a positive remark in his speech regarding the improvement of Japan-ROK relations. In addition, the Japan-ROK Director-General Level Talk between senior officials was held last week. Please tell us how the Government of Japan intends to proceed toward improving future Japan-ROK relations.
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Currently, 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. However, at the Foreign Ministers’ Meetings held in July and August, two ministers shared the intention to reach an early resolution regarding the issue of former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula, and diplomatic authorities on both sides are engaged in close communication.. At the Japan-ROK Director-General Level Talk held on August 26, the ROK side explained their efforts, while the Japanese side conveyed our stance, and we intend to continue communication with the ROK side.
We welcome the remarks made by President Yoon Suk-yeol on Japan-ROK relations on August 15 and August 17, which marked the 100th day since his inauguration. Overall, we believe that President Yoon has expressed his strong will toward improving Japan-ROK relations.
Japan and the ROK are important neighboring countries that should cooperate in responding to various issues of the international community. I understand that President Yoon expressed a similar view in his speech. In light of the current strategic environment, we believe that there has never been a more important time for the development of Japan-ROK cooperation and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation.
Based on the foundation of friendly and cooperative relations built up since the normalization of our diplomatic relations, it is necessary to restore and further develop healthy Japan-ROK relations. The Government of Japan intends to closely cooperate with President Yoon, Foreign Minister Park Jin, and the Government of the ROK to improve Japan-ROK relations.
Mainichi Shimbun, Kusakabe: I would like to ask about China-Japan relations. On September 29, Japan and China will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China relations. Following the recent Director-General Level Meeting, please tell us how the Government of Japan intends to face and hold dialogues with China for the next 50 years.
Minister Hayashi: During the Japan-China Director-General Level Meeting on August 31 and the meeting involving exchanges of views between Mr. AKIBA Takeo, Secretary-General of the National Security Secretariat, and Mr. Yang Jiechi, Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee on August 17, the two countries shared their views on the importance of communication.
In Japan-China relations, we are neighboring countries, and thus there have been various issues between us, and now there are many that remain unresolved. A series of China’s military actions such as the launch of ballistic missiles that fell into the seas near Japan, including our exclusive economic zone (EEZ), on August 4, the unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea including the situation of the Senkaku Islands, and the expansion and increase of military activities near Japan, are matters of strong concern to the security of the region including Japan and the international community.
Regarding Japan-China relations, we will firmly maintain and assert our position and request China’s responsible actions, while cooperating with each other in dealing with various common issues. We consider it is necessary for both sides to make efforts to build constructive and stable Japan-China relations. At a time like this, it is important to communicate firmly. Japan is always open to dialogue with China.
State Funeral for the Late Former Prime Minister Abe
Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: I would like to ask about the State Funeral for the former Prime Minister Abe. Since the government dignitaries from many countries are expected to visit Japan, there are some expectations within the Government of Japan that it will become an important diplomatic opportunity. Do you have the same view related to the state funeral? Could you tell us about your view on the significance of funeral diplomacy?
Minister Hayashi: Following in the footsteps of former Prime Minister Abe, who laid the foundation for Japan’s future diplomacy, we will firmly work to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance, coordinate with like-minded countries such as ASEAN and European countries, and cooperate toward realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” in order to realize peace and prosperity in the international community.
As you have just mentioned, during the State Funeral, many foreign dignitaries are expected to visit Japan. From the day before the State Funeral to the following day, bilateral meetings at the leader’s level and the foreign minister’s level are planned to be held as intensively as possible.
Amidst this situation, we want to show both domestically and internationally the intention of Japan that we will firmly inherit and develop the diplomatic legacy nurtured and developed by former Prime Minister Abe.
Japan-China Relations/FY2023 Budget Request (Measures against Disinformation)
Kyodo News, Fukuda: I have two questions. The first one is to confirm the remarks that you made earlier that Japan and China need to communicate firmly. You will likely meet State Councilor Wang Yi at the United Nations. If you and State Councilor Wang are to have a meeting, would you aim to focus on firmly communicating with the Chinese side? The second question is about the ways to deal with information warfare. While the budget related to information warfare was included in the budget request, please tell us how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will work on this issue.
Minister Hayashi: To answer your first question, as I mentioned earlier, it is necessary for both sides to make efforts to build constructive and stable Japan-China relations. To this end, it is important that we communicate firmly with each other, and Japan is always open to responses from China.
Nothing has been decided at this point about Japan-China Summit Meetings meetings between State Councilor Wang Yi and me. However, we see it as important to have dialogues at various levels, and thus, we intend to make detailed considerations while firmly stating what has to be said.
Finally, regarding the measures against disinformation, we consider that it is necessary to implement the process of detection and analysis of false information to response as one cycle, covering a wide range of areas and fields. Therefore, cooperation between the information department and the policy and public relations department will become extremely important, and in this sense, we have implemented measures internally across MOFA. In order to further strengthen these efforts, MOFA is requesting the necessary budget through the FY2023 budget request.
Japan-ROK Relations (Future Outlook for the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting)
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about the issue of Japan-ROK relations which I have asked at the beginning of this press conference. In the recently held Korea-Japan Forum, a joint statement calling for the early realization of a summit meeting was issued. While this may overlap with the previous question, please tell us about your thoughts on the holding of a summit meeting or the early realization of a summit meeting.
Minister Hayashi: As I already stated earlier, it is necessary to restore and further develop healthy Japan-ROK relations. The Government of Japan intends to closely cooperate with President Yoon, Foreign Minister Park, and the Government of the ROK to improve Japan-ROK relations. However, nothing concrete has been decided about the summit meeting at this point.