Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko
Friday, September 22, 2023, 9:50 a.m. New York
Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Today, I attended the Japan-Australia-India-U.S. (Quad) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Regarding regional issues in the Indo-Pacific, I explained Japan’s basic position on the various issues, including the South and East China Seas, North Korea, and the discharge of ALPS treated water. We reaffirmed our commitment to realize the “free and open Indo-Pacific,” and our strong opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force. In addition, we concurred to hold the next Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Japan in 2024. I am due to attend other related meetings after this.
Since today is the last day of my visit, I would like to share my impressions.
I came to New York five days after my appointment, and in the five days since arriving here, I have had a concentration of meetings with 16 heads of state and foreign ministers, as well as the heads of four international organizations. I have also attended 12 multilateral meetings and attended five summit-related events. I feel extremely pleased that I was able to build personal relationships, which are the basis of diplomacy.
Here are my three main impressions from my visit.
First, with a determination to carry on Japan’s diplomatic achievements made by my predecessors, I experienced firsthand, on the grand stage of the United Nations (UN), the need to respond promptly to new challenges in the current international situation at a historic turning point.
With this in mind, amid the situation where the very foundation of the international order has been shaken by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, I was able to send a strong message on the importance of the rule of law and the UN, which should play a central role in that, and strengthening the functions of the UN, including UNSC reform.
Secondly, as a politician, I have been involved in Women, Peace and Security (WPS), which is rapidly becoming mainstream in the international community. Under this premise, I am deeply moved that I was able to participate in the Women, Peace, and Leadership Symposium and other WPS-related events as Foreign Minister this time. Through this visit, I have become convinced of the importance of further vigorously promoting WPS as part of Japan’s diplomacy. In this context, I was able to communicate the view of promoting cooperation with Asian countries while taking advantage of the opportunity of the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan relations.
Lastly, I feel very fortunate that within a week of receiving my ministerial appointment, I have been able to attend the UN General Assembly, meet my counterparts from different countries in person, and engage in candid discussions. In particular, the G7 and Quad communities gave me a very warm welcome, and I was able to develop personal relationships with them, calling each other by our first names. This was truly an achievement that could only be made through face-to-face communications, and the fact that we were able to lay the foundation of trust, a key asset to diplomacy, at such an early stage is a great asset in our future diplomatic efforts.
In particular, in Japan-Republic of Korea relations, Foreign Minister Park Jin and I concurred that we would continue close coordination with each other to further advance bilateral relations from a broad perspective.
In addition, I also met and communicated with as many countries known as the Global South as possible, including those from Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, aiming at a world filled with cooperation rather than confrontation and division.
Throughout the whole visit, I was filled with a sense of responsibility by the many people who welcomed and expressed their hopes for me, a female foreign minister. I was also impressed that around half of the foreign ministers I met were women.
Continuity is essential in diplomacy. Based on the outcomes of this visit, I would like to steadily roll out diplomacy with a broad perspective, while keeping in mind the longer historic context.
That is all from me.
Reporter: Coming up are the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in November, followed by the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit in December, and the Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Reconstruction at the beginning of next year. Please tell us how you plan to make the most of the achievements of this overseas visit when you attend these events.
Minister Kamikawa: This experience made me realize the importance of in-person communication with heads of state and ministers of other countries. I believe that the fact that we were able to lay the foundation of trust, a key asset to diplomacy, at an early stage is a great asset in our future diplomatic efforts. As you pointed out, we have some important diplomatic events coming up, including the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in November, the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit in December, and the Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Reconstruction at the beginning of next year. Making good use of the achievements of the views exchanged during this visit and the trust built with my counterparts, I intend to steadily make various efforts to conduct diplomacy with an eye toward Japan’s national interests, while keeping in mind the longer historic context.
Reporter: As you mentioned earlier, during this visit you participated in the Women, Peace, and Leadership Symposium and the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network High-Level Side Event, initiatives to improve the role of women, which is also your life’s work. Please tell us what your impressions were from participating in these events, and as Foreign Minister, how you plan to promote the policies you have been working on as a member of the Diet.
Minister Kamikawa: As a politician, I have made efforts for WPS, which is rapidly becoming mainstream in the international community. I am deeply moved to be able to participate in the Women, Peace, and Leadership Symposium as Foreign Minister this time. As a participant in the symposium, I received a warm welcome from the representatives of each country, many of whom knew that, in the past year, I have established a parliamentary league on WPS and have been actively working on the issue. WPS is an initiative based on UNSC Resolution 1325 of 2000 and nine subsequent UN resolutions, which are collectively known as the ten resolutions on WPS Agenda. Because the timing of my appointment as Foreign Minister also coincides with Japan’s term as a non-permanent member of the UNSC, I intend to promote discussions on WPS as an important agenda in the UN. Through this visit, I have become convinced of the importance of more vigorously promoting WPS as part of Japan’s diplomacy. In this context, I will advance cooperation with Asian countries while taking advantage of the opportunity of the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan relations.
Reporter: During this visit, as Foreign Minister, you held bilateral meetings with the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, in addition to attending the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. You talked about building personal relationships of trust earlier as Foreign Minister. What steps did you take to build personal relationships of trust?
Minister Kamikawa: As you mentioned, among the G7 members, I was able to hold bilateral meetings with the U.S., the UK, France, and Canada. In addition, I talked directly with other counterparts at the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. As I mentioned earlier, I feel very fortunate to have been able to meet face-to-face with my counterparts from different countries in the first week since my ministerial appointment. Secretary of State Blinken of the U.S. and I held our first meeting in person shortly following our telephone meeting last week. In that sense, I felt it was an opportunity to further deepen trust. I intend to further deepen our cooperation to elevate the Japan-U.S. Alliance, which is now stronger than ever before, to an even higher level. I also held my first meeting in person with Foreign Minister Cleverly of the United Kingdom following my appointment. We were able to develop a relationship of personal trust, where we called each other by our first names, James and Yoko. Additionally, we concurred on further enhancing Japan-UK relations on the basis of the “Japan-UK Hiroshima Accord.” In Japan-France relations, I exchanged views on bilateral cooperation as well as gender equality with Foreign Minister Colonna of France, while enjoying together some tea from Shizuoka, which is my constituency. After the meeting, I presented the tea from Shizuoka to Foreign Minister Colonna upon her request. I also had a close communication with Foreign Minister Joly of Canada regarding the role of female foreign ministers and our experiences thus far. Although this visit took place soon after my ministerial appointment, I was able to take advantage of the very valuable opportunity afforded by the UN General Assembly High-Level Week to engage in candid exchanges of views with my counterparts from other countries and international organizations through as many meetings and conferences as my schedule allowed. Through these candid discussions, I could learn my counterparts, and even in that sense, build personal relationships of trust with them. Additionally, in the process, I proactively conveyed Japan’s position to them.
Reporter: If possible, could you please explain the background of serving Shizuoka tea during the Japan-France Foreign Ministers’ Meeting?
Minister Kamikawa: I always bring tea from my hometown when I visit overseas. This time, at France’s suggestion, I explained my efforts so far. After various communications, I decided to serve tea to the French side. I am very glad that my efforts have been appreciated, and I was reminded of the power of Japanese tea and the great interest in Japanese agriculture products, culture, and food.
Reporter: Could you outline the Japan-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that was held earlier?
Minister Kamikawa: I attended my first Japan-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. As this is a matter of diplomatic communication, I will refrain from discussing details. We recognized the very strong relationship between our two countries and concurred to work together to address various issues in the future.
Reporter: Regarding the Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the Governments of the U.S. and India have released a joint statement on the Indo-Pacific on their websites. Please tell us what are the facts of the matter and its significance?
Minister Kamikawa: I am not yet aware of the nature of the statement, so I would like to answer after confirming it.