Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary ONO Hikariko

Wednesday, August 30, 2023, 4:16 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

(1) Number of Japanese Staff Members at United Nations-Related Agencies

Ms. ONO Hikariko, Press Secretary: I have two announcements at the outset.

The first is about the number of Japanese staff members at United Nations-related agencies.

I would like to announce the latest information on the number of Japanese staff members at international organizations has been released. As of the end of last year, the number of Japanese staff members at United Nations-related agencies has reached a record high of 961. We have been making progress towards the Government of Japan’s goal of achieving 1,000 staff members at United Nations-related agencies by 2025.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will continue to support people who challenge themselves to be active participants in international organizations in the future.

(2) Student Educational Exchange and Dialogue (SEED)

Press Secretary Ono: The second is about the Japan-U.S. exchange project utilizing facilities and areas of the U.S. Forces in Japan.

Since FY2020, MOFA and the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have been jointly implementing an exchange project for local junior high and high school students as well as children of U.S. Forces members in local areas where there are facilities and areas of the U.S. Forces in Japan. We heard from participating students and relevant local governments that this was a good opportunity to deepen mutual understanding and relationships. The project has been covered by several media outlets to date and it has become a very meaningful exchange project.

As an opportunity for the further blossoming of exchanges between Japan and the United States or to plant the “seeds” of exchanges, so to speak, we have changed the English name of this project to the Student Educational Exchange and Dialogue (SEED) from this fiscal year.

We will hold the first SEED at Yokota Air Base, Tokyo, on September 9 and 10, and provide opportunities for the media to cover this project on the 10th. Subsequently, we intend to gradually roll-out this SEED project at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa Prefecture, U.S. Fleet Activities, Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, U.S. Fleet Activities, Yokosuka and Camp Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, and Misawa Air Base, Aomori Prefecture.

MOFA expects that this SEED project will promote mutual understanding between the U.S. Forces in Japan and the local community, and lead to developing young human resources who will be active in the international community in the future.

That is all from me at the outset.

ALPS treated water (Filing a Case to the WTO)

Hokkaido Shimbun, Araya: I would like to ask about Chinese measures on Japanese fishery products. Yesterday, Minister Hayashi, and today the Chief Cabinet Secretary also said that Japan would continue to take necessary responses under the WTO framework and others. On the other hand, in a press conference yesterday, Minister in charge of Economic Security Takaichi said that we are entering a stage where we should consider countermeasures, touching on the filing a case to the WTO. Please tell us the view of the Government of Japan on the utilization of such WTO dispute settlement procedures.

Press Secretary Ono: Japan is absolutely unable to accept the series of measures by China on this matter, which are not based on scientific evidence, and we have repeatedly called for the prompt lifting of import restrictions. With regard to a WTO response, Japan has previously raised the issue in the WTO of China’s import restrictions on Japanese food products, which are not based on scientific evidence. Japan will continue to take necessary responses under the WTO framework and others against China’s measures this time as well, while considering various options.

Yomiuri Shimbun, Tanikawa: Related to that, you say that the Government of Japan will continue to take such responses using the WTO framework and others. Please tell us about the responses under what kind of frameworks the government is considering other than the WTO. I would like to hear your view.

Press Secretary Ono: As I stated earlier, Japan will continue to take necessary responses under the WTO framework and others against China’s measures this time as well, while considering various options.

The Government of Japan is currently considering various methods, so I would like to refrain from answering in any further detail.

ALPS Treated Water (Nuisance Telephone Calls to MOFA)

TBS, Miyamoto: I would like to ask about treated water. Harassment telephone calls, or so-called nuisance telephone calls, from numbers starting with country code 86, presumably calling from China to regions across Japan, appear to be continuing in all regions. Is MOFA also receiving these telephone calls? If so, please tell us the number and details of the calls, and the like. In addition, please also tell us any thoughts you have about how you will respond to this matter.

Press Secretary Ono: MOFA has also received numerous nuisance telephone calls since August 25 on the switchboard number. Although the number of calls has been declining since the beginning of this week, the calls persist intermittently.

With regard to specific numbers, there have been a total of approximately 500 such nuisance telephone calls since August 25.

As you have just pointed out, in addition to the many harassments, including telephone calls that appear to emanate from China, not only to MOFA but also across Japan, similar incidents are occurring at Japanese-related facilities and others in China. It is deeply regrettable and we are very concerned.

NHK, Ando: I would like to ask related questions. Regarding those harassing telephone calls and the like from China, the Global Times, an influential Chinese newspaper, published an editorial article today that called for a realistic calming down. Do you think this matter will calm down? If possible, please tell us the situation if the complaints and harassing telephone calls to not only MOFA but also across Japan have been declining since the beginning of this week.

Press Secretary Ono: As I answered earlier, the nuisance telephone calls to MOFA continue and there have been a total of approximately 500 such calls. On the other hand, it is true that the number of calls has been falling since the beginning of this week.

Regarding telephone calls to other parties, we closely cooperate with respective relevant ministries and agencies, but MOFA is not in a position to respond to everything.

I am also aware of the article by the Global Times you are referring to. In any case, Japan will continue to urge that China take the appropriate response quickly, including urging its citizens to act calmly in order to prevent the situation from becoming more serious. We will also urge China to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals and Japanese diplomatic missions in China, and to disseminate accurate information on ALPS treated water.

Response to Unilateral Transmissions by Russia concerning History

Mainichi Shimbun, Murao: Changing the subject, I would like to ask a question related to Russia. I believe that, recently, there have been a series of cases concerning growing criticism of Japan by Russia surrounding the historical issues from the Pacific War. For example, it seems that Russia is seeking to justify the Soviet-Japanese War and the control of the Northern Territories by making reference to the Changkufeng Incident and Unit 731. Russia will change the name to the Day of Victory over Militaristic Japan and the End of World War II on September 3 this year. We anticipate further information dissemination to be repeated ahead of this. What are MOFA’s reactions, responses, and views?

Press Secretary Ono: As in your question, I am aware that Russia is repeatedly making various unilateral remarks about history. The Government of Japan will not comment on such remarks one by one, but I would like to take this opportunity to mention a few points.

First, there will be no change to Japan’s post-war orientation as a peace loving country in future. As a fundamental principle of security, Japan will adhere to the basic policy of maintaining an exclusively national defense-oriented policy, not becoming a military power that poses a threat to other countries, and stated this in the National Security Strategy (NSS) adopted last year. I recognize that assertions inferring that Japan is reviving militarism are absolutely inapplicable.

Second, Japan has constantly upheld freedom, democracy, and the rule of law following the war, and contributed to not only Asia, but also to global prosperity.

Third, Japan believes that the 78 years of history since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, during which time no nuclear weapons have been used, must not be ignored. Russia’s suggestion of the use of nuclear weapons is inconsistent with such views and is extremely concerning. Japan, as the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings during wartime, can never accept Russia’s nuclear threats, let alone its use of nuclear weapons, and this position has not changed. Whatever claims Russia makes in relation to atomic bombs, such actions cannot be justified.

Fourth, Japan strongly urges Russia to take the appropriate response so that no useless emotional conflict is provoked between Russian and Japanese citizens over past wars.

Then fifth and lastly, Japan intends to once again strongly urge Russia to stop the aggression it is currently carrying out in Ukraine, in clear violation of international law, at the earliest possible time, and to withdraw its forces immediately from Ukraine.

ALPS Treated Water (Nuisance Telephone Calls from China)

Sankei Shimbun, Harakawa: I would like to confirm something you said earlier. The number of harassing telephone calls received by MOFA is approximately 500. Am I correct in understanding that all telephone calls received came from numbers with the country code 86?

Press Secretary Ono: As far as I am aware this is the number of nuisance telephone calls received by the MOFA switchboard, but we will need to investigate the source of such calls. I would like to respond separately after I have confirmed it.

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