Press Conference by Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko
Friday, November 17, 2023, 2:30 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Meeting on the Situation surrounding Israel and Palestine
Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have two announcements.
The first is about the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution concerning the situation surrounding Israel and Palestine.
On November 16, the UNSC adopted a resolution with a focus on protecting children in the Gaza Strip, with 12 members voting in favor including Japan. It calls for humanitarian pauses and the immediate and unconditional release of hostages held by Hamas and other groups, and calls on all parties to adhere to international law.
After four draft resolutions were rejected due to divisions among the UNSC members, and in light of the current situation in the Gaza Strip, this resolution was proposed by Malta, the Chair of the UNSC Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, in order to urgently prevent further deterioration of the humanitarian situation, including the situation facing children. As a UNSC member, Japan made various diplomatic efforts for the resolution’s adoption and cast a favorable vote, and we welcome the adoption.
Japan calls on all parties concerned to act in good faith based on the resolution. At the same time, Japan will actively and persistently continue our diplomatic efforts to improve the humanitarian situation, and calm down the situation, etc., while closely communicating with relevant countries and international organizations.
(2) Signing of the Exchange of Notes (E/N) for Official Security Assistance (OSA) to Bangladesh
Minister Kamikawa: Next topic is signing of the E/N for OSA to Bangladesh.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) established Official Security Assistance (OSA) this April. OSA is a new assistance framework for providing equipment and supplies to like-minded countries and enhancing their security and deterrence capabilities, with the aim of ensuring peace and stability in the region and creating a desirable security environment.
Following on from Japan’s OSA to the Philippines on November 3, an E/N on the second program of OSA, which will provide patrol boats to the Bangladesh Navy, was signed on November 15.
Bangladesh is a “Strategic Partner” of Japan, and is located in front of the Bay of Bengal which is one of important sea lanes for Japan. This program is expected to strengthen the capabilities of the Bangladesh Navy for monitoring and surveillance, and disaster relief and to contribute to maintenance and enhancement of maritime security not only in the Bay of Bengal but also the whole Indo-Pacific region.
By the end of this year, we will also work on deciding on OSA for Malaysia and Fiji, the remaining candidate countries for this fiscal year’s OSA.
That is all from me.
Japan-China Summit Meeting
Yomiuri Shimbun, Tanikawa: At the Japan-China Summit Meeting, the two leaders concurred to comprehensively promote a “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.” How does MOFA define this term? Furthermore, what arrangements is MOFA making in relation to holding a Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting? Please also share with us how you intend to address the mounting issues between the two countries.
Minister Kamikawa: With regard to your first question, the idea of the “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests” is a concept that Japan and China, which have responsibilities for peace, stability and development in the world, “fully develop mutually beneficial cooperation for the future at various levels, such as the bilateral, regional and international levels, that will contribute to the benefit of both countries, Asia and the world, and benefit mutually and expand their common interests,” “in so doing, Japan-China relations will be elevated to new heights.”
Japan and China have concurred to “comprehensively promote” the idea on the Joint Statement in May 2008.
This year, Japan and China commemorate the 45th anniversary of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, following on from last year’s 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations. In marking these milestones, it was extremely significant that the two leaders, in looking back on the progress made between our two countries, and in looking ahead to the future, reaffirmed to uphold the principles and common understanding of the four basic documents between Japan and China and to comprehensively promote a “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.”
Second, you asked me about our intention to address the issues including arrangements of the Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
At this time, nothing has been decided about any meetings between myself and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, including a Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. We will continue to carry out close communication with China at all levels.
In addition, on dealing with issues between the two countries, Japan and China share various possibilities as well as many challenges and concerns. Japan will continue to firmly maintain and assert our position and strongly call on China’s responsible actions. I think that it is important that both Japan and China accelerate their efforts to build a “constructive and stable relationship” under which the two countries continue dialogue including on the concerns and cooperate on matters of common interest.
Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
NHK, Igarashi: I would like to ask about Japan-China-ROK relations. Today, Japan time, bilateral summit meetings were held between Japan and China and between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Could you tell us about your approach for the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meeting scheduled at the end of this month? Please also explain the significance of the meeting.
Minister Kamikawa: First, Japan continues to attach importance to trilateral Japan-China-ROK processes, which are a forum for high-level discussions among the three neighboring countries on various issues. At the recent Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I told Foreign Minister Park that Japan supports the efforts of the ROK, the chair of the Trilateral Meeting, and we confirmed to work closely together.
The date, agenda, and other details of the Japan-China-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting are being finalized. I expect that at the next meeting the three countries will discuss, among other matters, the way forward for concrete cooperation in light of the current international situation, responses to global challenges, and regional affairs, building on the trilateral discussions and cooperation to date.
In any case, if the foreign ministers’ meeting is held, I intend to actively participate in the discussions, bearing in mind the strategic significance of the trilateral meeting and cooperation.
Second Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: I have a question about the TPNW. The second Meeting of States Parties is coming up in ten days. Yesterday, Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) groups and others visited MOFA to request Japan’s participation as an observer. Such requests are being voiced from various parts of Japan. Yesterday, the official in charge expressed caution but did not clearly state whether Japan will participate. I would like to ask again whether the Government intends to participate as an observer or not.
Minister Kamikawa: The TPNW is an important treaty that can be described as an exit to “a world without nuclear weapons.” However, not one nuclear-weapon state is participating in the treaty, and a pathway to the “exit” has still not been laid down.
Under these circumstances, Japan, as the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings during war, must seek to involve nuclear-weapon states.
Japan will continue and enhance realistic and practical efforts by building on the “G7 Leaders’ Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament” issued at the G7 Hiroshima Summit in May as a solid platform, and implementing each of the initiatives under the “Hiroshima Action Plan” announced by Prime Minister Kishida at the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in August of last year.
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: Thank you. I just have one more question. There are other countries like Japan that are under the U.S. nuclear umbrella but have participated as an observer, for example, Germany. Japan has repeatedly stated that it is important to act as a bridge between nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear weapon states. This has led some to question why Japan is not participating as an observer when countries like Germany are participating. Could you please share your thoughts on this?
Minister Kamikawa: Japan will refrain from commenting on how other countries are addressing the matter. The Government of Japan’s position on observer participation in the Meeting of States Parties is as I just stated.
In any case, we will continue and enhance realistic and practical efforts by building on the “G7 Leaders’ Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament” as a solid platform, and implementing each of the initiatives under the “Hiroshima Action Plan.”
Situation in the Middle East
Anadolu Agency, Furkan: The World Health Organization announced that more than 20 hospitals are non-functional due to Israel’s attacks on Gaza. This week, the United Nations said that Israel cannot claim the right of self-defense under international law because Gaza is a territory which it occupies. Israel’s attacks on Gaza in the last six weeks have killed nearly 12,000 innocent civilians. Western countries, such as Canada and France, have urged Israel to stop the attacks. Can the Government of Japan similarly call on Israel to stop the attacks?
Minister Kamikawa: There have already been a large number of deaths and injuries in the Gaza Strip and surrounding areas, and we are gravely concerned over the deteriorating humanitarian situation. The numerous hostages must be released immediately.
All the parties concerned must adhere to international law, including international humanitarian law. We consider that it is necessary to take all possible measures, including humanitarian pauses, in order to prevent harm to civilians in military operations.
With Israel, I myself have emphasized the importance of protecting civilians and calling for acting in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law.
Japan will continue to urge all the parties concerned to adhere to international law, including international humanitarian law. At the same time, Japan will actively and persistently continue our diplomatic efforts to improve the humanitarian situation, and calm down the situation, etc., while closely communicating with relevant countries and international organizations.