Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary YOSHIDA Tomoyuki
Wednesday, February 10, 2021, 3:45 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Plan for the Japan-U.S.-Australia-India Summit Meeting
Asahi Shimbun, Kitami:I believe there are some reports stating that a summit meeting is being coordinated under the Quad framework of Japan, the United States, Australia, and India. Please tell us the current status of coordination.
Mr. YOSHIDA Tomoyuki, Press Secretary:I believe that those reports are probably coming from Washington D.C. I am aware of the reports. However, my answer is that such a meeting is not being coordinated at the present point.
China’s Coast Guard Law
Jiji Press, Komatsu: In regard to the Government of Japan’s viewpoint on China’s Coast Guard Law, in Foreign Minister Motegi’s press conference yesterday, he stated for the first time that the activities of Chinese Coast Guard vessels entering Japan’s territorial waters are a breach of international law. Does this indicate that there has been a change in MOFA’s viewpoint or recognition of this matter? That is my first question. As for my second question, I believe that if the navigation does not fall under “innocent passage,” it is a breach of international law. What I would like to ask is whether the determination that such navigation does not fall under “innocent passage” was recognized by MOFA and the Government of Japan at the time when the Chinese Coast Guard vessels entered Japan’s territorial waters, or when the vessels pursued Japanese fishing boats, or when China’s intentions became clear due to the recent entry into force of the so-called Coast Guard Law.
Press Secretary Yoshida: I believe that Foreign Minister Motegi’s explanation in his press conference yesterday, which you asked about, was as follows. Firstly, Foreign Minister Motegi stated his recognition that Chinese Coast Guard vessels have repeatedly intruded into Japan’s territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands, and have approached and pursued Japanese fishing boats. Then he stated that the Coast Guard’s activities based on China’s unique claim in Japan’s territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands are a breach of international law. He also stated that Japan has been lodging severe protests to China up until now.
Additionally, amidst this, Japan has been seriously concerned about the entry into force of China’s Coast Guard Law on February 1.
I believe there have been various discussions about China’s Coast Guard Law. The Law is vague about the maritime areas it applies to, and yet stipulates that the Coast Guard has the authority to use force. We believe that the Law includes stipulations that are problematic from the perspective of conformity with international law.
Amidst this, we believe that the Coast Guard Law must not infringe the just interests of related countries including Japan. Japan has been conveying its views and concerns to China thus far, and will continue to do so.
Therefore, there has been no change to Japan’s basic recognition. We have been conveying our concerns to China up until now.
You asked for an extremely detailed breakdown. What I just stated is the position of the Government of Japan. It is necessary to specifically look separately at how Japan’s sovereignty has been infringed upon by the Chinese Coast Guard’s actions based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the general international law of the sea. Rather than demarcating the point in time when Japan’s sovereignty was infringed upon, we believe it is necessary to make specific determinations on China’s actions on the whole.
Situation in Myanmar
TBS, Kashimoto:I would like to ask about the aftermath of the situation in Myanmar. Please tell us about the outlook on Myanmar, including whether Japan will re-examine its economic support based on the future situation. Also, Japan has various deep bilateral pipelines to Myanmar, including to the Myanmar military, and Foreign Minister Motegi has stated repeatedly that they will be used to urge the Myanmar military. Although it is difficult, please tell us what you know about what the current situation is.
Press Secretary Yoshida:The Foreign Minister’s Statement has been released about the situation in Myanmar, and Foreign Minister Motegi has provided many explanations. As stated recently, the Government of Japan will continue to strongly urge the Myanmar military to release those who were detained, including State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and to swiftly restore Myanmar's democratic political system. We have also already begun contacting the people concerned in Myanmar, including in the Myanmar military, using our bilateral pipelines. I believe it is fine for you to understand that this current situation is continuing. We will continue these efforts going forward.
In addition, the situation in Myanmar is changing moment by moment. Large-scale protests are being continuously conducted in the country. I am aware that yesterday in Myanmar’s capital of Naypyidaw, live ammunition was fired against protesters, and a man and a woman are in critical condition. We would like to state that the use of guns and other forms of force against peaceful protests is unacceptable. We will continue to urge the Myanmar authorities to immediately stop violence against civilians.
Kyodo News, Asada: In relation to this, please tell us whether Japan is currently playing an intermediary-like role between the West and Myanmar by utilizing Japan’s bilateral pipelines to the Myanmar military and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, or if Japan is making similar efforts, and whether Japan’s policy is to make such efforts going forward.
Press Secretary Yoshida: I believe there are various views on how to phrase this. Taking into account Japan’s long-held relations with Myanmar and its experience supporting the process of democratization in Myanmar, we will continue to urge the people concerned in Myanmar. In addition, because the situation in Myanmar is a matter of serious concern to the international community, we will continue to cooperate and conduct exchanges of views and information with the countries concerned, including the United States and other countries in Southeast Asia. In this way, we believe Japan’s role is to continue its own diplomatic efforts and urging while being aware of various countries’ issues, interests, and concerns.