Extraordinary Press Conference by Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Monday, May 17, 2021, 3:52 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to speak about confirming the safety of Japanese nationals living overseas today. One matter is about the developments in Israel and Palestine in the Middle East, which I also spoke about at my press conference last week, and another matter is about Japanese nationals living in India.
Firstly, the developments in Israel and Palestine is worsening daily due to the continued attacks by Palestinian insurgents and counterattacks by the Israeli military. The Government of Japan express its serious concern about the situation.
It is particularly deplorable that there have been many casualties among civilians on both sides. Japan strongly condemns such acts of violence. We will continue to firmly cooperate with the international community and conduct diplomatic efforts while monitoring developments such as the intermediary efforts by the United States, Egypt, and others.
Particularly since May 10, many rockets are being launched day after day from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. The Israeli military’s continued large-scale attacks toward the Gaza Strip in response have resulted in many casualties.
Bearing in mind the danger that the situation could develop in an unexpected way going forward, yesterday we raised the Travel Advice and Warnings for the Gaza Strip from Level 3: Avoid All Travel to Level 4: Evacuate and Avoid All Travel.
We are requesting that Japanese nationals staying in the Gaza Strip or its vicinity quickly evacuate, and strongly requesting that Japanese nationals not travel to or enter the area.
We will continue to monitor the local situation and exert all efforts to protect the safety of Japanese nationals living abroad.
I would now like to speak about India. Approximately 300,000 new cases of people infected with COVID-19 per day have been occurring in India, and medical organizations continue to be in an extremely severe situation.
The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in India has utilized an assistance scheme of the Government of Japan to establish a PCR test site on the outskirts of New Delhi as support enabling Japanese residents of India planning to return to Japan to safely and certainly take a PCR test and quickly acquire a required test certificate. Tests will begin at the test site from today.
We would like Japanese nationals staying in India who are considering a temporary return to Japan to quickly work on the procedures to leave the country. Also, we would like Japanese nationals not currently considering a temporary return to Japan to fully monitor the developments in the situation of novel coronavirus infections, and consider responding in advance, including temporarily returning to Japan.
That is all from me.
Reporter: What aspects will be paid attention to for operation of the PCR test site established in India? I believe there are various aspects such as protecting the safety of Japanese nationals, so what is MOFA’s policy going forward for that?
Minister Motegi: In terms of Japanese nationals in India returning to Japan now, the most flights depart from New Delhi to Japan, so we are using the garden of a hotel on the outskirts of New Delhi that is often stayed in by people traveling to Japan via New Delhi from other regions in India. Although India also has a testing system that enables safe, certain, and quick tests, we will supplement and prepare a system to enable Japanese nationals returning to Japan to swiftly acquire the necessary test certificate and depart the country.
Reporter: In regard to the Travel Advice and Warnings at Level 4: Evacuate and Avoid All Travel for the Gaza Strip, about how many Japanese nationals do you have in mind for this? Please tell us the number if you know it.
Minister Motegi: As I stated earlier, the level of danger is extremely high for people in the Gaza Strip and the adjoining areas, so we have raised the level to Level 4. Speaking about the total for Israel and Palestine, about 1,200 Japanese nationals have submitted Overseas Residential Registration, and a much smaller number of Japanese nationals live in the Gaza Strip and its adjoining areas. We have grasped the situation, but I would like to refrain from answering as the number of Japanese nationals is affected by various elements and this is in a sense an issue affecting the safety of Japanese nationals.
Reporter: I have another question about Israel. A building where a news agency was located was recently hit by an aerial bomb. What is MOFA’s view of such ongoing attacks and the fact that a building where a news agency was located was a target?
Minister Motegi: We believe it is an extremely severe situation. In any event, we also believe it is important that the local situation is accurately conveyed to the world. Our basic position is to call on both Israel and Palestine to exert self-restraint, and we are urging both sides to immediately stop acts of violence including the recent blast at the building you mentioned.