Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary ONO Hikariko

Wednesday, October 26, 2022, 4:02 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) The 38th International Issue Presentation Contest

Ms. ONO Hikariko, Press Secretary: I have two announcements today.

The first is the holding of the 38th International Issue Presentation Contest.

The 38th International Issue Presentation Contest will be held on November 5 in the afternoon at a venue in Tokyo in a hybrid format of in-person and online.

This contest is convened with the aim of deepening interest and understanding of Japanese foreign policies among university students from around the country, who will forge the future of Japan, and increasing their abilities to play an active role in the international community through exchanges and friendly rivalry for mutual encouragement with fellow students of the same generation.

As Japan will assume the G7 Presidency next year, participants were invited under the theme of “My Proposals: What Japan Should Aim to Achieve as the 2023 G7 President.”

From a large number of applicants, the finalists of five groups who passed the document screening will be invited to make presentations for the final selection, and the top presenter will be awarded the Foreign Minister’s Award.

We believe that this contest will provide a valuable opportunity for the younger generation, who will forge the future of Japan, to discuss Japanese diplomacy. We hope that the finalists who have been selected to participate in the final selection will boldly take up the challenge of this year’s theme.

This contest will also be open to the press both onsite and online, so we hope that you will cover it.

(2) Resumption of Japanese Language Training for Diplomats and Civil Servants

Press Secretary Ono: The second announcement is the resumption of Japanese language training for diplomats and civil servants.

This month, for the first time in about three years, we have decided to resume the Japanese language training for diplomats and civil servants carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Japan Foundation. This is an eight-month Japanese language training program, but the training in FY2020 and FY2021 had to be cancelled due to the spread of COVID-19. This year, there will be a total of 30 participants, including 24 young diplomats and six civil servants dispatched from 27 countries.

This training began in 1981. This is the 40th time it has been held for diplomats, and the 24th time it has been held for civil servants. Out of those who took part in the training, MOFA has confirmed that a total of 17 have served as their countries’ ambassador to Japan, including one current ambassador. Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son of Viet Nam has also completed this training course.

That is all from me.

The 38th International Issue Presentation Contest

Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi:I would like to ask about the International Issue Presentation Contest called “My Proposals” for the upcoming G7 summit, which you mentioned in your opening remarks. Could you please give us a little more detail, such as an overview, when the contest will be held, and the number of participants?

Press Secretary Ono: The aim of the contest is as I explained earlier, and it is a participatory event held almost every year. It is an event that has a long tradition since FY1978.

The contest is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on November 5. It will be held at a venue in Tokyo, and detailed news coverage guidelines and other information will be shared later. As I stated earlier, it will be held in a hybrid format of in-person and online.

Furthermore, there are about 81 contestants in 59 groups this year. Among them, 43 contestants in 26 groups made the final entry. People from five groups, all of whom are currently students, made it through the preliminary round, and will make their own presentations based on the theme I mentioned and compete for the top award. This is the nature of the event.

In any case, the guideline on press coverage will be explained later. I hope you will be interested in covering the contest.

Appointment of Prime Minister Sunak of the United Kingdom

Kyodo News, Kinashi: I would like to ask about the United Kingdom. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Sunak was appointed the new Prime Minister on October 25. After that, he decided to have the main members of the Cabinet to stay in office, including Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Cleverly. Please tell us the Government of Japan’s reaction to this, if any.

Press Secretary Ono: I am aware that the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak was appointed Prime Minister yesterday, on October 25. On the same day, on behalf of the Government of Japan, Prime Minister Kishida sent Prime Minister Sunak a congratulatory message.

The United Kingdom is our global strategic partner with whom we share fundamental values with. Japan will work with the Sunak administration to continue to further strengthen Japan-U.K. relations.

Furthermore, our policy is to continue to cooperate closely with the United Kingdom, a G7 member, on the accumulated issues of the international community, including realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) and responding to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Relations with the Former Unification Church

Asahi Shimbun, Aibara: During the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives meeting earlier, an opposition party Diet member pointed out that during the time of Foreign Minister Kono, the Foreign Minister’s Commendation was conferred to a women’s federation of the former Unification Church. Are there any other examples of the Foreign Minister’s Commendation being conferred to an NGO of the former Unification Church? If you are not aware, do you intend to investigate? Please answer these two questions.

Press Secretary Ono: I am aware of the point you mentioned. At this point, we have not confirmed any other examples besides the one in Mozambique.

It is difficult to answer based on speculation regarding our future response. In any case, what I would like to say here is that we have not confirmed any other examples besides the one in Mozambique at this point.

Asahi Shimbun, Aibara: Excuse me. In relation to this and the response to the Mozambique issue, is the Board Chair of the school a Japanese national? Why was the award conferred? Please provide an explanation to the best of your knowledge.

Press Secretary Ono: The fact of the matter is that the FY2019 Foreign Minister’s Commendation was conferred to Ms. Akiko Bozan, Board Chair of The Sun of Mozambique School, in recognition of her many years of education and medical care-related activities in Mozambique.
Foreign Minister Hayashi explained that we will grasp what the facts are in the Diet earlier. I will mention no more at this point. In any case, I would like to refrain from answering based on speculation at this point with regard to MOFA’s future response.

Congratulatory Message from Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President Kishida to General Secretary Xi Jinping of the Communist Party of China (CPC)

Yomiuri Shimbun, Kaneko:I would like to ask about Mr. Xi Jinping of China. Mr. Xi’s third administration was inaugurated. In response, Prime Minister Kishida sent a congratulatory message in his capacity as LDP President. Please tell us as much as possible the content of the message.

Press Secretary Ono: The first plenary session of the 20th Central Committee of the CPC was held on October 23, and the new CPC leadership, including General Secretary Xi, was elected.

I am aware that Prime Minister Kishida sent a congratulatory message in his capacity as LDP President to General Secretary Xi in response to his reappointment as General Secretary of his party.

Prime Minister Kishida sent the message in his capacity as LDP President, so I would like to refrain from answering about its content on behalf of the Government of Japan.

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