Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Saturday, February 18, 2023, 2:00 p.m. Munich
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: First of all, I would like to make a remark regarding the ballistic missile launch by North Korea.
Today, on the 18th, North Korea launched an ICBM-class ballistic missile, which landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), approximately 200 km off the western coast of Japan. Ballistic missile launches by North Korea, which are unprecedented both in their frequency and their manner, constitute a grave and imminent threat to the security of Japan and threaten the peace and security of the region and the international community. It is totally unacceptable. In addition, such ballistic missile launches breach the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, and Japan has lodged a strong protest against North Korea.
At today’s G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, we strongly condemned the ballistic missile launch and confirmed cooperation in responding to North Korea. I also confirmed this with Secretary of State Blinken of the United States and intend to confirm this later with Minister for Foreign Affairs Park Jin of the Republic of Korea (ROK). We will continue to aim for the complete denuclearization of North Korea by fully implementing the relevant UNSC resolutions in cooperation with the international community, including the United States, the ROK, and the G7.
As regards the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, our discussion was focused on the situation in Ukraine. The G7 foreign ministers underlined their commitment to upholding the international order based on the rule of law. Furthermore, we welcomed Ukraine’s commitment to a just and lasting peace and concurred on our commitment to actively working with Ukraine to this end. The G7 foreign ministers also reaffirmed our determination to continue supporting Ukraine.
In the latter half of the meeting, Minister for Foreign Affairs Kuleba of Ukraine joined the discussion, expressing his gratitude for the support provided by the G7 members to date and expectations for further support.
Following the meeting, I held a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Kuleba of Ukraine. I stated that Japan will continue to support Ukraine. I also conveyed Japan’s determination to fulfill its role as the G7 Presidency so that the international community including the G7 remains united in implementing strict sanctions against Russia and strong support for Ukraine.
In addition, I held bilateral meetings with foreign ministers and others participating in the meeting. We discussed urgent issues facing the international community, including Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and strengthening bilateral relationships. First, I held a talk briefly with Minister for Foreign Affairs Battsetseg of Mongolia and then held a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Reinsalu of Estonia, which shares a border with Russia and takes the aggression against Ukraine extremely seriously.
In the afternoon, I am scheduled to have meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs Rinkēvičs of Latvia, Minister of Foreign Affairs Landsbergis of Lithuania, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Park Jin of the ROK.
In addition, I just held a meeting with Mr. Wang Yi, our first in-person meeting since he assumed the position of overseeing China’s diplomacy. We reaffirmed the overall direction to jointly build a “constructive and stable relationship.” On that basis, I again expressed serious concerns regarding the East China Sea including the situation especially surrounding the Senkaku Islands, as well as China’s increasingly active military activities including its coordination with Russia, noting that Japan-China relations still face many challenges and concerns. Furthermore, I clearly conveyed, once again, Japan’s position regarding the specific balloon-shaped flying objects that have been detected in Japan’s territorial airspace as well as regarding peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, among other matters. At the same time, we confirmed again the potential for cooperation in the economic area and the importance of revitalizing people-to-people exchanges. We then welcomed that the Japan-China Security Dialogue, the Japan-China Consultations between Diplomatic Authorities, and the Japan-China Economic Partnership Consultation, all vice-ministerial-level meetings, will be held next week, and concurred to continue close communication at all levels, including at the leaders’ and foreign ministers’ levels.
Later, I will attend the Munich Security Conference session with the theme, regional security in the Indo-Pacific, and I intend to fully explain Japan’s foreign and security policy in light of the new National Security Strategy and other documents.
That is all from me.
Reporter: First, I would like to ask about the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. It was the first G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held under the Japanese Presidency as you stated. The discussion unexpectedly turned to matters such as responses to North Korean missiles.
First of all, as the Presidency, what is your assessment of the progress made or the outcome of today’s discussion? In addition, how do you intend to build on them for the Hiroshima Summit?
Minister Hayashi: I am pleased to host the first in-person G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting under the Japanese Presidency this year. At today’s meeting, as we approach one year since the beginning of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the G7 has demonstrated its strong determination in uniting to support Ukraine, as well as to uphold the international order based on the rule of law.
The G7 foreign ministers will continue to cooperate closely, including not only working together on Ukraine but also deepening discussions on the Indo-Pacific, in the lead-up to the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Karuizawa, Nagano in April and the G7 Hiroshima Summit in May.
Reporter: I would like to ask about Japan’s approach to supporting Ukraine. Japan is unable to provide weapons and faces constraints in its support being limited to non-military support. With Japan expected to fulfill an even more active role as the G7 Presidency, how do you intend to enhance its support and lead the discussions on international support? In addition, with regard to Prime Minister Kishida’s visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, which I believe Foreign Minister Kuleba of Ukraine referred to earlier, do you consider that it is desirable to realize the visit before the Hiroshima Summit? If any, what arrangements have been made at this time?
Minister Hayashi: So far, Japan has sequentially implemented a total of approximately $1.5 billion for Ukraine, its surrounding countries, and other countries affected by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, in humanitarian, financial, food, recovery and reconstruction assistance, including a supplementary budget of 60 billion yen (approximately $500 million) which was allocated last December.
Japan will continue to provide support for and stand by the people of Ukraine who are facing hardships, while appropriately understanding the needs of Ukraine, in cooperation with the international community including the G7 members. Japan will demonstrate leadership as the G7 Presidency in order to contribute to the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine. In addition to winterization assistance, such as provision of generators, Japan will effectively implement support for Ukraine that can be easily recognized as Japan’s development cooperation in a variety of fields, such as removing landmines in cooperation with Cambodia, removing debris, and rebuilding people’s lives including power and other basic infrastructure development, leveraging the experience and knowledge that Japan has cultivated to date.
Regarding the Prime Minister’s visit to Ukraine, nothing has been decided at this point.
Reporter: I have a question regarding sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine. You stated that the G7 confirmed their unity today. However, we are beginning to see other countries showing signs of “Ukraine fatigue” and/or wariness toward sanctions against Russia. As the G7 Presidency, what is your understanding of the role and strengths of Japan? Which countries do Japan plan to reach out to?
Minister Hayashi: It is essential that the international community, including the Global South, unite and raise its voice in order to bring Russia’s aggression to an end as early as possible, which shakes the very foundation of the international order.
We must carefully reach out to and gain the understanding of such countries, while emphasizing the importance of maintaining and strengthening an international order based on the rule of law. As the only G7 member from Asia, Japan has continued to approach countries by seizing various opportunities. This year, Japan will also make use of its position as the G7 Presidency in proactively leading the international discussions.
Reporter: I have a question related to sanctions against Russia. Please share with us how the G7 will intensify its effective sanctions against Russia or countries supporting Russia, as well as the outcomes of today’s meeting. In addition, you mentioned earlier that a security dialogue will be held between Japan and China next week. What is the objective behind holding the dialogue next week amid the discussions on balloons?
Minister Hayashi: First, regarding sanctions against Russia, at the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting today, the G7 concurred to maintain and intensify sanctions on Russia amid Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine. As we mark one year since the aggression began on February 24, Japan intends to deal with the situation appropriately, including preventing sanctions circumvention and evasion, in close cooperation with the G7 and other relevant countries.
Regarding the Japan-China Security Dialogue, Japan-China relations still face many challenges and concerns face, such as the East China Sea including the situation surrounding the Senkaku Islands, China’s increasingly active military activities near Japan including its coordination with Russia, and the specific balloon-shaped flying objects that have been detected in Japan’s territorial airspace in the past. It is important that Japan firmly maintain and assert its position and, at the same time, because of these challenges and concerns, keep holding candid dialogues. Japan and China have concurred on the need for dialogue, including at the summit meeting held last November. In the context of these developments, the Japan-China Security Dialogue, which has not been held since February 2019 will resume. Japan intends to fully address the challenges and concerns I just mentioned based on the position of Japan.
Reporter: I have a question regarding your meeting with Mr. Wang Yi, member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Politburo of China. You referred to China’s spy balloon in your opening remarks. Japan has relaxed the requirements for using weapons to allow the interception of any balloons intruding into Japan’s territorial airspace. Please elaborate on the discussion that took place, including on this matter.
Could you also tell us if you discussed the border measures imposed by Japan on travelers from China, as well as the timing of your visit to China requested by Beijing?
Minister Hayashi: Regarding your question on balloons, I clearly conveyed, once again, Japan’s position regarding the specific balloon-shaped flying objects that have been detected in Japan’s territorial airspace in the past. I also conveyed that intrusion of balloons of any country into another country’s territorial airspace without permission would constitute airspace incursion.
Regarding border measures, my counterpart raised the matter, and I again explained the position of Japan. With regard to my visit to China, China once again extended an invitation, and we will continue to work on arranging the specific timing. Nothing has been decided at this point.