Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Tuesday, February 21, 2023, 11:15 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

(Video) Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

Attendance by Foreign Minister Hayashi at the Emergency Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Ukraine and the UN Security Council (UNSC) Ministerial Debate

Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to make one announcement.

If circumstances permit, I will be visiting New York from February 20 to 25 to attend the Emergency Special Session of the UNGA on Ukraine and the UNSC Ministerial Debate that will be held at the turning point of marking one year since the start of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

It is expected that the resolution seeking peace submitted by Ukraine will be adopted during the UNGA, and Japan is one of the co-sponsoring countries. I will urge the other countries to adopt the resolution at the UNGA. Rather than simply suspending hostile acts, peace must be based on the UN Charter. I would like to share this recognition with various countries.

The UNSC has a responsibility to maintain international peace and security, and its permanent members have the most responsibility. The aggression against Ukraine by Russia, a permanent member of the UNSC, is absolutely unacceptable. I will again clarify Japan’s basic position as Minister for Foreign Affairs of a non-permanent member of the UNSC.

In addition, taking this opportunity, we are coordinating meetings with a wide range of countries and exchange views on various issues of the international community, including the situation in Ukraine.

I would like to work to shape international public opinion to protect the international order based on the rule of law through such vigorous initiatives utilizing the UN.

That is all from me.

Issue of Former Civilian Workers from the Korean Peninsula

Dong-a Ilbo, Lee: You met with Foreign Minister Park Jin of the Republic of Korea (ROK) in Munich, Germany on February 18. It was reported that in a local interview which brought up the issue of the former civilian workers, Foreign Minister Park mentioned that Prime Minister Kishida’s judgment and decision would be necessary. Please tell us the Government of Japan’s argument or position on this.

Minister Hayashi: I would like to refrain from commenting one by one on statements made by the ROK side.

Foreign Minister Park and I concurred to continue talks between our countries toward the early resolution of the issue in order to restore healthy Japan-ROK relations.

In any case, based on the foundation of our friendly cooperative relations built up since the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and the ROK in 1965, Japan will continue to closely communicate with the Government of the ROK towards restoring healthy Japan-ROK relations and further developing the relations.

Status of Preparations for the G7 Hiroshima Summit

Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: The G7 Hiroshima Summit is less than three months away, and various preparations are underway in the local area. How will MOFA build momentum toward the Summit? Furthermore, I believe that various country leaders as well as domestic and foreign media will visit, so how will MOFA prepare a system to receive them?

Minister Hayashi: We are currently considering in various forms regarding the specific schedule of the Summit.

Regarding the participation of young people, with the aim of deepening young people’s understanding of the G7 Summit and having them acquire a cosmopolitan outlook and can-do spirit, MOFA personnel are implementing “Summit Juku” (Summit cram school) to provide explanations to local junior and senior high school students regarding the G7 Summit as well as MOFA’s work and roles.

In close cooperation with the Citizens Council for the Hiroshima Summit, we will continue to provide numerous opportunities so that young people can participate in various ways in the Summit.

In addition, we have received a variety of proposals and requests regarding utilization of local Hiroshima products and the like. We will actively utilize products from various areas of Hiroshima Prefecture based on such proposals, consider and make preparations so that we can present wonderful aspects of Japan and Hiroshima to all countries.

Japan-China Consultations between Diplomatic Authorities, Japan-China Security Dialogue

Mainichi Shimbun, Takeuchi: I would like to ask about Japan-China relations. During your recent meeting with Director Wang Yi of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China, you agreed to hold a Japan-China Security Dialogue, the Japan-China Consultations between Diplomatic Authorities, and the like. The United States and China have a confrontation over the issue of surveillance balloons. Amidst this, please tell us the Government of Japan’s purpose and aim in holding meetings such as a Japan-China Security Dialogue.

Minister Hayashi: Japan-China relations face a number of challenges and pending issues, such as the situation in the East China Sea including the Senkaku Islands, China’s increasingly active military activities in the vicinity of Japan including its cooperation with Russia, and the specified balloon-shaped flying objects that were confirmed within Japanese airspace in the past.

Japan will state what should be stated about such challenges and concerns, and it is important to repeatedly have candid dialogues precisely because of these challenges and concerns. Japan and China have concurred on the importance of dialogue, including at the Summit Meeting in November 2022.

Amidst these developments, we recently decided to resume the Japan-China Consultations between Diplomatic Authorities and the Japan-China Security Dialogue, which have not been held since February 2019.

I would like to refrain from answering based on speculation in advance regarding the specific content of the consultations, including matters you just mentioned. Japan will firmly respond to the challenges and concerns based on our positions.

Concerns About China’s Support for Russia

Reuters, Murakami:
Last week, US Secretary of State Blinken spoke of concerns that Beijing was considering supplying weapons to Moscow and warned of consequences should China provide such support to Russia in the Ukraine war. Beijing has denied these claims but could you explain whether Japan would also take any actions should Beijing supply material support to Moscow in the Ukraine war? Also, will this issue be raised in the high-level diplomacy talks with Sun Weidong that is planned later today? Thank you.

Minister Hayashi: I am aware that Secretary of State Blinken of the United States expressed his concern to the Chinese side regarding China’s consideration of providing lethal support to Russia, during his meeting in Munich on February 18 with Director Wang Yi of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China.

I also exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine with Director Wang during my recent meeting in Munich. I strongly urged China to take a responsible action.

I would like to refrain from answering speculative questions. However, in my recent statement in my capacity as Chair of the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the G7 members called on third parties to cease assistance to the Russian military and its affiliated forces. Japan will continue to gather and analyze relevant information, and appropriately respond in close cooperation with relevant countries, including the G7.

In addition, I would like to refrain from answering based on speculation in advance regarding the specific content of the Japan-China Consultations between Diplomatic Authorities and the Japan-China Security Dialogue. Japan will firmly respond to the challenges and concerns based on our positions.

UNSC Emergency Meeting Regarding North Korea’s Ballistic Missile Launch

NHK, Iwasawa: I would like to ask about the UNSC emergency meeting held this morning due to the ballistic missile launched by North Korea. During the meeting, China and Russia claimed that the United States is raising tensions around the Korean Peninsula, and the UNSC was not able to show a unified posture. Please tell us your reaction to the outcome of this meeting, and your thoughts on the UNSC reform.

Minister Hayashi: In the early morning of February 21 Japan time, the public meeting of the UNSC was held at the request of Japan, the United States, the ROK, and others in response to North Korea’s ICBM-class ballistic missile launched on February 18.

During the meeting, the great majority of the member countries condemned North Korea’s repeated provocative activities including the recent ICBM-class ballistic missile that landed in Japan’s EEZ, and pointed out that it was a violation of the UNSC resolutions, and expressed concerns over North Korea’s nuclear and missile development. On the other hand, in the same way they have done through now, China and Russia criticized U.S.-ROK military exercises and other such matters, and made their own claims such as calling for easing of sanctions.

Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations ISHIKANE attended the meeting from Japan. He strongly condemned North Korea’s repeated provocative actions and violation of the UNSC resolution, and emphasized the importance of the UNSC fulfilling its primary responsibilities for international peace and security.

In addition, after the meeting, like-minded countries including Japan, the United States, and the ROK strongly condemned North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches, and issued a joint statement to the press emphasizing the importance of action by the UNSC.

The development of nuclear weapons and missiles by North Korea threaten the peace and security of Japan and the international community, and is absolutely unacceptable.

It is very regrettable that the UNSC has been unable to take actions against North Korea’s serious provocations and repeated violation of the UNSC resolutions due to the reluctant attitude of some countries.

The Government of Japan will continue to make all efforts so that the UNSC will play its primary role, while maintaining close communication with the United States and the other UNSC member countries.

Strengthening Engagement with the Global South

Sankei Shimbun, Okada: I would like to ask about the Global South. I believe you have stated your view on strengthening engagement with the Global South countries through now. However, China and Russia are working to expand their influence on these countries. What appeals has Japan made so far to the Global South, and how have you strengthened your engagement? If you have any recent examples, please tell us.

Minister Hayashi: Following the end of World War II, Japan has consistently advanced fine-tuned diplomacy that places importance on diversity and inclusivity as a member of the Asia-Pacific region as we walk the path of a peace-loving nation. We have advanced steady diplomacy with dialogue in which we seek to find common challenges and provide support that is truly needed, while respecting the positions of other countries.

As Japan holds the G7 Presidency this year, we will demonstrate the G7’s determination to maintain the world order based on the rule of law. At the same time, we will exhibit leadership on strengthening engagement with the Global South through active contributions to various global issues such as climate change, energy, food, health, and development.

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