Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Tuesday, May 9, 2023, 9:29 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) The Seventh Japan-France Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting (“2+2”)
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs:First, I would like to announce that the Seventh Japan-France Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting, “2+2,” will be held via videoconference this evening. From the Japanese side, Mr. HAMADA Yasukazu, Minister of Defense, and I will be attending, and from the French side, H.E. Ms. Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and H.E. Mr. Sébastien Lecornu, Minister for Armed Forces, will be attending.
France is an exceptional partner sharing fundamental values and strategic interests. We will discuss a wide range of topics, including security and defense cooperation between the two countries and regional affairs, to further strengthen our partnership, looking ahead to the G7 Hiroshima Summit, President Macron’s visit to Japan, and the establishment of a new roadmap for Japan-France cooperation.
(2) Ministerial Forum for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific co-hosted by the EU and Sweden
Minister Hayashi:I have one more announcement. If circumstances permit, I will be visiting Stockholm in Sweden from May 12 to 15 to attend the Ministerial Forum for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific co-hosted by the European Union (EU) and Sweden, the current EU Presidency. This will be my first visit to Sweden since I was appointed as Foreign Minister.
The forum will be hosted by Sweden, which holds the EU Presidency during the first half of this year, with the goal of further expanding the EU’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific, and will be attended by foreign ministers and other representatives from EU Member States and countries invited from outside the EU. The Government of Japan highly values and welcomes such a meeting.
Amidst the increasingly severe international security environment, the security of Europe and the Indo-Pacific cannot be discussed separately, and alignment among like-minded countries is becoming even more important. When I attend this meeting, I intend to reiterate this recognition to the attending countries, explain the outcomes of the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Karuizawa, Nagano held last month, and the new plan for the realization of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)” unveiled by Prime Minister Kishida in March, and further deepen the partnership between Japan and the respective countries.
During my visit to Sweden, I plan to hold a meeting with H.E. Mr. Tobias Billström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, as well as meetings with foreign ministers of relevant countries individually to strengthen our partnership.
That is all from me.
Japan-Australia and Japan-UK Reciprocal Access Agreements (Death Penalty System)
Kyodo News, Katsurada:If you do not mind, I would like to ask about something from before the holidays as time ran out at the previous press conference. It is about the Diet’s approval of the Reciprocal Access Agreements with the United Kingdom and Australia.
The agreements describe measures to be taken if British or Australian soldiers commit serious crimes that warrant the death penalty. It has been reported that the negotiations for concluding the agreement faced challenges. The reason is attributed to the institutional differences between the United Kingdom and Australia, which have abolished the death penalty, and Japan, which maintains the death penalty. Do you believe that Japan should continue to maintain the death penalty system? Additionally, please tell us what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware of as to how many countries in the world have abolished the death penalty and how many countries maintain the system, as well as your thoughts on the current situation.
Minister Hayashi:The death penalty system is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice. On that basis, I will say that, in our view, whether to keep or abolish the system is fundamentally a matter for each country to decide based on careful consideration from a variety of perspectives, including the realization of justice in society, while taking sufficient account of public opinion.
According to a report by the United Nations Secretary-General on the death penalty system, there were approximately 120 countries or regions that have abolished the death penalty system as of May 2020. Although the death penalty system itself is not under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we are aware that there are various debates regarding the system. In light of this, we need to carefully explain the system in Japan to other countries.
Ministerial Forum for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific co-hosted by the EU and Sweden
NHK, Iwasawa:I have a question related to your visit to Sweden that was mentioned in your opening remarks. With the G7 Hiroshima Summit coming up in a week, what is the significance of holding discussions with EU Member States and others at this ministerial forum regarding the Indo-Pacific? How do you intend to reflect discussions held at ministerial meetings into the themes and discussions of the Hiroshima Summit?
Minister Hayashi:As I stated at the outset, amidst the increasingly severe international security environment, the security of Europe and the Indo-Pacific cannot be discussed separately, and alignment among like-minded countries is becoming even more important.
Under these circumstances, at the meeting, I will explain the outcomes of the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Karuizawa, Nagano and Japan’s new plan for the realization of FOIP. I hope to further enhance the partnership between Japan and like-minded countries for maintaining and strengthening a free and open international order based on the rule of law.
It is important that regional affairs in the Indo-Pacific are also thoroughly discussed at the G7 Hiroshima Summit starting next week, and I intend to contribute to the discussion taking into account the discussion at the Ministerial Forum for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
G7 Hiroshima Summit’s Outcomes on Climate Change
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe:My question is about climate change measures. During the Golden Week holiday, I understand you visited Caribbean countries and exchanged a range of views on climate change with your counterparts. I gather that climate change will be one of the major agenda items at the G7 Hiroshima Summit. Following your recent visit, what outcomes do you hope to achieve on climate change measures at the summit?
Minister Hayashi:During my recent visit to Caribbean countries, we had very meaningful discussions on climate change, with the aim of contributing to overcoming the vulnerabilities particular to small island states. My counterparts expressed appreciation for Japan’s efforts on climate change.
To achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, Japan intends to lead the international community in addressing this issue by deepening the discussion at the G7 Hiroshima Summit, including on the need for resilient energy transitions and support for vulnerable countries based on the circumstances of each country and region.
ALPS Treated Water
Kyodo News, Katsurada:I would like to ask a question related to the recent summit meeting between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK). At the meeting, it was agreed that the ROK will dispatch a team of experts and others to TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station over the planned discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea. The discharge has been met with strong opposition in the ROK. What impact on the ROK public opinion do you expect from this decision to dispatch the team?
Minister Hayashi:Regarding the safety of ALPS treated water, we have been providing information and explanations based on scientific evidence in a careful manner at director-general-level briefing sessions and other opportunities with the ROK. At the recent Japan-ROK Summit Meeting, Prime Minister Kishida stated that Japan will provide explanations based on scientific evidence in a highly transparent and sincere manner, while continuing to undergo the reviews by the IAEA. The two leaders then concurred that a team comprised of ROK experts will be dispatched to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in May to deepen understanding in the ROK.
The Government will continue to provide explanations based on scientific evidence in a highly transparent and sincere manner through opportunities provided by the dispatch of the ROK expert team and director-general-level briefing sessions, which have been conducted from before. We hope that this will deepen the understanding of the people in the ROK regarding the safety of discharging ALPS treated water into the sea.