Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Tuesday, June 6, 2023, 11:14 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

Emergency Grant Aid to Myanmar and Bangladesh

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

The western part of Myanmar and the Cox’s Bazar district, where displaced persons camps are located, and other areas of its neighboring country of Bangladesh have been severely affected by Cyclone Mocha, which hit in mid-May, and its subsequent flood.

Based on this situation, today, the Government of Japan decided to extend Emergency Grant Aid of USD 2 million through international organizations, such as the World Food Programme, as assistance for people affected by the cyclone in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The Government of Japan will continue to provide humanitarian support to Myanmar and stand by its people. Furthermore, we will continue to provide support to Bangladesh, including for displaced persons in the country from Rakhine State, Myanmar, and their host communities.

That is all from me.

Sanctions Against Israel

Pan Orient News, Azhari:Alright. Two days ago, June 5th was the 56th anniversary of the war in the Middle East in 1967 that resulted in Israel changing the status quo of the Syrian and Palestinian borders by annexing Golan Heights and occupying Palestinian territories through military force. While the G7 condemned Russia for changing the status quo by invading Ukraine, we are seeing great improvements in the relations between Japan and Israel. This is despite Israel annexing the Golan Heights and occupying Palestinian territories. Would Japan lead the G7 group to apply sanctions against Israel in the same way, you have been doing against Russia? Thank you.

Minister Hayashi:Generally, the unilateral annexation of territories occupied by force is not recognized under international law. From this perspective, Japan has consistently maintained its position that it does not recognize the annexation of the Golan Heights by Israel, and has strongly urged the Government of Israel to refrain from unilateral actions to change the status quo, based on the position that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be resolved through negotiations between the parties under a “two-state solution.”

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine threatens the very foundation of the international order that the international community has built over a long period of hard work and many sacrifices. Japan has been responding with firm resolve in cooperation with the international community, including the G7.

Japan considers its relations with each country comprehensively, taking into account each specific situation.

U.S.-China High-level Meetings

NHK, Iwasawa:My question is about a U.S.-China confrontation. In the Taiwan Strait, there have been a series of incidents that could lead to a conflict between the U.S. and China, including a Chinese naval destroyer crossing in front of a U.S. navy vessel. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink of the United States held meetings with Ministry of Foreign Affairs Executive Vice Foreign Minister Ma and another official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China yesterday, in Beijing. Please share with us your view of these developments amid escalating tensions between the United States and China.

Minister Hayashi:We are aware that senior U.S. government officials and senior Chinese government officials held meetings in Beijing yesterday, June 5.

We are aware that, according to the announcement by the United States, the two sides exchanged views on the bilateral relationship, cross-Strait issues, channels of communication between the United States and China, and other matters during the meetings.

I would like to refrain from commenting on meetings between third-party countries. That being said, I believe that the stability of U.S.-China relations is extremely important for the international community.

Japan will continue to urge China to fulfill its responsibilities as a major power while advancing various forms of cooperation under our strong relationship of mutual trust with our ally, the United States.

Definition and Examples of Like-minded Countries

Kyodo News, Katsurada: I would like to ask about so-called like-minded countries. The National Security Strategy states that Japan will work with its ally and “like-minded countries” to strengthen the international order. In April, Japan decided to establish Official Security Assistance (OSA), which will provide support directly to the armed forces of like-minded countries. Which specific countries does the Government of Japan define as “like-minded countries?” Is sharing values, such as freedom and democracy, a requirement of like-minded countries? Could you please explain?

Minister Hayashi:There is not necessarily a fixed definition for like-minded countries. I understand that it is a term generally used to refer to countries that share the same objectives on certain diplomatic issues.

With regard to which countries are considered “like-minded countries,” this needs to be decided individually from the perspective of whether they share the same objectives as Japan on the respective diplomatic issues. It is difficult to make a generalization.

Kyodo News, Katsurada:I have a related question. At the Japan-U.S. Defense Ministerial Meeting on June 1, U.S. Secretary of Defense Austin named the Republic of Korea (ROK), Australia, and the Philippines as like-minded countries. Does Japan also consider these three countries as like-minded countries? In addition, is Vietnam, a leading ASEAN country, a like-minded country?

Minister Hayashi:While I may be repeating what I said earlier, with regard to which countries are considered “like-minded countries,” this needs to be decided individually from the perspective of whether they share the same objectives as Japan on the respective diplomatic issues. It is difficult to make a generalization.

Situation in North Korea (North Korea’s Election on the WHO Executive Board)

Sankei Shimbun, Hiroike: I have a question regarding North Korea becoming a member of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO). North Korea was elected as a new member of the Executive Board at the World Health Assembly held at the end of last month. Concerns have been raised about North Korea’s fitness as a member given its repeated missile launches and other acts. Please share with us the reaction of the Government of Japan.

Minister Hayashi:We are aware that a list of 10 candidate countries and regions nominated by each regional committee, including North Korea that was nominated by the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia, was approved by the WHO members at the World Health Assembly.

As a result, the 10 countries and regions, including North Korea, were elected as new “Member States” of the Executive Board. In any case, Japan will urge the newly elected Executive Board members to perform their duties in accordance with WHO principles.

Situation in North Korea (Strengthening of Japan’s Own Sanctions Against North Korea)

NHK, Iwasawa:I have a question about sanctions against North Korea. A public meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which was convened on June 2 in response to North Korea’s launch of a military reconnaissance satellite, was once again unable to adopt a unanimous response due to opposition from China and Russia. North Korea has stated that it will conduct a second launch promptly. Under these circumstances, does Japan have any plans to strengthen the sanctions that it has imposed on its own?

Minister Hayashi:North Korea’s series of actions, including the launch using ballistic missile technology on May 31, threaten the peace and security of Japan, the region, and the international community and are absolutely unacceptable.

Any such launch, even if referred to as a “satellite,” is a violation of relevant UNSC resolutions that prohibit North Korea from conducting any launches using ballistic missile technology.

A UNSC open meeting was held at dawn on June 3, Japan time. It is very regrettable that the UNSC has been unable to take actions against North Korea’s serious provocations and repeated violations of UNSC resolutions due to the reluctance of some countries.

Japan will be reviewing its future responses to the latest launch, including our own sanctions, working in coordination with the United States and the ROK.

We believe North Korea may engage in further provocations, including launching a “satellite.”

Japan will continue to work closely with the United States, the ROK, and other countries in urging North Korea to comply with relevant UNSC resolutions and refrain from conducting further launches.

Opening of a NATO Tokyo Office

Reuters, Murakami: NATO has revealed that it is in talks with the Government of Japan to open a NATO liaison office in Tokyo. However, some reports say that France has objected the opening. What discussions have you had with NATO and France regarding the opening of NATO’s liaison office in Tokyo? It seems France is worried that the opening of a NATO Tokyo office will raise tensions between NATO and China. Is the Government of Japan concerned about this matter?

Minister Hayashi:We are aware of the reports you are referring to. NATO’s establishment of a liaison office in Japan is undergoing various reviews within NATO, and at this time I would like to refrain from answering based on speculation.

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