Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Tuesday, July 25, 2023, 11:02 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Minister Hayashi’s Visit to Southwest Asia and Africa
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have an announcement at the outset.
I would like to formally announce that, from July 27 to August 4, I will be visiting India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, South Africa, Uganda, and Ethiopia. The visit to Uganda will be a first by a Japanese foreign minister.
Japan and Southwest Asian countries have traditionally had friendly relations and are important partners for the realization of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP).” The new plan for FOIP, which was announced by Prime Minister Kishida in March, also identifies Southwest Asia as one of the most important regions. Furthermore, Africa’s population and market are projected to grow in the long term, making it an increasingly important region for Japan’s diplomacy. Through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process, Japan has long supported the self-sustained development of Africa as its partner. The stability and development of Southwest Asia and eastern and southern Africa contribute to the peace and prosperity of the broader Indo-Pacific region.
Amid the various challenges facing the international community, it has become ever more important to listen to a wide range of opinions from the international community, including countries of the so-called Global South, stand with these countries, and work to solve various issues. During my upcoming visit, I will hold exchanges of views openly with government dignitaries in Southwest Asian and African countries, discuss the further strengthening of bilateral relations, and confirm our cooperation to maintain and strengthen a free and open international order based on the rule of law.
That is all from me.
Foreign Minister Hayashi’s Visit to Southwest Asia and Africa (Schedule in India)
NHK, Iwasawa: I have a question related to the overseas visit in your opening remarks. The leaders of Japan and India, a country considered to represent the Global South, have been engaged in active diplomatic exchanges, including this year’s visit to India by Prime Minister Kishida and Prime Minister Modi’s attendance at the G7 Hiroshima Summit. In this context, please share with us your thoughts on the significance of holding the upcoming foreign ministers’ meeting in India. Furthermore, do you have any plans at the moment to meet with Prime Minister Modi during your stay in India?
Minister Hayashi:India, with which we share common fundamental values and strategic interests, is an important partner for realizing FOIP.
During my visit to India, we will follow up on the summit meeting in Hiroshima in May, including strengthening coordination between the G7 and G20 presidencies and bilateral relations, and confirm to cooperate in the lead-up to the G20 Summit in New Delhi in September.
While my detailed schedule in India is still being arranged, there are no plans for a courtesy call on Prime Minister Modi as he will not be in Delhi at that time.
Foreign Minister Hayashi’s Visit to Southwest Asia and Africa (Schedule in Africa: Food Security)
Asahi Shimbun, Uechi:I have a question concerning your overseas visit. It is about Russia-Africa relations. Russia stated that it terminated its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) because of the economic sanctions imposed by the West, and expressed its intention to independently provide food assistance in Africa. A Russia-Africa Summit will be held prior to your visit to Africa. What will you advocate and how do you intend to obtain the understanding of Africa on Japan’s position regarding food security?
Minister Hayashi: Japan deplores that the BSGI was terminated due to Russia’s withdrawal and is concerned about the impact on global food security.
To ensure global food security, Japan views that it is important to strongly urge Russia to return to the international framework and to resume the grain export from Ukraine. I will explain our view to the African countries I will be visiting.
In addition, I intend to provide a clear explanation that the sanctions against Russia imposed by the G7 members, including Japan, exclude daily essential items, such as food and fertilizer, from a humanitarian perspective.
Foreign Minister Hayashi’s Visit to Southwest Asia and Africa (Republic of South Africa: Situation in Ukraine)
NHK, Iwasawa: I have a follow-up question regarding your visit. One of the countries you will be visiting, South Africa, has long had friendly relations with Russia and has maintained an impartial position on the situation in Ukraine rather than outright condemning Russia. During this visit, what will you call on South Africa to do regarding the situation in Ukraine? Do you have plans to hold a meeting with President Ramaphosa during your stay in South Africa?
Minister Hayashi:Africa is expected to grow in the long term, making it an increasingly important region for Japan’s diplomacy. South Africa, in particular, is a member of the G20 and is also the chair of BRICS this year. Holding discussions and enhancing cooperation with South Africa on maintaining and strengthening a free and open international order based on the rule of law as well as on addressing other important international issues are becoming even more significant in the current situation.
From this perspective, I intend to have thorough discussions with South Africa during my visit. The detailed schedule of my stay in South Africa is currently being arranged, and nothing has been decided.
ALPS Treated Water (Information Dissemination in Multiple Languages)
Sankei Shimbun, Okada: I would like to ask about the measures against disinformation spread by China. China is circulating disinformation on the discharge of treated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into the sea and stepping up its criticism of Japan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA) has released videos on its YouTube channel explaining the safety of treated water. The latest video is available in English. Do you intend to release this video in Chinese, Korean, and/or other languages? What are your plans?
Minister Hayashi:We believe it is vital to provide objective and accurate information on ALPS treated water based on scientific evidence, both for deepening the international community’s understanding onthe safety of treated water and suppressing harmful rumors.
We made the video from this standpoint.
As you stated, the video is already available in English on the MOFA website and YouTube channel. To disseminate information effectively, we are making subtitled versions available in multiple languages, including Japanese, Chinese, both simplified and traditional, and Korean.
MOFA will continue to provide detailed explanations of Japan’s position to the international community based on scientific evidence in a highly transparent manner and make efforts to deepen understanding on the safety of ALPS treated water.
Resuming the Trilateral Japan-China-Republic of Korea (ROK) Processes
TBS, Miyamoto:I would like to change topics and ask about the high-level consultation among Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea (ROK). During your recent meeting with Mr. Wang Yi of China in Jakarta on July 14, the Chinese side reportedly proposed to hold a Japan-China-ROK high-level consultation. What do you see is the Government of China’s intention in proposing this consultation? If a high-level consultation will be held among Japan, China, and the ROK, please tell us what significance you attach to it and your expectations for the consultation, if any.
Minister Hayashi:At the meeting held on July 14 with H.E. Mr. Wang Yi, Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, following on from the Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in April, we exchanged views on the importance of the trilateral Japan-China-ROK processes and concurred again to resume the trilateral processes, including at the leader and foreign ministerial levels.
I am not in a position to answer about the intentions of China. That said, I believe it is highly meaningful for the three leaders of Japan, China, and the ROK, who share a great responsibility for the peace and prosperity of the region, to come together and discuss the direction of trilateral cooperation, the specific manner of collaboration, regional issues, and other matters.
Nothing has been decided yet regarding the detailed schedule of the trilateral cooperation processes and others, including the consultation you mentioned. We will conduct a careful review at the trilateral working level, taking into account that Japan and China concurred to resume the trilateral processes at the leader and foreign ministerial levels and that Japan supports the efforts of the ROK, the chair, to advance the trilateral processes.
Mainichi Shimbun, Kawaguchi:Along the same line, I have a question about the Japan-China-ROK trilateral summit. During the recent ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, ROK Minister of Foreign Affairs Park Jin mentioned he was hoping for a trilateral summit meeting to take place at the end of this year. What will be the response of the Government of Japan? There are currently issues between Japan and China over the discharge of ALPS treated water. Do you think that this will have any impact on the holding of the trilateral summit meeting? Please share with us your thoughts.
Minister Hayashi: I believe it is meaningful for the three leaders of Japan, China, and the ROK, who share a great responsibility for the peace and prosperity of the region, to come together and discuss the direction of our trilateral cooperation, the specific manner of collaboration, regional issues, among other matters. It is as I stated earlier.
That being said, the IAEA Comprehensive Report concludes that the discharge of ALPS treated water is consistent with relevant international safety standards and that its radiological impact on people and the environment is negligible. The Government of Japan will continue to provide detailed explanations regarding this and other aspects of the safety of ALPS treated water to the international community in a highly transparent manner. In addition, we will request that China make conclusions that are based on scientific evidence.
In any case, at the trilateral working level, we will carefully review the specific processes for our future trilateral cooperation and their schedule, taking into account that Japan and China concurred to resume the trilateral processes at the leader and foreign ministerial levels and that Japan supports the efforts of the ROK, the chair, to advance the trilateral processes.
Missile Launch by North Korea
Asahi Shimbun, Uechi: I would like to ask about the issue of North Korea’s missiles. North Korea launched two ballistic missiles late last night. Please tell us the response taken by MOFA, including any protests and telephone talks.
Minister Hayashi:Ballistic missile launches by North Korea, which are unprecedented both in their frequency and their manner, including the two missile launches yesterday, constitute a grave and imminent threat to the security of Japan. In addition, they threaten the peace and security of the region and the international community, and are totally unacceptable. In addition, these ballistic missile launches breach the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
Japan strongly condemned yesterday’s ballistic missile launches by North Korea by lodging strong protests through the embassy in Beijing.
In addition, today, July 25, Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau FUNAKOSHI Takehiro held a Japan-U.S.-ROK telephone talk with U.S. Special Representative for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Sung Kim and ROK Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Kim Gunn. The three sides strongly condemned the ballistic missile launches by North Korea and confirmed to coordinate closely among the three countries.
As a non-permanent member of the UNSC and this year’s G7 Presidency, Japan, in cooperation with the international community including the United States and the ROK, will aim for the denuclearization of North Korea by enhancing deterrence in the region including trilateral security cooperation and fully implementing relevant UNSC resolutions.