Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, July 28, 2023, 2:56 p.m. New Delhi
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs:During this visit to India, firstly, I held a Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue with Minister of External Affairs Jaishankar last evening. We had a candid and fruitful exchange of views on bilateral cooperation, cooperation in the international arena, and regional affairs.
From the outset of the meeting, I stated that Japan and India, which share fundamental values and strategic interests, bear a great responsibility for achieving peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and in the international community. In addition, with regard to bilateral relations, we confirmed that Japan and India will accelerate cooperation in defense and security following the second Japan-India 2+2 meeting held last year, that the Japanese and Indian public and private sectors would work together toward the target of 5 trillion yen in public-private investments and loans to India over the next five years, and that we would continue to make steady progress on the high-speed rail project, a flagship project of Japan and India. I also confirmed with Minister Jaishankar that we will accelerate cooperation for the development of India’s North Eastern Region through the framework of the Japan-India Act East Forum and other projects that contribute to regional connectivity.
Furthermore, we concurred on expanding people-to-people exchanges, including tourism and international study, as the basis for strengthening Japan-India relations over the medium- to long-term.
In addition, regarding cooperation in the international arena, we confirmed that we will cooperate in the international arena as the holders of the G7 Presidency and the G20 Presidency, as well as in Japan-Australia-India-U.S. (Quad) cooperation, and in UN Security Council reform. We also had candid discussions on regional affairs, including the situations in Ukraine and in East Asia.
While the international community is at a historic turning point, it is becoming increasingly important for Japan and India to work together to realize a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP).” In close coordination with Minister of External Affairs Jaishankar, I will continue to vigorously promote the Japan-India Special Strategic Global Partnership.
As for the rest of the visit, I will be visiting Sri Lanka and the Maldives before heading to Africa. Both are important partners in the realization of FOIP. This is the first visit by a Japanese foreign minister to Sri Lanka in approximately four years, since 2019. In Sri Lanka, I will make courtesy calls on President Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Gunawardena and hold a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sabry. The purpose is to follow up on President Wickremesinghe's visit to Japan in May, as well as to further develop this comprehensive partnership with Sri Lanka in a wide range of areas. I also plan to exchange views on the restructuring of Sri Lanka’s debt.
After my visit to Sri Lanka, I will be heading to the Maldives, the last country on my itinerary in Southwest Asia. This will be the first visit by a Japanese foreign minister to the Maldives in five years, since 2018. The Maldives is an important country located at a strategic location in the Indian Ocean. I look forward to thorough discussions with Minister of Foreign Affairs Shahid on concrete bilateral cooperation, such as cooperation in the international arena. That is all from me.
Reporter:As you addressed earlier, you are planning to leverage the outcomes of the G7 Hiroshima Summit in the G20, but Russia and China will also participate in the G20 summit. What specifically do you have in mind regarding the situation in Ukraine in terms of having those outcomes reflected in the G20?
Minister Hayashi:During this visit to India, I had a frank discussion with Minister of External Affairs Jaishankar about collaboration between the holders of the G7 and G20 presidencies. At the G7 Hiroshima Summit, Japan had candid discussions about the challenges facing the countries of the Global South, with India and other invited countries, and we confirmed that a wide range of partners beyond the G7 will work together to address these challenges. Regarding the issue of food, in particular, the countries of the Global South have been severely affected by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. I believe that the “Hiroshima Action Statement for Resilient Global Food Security,” which we issued together with the invited countries at the Hiroshima Summit, will serve as a good foundation for future cooperation.
At this meeting, we confirmed with Minister Jaishankar the importance of connecting the outcomes of the G7 Hiroshima Summit to the G20 New Delhi Summit and achieving solid results in addressing various issues, including food, and that Japan will continue to work closely with India, which holds the G20 Presidency, to work toward that end.
Reporter: I would like to ask you about Sri Lanka’s debt issues. I understand that Japan is co-chairing a Creditors Committee meeting with other creditor countries, such as France and India. I understand that this issue may have been discussed at the strategic dialogue with Minister of External Affairs Jaishankar yesterday, but how does the Government of Japan intend to cooperate with the countries concerned or take the lead in restructuring of Sri Lanka’s debt? Moreover, there are reports that Sri Lanka and neighboring countries, such as the Maldives, where you will be visiting, are at risk of falling into debt traps due to China's massive infrastructure investment. What kind of development assistance would the Government of Japan consider desirable?
Minister Hayashi: With regard to the debt of developing countries, we believe that it is important to ensure debt transparency and to work on debt restructuring in cooperation with all creditor countries concerned to ensure fairness in debt measures by all creditors. From this perspective, Japan, together with India and France, co-chairs the Creditors Committee meeting for Sri Lanka. The first meeting was held on May 9. We would like to continue discussions to reach a consensus on debt restructuring. I have had firm discussions with Minister Jaishankar on this issue and we have affirmed that we will continue to cooperate closely with each other.
During my upcoming visit to Sri Lanka, I plan to meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sabry and make a courtesy call on President Wickremesinghe. At that time, I hope to convey the importance of a transparent and equitable debt restructuring involving all creditor countries, and to confirm that we will continue to work together for further progress in the debt restructuring process.
With regard to the second part of your question concerning how to respond to the “debt trap” issue, Japan believes that securing transparent and fair development finance is essential for unlocking developing countries’ high potential and improving people’s lives. Development finance that supports sustainable development in developing countries should be carried out in a transparent and fair manner in compliance with international rules and standards, including the “G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment.” Japan intends to commit to highlighting the importance of this issue in the international arena.
Reporter:I would like to ask you about cooperation with the Global South in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Many countries, including India and other African countries that you will visit, continue to take an impartial position on the invasion, so how do you intend to coordinate with the Global South in relation against Russia?
Also, at yesterday's strategic dialogue, as the G7 Presidency, Japan confirmed its cooperation with the G20 Summit in India this September. With Russia and China also participating, it is expected that the participating countries will have conflicting opinions over the invasion of Ukraine. What are your expectations for India, the G20 Presidency, in this regard?
As this year's G7 Presidency, Japan attaches great importance to our involvement in the Global South. In particular, we believe that it is particularly important to strengthen relations with India, which holds the G20 Presidency and has demonstrated leadership by hosting the Global South Summit in January of this year.
At the G7 Hiroshima Summit, India and other invited countries held discussions with Ukraine on world peace and stability and concurred that unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force cannot be tolerated anywhere in the world, and on the importance of the rule of law and the principles of the UN Charter. I reaffirmed the importance of these points in my meeting with Minister of External Affairs Jaishankar. I believe that Japan and India fully share the need to lead the world toward cooperation rather than division and confrontation. We will continue to work closely with India, the G20 Presidency, ahead of the G20 New Delhi Summit in September. At the same time, through our proactive contributions to matters concerning the international community, we will deepen our relationships with the countries of the Global South. In this regard, we continue to look forward to India's leadership as the G20 Presidency.