Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Thursday, August 3, 2023, 2:42 p.m. Addis Ababa
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs:During the eight days from July 27 to today, August 3, I have visited India, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, the Republic of Maldives, the Republic of South Africa, the Republic of Uganda, and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
As the G7 Presidency, Japan has focused on strengthening its relationship with the countries of the so-called Global South, implementing a variety of initiatives, which includes this round of visits. Southwest Asian countries are important partners for the realization of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP),” and Africa, where growth is projected in the long term, is also an increasingly important region for Japan’s diplomacy. Cooperation with these countries is vital not only for Japan, but for the peace, stability, and prosperity of the region and the international community.
Based on this recognition, I held open discussions with the foreign ministers and other government dignitaries in each country about further strengthening our bilateral relations. We also discussed and worked together on maintaining and strengthening the free and open international order based on the rule of law, and addressing other important global issues.
We also exchanged candid views on international affairs, including such matters as responding to various issues relating to China, and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. In those discussions, I was able to share that Japan intends to cooperate on maintaining and strengthening the free and open international order based on the rule of law. In addition, I shared Japan’s concerns about how the termination of the Black Sea Grain Initiative could impact the food security of Africa and confirmed the necessity of cooperation with each country towards the resumption of the initiative.
I have already explained about my visit to India a few days ago, so here I would like to briefly explain the outcomes of the discussions I had in the other countries I visited.
In Sri Lanka, I held a meeting with Foreign Minister Sabry, and paid a courtesy call on President Wickremesinghe. I emphasized the importance of a transparent and comparable debt restructuring that involves all creditor countries. The Sri Lankan side again expressed their gratitude for Japan’s contribution to the discussions on debt restructuring.
In the Maldives, Foreign Minister Shahid and I confirmed the importance of maintaining and strengthening the free and open international order based on the rule of law and concurred to develop the bilateral cooperation in wide-ranging fields, including climate change. I also conveyed that Japan will continue to provide visible Japanese support from a long-term perspective to contribute to the development of the Maldives in the future.
Next, in South Africa, in the meeting with Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Pandor, we exchanged views based on the initiative for peace in Ukraine being led by South Africa, and the Russian-Africa Summit. Moreover, we discussed cooperation in such areas as green energy, and also affirmed cooperation to further improve the business environment in South Africa.
In Uganda, in my courtesy call on President Museveni and meeting with Foreign Minister Odongo, we exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine, and also confirmed that Japan will work to improve the business and investment environment in Uganda through the “investment in people” initiative, by following up on the outcomes of TICAD 8.
In Ethiopia, in my working lunch with Prime Minister Abiy and meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke, in addition to exchanging views on the situation in Ukraine, we confirmed that we will further strengthen bilateral relations, including the promotion of investment, against the backdrop of the steady implementation of the peace agreement.
That is all from me.
Reporter:I would like to ask about your visit to the three African countries. Among them are countries that have friendly relations with Russia and are viewed as being supportive of Russia. In these circumstances, what exchanges of views did you have concerning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine? In addition, given that you are visiting as Foreign Minister of Japan, what outcomes do you think your visits have achieved?
Minister Hayashi:With Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in mind, on this visit to Africa the aim was for Japan to strengthen its relationships with the countries of the so-called Global South, in order to maintain and strengthen the free and open international order based on the rule of law.
In all of the countries I have visited this time, I emphasized that if Russia’s actions were to be permitted, the world will become one ruled by force, which would also have an adverse impact on the peace and stability of Africa. I also conveyed Japan’s determination to oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, and uphold a free and open international order based on the rule of law.
I therefore believe that we were able to not only strengthen bilateral relations, but also confirm cooperation with the countries to maintain and strengthen the free and open international order based on the rule of law through this series of visits. I believe it is a significant outcome in terms of enhancing relations with the Global South.
Reporter:My question is similar to the previous one, but could you tell us what you consider to be the significance of your round of visits to these six countries, in the context of responding to China, which is enhancing its involvement with these countries, and Russia, which continues its invasion of Ukraine?
Minister Hayashi:On my visit to India, in the meeting with External Affairs Minister Jaishankar, we were able to reaffirm that unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force should never be tolerated anywhere in the world, and confirm the importance of the rule of law and the principles of the UN Charter.
Japan and India fully share the necessity to lead the world to cooperation, rather than to division and confrontation. India holds the G20 Presidency and Japan will continue to work closely with India towards the G20 New Delhi Summit in September, and seek to deepen our relations with the countries of the Global South through active contributions to various issues facing the international community.
South Africa holds the BRICS Presidency this year, and in light of its influence in the international community, the G7 has also confirmed the importance of working together with South Africa.
During the visit, I received an explanation from Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Pandor about the African leaders’ mission for peace in Ukraine, which visited Ukraine and Russia in June this year. I expressed my appreciation for South Africa’s efforts, and stated that it is important to achieve a just and lasting peace in Ukraine as soon as possible. We also confirmed that we would continue to engage in mutual cooperation on this issue. Japan hopes to continue such cooperation in addressing various issues facing the international community.
Reporter:I would like to ask about Africa relations. In the Japan-South Africa Foreign Ministers’ meeting you stated that as the G7 Presidency, you prioritize listening directly to the “voices” of Africa. From your visits to the three countries, could you tell us about the challenges that Africa faces, your impressions after listening the voices directly, and how you will link these to future discussions in the G7?
Minister Hayashi:As the G7 Presidency, at the G7 Hiroshima Summit Japan confirmed the importance of maintaining and strengthening the free and open international order based on the rule of law, and sent out a strong message to the world about our renewed determination to uphold it.
Based on the outcomes of the G7 Hiroshima Summit, I emphasized to the countries I have visited that if Russia’s actions were to be permitted, the world will become one ruled by force, which would also have an adverse impact on the peace and stability of Africa. I also conveyed Japan’s determination to oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, and uphold a free and open international order based on the rule of law.
As a result, I have been able to share with each country Japan’s intention to cooperate on maintaining and strengthening the free and open international order based on the rule of law. Furthermore, I shared Japan’s concerns about how the termination of the Black Sea Grain Initiative could impact the food security of Africa, and I was also able to confirm with the countries I visited the necessity of working together towards the resumption of the initiative.
As the G7 Presidency, Japan will leverage these outcomes and aim for the realization of a resilient Africa together, as “a partner growing together with Africa.”