Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Thursday, August 24, 2023, 5:40 p.m. JICA Komagane Training Center, Nagano Prefecture
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs:Today, I am here in Nagano for the fifth round of the “Local to Global” Project that showcases Japan’s regional attractions to the world.
In the morning, six Ambassadors to Japan and I visited Suwa Taisha Shrine (Suwa Grand Shrine) and Kamoshika Cidre Brewery, and I realized once again the diverse attractions of Nagano. Later, we exchanged candid views on disseminating information about regional attractions, Japan’s foreign policy, and the like, together with the local chief executives including the Governor of Nagano Prefecture, and local business representatives.
In the afternoon, we held a roundtable dialogue with people in Nagano who are active in diverse fields. We held a meaningful exchange of views on matters such as international cooperation and international exchanges, increasing inbound tourism, selling local products overseas, and communicating local culture. I was truly inspired listening to the efforts of everyone working hard to make the attractiveness of Nagano known to the world.
In addition, I and Ambassadors to Japan have just visited the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Komagane Training Center and held a meeting with the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) trainees undergoing training for missions in developing countries. This year, with a view to making more effective and strategic use of development cooperation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) revised the Development Cooperation Charter. There are also increasing expectations for the activities of JOCVs. Through the meeting with JOCV trainees today I found myself very impressed by their strong desire to make a contribution to developing countries.
As I mentioned, in the exchange of views earlier with Mayor of Komagane City Ito and Diet member Miyashita, I reiterated my appreciation for the longstanding support the local community have provided to JOCV activities. Based on the opinions and insights shared by the local people throughout this visit, I intend to take the lead in showcasing Japan’s regional attractions to the world and contribute to stimulating inbound tourism and further vitalizing the regions.
Reporter:I would like to ask about the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea. Discharge of ALPS treated water commenced today. Please tell us about the response to China, with which there are still some differences of opinion concerning safety issues. I would also like to ask how you intend to continue to provide explanations and share information with neighboring countries.
Minister Hayashi:In relations with China, Japan has been responding sincerely to China’s concerns that have been expressed in a variety of ways to date, providing careful responses and explanations. In addition, in response to China disseminating information that is not based on scientific evidence, Japan has strongly called for discussions that are based on scientific evidence while appropriately refuting such remarks based on scientific evidence, on repeated instances. Furthermore, the IAEA Comprehensive Report concluded that the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea is consistent with relevant international safety standards, and has a negligible radiological impact on people and the environment.
In these circumstances, it is deeply regrettable that China has introduced new measures, in addition to current import restrictions, that go against international trends towards the easing or lifting import restrictions on Japanese food products. Japan has conveyed to China that the series of measures by China, which are not based on scientific evidence, are absolutely unacceptable, and called for the prompt lifting of those measures.
Regarding the safety of the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, the Government has been courteously explaining Japan’s efforts at international conferences and on the occasion of bilateral meetings, alongside which the Government has been actively explaining and disseminating information to the world through its website and social media.
As a result, there is growing understanding about the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, as seen by support and appreciation expressed by a broad range of countries in various regions, including Europe, North America, Asia, Oceania, and South America, for the IAEA Comprehensive Report, which concludes that the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea is consistent with international safety standards. The IAEA has given an affirmative evaluation of Japan’s efforts to provide explanations, and Japan will continue to work with the IAEA and provide information courteously based on scientific evidence with a high level of transparency. I will be having telephone talks tomorrow with IAEA Director General Grossi, in which I will reaffirm our further cooperation.
Reporter: I have a question about the missile launch by North Korea early this morning. Regarding this launch, a Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held promptly, so could you tell us how the three countries plan to cooperate and respond in light of the fact that North Korea has announced it is planning further launches in October?
Minister Hayashi:Today, during my visit to Nagano, I held a telephone talk with State Secretary Blinken of the U.S. and Foreign Minister Park Jin of the ROK. Following the recent Japan-U.S.-ROK Summit held in Camp David, the U.S., the three countries are cooperating more closely than ever before, in response to North Korea as well. The telephone talk itself was held based on a commitment to consult made at the Japan-U.S.-ROK Summit Meeting.
During the Telephone Talk, we strongly condemned North Korea’s launch using ballistic missile technology for the purpose of the satellite launch today, and we once again shared the view that ballistic missile launches by North Korea, which are of an unprecedented frequency and using new manners, constitute a grave and imminent threat to regional security and pose a clear and serious challenge to the international community. Japan will continue to maintain close Japan-U.S. cooperation and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation, and cooperate with the international community, advance the complete implementation of the relevant United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions, and work towards the complete denuclearization of North Korea.
Reporter:Following your tour of the JICA training center, you also mentioned the recently revised Development Cooperation Charter in your words of encouragement. Official Development Assistance (ODA) is positioned as one of the most important tools of Japan’s diplomacy. Please tell us what kind of role is expected of JOCVs in advancing development cooperation strategically.
Minister Hayashi:For more than half a century, a cumulative total of more than 50,000 JOCVs have made a tremendous contribution to the economic and social development of developing countries and the promotion of friendly and cooperative relations between Japan, through living, thinking, and working together with local people to resolve issues in each of those countries.
In the Development Cooperation Charter that has been revised this year, JOCVs are positioned as one of the strengths of Japan’s development cooperation, and we seek to continue to promote the initiative of JOCVs as uniquely Japanese cooperation.
We also hope that after returning from their overseas postings, JOCVs will put the knowledge they gained in the country of dispatch to use in contributing to resolve issues facing Japan, including in the area of regional revitalization.
Reporter:Today you visited the Kamoshika Cidre Brewery with the diplomatic corps, so could you tell us about the significance of the visit, your thoughts, and the response of the Ambassadors who accompanied you? What outcomes do you expect this visit will lead to?
Minister Hayashi: I am delighted to have been able to visit Kamoshika Cidre Brewery today together with the Ambassadors, where we were able to appreciate together the rich and fruity cider created from apples, which are the pride of Nagano Prefecture, and also strawberries, while surrounded by magnificent nature. The Ambassadors who were with me also enjoyed sampling the cider and I was struck by how intently they listened to explanations from the brewery staff and actively asked questions.
Working on this visit, MOFA will continue to make every effort to showcase to the world Japan’s regional attractions, including those of Nagano Prefecture.
Reporter:This is your second visit to Nagano, following on from Karuizawa this April. This time you have visited Suwa, Ina, and Komagane Cities in the southern part of the prefecture, so could you share your candid impressions and what you felt about the potential for showcasing the attractions of this region?
Minister Hayashi: Firstly, although we only had limited time, we were able to visit Suwa Taisha (Suwa Grand Shrine), one of the oldest shrines in Japan with a long history coupled with rich and deep-rooted culture and traditions. Next, as I have just mentioned, at the cider brewery we were able to enjoy cider with its intense apple flavors amid magnificent nature. Then here, at the JICA Komagane Training Center, I was most impressed by the high aspirations of all the JOCV trainees. In exchanges of views over lunch and in the subsequent roundtable dialogue, I was tremendously stimulated to hear about how people based in Nagano are continuing their efforts to showcase the attractions of the prefecture to the world. The members of the diplomatic corps were also deeply impressed by the nature, history, and culture of Nagano Prefecture, and said that they would very much like to visit again. The unique charms of each region of Japan are a great asset for Japan’s diplomacy. I intend to take the lead in showcasing Japan’s regional attractions to the world and contribute to stimulating inbound tourism and further vitalizing the regions.