Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary ONO Hikariko

Wednesday, March 15, 2023, 3:45 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

Implementation of the FY2022 “Think of Okinawa’s Future in the United States” Program

Ms. ONO Hikariko, Press Secretary:First, I have one announcement to make.

For one week from March 15 to 22, 20 senior high school and university students, and others from Okinawa Prefecture are planned to participate in the FY2022 TOFU Program.

MOFA has been implementing the TOFU Program since FY2017. This program dispatches young people who will bear the future of Okinawa to the United States. In addition to providing opportunities for the participants to directly see our ally, the United States as-is through exchanges of views with relevant people and various visits, and to foster human resources who can think about Japan’s role in the international community as well as Okinawa’s future with a broad perspective.

This program has been unable to dispatch students to the United States for the past three years due to COVID-19. However, the program will resume dispatching students to the United States this fiscal year. Furthermore, the number of participants will be doubled to 40, divided into two groups to be dispatched to the United States. Today, the first group of participants arrived in Tokyo, and paid courtesy calls to Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoshikawa and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Emanuel. The group will leave for the United States tomorrow. They are scheduled to visit Washington, D.C. and New York, tour federal government agencies and the United Nations Headquarters, and participate in other such activities. The second group is planned to be dispatched to the United States through the one-week program starting March 22.

MOFA expects that this program will help to internationalize Okinawa.

That is all from me.

Situation in Honduras (President’s Instructions to Establish Diplomatic Relations with China)

Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe:The President of Honduras has instructed on Twitter that the country move towards establishing diplomatic relations with China. If Honduras establishes relations with China, the number of countries that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan will fall to 13. Please tell us MOFA’s view on this trend.

Press Secretary Ono:We are aware that at around 5:30 PM on March 14 local time, which was about 8:30 AM on March 15 Japan time, President Castro of Honduras announced on her Twitter that she had instructed Foreign Minister Reina to establish diplomatic relations with China.

Japan will monitor this matter with great interest, including its future effects from the perspective of cross-strait relations as well as regional peace and stability.

Mainichi Shimbun, Aoki:In relation to this matter, rather than just monitoring, is there anything Japan can do to appeal to Honduras? Furthermore, such moves have also occurred in Pacific Island countries. Please tell us what you think is in the background to this situation.

Press Secretary Ono:As I stated earlier, Japan will monitor this matter with great interest, including its future effects from the perspective of cross-strait relations as well as regional peace and stability.

There is not anything in particular I can say now about the actions that Japan should take going forward.

In any case, in terms of relations with Taiwan, Taiwan is an extremely important partner and a precious friend of Japan, with whom Japan shares fundamental values, and have a close economic relationship and people-to-people exchanges.

The Government of Japan will further deepen Japan-Taiwan cooperation and exchanges based on our position to maintain relations with Taiwan as a “working relationship on a non-governmental basis.”

Announcement of the New Plan for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP)

NHK, Iwasawa: I would like to ask about the FOIP plan. The Government of Japan has announced that it will formulate the FOIP plan by spring this year. How is the formulation going? In addition, some reported that Prime Minister Kishida will announce the content in conjunction with his visit to India. Please tell us how the consideration is going, including whether that is true.

Press Secretary Ono:If various circumstances permit, Prime Minister Kishida is scheduled to visit India from March 19 to the early morning of March 22.

We are currently arranging the specific schedule for the visit. During his stay in India, Prime Minister Kishida is to deliver a policy speech regarding FOIP.

It is planned for him to describe the new FOIP plan, which will be announced by spring this year.

I would like to refrain from answering about the specific content because it is currently being arranged.

Jiji Press, Kondo:I would like to ask a follow-up question. I believe there have been various places for announcing the new FOIP plan. Please tell us the significance and background for announcing the plan in India.

Press Secretary Ono:Although we are planning to implement this matter, I would like to refrain from answering because the specific content is currently being considered.

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