Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko
Wednesday, September 13, 2023, 9:41 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs:It is very late in the evening, but please allow me to formally introduce myself. I am KAMIKAWA Yoko. Today, I walked through this door for the first time as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
I have just been appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs. I am the first female Foreign Minister in 20 years, and I am filled with a sense of great responsibility in being entrusted with this extremely important duty. Prime Minister Kishida told me earlier that he hoped that I would work on Japan’s diplomacy, building on the relationships that we have forged with various countries. The Prime Minister’s words once again made me realize the weight of my heavy responsibility.
The international community is now at a historic turning point, and the environment surrounding Japan is changing significantly. Under such circumstances, the United Nations (UN) High-level Week is coming up next week. This will be a critical stage for Japan’s diplomacy as Japan takes important roles as the G7 Presidency and a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). With a limited time, I will be doing all I can to prepare myself. In particular, since the UN High-level Week is a global event, I will thoroughly prepare so I can interact with as many of my counterparts as possible and hold multilateral and bilateral meetings.
I decided to pursue a career in politics when I was studying in the United States, approximately 30 years ago. It was a valuable experience to be able to look at Japan from overseas. The international situations now and back then are very different, and today global challenges are piling up. Back then, I was able to view Japan from the outside, and it made me realize strongly that Japan must constantly reform itself to adapt to changes in the broader international community. My initial aspiration is “hotei banri,” which means “the phoenix takes a breath and flies a thousand miles.” It means having high ideals and setting one’s sights afar, as well as making strides in the present while looking ahead into the future. This vision has underpinned my political activities so far, and I believe that this viewpoint will be especially critical in diplomacy. In this sense, I intend to fully bear my great responsibility as Foreign Minister, committed to my initial aspiration. At my first press conference today, I would like to ask for your continued support.
Reporter:A Russia-North Korea Summit Meeting was held in Russia today. What is the Government’s takeaway on it? Please also share with us your reactions to Japan having five female cabinet members following the reshuffle of the Cabinet.
Minister Kamikawa:As for your first question, I am aware that a Russia-North Korea Summit Meeting was held in Amur Oblast, Russia, today, on September 13. The Government of Japan is not in a position to answer about the details of the Summit Meeting or its outcomes. We are monitoring the situation with concern, including possible violation of relevant UNSC resolutions that impose a total ban on procurement of weapons and related supplies from North Korea. In addition, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is absolutely unacceptable, and Japan has been calling on third parties not to assist the Russian military and its affiliated forces. From such perspectives, I intend to constantly monitor the related moves with concern. Japan will continue to gather and analyze relevant information and coordinate closely with the United States, the Republic of Korea, and other members of the international community towards ensuring the full implementation of relevant UNSC resolutions.
As for your second question, there are five female cabinet members, and I was appointed as one of them. Gender equality has made very slow progress, especially in Japanese politics. Under these circumstances, as the Prime Minister stated during his press conference today, the Headquarters for Implementing the Reform of Party of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan has set a goal to increase the ratio of female Diet members to 30% in the next 10 years. This goal is part of the Prime Minister’s vision to advance party reforms under his robust leadership. This very ambitious numerical target was set in order to fully reflect a diversity of opinions, and steps are being taken to achieve this goal. In this regard, the Prime Minister stated about having the right person in the right position. At the same time, as one of the female cabinet members, I feel that gender equality, including the gender gap index, has made very slow progress in Japanese politics. The underlying factors include an extremely small ratio of female cabinet members. In this sense, I take the significance of this appointment very seriously, and I intend to carry out diplomacy that fully lives up to people’s expectations.