Press Conference by Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko
Friday, September 15, 2023, 3:37 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Attendance at the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs:I will be visiting New York from September 18 to 22 as my first destination after being appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs. Seizing the opportunity of the High-level Week, during which the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) takes place and heads of state and ministers will gather, I will be attending various meetings, including the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the G4 Countries on UN Security Council (UNSC) Reform, the Preparatory Ministerial Meeting for the Summit of the Future, and the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Focal Points Network High-Level Side Event. I will also take this opportunity to proactively hold meetings with the Ministers and dignitaries of various countries, including the United States, Australia, and Indonesia.
We are entering an era that should also be called a historic turning point. The very foundation of the international order has been shaken by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. This year, Japan, as a UNSC member and the G7 Presidency, intends to send a strong message on the importance of the rule of law and the UN, which should play a central role in that, and strengthening the functions of the UN, including UNSC reform. I am also planning to have thorough discussions on WPS related initiatives.
In addition, I plan to actively communicate Japan’s unique efforts and contributions to the urgent issues that developing and vulnerable countries are facing. I also plan to confirm our close cooperation with other countries on international affairs, including the situation in Ukraine, and the challenges facing the international community.
(2) Emergency Assistance in response to the earthquake in the central region of Morocco and the flood disaster in the eastern part of the State of Libya
Minister Kamikawa: In response to the devastating damage caused by the earthquake in the central region of Morocco, the Government of Japan has decided today to extend emergency humanitarian assistance amounting to a total of USD 3 million, to support those affected by the earthquake.
Specifically, the Government will implement an Emergency Grant Aid of USD 2 million through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) bearing in mind the human security needs for items such as shelter and food. Additionally, assistance amounting to USD 1 million will also be implemented by Japanese NGOs via the Japan Platform (JPF).
In addition, in response to the devastating damage caused by the flood disaster in the eastern part of Libya, today the Government has decided to provide emergency relief goods, including tents and blankets, for Libya through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Furthermore, Japan’s food assistance supplies through the UN World Food Program (WFP) have just arrived in Libya, a portion of which, equivalent to approximately USD 700,000, the Government will utilize, as assistance for the people affected by the recent flood disaster.
The Government of Japan will continue to stand by the people of Morocco and Libya, and stands ready to consider further necessary assistance based on their needs.
(3) Cabinet Decision on the Japan-UK Reciprocal Access Agreement
Minister Kamikawa:At today’s Cabinet meeting, a decision was made to conclude and promulgate the Japan-UK Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA).
It is expected that the Japan-UK RAA will facilitate cooperative activities, such as port calls of vessels and joint exercises between the two countries, and further promote bilateral security and defense cooperation.
We will further strengthen security and defense cooperation between Japan and the UK, who are each other’s closest security partners in Asia and Europe, and will continue to make further efforts towards the realization of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”
That is all from me.
Attendance at the 78th Session of the UNGA
Kyodo News, Ueda:Let me ask about your visit to New York, which you mentioned in your opening remarks. The role of the G7 has grown enormously in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other issues. In addition, Japan faces a number of diplomatic challenges, including relations with China. Please tell us again what kind of message, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, you would like to deliver to the various countries during your visit to New York for the UNGA.
Minister Kamikawa:As I mentioned earlier, in an era when the international community is at a historic turning point, Japan bears a responsible role in leading the international community as the G7 Presidency and as a UNSC member.
Attending the UNGA will be my first overseas visit as Minister for Foreign Affairs. I will showcase Japan’s presence on the grand stage of the UN and build relationships of trust with my counterparts around the world.
I am also scheduled to attend the Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the G4 Countries on UNSC Reform, and through discussions at this meeting, I intend to deliver a strong message about the importance of the rule of law and the UN, which should play a central role in that, and strengthening functions of the UN, including UNSC reform.
In addition to UNSC reform, I will confirm that each country will work closely on international affairs, including the situation in Ukraine, and the challenges facing the international community.
Attendance at the 78th Session of the UNGA (Support for Ukraine)
Mainichi Shimbun, Kawaguchi: I would like to ask questions about your overseas visit. At the UNGA, do you have any plans to meet with Ukrainian dignitaries or otherwise make contact with them? In addition, how do you intend to reach out to other countries to expand their support for Ukraine in the multilateral fora at the UN?
Minister Kamikawa:At this time, nothing has been decided regarding meetings to be held and the like with Ukraine during the UNGA.
We have recognized that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is an outrageous act that shakes the very foundation of the international order, which the international community has built over a long period of hard work and many sacrifices. The aggression continues even now, and in order to end it as soon as possible, we will continue to strongly promote sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine.
With this Japan’s basic view, I intend to proactively lead the discussions of the international community at the UN arena as well.
Attendance at the 78th Session of the UNGA (as the G7 Presidency)
Yomiuri Shimbun, Yoda:You mentioned the G7 at the outset. You were appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs in the middle of Japan’s term as the G7 Presidency. What impact do you think this will have on Japan’s diplomacy?
Minister Kamikawa: I am determined to firmly carry on Japan’s diplomatic achievements made by my predecessors, including former Minister Hayashi, and to make utmost efforts to tackle important issues.
In particular, during the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that was held in Karuizawa, Nagano, in April, and the G7 Hiroshima Summit that was held in May, Japan produced outcomes as the G7 Presidency. Building on this, I intend to strengthen the G7’s unity and produce further outcomes.
We will hold the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in New York next week, and as a representative of Japan, this year’s G7 Presidency, I will lead the G7 members in corresponding actively to urgent issues facing the international community, including the situation in Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific region.
Areas the Minister for Foreign Affairs Wishes to Focus on
Nikkei Shimbun, Nemoto:On a topic related to your schedule at the UN next week, as Minister of Justice, you were involved in judicial diplomacy, including the Kyoto Congress, and I understand that you have also worked on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Arctic policy in parliamentary league in the Diet. I would like to ask you if there are any areas that you would like to address in your new post as Minister for Foreign Affairs, or if there is anything in particular that you would like to focus on.
Minister Kamikawa:I understand that you are referring to what I have done to date, and asking about what areas I would like to focus on going forward.
As you mentioned, I have served as Minister of Justice several times, and in March 2021, during my third term, I assumed the very important responsibility of President of the Kyoto Congress. I have been promoting judicial diplomacy based on the rule of law, in order to proactively contribute to the promotion of the rule of law in the international community.
In carrying out the important responsibility of chair of the Kyoto Congress, I was able to receive very strong commitments from the international community on the rule of law and promoting international cooperation.
In that sense, I will take Japan’s international role, which is based on the rule of law, while fully taking into account the outcomes of the Kyoto Congress.
In addition, I have been involved in various activities as a Diet member. I started the Liberal Democratic Party’s parliamentarian league on SDGs diplomacy, and I have been working on this issue as its chair. As for the Arctic, I chaired the Parliamentary League of Arctic Frontier Study. The Arctic region is a major symbol of the SDGs, and I have been promoting international cooperation in this area to roll out action that will make full use of Japan’s scientific and technological capabilities.
I sincerely hope that this work will play some role in addressing the various diplomatic issues.
As I mentioned at my inauguration press conference yesterday, my priorities will be the following three points. The first is to firmly protect Japan’s national interests. The second is to increase the presence of Japan. The third is to listen to the voices of the people, as I will advance diplomacy that is understood and supported by the people. I will roll out various initiatives with a strong emphasis on those three points.
“Sado Island Gold Mines” World Heritage Site Inscription
Niigata Nippo, Saito: I would like to ask about the “Sado Island Gold Mines,” which Japan is trying to have inscribed as a World Heritage Site. In late August, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) completed a field survey of the Sado Island Gold Mines, but the opposition party and others in the Republic of Korea (ROK) continue to oppose the inscription. I think that gaining an understanding of other countries, including the ROK, is important for completing the inscription. Please tell us your thoughts about the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)’s efforts on this matter.
Minister Kamikawa:I am aware that from August 24 to 30, ICOMOS conducted a seven-day field survey of the “Sado Island Gold Mines,” which Japan has nominated as a World Cultural Heritage Site.
Japan will continue to engage in thoughtful discussions with the countries concerned, including the ROK, toward the inscription of the “Sado Island Gold Mines” as a World Heritage Site, so that its outstanding value as a cultural heritage site will be recognized.
ALPS Treated Water (Disinformation)
Tribune News, Susilo:I’m Susilo, an Indonesian reporter from Tribune News. My name is easy to remember because in Japanese it sounds the same as Sushiro, the conveyor belt sushi restaurant.
There is still a lot of disinformation spreading in Indonesia concerning the ALPS treated water from Fukushima. Is there a plan to implement international measures against disinformation, using digital technology or expert institutions to disseminate information about the ALPS treated water from Fukushima, in order to reduce this disinformation more quickly? I receive inquiries every day from Indonesia with regard to Fukushima. What do you think of this situation? I think it’s difficult, and I would appreciate your thoughts on this and on measures against disinformation.
Minister Kamikawa:The spread of disinformation hinders the reconstruction of the affected areas and greatly hurts the feelings of the people who are striving for the reconstruction. Additionally, disinformation is a threat to universal values such as freedom and democracy on which our society is based.
MOFA has been providing accurate explanations based on scientific evidence. With regard to ALPS treated water, Japan will continue to provide thorough explanations to the international community in a highly transparent manner based on scientific evidence to foster understanding in the international community, while taking into consideration the conclusions of the IAEA Comprehensive Report, and we will strive to further deepen an appropriate understanding of Japan’s efforts.
Specifically, when self-proclaimed “media” in another country issues false information using forged documents, we will promptly issue a press release to refute it. In addition, we are strengthening the dissemination of information on social media. For example, we use hashtags, such as a Japanese one that means “stop harmful rumors” and an English one, “Let the Science Talk,” as we disseminate information based on scientific evidence against misinformation and disinformation, in multilingual messages, not only in Japanese, but other languages such as English, Chinese, and Korean. I will commit to these efforts while remaining careful and attentive.
ALPS Treated Water (Remarks on Japan’s Efforts)
Kyodo News, Ueda: In relation to the previous question, China has recently toned down its comments somewhat regarding the discharge of ALPS treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. During your visit to New York, will you have an opportunity to disseminate information about Japan’s efforts, and if so, how will you do so?
Minister Kamikawa:At this stage, I would like to refrain from answering based on speculation about what exchanges the Government of Japan will have at the UN arena, but Japan has been carefully explaining its efforts for the safe discharge of ALPS treated water at international conferences. I would like to carry out this effort further in various arenas, including the opportunity provided by my trip.
MOFA Policy Personnel Appointments
Asahi Shimbun, Matsuyama: I would like to change the topic. State minister and Parliamentary Vice-Ministers for Foreign Affairs appointments were just announced for the reshuffle of the Cabinet. In this round of personnel appointments, no female Diet members were appointed to these positions, which seems to be a significant step backward from the previous appointments of four and seven, respectively, for a total of eleven women. You are a woman who has been appointed as a member of the Cabinet, but some have pointed out Japan’s low gender gap index in the politics area. Could you tell us whether you think these appointments are appropriate or not?
Minister Kamikawa:First of all, I am aware that Prime Minister Kishida, as he stated the other day, places great importance on having the right person in the right position.
As one of the women in the Cabinet, I have been given the very important position of Minister for Foreign Affairs. In that sense, I intend to conduct diplomacy that will live up to expectations.
The UNGA (Support for Ukraine)
Sankei Shimbun, Harakawa:In your answer to an earlier question regarding the situation in Ukraine and others, you stated that you will lead the discussions in corresponding actively as the G7 Presidency. On a related note, former Minister Hayashi recently visited Ukraine as Minister of the G7 Presidency. Even though his visit just took place, please tell us your thoughts on whether you would also like to visit Ukraine, to meet with government dignitaries and visit various sites, and if you would like to do so soon.
Minister Kamikawa:As support for the people of Ukraine, since the end of last year, I have been working as the initiator and representative of a group of voluntary legislators as part of the Winterization Assistance Initiative JAPAN for Sending Generators to the People of Ukraine. Personally, I am well aware of the initiative’s importance, and I am aware of its necessity and the importance of further action.
Japan has thus far pledged a total of approximately USD 7.6 billion in humanitarian, financial, food, and recovery and reconstruction assistance to Ukraine, which we are now carrying out.
Showing our leadership as the G7 Presidency this year, we will continue to work closely with the international community to properly understand Ukraine’s needs, and by utilizing Japan’s knowledge and experience, we will provide attentive, continuous support that only Japan can offer to the Ukrainian people in their time of need.
As to your question, I will consider schedules for my upcoming overseas visits while taking into account our future foreign policy in general.
Sankei Shimbun, Harakawa: I am sure you have your own goals while you put together your busy diplomatic schedule. Can you share those goals with us?
Minister Kamikawa:It has always been my stance to listen to the people on the ground and accurately understand their needs. That is important to me. I recognize that there are various pressing issues in the international community. I will not say exactly which ones, but I understand that they are important. Listening to people on the ground, I will take action to carefully respond and provide the necessary support. This is my position, and I consider it extremely important.