Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko

Saturday, October 28, 2023, 9:30 p.m. RIHGA Royal Hotel Osaka

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

Opening Remarks

Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs:Today, I attended the G7 Trade Ministers’ Meeting in Osaka-Sakai under Japan’s G7 Presidency, and I co-chaired the meeting with Mr. Nishimura, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. We are delighted to be able to host this meeting in Osaka-Sakai, which has long flourished as a trade city.

The international community is facing accumulating issues, including the increasingly tense situation surrounding Israel and Palestine, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the pandemic, and climate change. During the meeting, Japan is leading the discussion to ensure that we, G7 members, collaborate with international partners beyond the G7 and propose solutions to various issues relating to trade.

In light of this view, at the opening session, I emphasized that G7 members should take a leading role in advancing WTO reform in order to maintain and strengthen multilateral trading systems with the WTO at its core as the foundation of global growth and stability. In addition, the G7 members confirmed that it is essential for G7 members to harmonize policies in order to counter strategic challenges such as economic coercion, and collaborate with international partners beyond the G7 for the sustainable development of the global economy.

At the following Outreach Session for Enhancing Supply Chain Resiliency, seven representatives from five invited countries, three international organizations, and industries, had a candid discussion. During the session, many participants pointed out the importance of achieving inclusive and sustainable growth through efforts to build resilient supply chains with trusted partners.

During the subsequent welcome reception organized by the local prefecture and city, I stated that, by learning from the experience of Osaka-Sakai, I will reinforce cooperation with local municipalities and business communities in the Kansai region while striving to bring prosperity to not only Osaka-Sakai, but the rest of Japan and the world.

At the working dinner that followed, which was joined by partner countries and international organizations, we held a session on trade and sustainability over a delicious meal prepared with ingredients sourced from all over Japan, including Osaka, Hokkaido, and Fukushima. Lively discussions took place on tackling global challenges, including climate change and strengthening food security. We confirmed to strengthen cooperation with international partners beyond the G7 for the sustainable development of the global economy.

In addition, taking this opportunity, I held meetings individually with participating ministers and representatives from international organizations.

I held a working lunch with Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, who is the first female Director-General of the WTO. We confirmed to continue to work closely to maintain and strengthen the multilateral trading system with the WTO as its core with the upcoming 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13), which will be held in February 2024, in mind as well as beyond MC13. In addition, I introduced my own efforts on “Women, Peace, and Security” (WPS), and I stated that it is important to take consideration of such viewpoints as inclusivity, which enables people regardless of gender or background, to participate in trading, and have in mind the SDGs philosophy of “leave no one behind.” We concurred to work cooperatively.

I also held a meeting with Minister Ng of Canada. We concurred that Japan and Canada will cooperate on wide-ranging issues, such as enhancing supply chain resiliency including critical minerals, economic order in the Indo-Pacific region including the areas covered by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), economic security, and WPS. In addition, we concurred to further strengthen our cooperation to realize the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP). We further concurred to promote cooperation based on Canada’s efforts to support women entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, I held the Japan-EU High-level Economic Dialogue with Minister Nishimura and Mr. Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice President of the European Commission for an Economy that Works for People, European Commissioner for Trade. This was the first time the dialogue had been held since it was held online in June this year. At the outset, we confirmed and welcomed the reaching of an agreement in principle in the negotiations on the free flow of data of the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which have continued since last October. We also confirmed our intention to accelerate joint work towards an early signing.

Tomorrow, the G7 members will discuss and confirm to work together on such issues as free and fair trade and a level playing field, as well as economic security, including economic coercion and supply chain resilience. At the conclusion of the meeting tomorrow, a ministers’ statement will be issued, and a G7 presidency’s press conference will be held.

That is all from me.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter:I believe “economic coercion” will be discussed during the meeting. How do you intend to lead the discussion? In addition, during the meeting, what will Japan be advocating regarding China’s ban on imports of aquatic products originating in Japan due to the ALPS treated water issue?

Minister Kamikawa:Economic coercion and non-market policies and practices that distort a level playing field pose the greatest challenges to the free and fair rules-based multilateral trading system. They are issues that should be addressed through international collaboration.

I made these points during today’s session. At tomorrow afternoon’s session, I intend to hold further discussion with the G7 members from this point of view, deepen our shared understanding, and delve into the specifics of the G7’s joint initiatives.

With regard to the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, Japan has been discharging with top priority given to safety. In addition, Japan has been providing explanations based on scientific evidence in a highly transparent and sincere manner, which I explained again to participating countries and organizations during today’s session.

Regarding the import restriction measures on Japanese aquatic products, I will reiterate during tomorrow’s session the need for calm responses based on scientific evidence.

Reporter:The APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting will be held next month. What discussions or outcomes are you expecting in the meeting based on the discussions at the G7 Trade Ministers’ Meeting? Additionally, the APEC Ministerial Meeting is also scheduled. Please update us on what arrangements are being made for your attendance.

Minister Kamikawa:At next month’s APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and Ministerial Meeting, discussions are to take place on inclusive and sustainable growth under the theme set by the United States, which has the APEC chairmanship this year, of “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All.”

Taking into account the outcomes from the G7 Trade Ministers’ Meeting in Osaka-Sakai, Japan hopes to lead the discussions towards achieving an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community.

My attendance at the APEC Ministerial Meeting is currently being arranged.

Reporter:I would like to ask about the situation surrounding Israel and Palestine. On the evening of October 27, the Israeli military announced that they conducted unprecedented and intense airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, which is effectively controlled by the Islamic organization Hamas, and that they are expanding their ground military operations. Please tell us what engagements you will be making to calm down the situation. According to some reports, in order to cut off the sources of income of Hamas, the Government of Japan is making the final arrangements for imposing sanctions, including freezing the assets of nine Hamas senior officials and others. What is the Government currently considering on such sanctions? In addition, please explain why Japan abstained from voting on a resolution that called for a “humanitarian truce,” which the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted yesterday.

Minister Kamikawa:Firstly, we understand that the Government of Israel has not, as of now, announced the launch of a full-fledged ground invasion. In any case, local tensions are heightening rapidly, and the situation remains totally unpredictable. The Government of Japan is paying close attention to the situation with deep concern.

As I have stated before, Japan has unequivocally condemned the recent terror attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian militants, and has consistently called for: firstly, the immediate release of people being held hostage and securing the safety of civilians; secondly, all the parties acting based on international law; and thirdly, calming down the situation as soon as possible.

Japan will make active efforts including reaching out to the parties concerned, while working with various countries, towards calming down the situation as soon as possible, a humanitarian pause, and ensuring humanitarian access. Yesterday, I once again directly requested cooperation by the Israeli side for a humanitarian pause and to ensure humanitarian access, to Ambassador Cohen. The situation in Israel and Palestine is extremely fluid. The Government of Japan will continue to make every effort to ensure the safety of Japanese citizens.

With regard to freezing the assets of Hamas, I would like to refrain from answering due to the nature of the matter.

In addition, on the morning of October 28, Japan time, a General Assembly resolution on the situation in Gaza was adopted at the UN General Assembly Emergency Special Session.

The resolution contained important and forward-looking elements to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza and contained content that Japan supports.

On the other hand, there was no wording that strongly condemned the terror attacks. It also did not mention the importance of all member states having a right to defend themselves and their people in accordance with international law. Overall, it lacked balance.

Japan abstained from the resolution based on a decision that comprehensively considered such reasons.

The UN Security Council bears the main responsibility in maintaining international peace and security. Believing that the Security Council must play an appropriate role in responding to the recent situation, Japan, as a member of the Security Council, will continue to coordinate with other members and fulfill a proactive role.

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