Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko

Tuesday, November 14, 2023, 10:22 p.m. San Francisco

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

1. Opening Remarks

Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs:At the outset, I would like to give a brief description of my itinerary so far in San Francisco.

First, I attended the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) Ministerial yesterday and today. Fourteen countries including Japan and the United States attended the meeting, held discussions on the IPEF’s three pillars of Trade, Clean Economy, and Fair Economy, and made significant progress. I also attended the signing ceremony for the IPEF Supply Chain Agreement, which was substantially concluded in May of this year.

I stated that Japan welcomed the progress, and would like to continue to actively cooperate toward the early implementation of concrete initiatives under each IPEF area.

In addition, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Nishimura and I pledged that the Government of Japan will contribute approximately USD 10 million to the IPEF Fund, which will be newly launched to advance the transition to Clean Economy as in Pillar 3.

Furthermore, the progress made in each of these areas at this Ministerial will be reported at the coming leaders’ meeting.

With a view to achieving sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the Indo-Pacific region, Japan, together with the United States, will continue to cooperate closely with regional partners toward building a regional economic order and ensuring prosperity in the region.

Additionally, I attended Session I of the APEC Ministerial Meeting, and joined the discussions under the agenda “Enabling an innovative environment for a sustainable future and affirming an equitable and inclusive future for all.”

I emphasized the importance of human security as well as women, peace and security (WPS), which properly reflect women’s perspectives in responding to natural disasters. I also pointed out the importance of ensuring access to fair economic opportunities for all, including women and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Through Session I, ministers reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate to achieve a sustainable and inclusive APEC region. I look forward to continuing our meaningful discussions during Session II on November 15.

Moreover, I attended the Ministerial Meeting of the Japan-U.S. Economic “2+2.” This is the second ministerial meeting, following the one held in July 2022. I held strategic discussions with Secretary of State Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Raimondo, and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Nishimura, on (1) strengthening the rules-based economic order in the Indo-Pacific region, and (2) strengthening economic resilience as well as promoting and protecting critical and emerging technologies. We issued a joint statement after the meeting. Building on the discussions at the meeting, we intend to further expand and deepen Japan-U.S. cooperation in the economic field from a strategic point of view.

At the Japan-Chile Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held on November 13, we concurred on deepening bilateral cooperation in areas such as important mineral resources and clean energy. We also affirmed that we will work together to maintain the high standards of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). In addition, we exchanged views on international situations and confirmed that we will also collaborate in the international arena as “strategic partners” that share values and principles.

At the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held on November 14, given the strategic importance of cooperation among Japan, the U.S., and the ROK, we exchanged candid views on current issues, such as the response to North Korea including the abductions issue and the situation surrounding Israel and Palestine. After confirming the cooperative efforts among Japan, the U.S. and ROK to date, the three countries concurred that they continue to promote the trilateral cooperation in a multilayered and stable manner.

The situation surrounding Israel and Palestine remains unpredictable. We have grave concerns over the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, which is deteriorating day by day. Today, I held telephone talks with the respective foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan, two countries that are playing a significant role in responding to the situation. I explained the discussions that took place at the recent G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Tokyo, and we also discussed the latest situation. I expressed that Japan has consistently stressed the importance of calming down the situation as soon as possible, and stated that it is necessary to take all possible measures, including humanitarian pauses, in order to prevent harm to civilians from military operations. We concurred on maintaining close cooperation toward improving the humanitarian situation and calming down the situation.

Furthermore, on November 13, I delivered the keynote speech at the WPS+I (Women, Peace and Security+Innovation) symposium. I pointed out that we should discuss the economy, peace, and stability as inseparable issues in the current era of uncertainty. In response, the panelists discussed the interaction between WPS and innovation.

On the evening of November 13, I visited the San Francisco Japantown, and held a meeting with Japanese American leaders in San Francisco. The ties between Japan and Japanese Americans in the United States form an important part of the multilayered people-to-people exchange that supports the unwavering Japan-U.S. Alliance. During the meeting, I expressed my respect for the Japanese Americans’ daily contributions to strengthening the Japan-U.S. relationship and asked for their continued cooperation and support.

That is all from me.

2. Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: I would like to ask about IPEF and the “2+2.” While you just mentioned them in your opening remarks, could you say a little bit more about which points in particular Japan emphasized? Secondly, of the four IPEF pillars, an agreement was not reached on Trade. Please share with us your reaction on this. Thirdly, could you tell us what comments the ministers at the “2+2” made about China’s ban on imports of aquatic products from Japan?

Minister Kamikawa:You asked firstly what Japan emphasized at the IPEF Ministerial.

At the IPEF Ministerial, I referred to the fact that this will be the first trade agreement with an independent chapter on inclusivity, and noted that it was important to consider the interests of all segments of society, including women and minorities.

On the topic of achieving a fair economy by preventing corruption, I explained about the anti-corruption training currently being held in Tokyo by the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFEI) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in terms of contributing to the promotion of regional investment.

Significant progress was made at this Ministerial, and it will be reported at the coming leaders’ meeting. Japan welcomes the progress, and actively cooperates toward the early implementation of concrete initiatives under each IPEF area.

Furthermore, with a view to achieving sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the Indo-Pacific region, Japan, together with the United States, will continue to cooperate closely with regional partners toward building an economic order and ensuring prosperity in the region.

Our goal since IPEF’s inception has been to negotiate a trade agreement at an accelerated pace. In my view, discussions have made substantial progress on a number of chapters in the less than one year since the negotiations began last December.

Reporter:Could you tell us whether the ministers commented at all at the “2+2” about China’s ban on imports of aquatic products from Japan?

Minister Kamikawa:In the Japan-U.S. Economic “2+2,” we held various discussions on the ways to expand and deepen Japan-U.S. cooperation in the economic field from a strategic point of view.

Particularly, regarding strengthening the rules-based economic order in the Indo-Pacific Region, Japan stressed the importance of Japan and the U.S. continuing to play a responsible role in the economic order of the Indo-Pacific region, and conveyed the position that Japan welcomes, as their concrete efforts, the progress made through IPEF. In addition, the Japanese side delivered its views and initiatives related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and exchanged views with the U.S. side on the economic order in the Indo-Pacific region. Then both sides concurred that they continue to make efforts to address non-market policies and practices and economic coercion with a view to build a free and fair economic order in the Indo-Pacific region.

With regard to strengthening economic resilience and promoting and protecting critical and emerging technologies, we confirmed our intention to accelerate cooperation, including on promoting and protecting our technology in areas such as semiconductors, AI, quantum, clean energy, and 5G. We also confirmed our intention to promote concrete collaboration in securing a stable supply of critical minerals and cooperation toward ensuring energy and food security.

The United States once again expressed its support for Japan’s efforts pertaining to ALPS treated water. Regarding the import restriction measures and other measures, we concurred on the need for calm responses based on scientific evidence. In the joint statement that was issued after the meeting, it was also reaffirmed that restrictions on the imports of Japanese food products should be immediately rescinded.

Reporter:My question is slightly related to the previous question. With regard to Japan-China relations, I believe arrangements are being made for a summit meeting to coincide with the Prime Minister’s attendance at APEC. There are many issues of concern between Japan and China, including the suspension of imports of aquatic products originating in Japan and the detention of Japanese nationals. What significance do you attach to the leaders’ meeting? In addition, I believe you have not held a meeting yet with Foreign Minister Wang Yi. What do you intend to do for advancing Japan-China relations?

Minister Kamikawa:Japan and China share various possibilities as well as many challenges and concerns. Japan’s consistent policy has been to promote efforts by both sides to build “a constructive and stable Japan-China relationship,” in which the two countries continue dialogue including on the concerns, and cooperate on matters of common interest, while at the same time, firmly maintain and assert our position and strongly call for China’s responsible actions.

At this time, nothing has been decided regarding a Japan-China Summit or Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, including meetings on the margin of APEC. Based on the policy I just mentioned, I hope to exchange candid views with Minister Wang on various occasions and deepen discussions toward building “a constructive and stable Japan-China relationship.”

Reporter:My question concerns IPEF. Japan has been calling on the United States to return to TPP. New agreements on two areas are expected to be reached at the IPEF this time. Agreements are anticipated at IPEF, which was established by the United States after it withdrew from TPP. Even then, will Japan continue to urge the United States to return to TPP? And if so, how will Japan specifically go about doing this? In addition, China is in the process of applying to join TPP. Amidst moves to mend ties with China, including Australia taking steps to improve trade friction with China, what actions will Japan be taking?

Minister Kamikawa: IPEF aims to contribute to cooperation, stability, prosperity, development, and peace in the Indo-Pacific region. As I stated earlier at the outset, we view that the United States’ leadership of IPEF demonstrates its proactive commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, and Japan welcomes the U.S. stance.

TPP maintains high standards in terms of both market access and rules. In addition to economic significance, such as promoting trade and investment, TPP has strategic significance, such as building a rules-based free and fair economic order and contributing to ensuring regional stability and prosperity under this order.

Japan will actively cooperate toward the early implementation of concrete initiatives under each IPEF area. At the same time, we consider that the United States’ return to TPP is desirable from a strategic point of view, namely, ensuring its further engagement in the international order in the Indo-Pacific region.

We will continue to persistently urge the United States at various levels to return to TPP. We will also work closely with the United States toward building an economic order desirable for this region while making good use of IPEF.

Regarding your question on China’s accession to TPP, China is Japan’s largest trading partner, and a vast number of Japanese companies are conducting business in China.

We need to promote dialogue and practical cooperation on Japan-China economic relations in an appropriate manner, such that they contribute to Japan’s overall national interests.

On top of that, we consider that it is important that China, an economic power, fully fulfills its responsibilities as a major power in accordance with the rules of the international community. Japan, in coordination with the countries concerned, will continue to seize a variety of opportunities to call on China to take such actions.

Reporter: I have a question about the situation in the Middle East. Reports say that more than 100 United Nations (UN) personnel have been killed in Gaza, and a hospital in northern Gaza has suspended operations due to loss of power, resulting in the deaths of newborns. Today, the Israeli military reportedly raided the largest hospital in northern Gaza and is conducting operations against Hamas. Please share with us your reaction and Japan’s response to the situation.

Minister Kamikawa:There have already been a large number of deaths and injuries in the Gaza Strip and surrounding areas. Most of them are civilians, including children, women, and the elderly, and we are gravely concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation. Additionally, we are aware of the UN’s announcement that more than 100 local UN personnel have lost their lives, and I express my deepest condolences. The lives and physical well-being of staff members who are working to improve the humanitarian situation on the ground must be protected.

All the parties concerned must adhere to international law, including international humanitarian law. For example, acts such as unnecessarily involving innocent civilians as “human shields” go against the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and are unjustifiable. Such acts should never be allowed.

We consider that it is necessary to take all possible measures to prevent harm to civilians from military operations, including humanitarian pauses.

We will also continue to make diplomatic efforts to ensure humanitarian access so that necessary assistance will be delivered appropriately to each person.

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