Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Tuesday, December 8, 2020, 10:47 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Visit to Africa by Foreign Minister Motegi
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I do not have anything in particular to report.
I will be away to visit Africa for one week starting from this afternoon.
Objectives of Foreign Minister Motegi’s Overseas Visits
Asahi Shimbun, SATO: You will leave to visit Africa after this. Please tell us the overall strategy and objectives of your overseas visits to Southeast Asia and Europe thus far and your visit to Africa this time.
Minister MOTEGI: Yes. Today your question is not a three-dimensional equation, so I believe I can probably answer your question. The timing and destinations for my overseas visits are decided comprehensively while looking at the international situation, the novel coronavirus conditions in various countries, and other matters.
Firstly, even amidst the novel coronavirus crisis, unlike video teleconferences and telephone talks which have limitations on time, visiting the partner country and having in-person meetings enables in-depth exchanges of views with more time. It also provides opportunities to hold in-person exchanges of views with of course my foreign minister counterparts, as well as other dignitaries such as heads of governments. I believe this provides extremely important opportunities to further deepen bilateral relationships of trust and share recognition regarding international and regional situations.
Based on that way of thinking, beginning with the United Kingdom, I have visited Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and other areas since August. Through those visits, I have held exchanges of views on matters such as cooperation toward realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” cooperation on novel coronavirus countermeasures, and the post-novel coronavirus world order. This time, taking the opportunity of the ending of the extraordinary session of the Diet, I will visit Africa, which I have not visited yet since becoming Minister for Foreign Affairs. I will work on cooperation toward realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” strengthening business relations looking ahead to the post-novel coronavirus era, and cooperation toward TICAD8 which is planned to be held in the year after next.
Tunisia will host TICAD8, and if we look at the world map, South Africa, Mozambique, and Mauritius are positioned at the western verge of the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” If we look back in time, in 1586, the Tensho embassy that traveled to Europe stopped in Mozambique to wait for favorable winds as it returned to Japan after having an audience with the Pope. From Mozambique, they crossed the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean to return to Japan.
As it is this kind of region, I would like to hold various discussions on bilateral relations and realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” with these countries. I would like to make these visits significant.
Japan-China-Republic of Korea (ROK) Trilateral Summit
YTN (ROK), Lee: I would like to ask about the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit planned to be held in the ROK. The Government of the ROK is advancing preparation toward holding the Summit within this year, but the Government of Japan has still not announced whether it will participate. According to reports in the Japanese media, it would be difficult for Prime Minister Suga to visit the ROK as long as there is no solution for the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula. Is that a condition for participating in the Summit?
Minister MOTEGI: Nothing has been decided at the present point about the schedule and other details of the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit. That is my answer.
Reaction to the Fifth Armitage-Nye Report
Nikkei Shimbun, KATO: I would like to ask about Japan-U.S. relations. Yesterday, there was an announcement about the fifth report by experts including former Deputy Secretary of State Armitage.The report assesses that Japan is playing an equal role for the first time in the Japan-U.S. Alliance, and requests that the Suga administration continue this. I believe this report has affected policies of Japan and the United States through now. What is your assessment of this and how is it intended to reflect the report in future policies?
Minister MOTEGI: The co-authors of the report, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Professor Joseph Nye of Harvard University, are prominent experts on Japan and diplomacy in the United States as well with deep insight on the Japan-U.S. Alliance and the situation in the Indo-Pacific region. We will firmly respond to the report’s content.
Also, I feel that the report had an extremely positive assessment of the role Japan is playing. The Japan-U.S. Alliance is the linchpin of Japan’s diplomacy and security. The Government of Japan will continue to work on strengthening the Japan-U.S. Alliance.
The Adoption of the Draft Resolution on Nuclear Disarmament Submitted by Japan in the Plenary Meeting of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly
Yomiuri Shimbun, FUKUDA: The draft resolution on nuclear disarmament submitted by the Government of Japan was adopted at the Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York, which was announced this morning in a press release. Please tell us your reaction.
Minister MOTEGI: Today, which is still December 7 New York time, the draft resolution entitled “Joint Courses of Action and Future-oriented Dialogue towards a world without nuclear weapons,” submitted by Japan, was adopted with the support of 150 countries in the Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly.
The draft resolution this year reaffirms the commitment to the ultimate goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. It also stresses the importance for various countries to take immediate actions together and to conduct future-oriented dialogues with a view to maintaining and strengthening the regime of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), focusing on the 10th NPT Review Conference.
It is expected that the adoption of the draft resolution will promote formation of a shared foundation enabling various countries to take actions together, and strengthen momentum toward the next NPT Review Conference.
Japan’s Initiatives towards Stabilization in the Middle East
Pan Orient News, AZHARI: Just to follow up on your visit to the Middle East, Tunisia in particular. There are increasing reports now suggesting there might be another war in the Middle East by hitting Iranian nuclear facilities. This comes after the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist. We know that Japan has been taking a leading role in its initiative to stabilize the Middle East. That was during the last administration. Could you please tell us what is the situation about such a Japanese initiative, and what is your comment on the current situation in the area regarding the assassination?
Minister MOTEGI: I believe there are various viewpoints about how urgent the situation has become. Peace and stability in the Middle East are extremely important for Japan, as we rely on the Middle East for about 90% of our crude oil imports. We are concerned about the continuing highly tense situation in the Middle East as well as the various incidents that are occurring.
Japan is an ally of the United States. We are also building good relations with various countries in relation to peace in the Middle East, including maintaining good relations over many years with Iran and other countries.
I have held telephone talks this year with the foreign ministers of Middle Eastern countries including Israel, Jordan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. I also went to the Middle East in October to visit Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and held exchanges of views and communication regarding various issues including regional situations. While utilizing this, we will work on urging the countries concerned at various levels toward easing tensions and stabilizing the situation in the Middle East.
Tensions are occurring in various regions, including Iran and several Maghreb countries. It is hoped that the countries concerned will shift to peacefully resolving the issues through dialogue amongst themselves, if possible.Amidst this, while monitoring the various situations, Japan will work on urging the countries concerned and others to do this.