Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Tuesday, February 2, 2021, 10:40 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Situation in Myanmar
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to provide information about the situation in Myanmar.
A Foreign Minister’s Statement was released yesterday about the internal situation in Myanmar. After receiving the first report coming from Myanmar, a liaison office was immediately established yesterday at my instruction, headed by Director-General Kobayashi of the Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department. The situation is unpredictable and there are various constraints such as communication networks being cut off, but nevertheless we are receiving various information. We will firmly respond to the situation, including the gathering of information.
Japan has grave concern over the situation in Myanmar, where a state of emergency was declared and the process of democratization is being undermined. Japan urges the release of those who were detained yesterday, including State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Japan has strongly supported the process of democratization in Myanmar. The occurrence of actions which go against this process is regrettable, and we are strongly opposed to it. Japan once again strongly urges the Myanmar military to swiftly restore Myanmar's democratic political system.
In addition, protecting Japanese nationals is one of the most important duties of MOFA. The Embassy of Japan in Myanmar has been providing Japanese nationals in Myanmar with information and consular alerts. There has been no indication so far that the safety of Japanese nationals is compromised in any way. The Government of Japan has requested the Myanmar side to ensure their safety and will continue to pay utmost attention to the safety of Japanese nationals, and carry on conducting information-gathering and communicating with the countries concerned. That is all from me.
Situation in Myanmar
NHK, Yamamoto: I would like to ask about Myanmar. You met with Min Aung Hlaing, the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services of Myanmar, in Myanmar in 2020 and in Japan in 2019. I believe the Government of Japan has worked to build relations with the Myanmar military. Can you please tell us if, due to this situation, whether the Government of Japan is communicating with the Myanmar military, and if you will directly strengthen the appeals to the military going forward?
Minister Motegi: There are various people related to the leadership system in the country, and it is true that Japan has conducted various forms of communication with them.
I have directly met with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Japan as well as in Myanmar in 2020, and have requested that the democratization process be firmly advanced.
Due to the situation that has occurred now, it is necessary to firmly convey Japan’s position by once again stating our request as we communicate with the people related to the military in Myanmar.
TV Asahi, Sato: I would also like to ask about Myanmar. There are countries that have indicated that they are prepared to impose sanctions. What is the Government of Japan’s view on sanctions?
Minister Motegi: At the present point, we are firmly monitoring how the situation will progress. I believe it is extremely important for the process of democratization in Myanmar to be restored. At the same time, we will also pay attention to coordination with the countries concerned.
Novel Coronavirus (Restrictions on Athletes and others Entering Japan)
Radio France, Nishimura: I would like to ask about border enforcement measures. The Athlete Track has been suspended due to the declaration of a state of emergency…
Minister Motegi: Excuse me, athlete…?
Radio France, Nishimura: The Athlete Track that allows entry into Japan by athletes. It has been suspended. Do you intend to restart the Athlete Track almost automatically after the state of emergency has ended, and are you also considering a similar exception to allow entry into Japan by people from the media? Are you considering having something like a “Media Track”?
Minister Motegi: Firstly, MOFA is not in charge of the Athlete Track, so I would like to request you to inquire with the people in charge.
Having said that, during the state of emergency in Japan, entry into the country is basically not allowed for all people related to foreign countries. I believe that in terms of which measures we will take going forward, it is necessary to ascertain the novel coronavirus conditions inside and outside Japan. At the same time, the entire Government of Japan will conduct consideration while ascertaining what needs there are for visiting Japan.
Nuclear Development in Iran
Pan Orient News, Azhari: I am asking about the Middle East Situation. There're always hot spots there. Is Japan going to activate its diplomacy towards solving the nuclear program in Iran? There is so much tension to this issue with the new administration in the United States. What is your policy to that?
Minister Motegi: We will monitor whether the issue of nuclear development in Iran seems like it will change in the future. President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken of the United States have stated that if Iran returns to strict compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the United States would rejoin the JCPOA as the starting point for follow-on negotiations. I believe that it is necessary to continue to monitor the developments related to the United States and Iran. Japan supports the JCPOA, which contributes to strengthening the international non-proliferation regime and stability in the Middle East. We hope that Iran will strictly comply with the JCPOA and that the United States will return to it.
Taking into account our relations with the United States as allies, Japan will conduct active diplomatic efforts utilizing our traditionally friendly relations with Iran.