Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Friday, January 29, 2021, 11:39 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk (Negotiations on Host Nation Support (HNS) for the U.S. Forces Japan)
NHK, Yamamoto: I would like to ask two questions. The first is about HNS. During your recent telephone talk with Secretary of State Blinken, you confirmed close cooperation toward an early conclusion of the negotiations. When are you aiming to conclude the negotiations and what do you want the content to be?
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I held an exchange of views regarding HNS during my recent telephone talk with Secretary of State Blinken. It was confirmed that Japan and the United States would closely cooperate toward an early conclusion of the negotiations.
The negotiations are currently being conducted. I would thus like to refrain from touching upon the specific policy for the negotiations, how far they have progressed, and what is happening, because this would affect the negotiations going forward. In any event, we held an exchange of views about the increasingly severe regional security environment. There is also Japan’s severe financial situation. We will respond appropriately based on such matters.
Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk (Human Rights Situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region)
NHK, Yamamoto: I would like to ask another question. In regard to the issue of the Uyghur people, Secretary of State Blinken has indicated his recognition that the actions of the Government of China against minorities such as the Uyghur people are equivalent to so-called genocide. The Trump administration also recognized this as genocide. What is the Government of Japan’s recognition of China’s actions?
Minister Motegi: I believe that initially, Secretary of State Pompeo said it is genocide, and then Secretary of State Blinken stated that he recognizes it as genocide when asked during the recent Senate confirmation hearing. In regard to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, many reports are being issued that state that serious human rights violations are happening there.
I perceive that the United States’ recent judgment reflects its strong concerns about the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. I believe there are various expressions used to describe this as well as the matter of what the term genocide means under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Japan is seriously concerned about the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Japan believes that it is important for China as well to ensure the international community’s universal values of freedom, respect for basic human rights, and the rule of law. When State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Japan in November 2020, I urged that the Government of China should give a transparent explanation about the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
In addition, we have closely cooperated with related countries in the international arena as well. For example, Japan was the only country in Asia to join the joint statement regarding Hong Kong and the Uyghurs in Xinjiang in the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly in November 2020. We have indicated our serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang.
It is important for the international community, with related countries such as the United States, to continue collaborating closely and to strongly urge China about this matter.
Japan-U.K. Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting (“2+2”)
TV Asahi, Sato: It was just announced that the Fourth Japan-U.K. Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting (“2+2”) will be held on February 3. Can you please tell us again your thoughts on what message you would like to send at the meeting?
Minister Motegi: The “2+2” meeting was just announced. During the meeting, I would like to further strengthen Japan-U.K. cooperation by having discussions on matters such as Japan-U.K. security and defense cooperation, including cooperation toward realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP), and regional situations with the United Kingdom, Japan’s global strategic partner with which we share fundamental values.
Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk (Cooperation with Like-Minded Countries)
TV Asahi, Sato: I would like to ask another question. I would like to return to the subject of the Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk discussed earlier. There was no mention of Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) cooperation in your press conference or the Government of Japan’s press release about the telephone talk.
On the other hand, the statement by the Government of the United States uses this phrase. Some people are pointing out that this might reflect the current state of Japan-ROK relations. Please tell us whether what is being pointed out is actually correct, as well as what you discussed in regard to Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation.
Minister Motegi: We do not include all of the content of meetings in our press releases as if they were meeting minutes. We provide summaries. At the very least, I do not believe that Secretary of State Blinken and I had different recognitions of various international and regional situations.
Secretary of State Blinken and I had discussions on various matters during our telephone talk. For example, cooperation with like-minded countries including the QUAD of Japan, the United States, Australia, and India was discussed within the context of matters including cooperation on FOIP as well as strengthening of connectivity. On the other hand, regarding Japan, the United States and the ROK, I stated that it is important to cooperate to respond to North Korea. Thus, there is no discrepancy between the two press releases in terms of which one mentioned Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation, it is just that one press release included it in the summary.
China’s Coast Guard Law
Yomiuri Shimbun, Fukuda: I would like to ask about China’s Coast Guard Law that will enter into force from next month. Some people are voicing concerns that activity by Chinese government vessels might increase around the Senkaku Islands due to the entry into force of this law. Please tell us how the Government of Japan will respond to this and your thoughts.
Minister Motegi: China’s Coast Guard Law basically stipulates the duties and authority of China’s Coast Guard. I have taken various opportunities thus far to convey Japan’s concerns to China. We will continue to monitor with high concern the movements of China’s Coast Guard, including the effects of the entry into force of China’s Coast Guard Law in the maritime locations concerned. I believe what is important is that this law must not be applied in a way that breaches international law. Japan will continue to respond firmly but in a calm manner under the determination to resolutely defend our territorial land, sea, and airspace in coordination with the related ministries and agencies.
Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk (FOIP)
Sankei Shimbun, Ishinabe: I would like to ask about your telephone talk with Secretary of State Blinken. You confirmed the importance of the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” and the United States’ press release used the same term. Do you believe the Biden administration took over the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” concept raised by Japan?
Minister Motegi: I do not know if the United States “took over” the concept. I am not in the position to state with certainty what policy is being taken for the administration transition following the change of government. In any event, as I did with the Trump administration, I agreed with Secretary of State Blinken to deepen cooperation toward realizing the FOIP with the Biden administration as well.