Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 5:02 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
COVAX AMC Summit
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would firstly like to speak about one matter: the COVAX AMC Summit. The Government of Japan and Gavi will co-host the COVAX AMC Summit on June 2 in an online format, and Prime Minister Suga and I plan to attend.
As the novel coronavirus continues to spread around the world, it is an urgent matter to accelerate equitable access to vaccines. Japan has been leading efforts thus far through the COVAX Facility, a global framework for procurement and distribution of vaccines.
Amidst this, the COVAX AMC Summit will be a needed step to secure necessary funding to equitably provide safe, effective vaccines more widely in developing countries, and further deepen international cooperation.
Japan will continue to play a leading role in international efforts for novel coronavirus countermeasures. That is all from me.
G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting
Nikkei Shimbun, Tobita: You just made a series of overseas visits. I believe the G7 joint Communiqué includes many items on concerns regarding China which Japan has been raising through now. You held many bilateral meetings. To the extent possible, please tell us how you approached various countries, and whether you sensed certain differences in positions with those countries, during your meetings with the European countries. Thank you.
Minister Motegi: During my trip to Europe, before and after my visit to the United Kingdom in which I attended the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting, I visited Slovenia, which holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first half of this year, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Poland, which holds the Presidency of the Visegrad Group (V4).
I held a total of 20 bilateral meetings, including the meetings with the countries I visited and meetings on the margins of the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting. I also participated in multilateral meetings such as the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting, the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and the “V4 plus Japan” Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
A major objective of my visits this time was to solidify various European countries’ recognition of the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” The EU announced its “Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific” in April, and is in the stage of advancing discussions to release a joint communication, which will serve as a detailed version of the strategy on the Indo-Pacific, by September.
There are of course differences in terms of the state of progress in the United Kingdom, which has been participating in discussions ahead of others, and France, Germany, and countries that will join the discussions going forward. Nevertheless, I believe I shared recognition with various countries regarding the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” concept. I held meetings with the foreign ministers and others from various countries regarding the increasingly severe situation in the Indo-Pacific, and we agreed to cooperate toward a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” I believe this was extremely timely.
In addition, this was the first opportunity in two years for the G7 foreign ministers to hold in-person, lengthy discussions. I was finally able to meet in person with Foreign Minister Raab and the other foreign ministers after a long time and hold discussions. The discussions were held over a total of three days, beginning with a working dinner. Our discussions were candid and frank, and we re-affirmed our determination for the G7 to lead the international community in solidarity.
I myself renewed the feeling of “The G7 is back.” I also believe that Japan was able to considerably lead and show its presence in the discussions on regional situations including China, North Korea, and Myanmar, as well as important issues faced by the international community such as the novel coronavirus and climate change.
I also believe that the joint Communiqué sends a strong message, including on China and North Korea, and that the G7 was able to appeal with its solidarity here as well.
Since assuming my position as Minister of Foreign Affairs, I have implemented “diplomacy with both tolerance and strength” as I have consistently stated. I believe it was a very big accomplishment that through my visits this time to Europe, I affirmed the importance of the free and open international order based on the rule of law with the foreign ministers of various countries, and we agreed to closely cooperate.
During my respective meetings, I held considerably in-depth discussions that included Japan’s views on the urgent issues we currently face, individual regional situations, and other such matters, and I believe this was truly significant as I and my counterparts could deepen our understanding and we agreed to advance various forms of cooperation.
COVAX AMC Summit
TV Asahi, Sato: I would like to ask about your statement in your opening remarks. In regard to the
COVAX AMC Summit, during the recent Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) One World Protected Event, you stated that Japan has already contributed $200 million to the COVAX-AMC and will continue to do its utmost to support the initiative. Please tell us whether Japan is considering increasing its financial contribution as cooperation to narrow the funding gap, and if this will be announced during the Summit.
Minister Motegi: As I recently stated, efforts are currently being advanced to eliminate the novel coronavirus in various countries. The role of vaccines is extremely important for this. I believe that everyone knows that they are critically important.
However, even if various countries succeed in eliminating the novel coronavirus domestically, as long as the virus still remains somewhere in the world, there is still a risk of it spreading again. As I stated in my opening remarks, it is important how much we can secure and spread equitable access to vaccines in all countries, including developing countries. Discussions will be held at the Summit to secure $1.7 billion currently necessary for the goal of providing 1.8 billion vaccine doses, which is enough for 30% of the populations of developing countries, within this year.
Japan will co-host the Summit, so we cannot just be a silent observer. Nothing has been decided at the present point on the extent of new contributions by Japan, but we will conduct consideration on doing our utmost to support the initiative.
Situation in Myanmar (Detainment of a Japanese National)
Indonesia JIEF, Susilo: I would like to know about the current status of the detained journalist KIITAZUMI Yuki. What further action will the Government of Japan take? Will you provide him with legal assistance, such as a lawyer?
Minister Motegi: Japanese Ambassador to Myanmar Maruyama has confirmed that Mr. Kitazumi does not have any health issues through a consul meeting by telephone. MOFA has been providing the utmost support, including the telephone meeting by the Ambassador I just mentioned as well as communication with his family, from the perspective of protecting Japanese nationals. We will continue to provide necessary support.
Japan’s position is of course to request the swift release of Mr. Kitazumi as well as all the other detainees. We will continue to request Myanmar at all levels to swiftly release Mr. Kitazumi and exert all efforts to protect Japanese nationals.
Situation in Israel and Palestine
Pan Orient News, Azhari: I would like to ask about the Middle East. The situation in Palestine is escalating because according to the reports there, the Israeli military, which is the occupation force, is attacking certain spots in the area and trying to annex some areas that belong to the Palestinians. I read the Press Secretary’s Statement today expressing concerns, but there are a lot of casualties among Palestinians including 9 children. Palestinian children are being killed by Israeli occupation forces. Do you think this needs to be raised to the top level attention of the international opinion, that the occupation forces are not biding by the international law? Also, do you think the UN security council meeting should be held to discuss this development?
Minister Motegi: Many people have been injured in Jerusalem and other locations due to the clashes between the Israeli security authorities and Palestinian civilians. In addition, rockets have been launched intermittently from the Gaza Strip at Jerusalem and other locations from yesterday, and the Israeli military is engaged in counterattacks. Japan would like to express its serious concern regarding the situation concerning Israel and Palestine.
Acts of violence against children as well as against all other people cannot be justified for any reason, and Japan strongly condemns them. We are convinced that the issues of Israel and Palestine cannot be resolved through violence, but rather through negotiations between their authorities and cooperation to build mutual trust.
Based on our position, Japan urges both Israel and Palestine to show the utmost restraint.
The G7 also discussed such issues. Japan will advocate its position as I just stated while firmly cooperating with the international community.
In addition, Japan will work on building trust between the authorities of both parties through our unique initiatives, such as building the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity, while cooperating with the international community as I just mentioned, toward resolving the issue of peace in the Middle East.