Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Friday, May 21, 2021, 2:20 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Ceasefire Agreement between Israel and Palestinian Militants
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I believe that my recently issued statement on Israel and Palestine has been distributed to you all. To restate its content, the Government of Japan welcomes that the ceasefire agreement was reached between Israel and Palestinian militants. In addition, the Government of Japan expresses its respect for the mediation efforts by the countries concerned including the United States and Egypt.
The Government of Japan strongly hopes that this agreement will lead to a lasting ceasefire and long-term stability of the region including the Gaza Strip.
Japan has been urging both Israel and Palestine to exert maximum self-restraint through various channels such as the local embassy, and has been making diplomatic efforts for the calming down of the situation in close cooperation with the countries concerned. We believe that the issue of Israel and Palestine can only be resolved through negotiations and not through violence.
The Government of Japan believes it is important for all the parties concerned to continue their efforts for achieving peace based on a two-state solution. Japan will continue to work toward building confidence between the parties concerned, and play an active role including in providing emergency humanitarian aid and reconstruction assistance. That is all from me.
Diplomats from Myanmar in Japan
NHK, Yamamoto: I would like to ask about diplomats at the Embassy of Myanmar in Tokyo. Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato disclosed in his press conference yesterday that the Embassy contacted MOFA to state that the passports of two diplomats had been invalidated. What policy will the Government of Japan take to respond, including on their stay in Japan and their treatment as diplomats?
Minister Motegi: In regard to this matter, the Embassy of Myanmar in Japan sent a note verbal to MOFA on the invalidation of the passports of two diplomats in March.
We do not believe that the two individuals have engaged in any particularly inappropriate activities, and I believe their status of residence in Japan has not been revoked. MOFA will continue to appropriately respond while monitoring the situation in Myanmar going forward.
Developments in Myanmar (ODA to Myanmar)
Sankei Shimbun, Ishinabe: I would like to ask about the developments in Myanmar. While answering questions in the Diet and on other occasions, you indicated your concerns that ODA may no longer be given to Myanmar if the developments continues in this way. Please tell us your recognition of the current situation again. Beyond that as well, please tell us how realistic the possibility has become for Japan to decide to suspend ODA.
Minister Motegi: As the people of Myanmar and the international community all want the situation to be swiftly improved, if the situation continues in this way, it is possible that we will be compelled to review ODA and that companies may become unable to provide investment even if they want to.
As a country that has provided various forms of support for the democratization of Myanmar, and as a friend, Japan believes that we must clearly convey such points to Myanmar, and we have actually done so.
Japan has continued to strongly convey the three requests that we have been making to Myanmar in particular. In addition, the Five-Point Consensus was announced at the recent ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting. We will continue to appropriately respond while monitoring related developments to these actions, such as the dispatch of the special envoy and the start of dialogue within Myanmar.
Independent Web Journal, Watarai: I believe my question overlaps a little with your answers on Myanmar earlier. Since the coup d’état by the Myanmar military on February 1 in Myanmar, the Government of Japan has condemned the civilian casualties, and also cooperated with the international community to condemn oppression of people opposing the coup in the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on Myanmar.
At the same time, Japan recently realized the release and repatriation of Mr. KITAZUMI Yuki, the Japanese journalist who was detained, by urging Myanmar through the Japanese Ambassador. Japan has also decided to provide food assistance to about 600,000 people through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in order to provide support for food to the citizens of Myanmar affected by the coup.
It seems that this balance is difficult. However, a group of people from Myanmar residing in Japan as well as Japanese citizens’ groups interested in the democratization of Myanmar have been urging the Government of Japan to further respond.
There are also local media in Myanmar reporting about how the Myanmar military is gaining economic benefits due to their participation in projects that receive loans from international cooperation organizations. It seems that the Government of Japan needs to clarify its policy, such as for verification and information disclosure on economic cooperation to Myanmar, and on instructions to companies to cut off relations with the Myanmar military. What are your views on this?
Minister Motegi: My answer to your question is exactly as I stated in my answer to the previous question.