Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Friday, May 7, 2021, 1:12 p.m. Poland
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have visited Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the United Kingdom, and lastly Poland during my visit to Europe for the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting in London. I will hold bilateral meetings with the foreign ministers of Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic after this. During this visit to Europe, I have paid courtesy calls to heads of state and held a total of 20 bilateral meetings, including bilateral meetings held on the margins of the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting. Also, in addition to the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting held over three days, I also held multilateral meetings, including the Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the “V4 plus Japan” Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
During the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting, on behalf of Japan I considerably led the discussions and showed Japan’s presence concerning regional issues including China, North Korea, and Myanmar, as well as important issues for the international community such as vaccinations. I also believe that the G7 firmly conveyed its solidarity publicly.
In addition, one major objective of my visit this time was to solidify various European countries’ recognition of the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” I attended the EU Foreign Affairs Council in January 2021 and provided an explanation on the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” concept to foreign ministers from various EU countries. Due to this and other factors, the EU announced its EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific last month in April. The EU is also at 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. I believe that I had extremely timely and significant opportunities to hold in-person discussions on the increasingly severe situation in the Indo-Pacific and agree on cooperation toward a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” with Slovenia which will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the latter half of 2021, High Representative of the European Union Borrell, Germany, France, Italy, and the V4 countries which have a growing presence in the EU, at this timing.
In addition, I strategically developed Japan’s diplomacy in recognition of the geopolitical importance of Central and Eastern Europe. Here in Poland, I confirmed the strengthening of the Strategic Partnership during the Japan-Poland Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. The 7th “V4 plus Japan” Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was also held in Warsaw, where the foreign ministers of Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic traveled to attend, and we agreed to continue and strengthen connectivity and cooperation in various fields including science and technology. The Western Balkans are important for the stability of Europe, and I clearly expressed Japan’s continued support for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s accession to the EU.
As I implement “diplomacy with both tolerance and strength,” I believe it was a truly major result that during this visit to Europe, I confirmed the importance of a free and open international order based on the rule of law with the foreign ministers and others of various countries, and we agreed to closely cooperate. That is all from me.
Reporter: I believe you held meetings with the foreign ministers of a total of six Eastern European countries. As you stated earlier, it is possible that Eastern Europe will have influence on the detailed version of the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific that the EU will compile in September. I believe that China is expanding its influence on Eastern Europe after the Belt and Road Initiative. Can you please tell us frankly what the recognition of various countries were of maritime advances by China in the Indo-Pacific through this series of meetings?
Minister Motegi: As was also true during the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting, the six Central and Eastern European countries showed extremely high interest in how to respond to China, and several countries asked to hear my views. I expressed serious concern about the continuation and strengthening of unilateral attempts to change the status quo using force in the East China Sea and South China Sea, including by the Chinese Coast Guard. I felt that my counterparts listened very seriously. I believe that we shared recognition that it is extremely important to maintain and strengthen the free and open international order based on the rule of law and the order of the international community. We affirmed the extreme importance of solidarity among countries that share fundamental values as we respond to economic and economic security aspects, including the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as various global issues.
In regard to the G7 as well, I felt that the G7 is truly back. I stated this during the first working dinner, and Foreign Secretary Raab quoted me well. I believe that European unity is also extremely important in responding to various global situations.
Reporter: My question resembles the previous question. You met with the foreign ministers of the V4 countries. Amidst that, as with the G7…
Minister Motegi: In regard to the V4, I held a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with Poland yesterday, but I will hold meetings with the other V4 foreign ministers after this.
Reporter: I was referring to the “V4 plus Japan” Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. During the meeting, I believe the countries shared considerable concerns on the rise of China, which was also the case for the G7. During the discussions in the “V4 plus Japan” framework, what were the views of the various countries regarding the rise of China? Also, were there any preludes to having some sort of cooperation for spreading the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” concept for Japan going forward? Please tell us your feelings and comments on that.
Minister Motegi: The “V4 plus Japan” Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held today. As I stated earlier, I expressed my views on China’s actions and attempts that there should be concerns about, and my counterparts listened very carefully.
It is extremely important to maintain and strengthen the “free and open order of the international community” based on the rule of law. I believe they were most likely comparing themselves to countries like Germany and France, but the V4 stated that they are not particularly large countries, but emphasized that it is precisely because they are smaller countries that they must uphold international rules for their own sake as well. I believe that they completely shared recognition on maintaining the free and open international order based on the rule of law.