Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary YOSHIDA Tomoyuki

Wednesday, July 14, 2021, 3:44 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Novel Coronavirus (Support for Japanese Nationals Living in Indonesia Returning to Japan)

NHK, Watanabe: Novel coronavirus infections are spreading considerably in Indonesia. Japanese companies are moving to charter their own aircrafts to bring back their expatriates to Japan. What is the response of the Government of Japan?

Mr. YOSHIDA Tomoyuki, Press Secretary: I believe that Foreign Minister Motegi and Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato answered questions on this issue in their press conferences yesterday. Excuse me if I repeat anything. Novel coronavirus infections are spreading very rapidly in Indonesia, and as you stated in your question, it is expected that the number of Japanese nationals who wish to return to Japan to increase.

Amidst this situation, from the perspective of protecting Japanese nationals, it is an important mission of the Government to prepare an environment in which Japanese nationals who wish to return to Japan can do so at the earliest possible timing. As it was explained yesterday, although regular service of direct flights between Japan and Indonesia are still operating, necessary consideration and coordination are being conducted to provide assistance for repatriation by operating special additional flights, including those chartered amongst Japanese nationals, companies, and the chamber of commerce in Indonesia.

Firstly, in terms of making sure that they can board the planes, measures restricting people’s movement within Indonesia were introduced. It was not possible for Japanese nationals to return to Japan if they could not move within the country without a proof of vaccination. Therefore, the Government of Japan requested that movement not be restricted excessively, so that there would not be restrictions on Japanese nationals’ movement to get to international airports or within Indonesia to leave the country and return to Japan. We have confirmed that such restrictions are not in place.

In terms of border enforcement measures for people returning to Japan via chartered flights or special flights, although these measures are not necessarily within the jurisdiction of MOFA, but there are border enforcement measures taken at airports to address people who arrive in substantial number. The measures include the current requirement of staying 10 days at a designated facility for people who arrive from Indonesia because it is a country where the delta variant is spreading. The Government of Japan will make consideration and respond so that the measures, including the quarantine measures, do not cause inconvenience for large numbers of people who return to Japan.

I believe that such flights are already in operation. Going forward, based on the local infection situation and other matters, the Government of Japan will basically have the embassy follow the situation on the ground, and will make arrangements so that there is no inconvenience when returning to Japan.

Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games (Attendance by Dr. Jill Biden, the First Lady of the United States, at the Opening Ceremony)

TV Asahi, Sawai: Last night, the White House announced that Dr. Jill Biden, the First Lady of the United States, will attend the opening ceremony of the Games. Please tell us your reaction to this. Also, I believe that the First Lady knows Prime Minister Suga and his wife, Mrs. Mariko Suga. Please tell us what is being considered to welcome her.

Press Secretary Yoshida: The Government of the United States announced yesterday on July 13, local time, that Dr. Jill Biden, the First Lady of the United States, will attend the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games. I believe this was announced in the White House press release. As stated in the announcement, additional information and further details will be disclosed later. We will continue to coordinate the details.

Firstly, I believe that the decision to have the First Lady visit Japan was made based on the importance the United States attaches to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, as the Government of the United States, including President Biden himself, have expressed their support for the holding of the Games in various occasions. The Government of Japan sincerely welcomes her visit as something of great significance to Japan-U.S. relations.

In terms of how we will welcome her, since there is still over a week until her arrival, I believe the details will be firmly worked out going forward. We will welcome her with diplomatic courtesy.

Coordination is currently under way regarding the schedule during her visit, such as talks and meetings, so I do not have any information I can share at this point.

Novel Coronavirus (Vaccine Passports)

TV Tokyo, Kato: I would like to ask about novel coronavirus vaccine passports. Which countries is Japan currently conducting coordination with regarding favorable treatment for those who have vaccine passports issued by Japan when they enter a country, and what would the favorable treatments be? If it is difficult to give specific country names, then could you tell us which regions and about how many countries is Japan currently coordinating with.

Press Secretary Yoshida: Vaccine passports are official proof that a person has been vaccinated. Basically, as this point, it is presumed that passports could be utilized so that if a person is issued a vaccine passport and shows the passport when traveling overseas from Japan, they could be subject to some kind of easing of travel-related restriction measures.

Therefore, to answer your question about foreign nationals entering the country…

TV Tokyo, Kato: I was asking about travels by Japanese nationals.

Press Secretary Yoshida: Yes, so regarding their travels, we would like the vaccine passports to be utilized so that it contributes to the easing of some travel-related restriction measures.

On the other hand, it would not necessarily be the case that not having a vaccine passport would make it impossible to travel overseas. We will share information on infection control measures being taken in each destination on our website and other sources as necessary, so that those who cannot be vaccinated for some reason and does not possess a vaccine passport will not be disadvantaged.

That being said, I believe you asked which countries the vaccine passports could be valid for, and which countries we are currently negotiating with. We are still in the process of studying and coordinating what measures could be eased or exempted through vaccine passports in which countries and regions. So we have not yet reached the point in which I can give you specific country names or the scale.

However, applications for vaccine passports will begin on July 26. We will post the latest information regarding our coordination and study on our website and other sources as needed as much as possible.

Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games (Visit to Japan by President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea (ROK))

NHK, Watanabe: In relation to the First Lady’s visit to Japan which was mentioned earlier, I would also like to ask about other dignitaries’ visit. Although various reports are already out, could you please tell us where we are with the visit to Japan by the President of the ROK?

Press Secretary Yoshida: I believe this question has been asked several times on various occasions. Firstly, to repeat what has been stated before, generally speaking the Government of Japan is not the one who invites dignitaries from various countries to attend the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, particularly the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. With the exception of countries in which their governments have made announcements themselves, as in the case of the First Lady of the United States, who I spoke about earlier, or President Macron of France, the Government of Japan would like to refrain from speaking about which country’s dignitary will attend the Games.

I am aware of the various reports from the ROK, and if President Moon of the ROK were to visit Japan, then as stated by Prime Minister Suga, we will respond with diplomatic courtesy.

At this point, I am not aware of anything beyond the discussions being held between various countries’ National Olympic Committees and the International Olympic Committee. Therefore the Government of Japan does not have any information to share at this point.

Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games (Border Enforcement Measures)

NHK, Watanabe: Regarding the border enforcement measures for the Olympic Games. I believe that the public has rising doubts and concerns about the border enforcement measures for the Olympics, such as the fact that some people who entered Japan under the Games framework were arrested for possessing cocaine. Of course this issue is not only about MOFA, but encompasses various ministries and agencies including the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Please tell us your reaction to such a case occurring amongst people related to the Olympic Games, who are subject to border enforcement measures under the “bubble.” Also, is anything being considered so that such a case does not happen again and the trust could be restored?

Press Secretary Yoshida: There are many categories of people who are visiting from abroad for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, including dignitaries, athletes, the media, and people related to the Games. From the perspective of preventing the spread of infections as much as possible, we are asking them to limit their contact with others as much as possible. Also, their infection conditions are being constantly checked with PCR tests administered before they enter Japan, when they enter, and afterwards.

In regard to their actions during their stays, depending on which category a person belongs to, people have submitted schedules for their stays, and they are asked to stay in specific accommodation facilities. We have prepared a system to manage their actions during their stays by cooperating with accommodation facilities, by utilizing contact-confirming apps, as well as making sure that organizations which they are affiliated with take responsibility.

Based on such measures, basically the Organizing Committee will constantly follow the situation. If there is any deviance from the rules, we will ask for correction, and if our request for correction is not acceptable, then punitive measures will be taken accordingly. So there is a considerably strict code of conduct that is being implemented.

From MOFA’s perspective, we are not in the position to give comments for each case such as the one you mentioned. We will make every possible effort so that the principles which I have just mentioned are thoroughly implemented as part of all-government efforts to hold safe and secure Games and not worry the people of Japan.

Vaccinations for Japanese Nationals Living Abroad Who Temporarily Return to Japan

Kyodo News, Asada: Yesterday, Foreign Minister Motegi announced that reservations for the vaccinations of Japanese nationals who temporarily return to Japan will soon begin. Amidst the current situation in which acceptance of vaccine reservations has been stopped in some municipalities, about how many vaccines have been secured for Japanese nationals returning from overseas? Also, considering the fact that there is a large number of Japanese nationals who want to be vaccinated, is there a situation where only a small number of slots are available? Please also tell us which vaccines will be used.

Press Secretary Yoshida: Regarding the vaccine program for Japanese nationals living overseas who temporarily return to Japan, it is presumed that reservations will start on the internet from July 19, and that the actual vaccinations will start from August 1. Basically, the reservation status and confirmation for Japanese nationals living overseas will be provided as necessary on MOFA’s Overseas Safety Website. We have prepared a considerably long time for vaccinations, starting from August and ending in early January 2022.

In terms of the overall access and reservation situations, I presume that the supply side of vaccines will of course be considered when it comes to possibility of reservation, as you mentioned in your question.

Although various points are being made regarding vaccinations in Japan, if we take a holistic view, as explained by Minister Kono who is in charge of vaccine rollouts, Japan has secured a sufficient supply of vaccines. We are communicating and coordinating with various municipalities about situations surrounding vaccination, and because the number of Japanese temporarily returning to Japan from abroad is not large compared to the entire population, basically we do not believe that this will cause any hindrance.

I do not have any information on specifically which vaccines will be used. I will confirm this later and inform you.

Visit to Central America and the Caribbean by Foreign Minister Motegi (Anti-government Protests in Cuba)

TV Asahi, Sawai: I would like to change the subject and ask about Foreign Minister Motegi’s visit to Central America and the Caribbean from tomorrow. I believe you will accompany him. Large-scale anti-government protests are taking place in Cuba, one of the countries he will visit, and the United States supports the protests, and I believe the situation is quite unstable. Do you have any concerns on visiting Cuba?

Press Secretary Yoshida: The Government of Japan is monitoring the situation regarding anti-government protests in Cuba with very high interest, which you have asked about. I believe that at this point, the situation on the ground will not affect Foreign Minister Motegi’s scheduled visit to Cuba. We will of course keep following the situation at all times.

I believe that various countries have expressed their respective positions regarding the situation. As for the Government of Japan, Japan and Cuba have historically had friendly relations. I believe that during his visit, Foreign Minister Motegi will have frank and candid conversation with Cuban leaders under the new leadership of President Díaz-Canel.

As we monitor how the situation of the protests develops with high interest, we hope and urge that the situation will be peacefully resolved. I believe that is the position of the Government of Japan.

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