Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu

Tuesday, August 3, 2021, 10:37 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

(Video) Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

Novel Coronavirus Support to Thailand and Laos

Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Firstly, I have one announcement.

The novel coronavirus is rapidly spreading in Thailand and Laos, and their medical systems are under extreme pressure. Due to this situation, the Government of Japan has decided to provide 775 oxygen concentrators to Thailand, and 100 oxygen concentrators, 100 suction pumps, and 100 patient monitors to Laos.

As for the provision of 600,000 vaccine doses to Laos through the COVAX facility, they will be dispatched today. That is all from me.

Novel Coronavirus Support to Thailand and Laos

NHK, Watanabe: I would like to ask about what you have just stated. In regard to this support for Thailand and Laos, please tell us what Japan aims to achieve and also your thoughts on how best to provide support to various countries in the world going forward.

Minister Motegi: Amidst the ongoing spread of the novel coronavirus around the world, since last year, Japan has been providing support in the form of various medical equipment and goods particularly to developing countries where health and medical care systems are vulnerable.

As vaccines have become extremely important from this year, Japan has considered how it can contribute to the production, international supply and distribution, and finally the delivery of vaccines to vaccination sites. Japan has played a leading role in the frameworks for equitable access to vaccines in various countries, including developing countries, particularly through COVAX. At the same time, given that Japan has secured enough vaccines for its population, we are providing surplus vaccines to other countries, including Southeast Asian countries, where there are spread of Novel Coronavirus and shortage of vaccines. We are continuing to provide “Last One Mile Support” as well.

Recently, we have been providing support to countries, including India, where there are lack of supplies such as oxygen concentrators due to the spread of Novel Coronavirus.

Of course, our support is not limited to ASEAN and Southeast Asia. Japan will continue to provide necessary support as much as possible in a strategic manner to countries where there are high needs.

Request for an Asylum by a Belarusian Olympic Sprinter

Reuters, Takenaka: I would like to ask about the Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya.

Firstly, please tell us what you know about her current mental and physical health condition. In addition, her support group stated that she will take a direct flight to Warsaw tomorrow. Please tell us how the Government of Japan sees the current situation.

To add to that, has the Government of Poland or the Government of Belarus sent any sort of message to the Government of Japan? Lastly…

Minister Motegi: Excuse me, I could not understand what you just said.

Reuters, Takenaka: It’s about this incident.

Minister Motegi: Your questions are a little long. Please ask one or two, and you can ask the rest next time. With four or five questions, it feels like I am answering university exam questions. Please ask one or two questions to start off.

Reuters, Takenaka: I’m sorry.

Facilitator: Please return to your seat.

Reuters, Takenaka: Should I repeat my questions?

Minister Motegi: Please repeat them.

Reuters, Takenaka: Understood. Firstly, what does the Government of Japan know about Ms. Tsimanouskaya’s mental and physical health condition, and also about the statement issued by her support group stating that she will take a direct flight to Warsaw tomorrow?

Minister Motegi: Firstly, in regard to this matter, I am aware that on August 1, the Belarusian sprinter you mentioned announced herself that she was requesting asylum, and from the night of August 1 related organizations such as the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the International Olympic Committee responded including by confirming her wishes.

I have heard that Ms. Tsimanouskaya hopes to receive an asylum in a third country. We are working to ensure her safety in cooperation with relevant organizations. The Government of Japan will continue to appropriately respond in cooperation with relevant organizations.

Ms. Tsimanouskaya is currently in a safe situation. I cannot say any more details due to the nature of the matter.

Northern Territories Issue (Russia’s Proposals Regarding the Joint Economic Activities)

NHK, Watanabe: Apologies to bother you again. I would like to ask about Japan-Russia relations. The Prime Minister of Russia visited Etorofu Island in the Northern Territories at the end of last month. During his visit, he mentioned about setting up a special zone of tariffs. Following the communication between Japan and Russia and information-gathering since then, what does Japanese side know about Russia’s proposals? Furthermore, please tell us your future policy and thoughts on how to advance the peace treaty negotiations amidst this situation.

Minister Motegi: We have not heard of any details from the Russian side about the proposals on the joint economic activities mentioned by President Putin on July 23. The Government of Japan takes note of President Putin’s statements about the joint economic activities on the Four Northern Islands.

We would like to continue to advance consultations at various levels to further actualize the joint economic activities, based on the premise that they do not infringe on Japan’s legal position. Beyond that, it is as I have answered after the Russian Prime Minister’s visit to the Northern Territories.

Tokyo Olympic Games (The Food Center of the Republic of Korea (ROK))

TV Asahi, Sawai: I would like to change the subject and ask about the food center set up by the ROK’s Tokyo Olympic Games Team. While these Games have the concept of the “Recovery Olympics,” I believe that one goal of the Games is to dispel harmful rumors and convey the safety of food and flowers produced in Fukushima Prefecture. There is a view that the ROK team’s action is rather exacerbating the rumors, and the Governor of Fukushima Prefecture has admonished this. Please tell us your reaction to this issue. Please also tell us whether the reports are true that the Government of Japan requested the ROK side to correct its response.

Minister Motegi: There are various reports on the participation to the Tokyo Olympic Games by the teams of various countries, not only team ROK. I would like to refrain from making comments on each reporting, such as reporting on some teams going outside the Olympic Village and doing something. I do wish to point out, however, that when it was decided that Tokyo will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Games were positioned as the “Recovery Olympics.” Exactly ten years have passed since the reconstruction began, and we are having people see the recovered Tohoku and Fukushima while receiving various forms of support from countries. We are also having the Games be an opportunity to appeal to the world about the safety of agriculture, forestry, and fishery products from the disaster stricken areas. We are conveying the Government of Japan’s position which I have just mentioned to the ROK side.

Request for an Asylum by a Belarusian Olympic Sprinter

Reuters, Takenaka: I would like to ask two more questions about the same issue I asked about earlier. Regarding the case of Ms. Tsimanouskaya which took place during her stay in Japan, my first question is, if you have any sort of message from Ms. Tsimanouskaya to the Government of Japan, the people of Japan, or others, could you please share with us? My other question is whether or not the Government of Japan has received any sort of message from the Government of Belarus, which is the country concerned, or the Government of Poland.

Minister Motegi: I have already provided you with the overview earlier. I cannot give you any more details due to the nature of the matter.

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