Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Wednesday, August 4, 2021, 8:57 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Following yesterday’s Japan-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I have just attended the East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. The meeting is still ongoing and the discussions are very meaningful.
At the outset, I explained Japan’s measures in response to COVID-19, with a focus on our vaccine-related cooperation. During yesterday’s ASEAN-related meetings, great appreciation and gratitude was expressed towards Japan’s COVID-19 response and support measures.
Concerning the current situation in Myanmar, including the establishment of an interim government on August 1, from the perspective of swiftly restoring Myanmar’s democratic political system, the situation cannot be said to be improving and Japan is closely monitoring the situation. At today’s meeting, I once again made a strong call for the release of those who are detained and the swift restoration of the democratic political system, and expressed Japan’s intention to support ASEAN initiatives to implement the Five-Point Consensus, including the dispatch of a special ASEAN envoy to Myanmar.
Today, I welcomed the appointment of Dato Seri Setia Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof, Minister of Foreign Affairs II, Brunei Darussalam, as a special ASEAN envoy to Myanmar, and stated that Japan will provide full support for Special Envoy Erywan’s activities. I believe it is important to begin Special Envoy Erywan’s activities as soon as possible and to ensure that the Five-Point Consensus swiftly produces concrete outcomes, including a dialogue among stakeholders.
Regarding the East and South China Seas, I expressed strong opposition to unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force. Furthermore, I reemphasized the importance of the rule of law and peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea, and pointed out the need to comply with the Arbitral Tribunal’s award as to the disputes between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China.
Additionally, I stated that we hold serious concerns regarding the situation in Hong Kong and the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. I believe many countries share the same concerns on these issues.
Concerning North Korea, I stated that the full implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs), including measures against “ship-to-ship transfers,” is critical in achieving the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges, and asked for each country’s continued understanding and cooperation in relation to the abductions issue.
Lastly, regarding a “free and open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP), given that the FOIP and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) share the same basic principles of rule of law, freedom of navigation, free trade, openness and inclusivity, I emphasized the promotion of concrete cooperation that will advance the AOIP.
At yesterday’s Japan-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting as well, there were broad discussions, ranging from diplomacy and security, to the economy. Japan intends to continue to work closely with the ASEAN countries, including on our initiatives in realizing the FOIP.
Reporter: I believe that in today’s meeting, as well as those from yesterday, you expressed various concerns, including over China’s advances in the South and East China Seas. From your interactions with other participating countries at these meetings, what is your sense of their reaction to the concerns you raised? To what extent are Japan’s concerns resonating with other countries? Could you please share anything you have felt in this regard? In addition, how will you build on the current results in your future diplomacy?
Minister Motegi: As I have just mentioned, I believe Japan and ASEAN already shares a recognition on principles such as the rule of law, as well as freedom of navigation, openness, and inclusivity, and we reaffirmed this shared understanding at yesterday’s Japan-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting as well. Based on the recognition that the AOIP and FOIP share the same common principles, I believe that we have shared the view to promote cooperation in accordance to the principles of the AOIP.
Reporter: Today, the special envoy to Myanmar was appointed, and I believe Japan has been supporting ASEAN to ensure the early appointment of a special envoy. Could you please elaborate on your thoughts and expectations on this appointment?
Minister Motegi: Firstly, the appointment was made today and I welcome that. Furthermore, I expressed Japan’s intention to provide full support for Special Envoy Erywan’s activities, and called upon all countries to do the same. At yesterday’s Japan-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, I had mentioned that it would probably be Minister Erywan. A representative of Myanmar was also present at that meeting. I have emphasized the importance of promptly appointing a special envoy, actually dispatching the special envoy, and making progress in all stakeholders’ responses. Now that the appointment has been made, I hope that the aforementioned process will begin to move forward in concrete terms. Moreover, Japan will not just sit and hope, but will also provide support, and we are also asking the Myanmar side to respond in a constructive manner.