Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, November 12, 2021, 3:50 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
U.S. Return to the TPP
Asahi Shimbun, Aibara: I would like to ask about the TPP. During a press conference with some media outlets, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine C. Tai expressed a negative attitude towards returning to the TPP, claiming that it was signed over five years ago. Please share with us your thoughts on this remark. In addition, while Japan has been encouraging the United States to rejoin the TPP, could you also tell us whether Japan’s approach to the United States will remain the same?
Minister Hayashi: We believe that the return of the United States to the TPP is desirable, partly due to the strategic perspective on the United States’ involvement in the international order in the Indo-Pacific region, and also for the U.S. economy itself.
Japan has consistently conveyed such a view to the United States, and this will remain unchanged. Bearing in mind the nature of the international order in this region, and based on the views of the Government of Japan, we will continue to promote cooperation with the United States in close collaboration in the area of trade policy and other wide-ranging areas.
Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (Japan-U.S. “2+2”)
Mainichi Shimbun, Kaite: Looking ahead, in the process toward the revision of the National Security Strategy (NSS), I believe that there will be major debates on Japan’s diplomacy and defense, including the necessity for an enemy base strike capability. Meanwhile, the Japan-U.S. “2+2” is scheduled to take place by the beginning of the next year. Has the decision on the revision of the NSS had any impact on or changed the positioning of the “2+2?” In addition, please tell us your thoughts on what kind of results you are aiming for specifically.
Minister Hayashi: I would like to refrain from predicting the content of discussions at the next Japan-U.S. “2+2” at this stage. However, I would like to continue to hold vigorous discussions between the diplomatic and defense authorities of the two countries on the enhancement of the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, which was confirmed at the “2+2” in March 2021, and the deepening of the bilateral defense cooperation. Through these discussions, I would like to confirm any remarkable progress that has been made in the above areas.
About the revision of the NSS that you just asked about, Prime Minister Kishida has already given instructions, and discussions have started among relevant ministers. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will also review this matter in cooperation with relevant ministries and agencies.
Japan-China Relations (Minister Hayashi’s Approach to China)
The Times, Parry: Thank you for continuing to facilitate the participation of foreign media in this press conference. It is appreciated. I have a very short and simple question. It's prompted by reporting of Japanese media that your appointment as Foreign Minister was opposed by some senior people in your own party. So, the simple question is, are you soft on China?
Minister Hayashi: Thank you for your question. I am not particularly aware of the details behind my appointment, but I was contacted by Prime Minister Kishida before the appointment.
Concerning your question on our China policy, the Japan-China relation has become increasingly important not only for the two countries but also for the peace and prosperity of the region and the international community. Japan, in coordination with other countries sharing universal values with Japan, will resolutely state what needs to be said and request China to take responsible actions, while at the same time recognizing the necessity to continue bilateral dialogues and cooperate on various common issues.
Evacuation from Afghanistan
Sankei Shimbun, Sugimoto: I would like to ask about Afghanistan. Yesterday, 51 people, including Afghani and Japanese nationals, arrived in Japan, making it a total of 389 people so far have entered Japan. Initially, the number of people leaving Afghanistan was announced as 500, so there should still be over 100 people remaining in the country. Please tell us once again your determination to support the evacuation of those people for the honor of Japan, as well as the reason why those people remaining are not able to come to Japan.
Minister Hayashi: After the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated, the Government of Japan has continued to make various diplomatic efforts. Yesterday, on the 11th, as you have mentioned, a total of 51 people arrived in Japan, of which 49 were local staff of the embassy and JICA, etc., as well as one Japanese national and a member of their family.
Through efforts such as this, 389 Afghani people related to Japan have already arrived in Japan. Currently, there are no Japanese nationals who seek support from the government to leave Afghanistan.
We think that it is natural to provide as much support as possible to the local staff, who have been making efforts and working together with Japanese nationals. Thus, in close cooperation with relevant countries, including the United States and Qatar, as well as neighboring countries of Afghanistan, the Government of Japan will continue to exert all efforts to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals and local staff members remaining in Afghanistan and provide the necessary support for evacuation, through diplomatic efforts including negotiations with the Taliban.
When accepting those people from Afghanistan into Japan, we will carefully confirm each person’s will and provide elaborate support needed to help them smoothly start their lives in Japan.
A Visit to the United States by Prime Minister Kishida
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: Prime Minister Kishida has expressed his intention to visit the United States as soon as possible, including within this year. Please tell us your thoughts on the significance of the visit by the Prime Minister, including the current status of coordination for the visit.
Minister Hayashi: No specific dates have been arranged as yet to the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States. During the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), Prime Minister Kishida and U.S. President Biden had an opportunity to communicate with each other. Therefore, based on the exchange, we are currently making the necessary coordination to realize the visit as soon as possible, including within this year.
Japan-Russia Relations (Northern Territories Issues)
Hokkaido Shimbun, Furuta: Just to follow up on yesterday’s question, I would like to ask about the negotiation on the Northern Territories with Russia. In relation to the agreement at the Japan-Russia summit meeting in Singapore in 2018, which you touched on at the press conference yesterday, following this agreement, former Prime Minister Abe repeatedly stated that it would serve as the basis of the negotiation according to the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration of 1956. This was understood as a de facto shift in Japan’s approach to the policy of the return of two islands, instead of four, to Japan, but there has been no review of the situation since then. Minister Hayashi, could you once again tell us your understanding of this agreement, whether the islands to be returned are two or four, and Japan’s negotiation policy regarding the issue?
Minister Hayashi: Concerning the peace treaty between Japan and Russia, my understanding of Japan’s policy is that the country will resolve the dispute over the attribution of the Northern Territories and conclude a peace treaty with Russia, without leaving it to the next generation. Based on various agreements made between the two countries, including the agreement at the Japan-Russia summit meeting in Singapore, I intend to take a firm approach to the issue.
Negotiation over the Host Nation Support (HNS)
NHK, Aoki: I would like to ask about the negotiation over the Host Nation Support for the U.S. Forces in Japan. Taking into account the domestic financial situation, please tell us your thoughts on this topic. In addition, once again regarding the schedule for the next Japan-U.S. “2+2,” there are some speculations and reports that say it will be difficult to hold it by the end of this year. Could you once again elaborate on this issue?
Minister Hayashi: Starting with the expenses related to the U.S. Forces in Japan, negotiations based on the agreement made in February this year are ongoing between the governments of Japan and the United States to reach a special agreement after April 1, 2022. Japan’s approach taken in the negotiations is to continue to respond appropriately in light of the increasingly severe security environment in the region and the tough financial situation in Japan.
In answering the second question about the “2+2” schedule, no specific dates have yet been set for the next Japan-U.S. “2+2” at this time.
Future Diplomatic Schedule
Kyodo News, Maeda: I would like to ask about Minister Hayashi’s thoughts on the upcoming foreign visits. Prime Minister Kishida has expressed his intention to visit the United States as early as possible, including possibly within this year. Do you also intend to visit the United States soon? Or else could you please tell us your upcoming diplomatic schedules, such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference and other conferences?
Minister Hayashi: Since important diplomatic relations, including the Japan-U.S. relation, involve various issues and situations, I intend to pursue Japan’s diplomacy while making effective coordination. At this point, there is no specific schedule set.
The Times, Parry: You said that you hope that China will behave responsibly. What does that mean in concrete terms and in what respect is China currently falling short at that standard?
Minister Hayashi: As I mentioned earlier, the Japan-China relation has become increasingly important not only for the two countries but also for the peace and prosperity of the region and the international community. Japan, in coordination with other countries sharing universal values with Japan, will resolutely state what needs to be said and request China to take responsible actions, while at the same time recognizing the necessity to continue bilateral dialogues and cooperate on various common issues.