Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary YOSHIDA Tomoyuki

Wednesday, December 15, 2021, 3:46 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

The 15th Japan International MANGA Award Winner Announcement

Mr. YOSHIDA Tomoyuki, Press Secretary: I have one announcement at the outset.

It is about the decision of the 15th Japan International MANGA Award winner.

Every year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confers the Japan International MANGA Award to foreign manga artists who have contributed to the promotion of manga culture overseas and international cultural exchanges through manga.

This year marks its 15th anniversary, and we have received 484 entries from 76 countries and regions, replacing last year’s record-high number of entries. Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, since last fiscal year, we have been accepting submissions of printed works as well as digital works. We marked a new record in the number of entries this fiscal year, following the record set last year.

For your information, we received entries for the first time from seven countries: Armenia, North Macedonia, Bahrain, Fiji, Botswana, Moldovia, and Lebanon.

As a result of a fair evaluation carried out this month by the selection committee, it was decided to confer the Gold Award to “Days of sand” by Aimee De Jongh of the Netherlands who applied from Belgium. Decisions were made to confer awards to 15 works, including three Silver Awards and 11 Awards. This was the second time that Ms. Jongh has won an award, following her Silver Award win in the 12th Japan International MANGA Award.

We have prepared an overview of each work and they have been made available here in this press conference venue, so please take a look at it. We also plan to upload an overview of each work to the MOFA website, the Japan International MANGA Award website, Facebook, and other sites.

MOFA plans to hold the presentation ceremony of the 15th Japan International MANGA Award next February or March.

Although we still cannot see an end to the novel coronavirus, manga is a Japanese culture that many people in Japan enjoy. It is a catalyst for interest in Japanese culture and language for people in many countries and regions. From this perspective, we will continue to welcome and promote the spread of manga. That is all from me.

G7 Foreign and Development Ministers' Meeting (Informal Conversation between the Foreign Ministers of Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK))

Hokkaido Shimbun, Bun: There was an informal conversation between the foreign ministers of Japan and the ROK following the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Please tell us what is happening in terms of the status of coordination toward a formal foreign ministers’ meeting or telephone talk.

Press Secretary Yoshida: Japan and the ROK?

Hokkaido Shimbun, Bun: Yes.

Press Secretary Yoshida: Regarding the informal conversation between Japan and the ROK that you asked about, Foreign Minister Hayashi had an informal conversation with Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong for a short time at the reception before the G7 dinner banquet. During the conversation, Foreign Minister Hayashi firmly conveyed Japan’s positions on various issues, including the issue of the formal civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula and the comfort women issue, and strongly requested that the ROK respond appropriately. Foreign Minister Chung of course spoke based on the ROK’s positions.

Japan and the ROK have relations as neighboring countries, so the ministers confirmed that there was no change to the importance of Japan-ROK cooperation as well as Japan-ROK-U.S. cooperation on issues such as the response to North Korea during their informal conversation. They agreed that consultations and communication between our countries’ diplomatic authorities will be accelerated to restore healthy Japan-ROK relations.

On the other hand, at this point, there is no outlook or plan to hold a meeting or telephone talk, which you asked directly about.

G7 Foreign and Development Ministers' Meeting (Diplomacy Using Music)

Mainichi Shimbun, Kaite: During the G7 Summit, there was a moment in which Foreign Minister Hayashi played the piano. Can you think of a time in past diplomacy when a foreign minister or summit leader used an instrument or music in diplomacy?

Press Secretary Yoshida: There was a dinner banquet at The Beatles Story museum, and there was an exhibit on “Imagine” during the tour of the museum. I have heard that Foreign Minister Hayashi improvised performance in the “Imagine” room with the white piano.

This is an unexpected question, so I did not look up any instance in the past. Based on what I can remember, I believe there have not been many instances in a similar manner. Although it no longer takes place, during ASEAN Ministerial Meetings and other meetings in the past, there was a custom in which the ministers attending from various countries would demonstrate their hidden talents or tell a joke. I remember that during such occasions, there was a minister who performed a song. But I cannot remember any other example of using music to build relationships of mutual trust in such an extremely natural way that greatly relaxed the atmosphere at the venue.

The Summit for Democracy (Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative)

Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: Today, Special Advisor on International Human Rights Issues NAKATANI Gen had a telephone talk with the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State. They exchanged views about the Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative established by President Biden of the United States during the recent Summit for Democracy. Prime Minister Kishida also stated that he would consider this going forward. What is MOFA’s assessment of this framework?

Press Secretary Yoshida: You asked about our reaction to the Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative announced at the Summit for Democracy. The United States, Australia, Denmark, and Norway announced a joint statement committing to working to establish a code of conduct on export control of technologies used for human rights violations.

Prime Minister Kishida has spoken about this matter as well as Foreign Minister Hayashi yesterday. Japan has taken the stance of firmly raising its voice against serious human rights violations in cooperation with various countries, its allies, like-minded countries, and partners that share our values. We support the United States’ cause behind the proposal.

On the other hand, we need to closely investigate the various contents of the proposal, and we are in the process of conducting that consideration. Thus we were not able to participate at the time of the Summit for Democracy. We will continue to consider based on consultations among relevant countries.

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