Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, January 28, 2022, 12:09 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Emergency Grand Aid for the Displaced Persons in the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have one announcement today.
On January 28, the Government of Japan has decided to extend Emergency Grant Aid of 2 million US dollars as humanitarian assistance for the displaced persons in the People’s Republic of Bangladesh from Rakhine State, Myanmar.
Since there is no end in sight for the return of displaced persons, the humanitarian situation in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar near the border with Myanmar has been further deteriorating, and emergency humanitarian assistance is required.
In response to this issue, the Government of Bangladesh is carrying out the relocation of the displaced persons within the country to Bhasan Char. Through this Emergency Grand Aid, the Government of Japan will implement assistance in areas such as food and health through the offices of international organizations that are conducting assistance activities in Bhasan Char. Japan will support Bangladesh’s efforts to protect the displaced persons through such assistance activities and will continue to work closely with the international community.
That is all from me.
Recommendation of Sado Island Gold Mines as a World Heritage Site
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about Sado Island Gold Mines. It has been reported that the Government of Japan is working to finalize the coordination to recommend this site for World Cultural Heritage. Please tell us what is currently being discussed within the government.
Minister Hayashi: In light of the fact that the deadline to submit recommendations to UNESCO is February 1, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is currently engaged in a comprehensive review from the perspective of what would be most effective to realize the registration of Sado Island Gold Mines.
Sankei Shimbun, Chiba: I would like to ask a relevant question. The Government of Japan states that it has lodged protests against the claim by the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) concerning Sado Island Gold Mines. Could you please tell us how the Government of Japan has specifically protested the ROK’s claim that Korean workers were forced to work in the mines? Please also tell us, in protesting the claim made by the ROK side, if the Japanese side is already collecting materials for counterarguments or whether you intend to do so going forward.
Minister Hayashi: As I have already mentioned, we are currently in the midst of extensive discussion.
Concerning the ROK’s claim, as I have stated before, we responded by lodging protests regarding such claims and countering the stance of and claims made by the ROK based on our position.
Since this is currently being considered thoroughly, I would like to refrain from answering about the details.
Easing of Import Restrictions on Japanese Food Products by Taiwan
Taiwan Central News Agency, Yang: It has been reported in Japan that Taiwan will announce its policy of resuming food product imports from the areas around Fukushima Prefecture in a few days. Could you please tell us your thoughts on this?
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the report that you have just mentioned. Regarding the import restrictions on Japanese food products related to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident put in place by other countries, the restrictions have been lifted or largely eased in many countries and regions, for example, the United States which lifted its restrictions in September 2021.
For Taiwan, the Government of Japan has provided explanations on the safety of Japanese food products based on scientific evidence through the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association and persistently called on Taiwan to lift its import restrictions.
As Taiwan proceed with considerations on lifting import restrictions on Japanese food products, we are requesting them to lift the restrictions as soon as possible by actively providing the information they require.
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: I would like to ask about the NPT Review Conference. It has been reported that the President-designate of the Review Conference is calling on the States parties to the Treaty to hold the next conference in Europe this spring and that consideration for this plan is underway. I believe that Japan is included in the next conference. Could you first tell us what is being considered regarding the Conference? Please also tell us your ambitions and thoughts on convening the Conference as soon as possible while there are concerns that the debate on nuclear disarmament will stagnate again.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the report. The timing of the postponed NPT Review Conference is still being discussed among the signatory countries, but nothing has been decided at this point.
In any event, the Government of Japan believes that it is important that the NPT Review Conference be held as soon as possible in an appropriate form, and that the discussions in the Conference contribute to a meaningful outcome. We will continue to work steadily on this issue.
The Situation in Ukraine
Independent Web Journal, Hamamoto: I would like to ask about a Russian invasion of Ukraine. On January 19, President Biden said that President Putin could invade Ukraine. Due to this remark, tensions regarding the Ukraine crisis are rapidly rising. On January 23, the United States Department of State authorized and ordered the departure of U.S. Government employees at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, and announced that the United States would place 8,500 troops on heightened preparedness to deploy to Europe. However, on January 20, the Russian side countered by arguing that the West was manipulating the impression that the Russian Forces would invade Ukraine. Moreover, President Zelensky of Ukraine even described the information released by the Government of the United States and the U.S. media about Russia’s imminent invasion into Ukraine as fake news. Furthermore, Germany refused to send weapons to Ukraine and seems to seek a solution by diplomatic means without involving the United States, such as through high-level quadrilateral discussions involving Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine. Ultimately, it is only the United States and some of its subordinate countries that are expressing the view that the Russian Forces’ invasion into Ukraine is later than expected (this is as the reporter said). What are MOFA’s and your thoughts on the possibility of the Russian Forces invading Ukraine, and what is your take on President Zelensky’s remark about “fake news”?
Minister Hayashi: I would like to refrain from answering the question about Japan’s response in the case of a Russian invasion into Ukraine, as it is a hypothetical question. In any case, we will continue to respond to the situation appropriately in cooperation with other G7 countries and the international community.