Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, January 28, 2022, 8:49 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: As announced earlier by Prime Minister Kishida, Japan has decided to submit its recommendation of Sado Island Gold Mines to UNESCO following the Cabinet decision made on February 1. The Sado Island Gold Mines have significant value as a rare industrial heritage site that was large-scale and had long-term operations utilizing Japan’s unique traditional handwork in the Edo period. MOFA as well will firmly make effort toward the registration by holding discussions in a composed and careful manner so that the profound value of Sado Island Gold Mines as cultural heritage is highly appreciated.
Reporter: In contrast with the statement by Prime Minister Kishida earlier, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (ROK) issued a statement saying that the ROK government strongly regrets the nomination and sternly urges Japan to stop its attempt. Please tell us how you will respond to this and your reaction.
Minister Hayashi: We have lodged a protest today to the ROK side that their claim is unacceptable to Japan.
Reporter: You have been stating so far that the Government will consider the most effective timing to realize the registration. I believe there was a proposal to postpone the submission to or after the next fiscal year. Please tell us again the reason why the decision was made to recommend and why it was decided that the timing of this year was better.
Minister Hayashi: We are aware that there are various discussions and opinions on the registration of Sado Island Gold Mines despite their profound value as a cultural heritage. We believe that discussions in a composed and careful manner are needed so that the profound value of Sado Island Gold Mines as cultural heritage is highly appreciated. Amidst this, we have been fully discussing what would be the most effective timing for the application. We concluded that it is important to exert all efforts for discussions in a composed and careful manner, and thus it is best to apply this year to that end. We have decided to submit the application to UNESCO following the Cabinet decision made on February 1.
Reporter: I believe the Operational Guidelines from July 2021 encourage dialogue among the parties concerned prior to submission of recommendations. Please tell us how you will respond to these Operational Guidelines toward realizing the registration of Sado Island Gold Mines.
Minister Hayashi: The rule that requires agreement among the countries concerned, which you mentioned, for UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program was adopted with the leadership of Japan. In response to this, the World Heritage Committee also recommends holding dialogue among the countries concerned in the Operational Guidelines. In accordance with the Guidelines, Japan will sincerely engage in a dialogue with the ROK and hold careful discussions. In addition, we will provide explanations on Japan’s position in a composed and careful manner to the World Heritage Committee member countries. In any event, we will exert all efforts for discussions in a composed and careful manner so that the profound value of Sado Island Gold Mines as cultural heritage is highly appreciated.
Reporter: You mentioned at the beginning that you lodged a protest. Please tell us whether the ROK side submitted an official protest. In addition, please tell us at what level the protest was made from the Japanese side.
Minister Hayashi: As stated in the question earlier, we are aware that the Spokesperson of the ROK already issued a statement expressing regret, and we responded in the manner I mentioned before.
Reporter: You mentioned that the ROK has already expressed regret. Do you think that the application will affect Japan-ROK relations or Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation?
Minister Hayashi: It is as I stated earlier about Japan-ROK relations. Regarding the United States, we are constantly in close cooperation on various diplomatic issues with the United States and we are communicating about this issue as well. I would like to refrain from speaking about the details of the reactions of other parties since this is a matter of diplomatic communication.