Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, February 25, 2022, 7:49 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Situation in Ukraine and Sanction Measures against Russia
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: The military actions taken by Russia in Ukraine on February 24 clearly infringe upon Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and constitute a serious violation of international law prohibiting the use of force. Any unilateral change of the status quo by force is utterly unacceptable. This is an extremely serious situation that shakes the foundation of international order not only in Europe but also in Asia. Japan condemns the actions in the strongest terms.
In response to this situation, on February 25, Prime Minister Kishida announced that Japan would impose a further package of sanctions against Russia in coordination with G7 countries and the international community. Specifically, the Government of Japan would swiftly implement the sanction measures against Russia in three areas, which are asset freezing and a suspension of the issuance of entry visas to Japan, sanctions in the financial sector, and tighter export controls on semiconductors and other dual-use goods.
The relevant ministries will urgently proceed with the domestic procedures that are necessary to take these measures. Japan will continue to make efforts to improve the situation in cooperation with the international community, including the G7, standing with Ukraine and its people. That is all from me.
The Situation in Ukraine (Cooperation among the G7 Countries)
Yomiuri Shimbun, Yoda: I would like to ask a question related to the G7, which you have just mentioned.
Minister Hayashi recently had a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and Prime Minister Kishida attended the G7 Leaders’ Video Conference yesterday. With Japan being the only Asian country in the G7, what is your view on the significance of closely coordinating with other G7 members in responding to the situation in Ukraine?
Minister Hayashi: At the G7 Leaders’ Video Conference on February 24, Prime Minister Kishida stated that Japan would not accept Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which infringes upon Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and constitutes a serious violation of international law prohibiting the use of force. Prime Minister Kishida strongly condemned Russia, as the Russian military action shakes the foundation of the international order that considers any unilateral change of the status quo by force completely unacceptable.
Similarly, at the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meetings on February 19 and 22, I stated that the current situation in Ukraine is an issue related to the fundamental principle of the international community that considers any unilateral change of the status quo by force totally unacceptable. I also pointed out that this situation would also affect Asia, and conveyed Japan’s intention to respond to the situation in close cooperation with the G7 member countries.
G7 leaders have also shared the view that “this crisis is a serious threat to the rules-based international order, with ramifications well beyond Europe.” Japan will continue to make efforts to improve the situation in close cooperation with the international community, including the G7.
Japan-Russia Relations (Sanction against Russia)
NHK, Aoki: I would like to ask about Japan-Russia relations. While the Government of Japan imposes sanctions against Russia that you mentioned in the opening remarks, how do you intend to conduct negotiations regarding the Northern Territories and what kind of approaches will you take for the Japan-Russia joint economic activities?
Minister Hayashi: Japan’s position on the Northern Territories issue remains unchanged. However, as Prime Minister Kishida has stated in the press conference and the Diet session, I would like to refrain from speculating the influence on negotiations regarding the Northern Territories and the joint economic activities.
The Situation in Ukraine (Implications on the Deterrence and the Military Presence of the U.S. Forces)
Sankei Shimbun, Sugimoto: I would like to ask two questions. Regarding the situation in Ukraine, the U.S. deterrence failed and Russia invaded Ukraine. Do you have any concern as to whether the credibility of the U.S. deterrence could be affected in the Indo-Pacific region? Moreover, given the current situation in Ukraine, it is assumed that the U.S.’s military presence may be strengthened in Europe for a while. If that is the case, as a result, do you have concerns that the U.S. military presence in the Indo-Pacific region may be weakened? Please tell us your view on these two points.
Minister Hayashi: Russia’s military actions launched in Ukraine on February 24 clearly infringe upon Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and constitute a serious violation of international law prohibiting the use of force and the Charter of the United Nations. Any unilateral change of the status quo by force is utterly unacceptable. This is an extremely serious situation that shakes the foundation of the order in the international community including not only Europe but also Asia. Japan condemns the actions in the strongest terms.
In light of the severe security environment in East Asia, Japan and the United States are strongly committed to enhancing the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. We believe that the credibility of U.S. deterrence will not be affected.
I would like to refrain from commenting at this point on the influence that the ongoing Russian military actions have on the U.S. military posture. However, I can say that the United States clearly indicates its posture to continuously strengthen the U.S. military’s response and deterrence capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region, while further strengthening the U.S. military’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region and closely cooperating with allies through the recent Indo-Pacific Strategy and the so-called Global Posture Review (GPR).
In any event, it is important that we not allow any unilateral change of the status quo by force, as in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, to take place in the Indo-Pacific, particularly in East Asia. To that end, the Government of Japan believes that more engagement by the United States is necessary for the region and works further to strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities.
The Situation in Ukraine (Protection of Japanese Nationals in Ukraine)
Mainichi Shimbun, Kaite: Amidst the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia, please tell us the current situation of about 120 Japanese nationals in Ukraine and about their support for a land-based evacuation to Poland provided by Japan.
Minister Hayashi: In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, on February 24, we issued spot information that calls Japanese nationals staying in Ukraine to make efforts to obtain the latest information and take action with their own safety as the top priority. Ambassador of Japan to Ukraine Kuninori Matsuda and the staff at the Embassy of Japan in Ukraine are working to protect Japanese nationals by taking all possible measures.
For the protection of Japanese nationals, such as providing support for evacuation including using land-based routes, we have established a liaison office in Lviv in western Ukraine and completed coordination with Poland and other countries for the smooth acceptance of Japanese nationals at their borders. In addition, we have also already arranged chartered planes to transport Japanese nationals from Poland to other countries.
In the increasingly severe situation, the Government of Japan will make its utmost efforts to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals.
As of February 23, about 120 Japanese nationals were confirmed as residing in Ukraine. We have been contacting them as needed, and as of now, we have not received any information from Ukraine about the death or injury of Japanese nationals.