Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, March 4, 2022, 4:36 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Minister Hayashi’s Attendance at the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: This evening (March 4), I will attend the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. The meeting will be convened by taking advantage of the fact that the foreign ministers of other G7 countries are physically present in Brussels. I will join them online.
The G7 foreign ministers have already been flexibly contacting each other and closely cooperating in response to the situation in Ukraine. Today’s meeting is part of such efforts.
At this meeting, we will share our understanding of the latest situation in Ukraine, exchange views on our future response, and further strengthen coordination as the G7. That is all from me.
The Situation in Ukraine (Russian Armed Forces’ Attack on a Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant)
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: Regarding the situation in Ukraine, it has been reported that the Russian Armed Forces have attacked a nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that an explosion at the nuclear plant could cause a disaster ten times worse than Chernobyl. Could you please tell us your understanding of the current situation? In addition, please also tell us if this matter will be discussed at the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting tonight that you mentioned earlier.
Minister Hayashi: First of all, according to the announcement by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Ukrainian regulatory authority said “a fire at the site had not affected ‘essential’ equipment” and “There was no reported change in radiation levels at the plant.” This is my understanding of the situation.
Japan strongly condemns Russia’s invasion, including the attack on nuclear power-related facilities, and we will urge Russia to immediately halt all such actions to ensure the safe operation of the nuclear facilities by Ukraine.
Japan will continue to respond appropriately while coordinating with the IAEA and closely monitoring the relevant situation.
I would like to refrain from speaking about the content of today’s G7 meeting based on speculation, but I believe that we will discuss the situation in Ukraine from various aspects.
Resolution on “Aggression against Ukraine” adopted by the United Nations General Assembly
Sankei Shimbun, Sugimoto: Earlier today, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted the resolution on Russia’s “Aggression against Ukraine,” which was supported by 141 member states. Recently, as an Asian country, Japan has imposed sanctions in coordination with G7 countries and must have contacted other countries in an effort to encourage them to support the resolution. Could you tell us your understanding of Japan’s contribution to this result where an overwhelming majority of 141 countries voted in favor of the resolution?
Minister Hayashi: Japan is included in the co-sponsor countries for the resolution adopted at the UN General Assembly’s Eleventh Emergency Special Session, and we voted in favor of the resolution. In addition, Japan has requested a number of member states to encourage as many countries as possible to support the resolution and become co-sponsor countries.
Furthermore, as a member of the G7, Japan has imposed sanction measures against Russia in cooperation with the international community, including the G7.
The voting attitude of each country depends on various circumstances and should be decided independently by each country. On this basis, Japan welcomes that ultimately the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted this resolution, with 141 countries voting for the resolution. I believe that this indicates the reaffirmation of the strong intention widely shared in the international community.
Sanctions Against Russia (Measure to Prohibit Flight by Russian Aircraft Within Japanese Airspace)
Kyodo News, Maeda: I would like to ask about the measure to prohibit Russian aircraft from flying within Japanese airspace. Various western countries have now closed off their territorial airspace to Russian aircraft as a sanction against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Domestically in Japan, some members of the Liberal Democratic Party have mentioned that Japan should also implement such measures. Please tell us the current status of consideration of the Government of Japan.
Minister Hayashi: Concerning the additional measures including the measure to prohibit Russian aircraft from flying within Japanese airspace, we will continue to work appropriately in cooperation with the G7 and the international community, based on the situation going forward.
Meeting with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine
TV Asahi, Sawai: I would like to ask about the meeting with Ambassador Korsunsky of Ukraine. The first of my two questions are about the coordination of the meeting schedule with the ambassador. This point was also raised in the Diet session but Ambassador Korsunsky posted on Twitter yesterday saying that the reason behind the delayed meeting was “It was Ms. Suzuki who was not keen to meet me,” specifically mentioning State Minister for Foreign Affairs SUZUKI Takako. Although the post was deleted afterward, could you please tell us what actually happened? Mr. IZUMI Kenta, head of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, earlier pointed out that State Minister Suzuki has various connections with Russia. While State Minister Suzuki is seen to be close to Russia, please tell us your view on whether it is causing any trouble in the course of MOFA’s work.
Minister Hayashi: It is not true that State Minister Suzuki refused the meeting with Ambassador Korsunsky. I would like to refrain from commenting on each comment by the members of the ruling and opposition parties.
Recruitment for a Volunteer Army by the Embassy of Ukraine in Tokyo
TV Asahi, Sawai: I would like to ask another question. At the meeting with Ambassador Korsunsky on March 2, did you directly request the ambassador to stop the Embassy of Ukraine in Japan from calling for members of a so-called international legion “volunteer army?” As of now, the embassy’s post on Twitter has been deleted. Is it your recognition that Japanese nationals are no longer heading to Ukraine?
Minister Hayashi: When I had the meeting with Ambassador Korsunsky on March 2, about the message from the Embassy of Ukraine in Tokyo recruiting the so-called “volunteer army,” I mentioned once again that MOFA had issued a recommendation for evacuation from all of Ukraine.
The Discussion on Nuclear Sharing
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: I would like to ask about the nuclear sharing policy. Former Prime Ministers Abe and Suga are voicing the view that “discussions are necessary” on nuclear sharing. Please tell us your position on this matter. I would also like to ask about the question during the Diet session by Mr. Morimoto, a member of the House of Representatives and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. He expressed his concerns that nuclear sharing if it is approved, would be against the spirit of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). In answering the question, you stated something like “it does not necessarily go against it,” while adding that it is a general view. Could you please clarify once again what you meant by that?
Minister Hayashi: Firstly, there is no change to the Government of Japan’s intention to uphold the three non-nuclear principles as our policy. When I stated this in the Diet session, Mr. Morimoto further asked about the relevance between the NPT and nuclear sharing. That is why I explained my general view, or rather MOFA’s general view on the matter.
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: Regarding the general view you have just mentioned, my understanding is that you meant that nuclear sharing would not be immediately contrary to the NPT as long as the so-called authority to launch nuclear weapons is not given. Is my understanding correct?
Minister Hayashi: It is as I have already stated in the Diet. Apart from the general view, I stated that there would be no change to the Government of Japan’s intention to uphold the three non-nuclear principles as our policy.
Meeting with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine
Asahi Shimbun, Aibara: I would like to ask about the meeting with Ambassador Korsunsky. According to today’s meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Suzuki stated that MOFA had received a verbal request but not a written request. The note verbal was received on February 24, but when was the verbal request made and to whom was it addressed in the first place?
Minister Hayashi: I believe that there are various cases involving oral requests. Although they only rarely occur these days, there are many meetings and parties hosted by embassies of various countries on various occasions. I believe that there are verbal communications taking place at various levels among officials, starting with, for example, expressing a wish to arrange a meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs on such occasions.
In that sense, as I have also explained in the Diet session, the said note verbal was received on February 24. Following the coordination to fix a date and time convenient for both sides, it was decided that I was going to meet the ambassador on the evening of March 2.
Asahi Shimbun, Aibara: In other words, do you mean the verbal request was made while the MOFA official was having a chat, and the MOFA official did not take it seriously in the first place?
Minister Hayashi: My point was, a coordination could start from that point on and could take place at various levels.