Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Tuesday, March 15, 2022, 3:01 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Situation in Ukraine (Sanctions Against Russia)
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine infringes upon Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and constitutes a serious violation of international law prohibiting the use of force. It undermines the foundation of the international order which does not accept unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force. It is completely unacceptable and Japan condemns it in the strongest possible terms.
Based on the current situation surrounding Ukraine, Japan has decided to take additional measures including freezing the assets of people related to the Russian Federation, including people related to the State Duma and oligarchs. The necessary approval was made today in the Cabinet meeting.
Japan will continue to work in cooperation with the international community, including the G7, toward improving the situation. That is all from me.
The Situation in Ukraine (Possibility of China Providing Support to Russia)
Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: I would like to ask about the situation in Ukraine. There are reports that China indicated its intention to provide military and economic support to Russia in response to Russia’s request.
What is your response to this? There are also reports that the United States conveyed this information to NATO member countries and its Asian allies. Did the United States also convey this to Japan?
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the reports that China indicated a positive stance on providing military and economic support to Russia, as you pointed out.
I would like to refrain from commenting on reports one by one. In any event, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine infringes upon Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and constitutes a serious violation of international law prohibiting the use of force. It is an act that undermines the foundation of the international order which prohibits unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force. It is a blatant violation of international law and Japan condemns it in the strongest possible terms.
Regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now is the time for the international community to show solidarity and resolutely respond in order to fully defend the foundation of the international order. We will cooperate with like-minded countries, including the United States, and request China to take responsible actions.
Sankei Shimbun, Chiba: I would like to ask a question related to the one just now. Would you consider imposing some sort of sanctions on China or any other country if it became clear that it was providing military and economic support to Russia?
Minister Hayashi: It is as I answered earlier regarding the reports about China. We have already implemented sanctions against Russia as well as Belarus, which has been blatantly acting in cooperation with Russia’s invasion.
Anything beyond that would be a speculative question, so I would like to refrain from answering.
Foreign Visits by Foreign Minister Hayashi (Turkey)
Anadolu Agency, Furkan: The Government of Japan declared that it will work toward quickly resolving the crisis between Russia and Ukraine. Your counterpart in Turkey successfully brought together the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine during a war. Ultimately, both countries were able to sit at the table. During the meeting, they discussed many issues such as the difficulty of diplomatic effort.
It was announced that you plan to visit Turkey on the weekend. What are the expectations of the Government of Japan for this visit to Turkey at this time? Specifically, what kind of diplomacy do you plan to engage with your counterpart in Turkey?
Minister Hayashi: Consideration is underway regarding my foreign visits.
Additionally, Turkey, which you asked about in your question, is situated in a geopolitically important location, has influence over regional affairs, and has traditionally friendly relations with Japan. I believe it is a very important country and is a strategic partner of Japan.
As you just stated, concerning the situation in Ukraine, Russia and Ukraine held a foreign ministers’ meeting through the mediation of Turkey on March 10. We appreciate that Turkey took on that role.
Foreign Visits by Foreign Minister Hayashi (United Arab Emirates (UAE))
Pan Orient News, Azhari: My question is related to my colleague’s question. What is the significance and goals of your visit in UAE probably next week? This time, is it possible to expand your trip into other countries such as Saudi Arabia because Japan seems to be trying to expand oil imports.
Minister Hayashi: As I stated before, consideration is underway about my foreign visits.
Additionally, the UAE, which you asked about, provides about 30% of crude oil that Japan imports. I believe it is a very important country and is a strategic partner of Japan.
In addition, concerning the situation in Ukraine, I appreciate that UAE is playing a role by serving as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: I would like to ask about the NPT Review Conference, which will be held in August according to the official announcement. Based on the situation in Ukraine, as Russia continues to pose a nuclear threat, I believe that the question is how will Japan, a country that has experienced atomic bombing, promote nuclear disarmament. Please tell us your opinion about the role that the Government of Japan should play in the Conference and the lead up to the Conference.
Minister Hayashi: It was decided by consensus to hold the NPT Review Conference from August 1st to 26th, 2022 in New York at the United Nations Headquarters. The NPT is the cornerstone of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Regarding the situation in Ukraine, which you just mentioned, I believe that precisely in such a situation, maintaining and strengthening the NPT system is required more than ever before.
As the only country that has experienced wartime atomic bombing, Japan will continue to exert all efforts for significant results to be achieved during the Review Conference.
The Situation in Ukraine (Acceptance of Evacuees)
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about the acceptance of evacuees from Ukraine who wish to evacuate to Japan. I believe that the work will be advanced across various ministries and agencies. What aspects will MOFA work on? Please tell us your thoughts on the significance of accepting the evacuees.
Minister Hayashi: Japan stands with the people of Ukraine who are doing their utmost in taking actions to defend their sovereignty and territory as well as their homeland and their families. From this perspective, we have decided to provide $100 million in emergency humanitarian assistance to help the people of Ukraine who are facing hardship. In order to show further solidarity with Ukraine, we are also moving forward with accepting those who have evacuated to third-party countries from Ukraine into Japan.
In accepting evacuees from Ukraine, with the Cabinet Secretariat in charge and cooperation by relevant ministries and agencies such as the Ministry of Justice and MOFA, the entire Government is urgently considering our response on points such as the number of evacuees we will accept and the ways we can provide support to the evacuees.
The Government of Japan will continue to provide support and stand by the people of Ukraine who are facing hardship, in collaboration with the international community, including the G7 members.
The Situation in Ukraine (Denial of Russia’s Most-Favored-Nation Status)
Kyodo News, Maeda: I would like to ask about the revocation of Russia’s Most-Favored-Nation status. This was included in the recent G7 Leaders’ Statement. There are people within the Party calling for the revocation of Russia’s Most-Favored-Nation status to be hurried. Please tell us the current state of consideration on this issue and your opinion on aspects such as whether a legal change will be necessary.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware that the Most-Favored-Nation status under the WTO agreement targets various matters including not only tariffs but also export and import regulations and procedures. In close cooperation with the international community, including the G7, Japan has quickly coordinated tough measures, including export controls.
Regarding further specific measures, Japan will continue to appropriately work in cooperation with the international community, including the G7, based on the situation going forward.
NPT Review Conference
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: On the NPT, firstly, at this point, do you intend to attend the NPT Review Conference and fulfill your responsibilities to contribute to nuclear disarmament? I believe that Russia is currently blatantly posin0g a nuclear threat by taking actions that undermine the NPT, which obliges nuclear-weapon states to take steps for disarmament. Do you intend to lodge a protest against Russia? Please answer these two points.
Minister Hayashi: Firstly, we will properly consider who should attend the NPT Review Conference in August from the Government of Japan.
In addition, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an attempt to change the status quo by force, and is an act that undermines the foundation of the international order. It constitutes a blatant violation of international law. As such, it is absolutely unacceptable, and we strongly condemn it.
In particular, amidst this situation, I believe that Russia’s decision to raise the alert level of its nuclear deterrent forces is a dangerous act that could lead to further destabilization of the situation. As the only country that has experienced wartime atomic bombing, Japan will strongly urge that there must be no threat of nuclear weapons, much less their use.
In any event, the NPT Review Conference is a valuable opportunity to make progress toward a “world without nuclear weapons.” We will continue to exert all efforts so that the Conference achieves meaningful results.
United Nations Security Council Reform
Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: I would like to ask about United Nations Security Council reform. During the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) convention on March 13, Prime Minister Kishida claimed to rebuild the international order. Japan is aiming to realize Security Council reform under the Kishida administration. It has been pointed out that there is dysfunction while Russia has the right to veto as a permanent member of the Security Council. What problems do you believe that the Security Council currently entails? Furthermore, what points specifically do you believe should be reformed in terms of Security Council reform?
Minister Hayashi: I believe that the assault by Russia, which is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council with major responsibilities for maintaining the peace and security of the international community, indicates the need for a new international order framework.
As for Security Council reform, Japan has been raising the need for reform and actively working on it for many years.
The reform is not simple given that the complex interests of various countries intertwine in the Security Council. Under the Kishida administration, we will continue to exert all efforts to realize Security Council reform, including Japan’s entry as a permanent member, in cooperation with many countries.