Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, March 25, 2022, 12:04 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Additional Humanitarian Assistance to Ukraine and its Neighboring Countries
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Firstly, at the G7 Summit Meeting held in the evening on March 24 Japan time, Prime Minister Kishida shared serious concerns with G7 leaders about the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and expressed Japan’s intention to provide an additional $100 million of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and its neighboring countries.
Japan plans to provide this newly announced additional emergency humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and its neighboring countries through appropriate international organizations, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Japanese NGOs, in the same manner as the already confirmed assistance of $100 million. We will continue to provide highly needed health and medical services as well as food distribution for evacuees. In addition, Japan is urgently coordinating the specific contents of our assistance activities to Moldova, which is suffering a serious impact on its economy caused by accepting a large number of evacuees, and in order to respond to food security about which the international community is concerned.
Prime Minister Kishida also expressed Japan’s intention to swiftly provide a loan of $100 million in cooperation with the World Bank to support the Ukrainian economy. This decision was made based on the intention conveyed by Prime Minister Kishida to President Zelenskyy during the Japan-Ukraine Summit Telephone Talk on February 15 that Japan is prepared to provide emergency loans on a scale of $100 million or more. Then, in consultation with the World Bank, the Government of Japan decided to provide it as co-financing for the World Bank’s Development Policy Loan for Ukraine.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Kishida explained that Japan is considering cooperating in providing goods and making personnel contributions in the medical and health fields to support the evacuees staying in the neighboring countries of Ukraine.
The Government of Japan and the hearts of the people of Japan are with Ukraine. Japan will continue to provide support and stand by the people of Ukraine, in collaboration with the international community, including the G7 members.
(2) Appointment of the President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the President of Japan Foundation
Minister Hayashi: Next, the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Mr. TANAKA Akihiko as the next President of JICA and the reappointment of Mr. UMEMOTO Kazuyoshi as President of Japan Foundation, as of April 1.
Mr. Tanaka of JICA is a person with the ability to build relationships with foreign leaders, in addition to having rich experiences and deep knowledge in development cooperation. We expect that Mr. Tanaka will dynamically vitalize JICA with his outstanding sense of balancing among practices, fields and academism.
Mr. Umemoto of the Japan Foundation has an excellent understanding of the issues that he, as the incumbent President, needs to work on. He also has the knowledge and the ability to coordinate, both of which are indispensable for managing an organization with overseas offices. We expect Mr. Umemoto to continue to be a powerful driving force for the projects implemented by the Japan Foundation, making use of his insight and ability. That is all from me.
The Situation of Ukraine (Concerns over the Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons by Russia)
Nikkei Shimbun, Miki: I would like to ask a question related to Ukraine. The international community is concerned about the possibility of Russia’s use of biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine, which Prime Minister Kishida also briefly mentioned during the press conference yesterday. Could you please tell us how the Government of Japan perceives the risks associated with this matter and what countermeasures the government will take?
Minister Hayashi: The Russian Armed Forces continue to attack violently in various parts of Ukraine, including attacks on schools, hospitals and houses, causing many injuries and deaths among civilians. Attacking civilians and civilian facilities is a violation of international law and can never be justified. Japan strongly condemns these actions.
I would like to refrain from answering regarding the outlook for the war situation based on speculation. However, regarding biological and chemical weapons and nuclear weapons, the Government of Japan considers that any use of these weapons, anywhere, anytime, by anybody, under any circumstances whatsoever, is unacceptable. As the only nation that has suffered atomic bombings and knows the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons, we believe that the threat of nuclear weapons, let alone the use of them, should never occur.
In the G7 Leaders’ Statement released after the G7 Summit Meeting on March 24, we stated as the G7 that we would recall Russia’s obligations under the international treaties to which it is a signatory and that we would categorically denounce Russia’s malicious and completely unfounded disinformation campaign against Ukraine.
Ballistic Missile Launch by North Korea (Additional Sanctions against North Korea)
TV Asahi, Sawai: I would like to ask about additional sanctions against North Korea, which has been repeating missile launches. This morning, you stated that Japan “will take resolute responses” together with those who are involved in the issue “including the United Nations Security Council.” However, due to Russia and China being permanent members of the Security Council, and amidst the current situation in Ukraine, it seems quite difficult to take united action. What is your view on this situation? In addition, while the United States announced earlier its sanctions against individuals and groups related to North Korea, is Japan also prepared to implement its sanctions in coordination with the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK)? Please tell us the current status of coordination.
Minister Hayashi: On March 24, North Korea launched an apparently new type of ICBM-class ballistic missile. Following the recent launch of ICBM-class ballistic missiles, North Korea conducted further provocation, and the missile landed in Japan’s economic exclusion zone (EEZ). This is a grave and imminent threat to the security of Japan. It is also a clear and serious challenge to the international community and is an outrage that cannot be overlooked.
North Korea’s series of actions, including the recent ballistic missile launches that further increase tension over the situation, pose a threat to the peace and stability of Japan, the region and the international community and are totally unacceptable. It is nothing but an act of violation of the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and turning away from the international community. Japan strongly condemns such actions. The Government of Japan has lodged strong protests against North Korea through the embassy route in Beijing.
Regarding our responses to North Korea, the Government of Japan is constantly deliberating from the perspective of what are the most effective measures in order to comprehensively resolve important issues of concern such as abductions, nuclear weapons, and missile issues.
We will continue to have close Japan-U.S. cooperation and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation. While collaborating with the international community, we will advance the complete implementation of the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and aim for the complete denuclearization of North Korea.
Furthermore, regarding your question about Japan’s responses and sanctions going forward, the Government of Japan will consider future responses including sanctions in coordination with the United States and the ROK.
The Situation of Ukraine (Japan’s Response to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine)
Pan Orient News, Azhari: Does Japan believe that more sanctions are the only key policy to force Russia to stop the war and withdraw from Ukraine? Do you think a diplomatic approach by international support instead of sanctions is maybe the more workable solution to stop the war?
Minister Hayashi: Thank you for your question. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is an attempt of a unilateral change in the status quo by force and shakes the very foundations of the international order. This is clearly a violation of international law and totally unacceptable, and Japan strongly condemns it.
In order to make Russia stop its ongoing assault against Ukraine and withdraw its military forces as soon as possible, Japan believes it necessary to impose stringent sanctions on Russia together with the other members of the G7 and the international community as a whole. This point was reaffirmed at yesterday’s G7 Summit Meeting.
Based on these understandings, at the G7 Summit Meeting, Japan expressed its intention to impose further sanctions, namely, by first preparing to submit the necessary law amendment to the current Diet to revoke Russia’s Most-Favored-Nation status, adding 81 military-related groups and organizations to the list of export bans, adding Russian oligarchs and other items as targets for sanctions, introducing further export controls from the beginning of next week to include luxury goods, and advancing preparations to submit the necessary law amendments to the current Diet to deal with the evasion of sanctions using digital assets.
In response to this, today, we gained necessary Cabinet approvals for the measure to freeze assets of people related to the Russian Federation, the measure to prohibit exporting to specific organizations of the Russian Federation, and the measure to prohibit the export of luxury goods.
Japan will continue to work in cooperation with the international community including the G7 and appropriately respond to the situation.