Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Tuesday, March 29, 2022, 10:35 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

(Video) Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

United Nations Security Council Reform

Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about United Nations reform. During a recent NHK TV program, I believe you stated that we have entered a new stage regarding the United Nations reform. The Government of Japan has been moving forward with its efforts in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but the environment of discussion has changed completely. I believe there are various points at issue in terms of how you will proceed, but please tell us what points, in particular, will be focused on.

Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I believe that the invasion of Ukraine 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.

In order to make the Security Council an organization appropriate for this era, Japan has been raising the need for Security Council reform and actively working on it for many years. When I recently visited Turkey and the UAE, I raised the issue of the Security Council with their respective foreign ministers.

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.

The Situation in Ukraine (Support for Evacuees)

Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: I would like to ask about the acceptance of evacuees from Ukraine. Please tell us about the current situation of the Government’s acceptance of evacuees. In addition, a support team for the evacuees was established, the functions of the Embassy of Japan in Poland and the Rzeszów liaison office will be strengthened, and I have heard that Justice Minister Furukawa plans to visit Poland. Specifically, how will MOFA work on the evacuees’ support team?

Minister Hayashi: As stated in Prime Minister Kishida’s announcement on March 25, we have strengthened the systems of the Embassy of Japan in Poland and the Rzeszów liaison office, newly established the “Ukrainian Evacuees Support Team,” and will study and try to understand the evacuees’ needs for support for traveling to Japan. Personnel with the necessary expertise will additionally be dispatched from MOFA and the Ministry of Justice swiftly.

We will study and try to understand the evacuees’ needs for support for traveling to Japan, and carefully respond to consultations regarding matters such as visa issuance and specific travel methods.

While we try to understand the need for support of people who evacuate to Japan, the entire Government will firmly consider what Japan can do with a sense of urgency.

In addition, I am aware that the Minister of Justice Furukawa will visit Poland as a special envoy of the Prime Minister. Poland borders Ukraine and is taking initiatives in accepting many Ukrainian evacuees. From this perspective, Minister Furukawa will meet with dignitaries of the Government of Poland, observe the local situation of acceptance of Ukrainian evacuees, and precisely understand the local needs and issues. The details are currently still being coordinated.

The Situation in Ukraine (Spelling and Name of Kiev)

Jiji Press, Tanaka: Regarding the spellings of the names of places in Ukraine, the Ministry of Defense has begun writing Kyiv (Kiev) using the Ukrainian language spelling on explanatory materials used in Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) section meetings and the like. Does MOFA intend to use the spelling “Kyiv” in this way?

Minister Hayashi: The Government of Japan already uses Katakana spellings based on the Ukrainian language spellings for the names of places in Ukraine, except for Kiev City and other such places whose commonly-used spellings have already taken hold to a considerable degree.

Additionally, consideration is underway on the appropriate spelling and name for Kiev, including coordination with the Government of Ukraine.

Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) (U.S. Forces, Japan (USFJ) Training)

Ryukyu Shimpo, Asato: Yesterday, Ambassador in charge of Okinawan Affairs Hashimoto of the Okinawa Liaison Office of MOFA stated that non-live fire exercises conducted by the U.S. forces in provided facilities and areas are effectively approved. This indicates an interpretation of the SOFA. Based on this interpretation, I believe the meaning of stipulating airspace and maritime areas for training would be lost. Firstly, please tell us your reaction to this point. Furthermore, I believe the Okinawa Liaison Office was established for coordination purposes with the USFJ in order to alleviate the burden on the local area due to the incident involving the rape of a girl in 1995. I cannot help but have doubts about whether the Liaison Office is in line with the goal of its establishment if it has such expertise that could be called an expanded interpretation of the SOFA. Please tell us your reaction to this.

Minister Hayashi: I know that Japan was not contacted in advance regarding the U.S. military training conducted in Nago Bay on March 22.

In order to achieve the goals of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, the USFJ is allowed to conduct all forms of non-live fire training using U.S. military aircraft outside their facilities and areas. However, at the same time, the USFJ must of course pay appropriate attention to public safety when utilizing aircraft.

Due to the implementation of this training in Nago Bay, the Ministry of Defense requested that the U.S. side minimize the effects on the community when conducting training.

Defense Minister Kishi and I also requested that the USFJ conduct safe operations with the utmost consideration to the impacts on the local community during the Japan-U.S. “2+2” in January 2022. We will continue to appropriately respond in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense to request the United States to have the utmost consideration for safety and limit impacts on the local community to a minimum.

Possibility of President Biden Visiting an Atomic Bombing Site

Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: On Saturday, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Emanuel visited the Peace Memorial Park with Prime Minister Kishida. After the visit, I believe he told the press corps that he thinks President Biden might say that he wants to visit either Hiroshima or Nagasaki during his next visit to Japan. MOFA has long taken the stance that visits to atomic bombing sites by dignitaries are important. Please tell us whether the Government of Japan will request his visit, as well as your reaction to this statement.

Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the statement by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Emanuel.

I believe that the international community having an accurate recognition of the reality of atomic bombing is very important as the start of all initiatives toward nuclear disarmament. From this perspective, visits by dignitaries to atomic bombing sites are extremely significant.

I know that nothing has been decided yet regarding the visit to Japan by President Biden, including the specific schedule and destinations.

Missile Launch by North Korea

Nikkei Shimbun, Miki: I would like to ask about the missile launch by North Korea. During an NHK television program, you stated your view that North Korea conducted its missile launch on March 24 during the period of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Please tell us again the Government of Japan’s view on North Korea’s intentions in firing the missile amidst such a situation.

Minister Hayashi: I believe that what is important is that a unilateral change of the status quo by force, such as the invasion of Ukraine, must not be permitted in the Indo-Pacific and especially East Asia.

I would like to refrain from giving a conclusive reply on behalf of Japan concerning North Korea’s intentions. Following on from the ICBM launches recently, the fact that North Korea launched what appeared to be a new type of ICBM on March 24 and that the missile landed in Japan’s EEZ poses a serious and urgent threat to Japan’s security. It is also a blatant and grave challenge to the international community and is a violence that cannot possibly be ignored that seemed to have been aimed at the period in which the international community is responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Government of Japan will continue to move forward with a complete implementation of the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and aim for the complete denuclearization of North Korea while we conduct close Japan-U.S. cooperation and Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) cooperation as well as cooperation with the international community.

Participation by Russia in the G20

Pan Orient News, Azhari:(以下は英語にて発言) What is Japan’s position on Russia’s membership in the G20 Group? American President Biden according to the report is asking for removing Russia from this Group. So do you agree or disagree?

Minister Hayashi: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force, an act that undermines the very foundation of the international order, and a blatant violation of international law. Japan will unite with the international community in taking resolute actions to defend the foundation of the international order fully.

On Russia’s participation in the G20, the Government of Japan will appropriately respond based on the future situation while discussing the matter with the G20 members, including Indonesia which holds the presidency.

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