Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Saturday, April 2, 2022, 5:57 p.m. Warsaw

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: On Day 1 of my visit to Poland today, in the morning, I offered flowers to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and visited the Warsaw Rising Museum, and then held a meeting for approximately one hour with Foreign Minister Kuleba of Ukraine, who was also visiting Warsaw at the same time by coincidence. Minister Kuleba expressed appreciation for the many prompt measures taken by Japan, in particular, robust sanctions against Russia and generous assistance to Ukraine. In addition, Minister Kuleba explained the current situation in Ukraine in considerable detail. It was a very timely and beneficial meeting. The overview of the meeting is as already announced in the press release.

Following the meeting, I visited a shelter in Warsaw to observe the situation that the evacuees are in with my very own eyes. Approximately 2,500 people have evacuated to a large exhibition facility, many of whom are women and children. The facility is providing a variety of assistance based on inquiries, such as food, medical care, transportation to other countries and regions, employment support, and education. Psychological counseling was being offered in dimly lit rooms. Such meticulous measures left a strong impression. During this visit, I had an opportunity to exchange words with a girl who is about kindergarten age. I gave her origami as a small gift from Japan. There is a master of origami in the Japanese delegation who folded a crane in no time. The girl was very happy, and this has left a lasting impression on me. We intend to provide utmost support to ensure that these people can return to their original lives as early as possible instead of living here. This was a very beneficial opportunity for us in considering the domestic measures for supporting the evacuees who come to Japan.

I then exchanged opinions with members of international organizations, specifically, today with IOM, UNHCR, WHP, and WHO, as well as representatives of two Polish NGOs called Polish Humanitarian Action and Caritas Polska, and heard about the needs and challenges of assisting the evacuees. I conveyed my hope that the organizations make effective use of the humanitarian assistance from the Government of Japan in a way that leverages their respective strengths. The representatives expressed their appreciation for the generosity, speed, and flexibility of the assistance from the Government of Japan, and provided concrete explanations of how the assistance from the Government of Japan is being utilized immediately in the areas of support for women, children, and families as well as medical care. It was very meaningful to confirm that the Government’s assistance is being effectively utilized and to hear about the challenges going forward.

Lastly, just now, I offered words of encouragement to the Ukrainian Evacuees Support Team, which was established at the Embassy of Japan in Poland. I encouraged the team members who are working on the front lines and instructed them to continue to listen carefully to the voices of the evacuees and engage in evacuee support.

Tomorrow, I will visit Ukraine’s border region. I will visit the Rzeszow liaison office to offer words of encouragement to the Ukrainian Evacuees Support Team there. I also plan to exchange opinions with representatives of international organizations active in Rzeszow. We will continue to listen to the voices of many people in the field and draw on them for the future efforts of the Government of Japan to support Ukrainian evacuees.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: You mentioned earlier about visiting the evacuees. I believe the purpose was to hear the needs and so forth on site. Please share with us discussions that left a lasting impression on you, aside from the exchanges you had with the girl, as well as once again your impressions from actually visiting the shelter.

Minister Hayashi: The facility we visited was relatively large and is functioning very smoothly and well compared to other facilities I heard about indirectly. Toward the end, we had an up-close look at where emergency medical care was being provided. I had a brief conversation with the doctor there. As the facility is taking care of many people, in the end I asked the person in charge whether there were enough physicians. They said that, at the moment, the staff, including various volunteers, are attending to people in rotation, and there is no serious shortage immediately. Afterward, I visited a registration site to which various staff have been dispatched. At the registration center, as was the case at the evacuee center I visited first, personnel from the equivalent of prefectures in Japan as well as cities are performing work that is different from their usual work. I imagine this must also be placing a burden on their usual duties. We will take such aspects into consideration in continuing to think about the assistance Japan could provide.

Reporter: I have a question regarding the acceptance of Ukrainian evacuees who wish to go to Japan. What is the current status of arrangements on having them board the government plane to Japan?

Minister Hayashi: I am aware that there are various news reports. The arrangements are now underway. We hope to pursue such a possibility if the arrangements can be completed by the time we plan to return to Japan.

Reporter: I have a question for State Minister Tsushima who has jurisdiction over immigration. What is the status of the Ukrainian people who wish to enter Japan?

Mr. TSUSHIMA Jun, State Minister of Justice: We believe that the people who wish to enter Japan have various family situations, and it is important to know about their specific situations in order to provide them with appropriate support. Minister Furukawa’s order was to listen to the voices of the local people and to draw on them for our measures. So we will continue to listen to their opinions tomorrow onwards and draw on them for our support measures going forward.

Reporter: Today, I believe you visited a facility where evacuees are waiting and exchanged views with members of international organizations. Based on your impression, what is the number one issue right now, or what are the concrete needs?

Minister Hayashi: We heard various things in great detail at the respective places and we need to sort through them, along with what we will hear tomorrow. As for what left an impression today, people who have previously provided various assistance also in other countries and regions, many particularly with international organizations, say that the number of people is much larger than in other cases. And the aggression is continuing. Based on my experience, I raised the example of the Great East Japan Earthquake 11 years ago during the discussion. Once the tsunami recedes, reconstruction begins the next day. However, unlike a tsunami, we do not know how much longer this situation will continue and on what scale. Already, there are many evacuees. I realized that there are these very difficult aspects that are different compared to previous cases. We will take such matters and tomorrow’s visits into account in carrying out a thorough review and further considering the Government’s measures.

Reporter: I have a question for State Minister Tsushima. I believe that the Immigration Services Agency of Japan will be mainly in charge of supporting the evacuees who actually enter Japan. While my question may have some overlaps with Minister Hayashi’s opening statement, could you please tell us which aspects of your visit today you will refer to for the acceptance of the evacuees?

State Minister Tsushima: Regarding the acceptance of evacuees, what I thought visiting here is that, there are many women and children, and so there are issues regarding what to do with their education and medical care. Concerning medical care, there are issues such as what to do with various vaccines the children need, not only novel coronavirus vaccines. Seeing the situation firsthand, my impression is that a major challenge will be to liaise closely with the relevant ministries and agencies regarding these matters and swiftly provide the necessary support.

Reporter: My question is for Minister Hayashi. While you said earlier that arrangements are now being made, I would like to ask roughly how many evacuees wish to go to Japan. Are you hoping that as many evacuees as possible can come to Japan? Or is it based more on their needs and their detailed background? Could you please explain what your target is?

Minister Hayashi: As I stated earlier, I am aware that there are various reports. The arrangements are underway at this moment, and as I stated earlier, we hope to pursue this possibility.

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