Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Sunday, April 3, 2022, 4:09 p.m. Rzeszów
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: During the second day of my visit to Poland, I visited Medyka in the border zone after firstly traveling for five hours from Warsaw. I received an explanation from a member of the border patrol that there was a very congested situation of several thousand to tens of thousands of Ukrainian evacuees staying at the border per day when there were many people. I was shown a video by the person who gave the explanation. However, the person explained that recently the number of people has decreased and actually some people who are traveling from Poland to Ukraine. In any event, it was truly moving to visit this place where people part and are reunited.
Now the situation has calmed down a little and it has become possible for the evacuees to smoothly cross the border and move to Warsaw and evacuee accommodation facilities, which I visited yesterday. This begins by firstly facilitating immigration inspections and providing vehicle insurance for evacuees’ vehicles. I was actually shown a vehicle being provided insurance onsite. I also saw a red tent of a citizens’ group that provides various forms of support for the evacuees, including preparing food, providing warmth to children, and preparing toys for children to play with, which is very considerate. We saw the situation on the front lines with our own eyes. It made me feel for the evacuees who have already come to Japan, and feel anew that Japan as a whole should provide maximum support so that the people who have had to evacuate can return to their previous lives as soon as possible.
After that, I encouraged the Ukrainian Evacuee Support Team established at the Rzeszów liaison office at the Embassy of Japan in Poland. In the same way as the support team at the Embassy of Japan in Poland that I met and encouraged yesterday, I saw with my own eyes and felt very heartened by the personnel wisely engaging in their duties amidst this extremely severe situation on the very front lines. I issued instructions that they should continue to carefully listen to the voices of the evacuees and support them. Then, just before this press conference, I held an exchange of views with people from international organizations, specifically representatives of OCHA, UNHCR, and IOM. Continuing from yesterday, we discussed the details of matters such as the needs and issues of support for evacuees. Two Japanese staff members came to this, and I felt heartened that they are active as global human resources. I expressed my expectations that each organization will effectively utilize humanitarian assistance from the Government of Japan in a manner that leverages its respective strengths. The representatives expressed gratitude for the swift support from Japan. They also provided specific explanations on how the support from the Government of Japan has been immediately utilized in fields such as supporting women and children, medical care, and water, based on the current situation in Rzeszów. They also raised security concerns when working within Ukraine. Following on from my visit to Warsaw yesterday, this was a very significant opportunity in which I was able to confirm that the Government of Japan’s support is being effectively utilized in Rzeszów as well, and confirmed several upcoming issues.
Tomorrow will be the final day of my visit. I plan to hold meetings with dignitaries from the Government of Poland, specifically President Duda, Prime Minister Morawiecki, and Foreign Minister Rau. Based on the local situation that we have ascertained with our own eyes and heard about for the past two days, we will hold exchanges of views and utilize this for the Government of Japan’s future efforts to support the Ukrainian evacuees.
That is all from me, but State Minister of Justice Tsushima has something to add.
Mr. TSUSHIMA Jun, State Minister of Justice: Based on what I have seen today, I would like to speak about my reaction mainly related to issues concerning the Ministry of Justice. Firstly, regarding what I felt and points that I believe will be important for Japan’s support effort going forward, the first point is to prepare places where everyone can feel relieved. Specifically, places are being prepared where there are hot meals, warmth, and children can play without constraint.
The next point is the necessity of providing support from a humanitarian perspective to people with disabilities and children who have lost their parents, which Foreign Minister Hayashi mentioned. We will firmly take what we have learned centered on these two points back to Japan and consider what we can do.
Reporter: You exchanged views today with personnel from the liaison office and international organizations. Could you please tell us what specific requests you received from these people?
Minister Hayashi: I mainly provided encouragement to the liaison office personnel. I have heard the requests from Ambassador Matsuda and others, so I did not hear any particular requests again today.
As I stated before, the personnel from the international organizations expressed gratitude for Japan’s swift support which is also on a globally leading scale. They indicated various issues, such as ensuring safety when entering Ukraine as well as paving a firm path toward agricultural production, as Ukraine is an agricultural exporting country and that has become quite difficult as it enters this season. As the Government of Japan, we will further consider what Japan can do about these issues in cooperation with such international organizations.
Reporter: Tomorrow will finally be the last day of your visit. There are reports that currently, coordination is underway to accept about 20 evacuees from Ukraine. What is the current state of coordination?
Minister Hayashi: As I also stated yesterday regarding this matter, I am aware that various reports are out there. By the time we return to Japan, we will complete the coordination and pursue until the last moment the possibility of bringing evacuees with us. At this point, we are continuing to make coordination.
Reporter: You will meet with dignitaries, consisting of the Foreign Minister, President, and Prime Minister, at the end of tomorrow. What will you convey on behalf of Japan?
Minister Hayashi: I have been able to confirm the local area with my own eyes together with the ambassadors of both countries and everyone from this group, and further grasped the situation including with exchanges of views. I hope to exchange views with the three dignitaries based on these opportunities and utilize this valuable opportunity to further deepen the discussion regarding various bilateral issues.
Reporter: About the evacuees, what are the conditions for the people to get on the government plane? Will all people who wish to go be able to?
Minister Hayashi: I am afraid that I am repeating myself, but as I stated before, by the time we return to Japan, we will finish the coordination and pursue the possibility of bringing evacuees with us. At this point, we are still coordinating.
Reporter: In terms of nationality, would it be possible for a Japanese woman with a Ukrainian husband to get on the plane?
Minister Hayashi: We are currently coordinating, including on such matters.
Reporter: You visited the border today. I believe that many people have crossed that border and evacuated to Poland after Russia’s invasion began. You mentioned that you frankly felt moved by your visit there. What impressions did you take away?
Minister Hayashi: Well, I had always watched the news, but a person in charge showed me their video today. I visited Medyka today keeping in mind that an incredible number of people were staying there. Although the large wave has stopped and wound down, and now there are actually Ukrainians who are returning to Ukraine, here, there is NGO personnel who are still engaged in various activities in warm tents based on good intentions. Additionally, today I had the opportunity to make eye contact with people who are waiting for procedures to be completed in their cars, although not as many people are waiting now as there were before. As the three of us walk past today, we naturally waved our hands and the other people waved back. The smiles of those people at that time were truly impressive.
Reporter: You have come to Poland as the Prime Minister’s special envoy, traveled to the border zone, and probably heard expectations for Japan’s support from many Polish and Ukrainian people. You plan to hold a joint press conference after your foreign ministers’ meeting tomorrow. Do you plan to announce any sort of support for Ukraine or Poland during the press conference?
Minister Hayashi: As I stated before in my opening remarks, the personnel from the international organizations, the border patrol personnel I visited today, and the evacuation facility personnel I visited yesterday expressed gratitude that Japan provided $100 million in humanitarian assistance at a considerably early stage as well as an additional $100 million. We truly decided and signed at a quite early time to provide the total of $200 million as well as the $100 million loan. The personnel expressed gratitude during the discussion today and yesterday. We will further consider how to even more effectively utilize this based on the knowledge gained from this visit.
Reporter: There are local news stories that there are evacuees from Ukraine who want to go to Japan, but are being refused because they cannot come if they do not have a guarantor. Do you intend to extend the support to, for example, such people or provide them economic support in the future?
Minister Hayashi: The Ministry of Justice should answer that.
State Minister of Justice Tsushima: I will answer that. Japan has decided to accept and provide the necessary support to even people who do not have relatives or acquaintances in Japan. In such cases, it is firstly necessary to consult with the Embassy of Japan. In any event, we will flexibly respond to such cases.