Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Monday, April 4, 2022, 1:57 p.m. Warsaw
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: This is the last day of the visit to Poland. Today, I firstly held meetings with dignitaries from the Government of Poland this morning.
I first met with Foreign Minister Rau for about an hour. The results were as I already stated in the joint press conference after the meeting. Regarding the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which was the most important issue, we shared the view that the international community will continue to agree and unite to resolutely respond. We also exchanged views regarding future support for Ukraine, including accepting evacuees. Foreign Minister Rau expressed deep gratitude for Japan’s emphasis on “solidarity.”
After the meeting, I paid sequential courtesy calls to Prime Minister Morawiecki and President Duda. The results are stated in the press releases that have already been issued. I stated that under the instructions of Prime Minister Kishida, I was visiting Poland, which is a neighboring country of Ukraine and is accepting the largest number of evacuees, as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to directly confirm the actual area where evacuees are being accepted and understand the needs and issues for Japan’s support. I also gave official letters from Prime Minister Kishida to Prime Minister Morawiecki and President Duda respectively.
In response, Prime Minister Morawiecki and President Duda stated that they sincerely welcomed my visit as Special Envoy. They also expressed deep gratitude for Japan’s humanitarian assistance and Japan’s emphasis on “solidarity” with Ukraine and its neighboring countries, including Poland. We also discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We shared the recognition that it is important for like-minded democratic countries to agree and unite to resolutely continue sanctions against Russia. Furthermore, we exchanged views on Japan-Poland bilateral relations. We shared the view that we will further deepen the friendship between our countries that has surpassed 100 years and closely cooperate as strategic partners that share fundamental values. Now that my visit is coming to an end, I would like to speak about the significance and results of my visit.
Under Prime Minister Kishida’s instructions, I have visited Poland as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to understand the situation of Ukrainian evacuees as well as the needs and issues for their acceptance and reflect this to the Government of Japan’s future support measures. Special Advisor to Prime Minister Nakatani and State Minister of Justice Tsushima have accompanied me.
Although it was a short stay of three days, I had a full schedule including a visit to the facilities for evacuees in Warsaw City, a visit to the border zone with Ukraine on the front lines, discussions with personnel from international organizations and NGOs working to support evacuees, providing encouragement to the evacuee support team newly established at the embassy, and meeting with dignitaries from the governments of Ukraine and Poland.
During this schedule, I first saw with my own eyes the severe situation that the evacuees have been placed in as they have had to leave their home country following Russia’s invasion. It made me think anew that the Government of Japan must provide maximum support in cooperation with the international community to enable the evacuees to return to their former lives as soon as possible.
Secondly, I confirmed that the humanitarian assistance that the Government of Japan has successively provided until now, including support for women, children, households, and families as well as in healthcare and other fields based on local needs, is being immediately and effectively utilized. I was also able to hear various views about future issues.
Thirdly, I ascertained with my own eyes that the Government of Poland is providing support measures for the evacuees, including very detailed livelihood support particularly for women and children, in cooperation with municipalities, companies, citizens’ groups, and others. I believe this was a very beneficial opportunity for considering our domestic support measures for the evacuees who have come to Japan.
I also learned that many evacuees are staying in neighboring countries, including Poland, even though they wish to return to Ukraine early if the circumstances would permit it. On the other hand, I also learned that there are multiple people who earnestly wish to travel to evacuation facilities in Japan but currently are having difficulty securing the means of travel through their efforts.
Therefore, to extend a helping hand to such people from a humanitarian perspective, on our return back to Japan, we have decided to have a reserve government airplane be boarded by 20 evacuees who earnestly wish to evacuate to Japan but have had trouble securing the means of travel through their efforts.
In order to provide peace of mind as much as possible to the evacuees who may feel worried about traveling to Japan, this morning I met with the evacuees scheduled to board the airplane and gave them words of encouragement. We will provide maximum support to enable the Ukrainian evacuees, including these 20 evacuees, to be able to live with peace of mind in Japan, which is far away from their border. State Minister of Justice Tsushima will speak about the details later. In addition to the Government of Japan, many local municipalities, companies, and others have offered support. The Government of Japan will advance initiatives together with the people of Japan.
I plan to quickly report the results of my visit directly to Prime Minister Kishida after returning to Japan. I will also share the results of my visit with relevant ministries and agencies. The Government of Japan will consider what we should do to support the Ukrainian evacuees. That is all from me.
Mr. TSUSHIMA Jun, State Minister of Justice: Now I would like to speak about the support measures for the Ukrainian evacuees that we will bring with us after they arrive in Japan. Firstly, it would be difficult to say what we will provide as a rule because each person and each family has different needs, including livelihood support, housing support, and education support including for the Japanese language. What is important is to carefully try to understand each person’s needs and provide considerate support that makes them feel relieved. In implementing support, we will of course work fully in cooperation with relevant ministries and agencies, as well as municipalities, companies, and NGOs.
Reporter: These are questions for Foreign Minister Hayashi. You just announced that Japan will accept 20 evacuees and stated that you met with them. What kind of conversation did you actually have with them? Please also tell us if any of the evacuees do not have any friend, relative, or other related people in Japan.
Minister Hayashi: I met with the 20 evacuees this morning. Special Advisor Nakatani, State Minister of Justice Tsushima, and I greeted them and stated that Japan will provide maximum support to solve these problems. Although they are traveling far away and probably have worries, we will work in line with each person’s needs as State Minister of Justice Tsushima stated before. I would like to refrain from answering in detail about the people from the perspective of the privacy of the evacuees.
Reporter: I have another question. You stayed here for three days. During your series of visits to the various areas, what specific needs and issues were you able to understand for accepting the 20 evacuees?
Minister Hayashi: Although the scale of accepting evacuees in Poland is quite larger than that of Japan, I was able to see and learn many things, beginning with the border zone where there are people providing emergency medical care. I also saw centers accepting evacuees with spaces for children to relax and food support. They are truly responding in line with the evacuees’ needs, including counseling for people with mental trauma. There is specialized personnel firmly studying this. I do not know if the evacuees who will come to Japan this time and those already in Japan have the same needs, but we will firmly respond in line with individual needs, as State Minister of Justice Tsushima stated before.
State Minister of Justice Tsushima: To speak in more detail about what I stated earlier about the specific policy, the major premise is to respond in line with individual needs. Additionally, to add to what I stated before, our response would also be considered to include introducing housing, job training, and education for children as well as providing necessary medical care. In any event, our basic policy is to precisely understand each individual’s needs and provide considerate support.
Reporter: This is a question for Foreign Minister Hayashi. 20 people will travel to Japan this time, but are there other people who also wish to travel to Japan who are unable to this time? If there are, please tell us how the Government of Japan will respond.
Minister Hayashi: We will work to understand the local needs for travel and support through the newly established Ukrainian Evacuee Support Teams in Warsaw and Rzeszów. The Government of Japan will consider what forms of support are possible, including support for travel.
Reporter: These questions are for whoever can answer them. How long is it supposed that the people traveling to Japan this time will stay in the country? I believe that the Japanese language will be a major hurdle no matter the person and his or her circumstances. How will the Government of Japan provide support for this?
State Minister of Justice Tsushima: Although I am repeating myself, every situation is different. The major premise is that we will understand the respective needs. In accepting the evacuees, we are presuming that they will need support for about six months for the time being. But that does not mean that we will stop providing support after six months; naturally, we will provide as much support as possible depending on the circumstances. Your other question was about Japanese language education. As I stated in my opening remarks, language is important for both adults and children, so we will arrange a system to enable firmly providing support for that.
Reporter: 20 people will come to Japan aboard a reserve government airplane this time. Are they in principle all the people who wish to come to Japan, or are they people who have satisfied some sort of conditions to a certain extent?
Minister Hayashi: It is my understanding that the people who will fly with us aboard the government airplane are Ukrainian evacuees who earnestly wish to travel to Japan but have had difficulty securing a means of travel through their efforts, among the evacuees who consulted about traveling to Japan at the Japanese embassies in Poland and Ukraine.
Reporter: I have a relevant question. In terms of the reasons why these 20 people were selected, please tell us if there were any other conditions such as having a visa, in addition to the economic reasons you just explained.
Minister Hayashi: As I stated before, they are Ukrainian evacuees who earnestly wish to travel to Japan but have had difficulty securing a means of travel through their efforts. I would like to refrain from answering in any more detail as it would relate to the privacy of the evacuees.
Reporter: Please tell us if anything left an impression on you when you met with the evacuees this morning, such as an expression of gratitude or a reason for wanting to travel to Japan.
Minister Hayashi: We shook hands and greeted each person, telling them to feel relieved. They all expressed gratitude and I felt that they are truly happy. As State Minister of Justice Tsushima stated, I recognized anew that it is very important for us to firmly provide support after arriving in Japan.