Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Tuesday, April 12, 2022, 3:58 p.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.

The Situation in Ukraine (Cooperation with Various Southeast Asian Countries)

Mainichi Shimbun, Konno: Regarding Japan’s stance on Russia, in order to show a united stance with various Asian countries, are you considering to further reaching out directly to South Asian and ASEAN countries by having meetings with them?

Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Since Russia began its invasion, I met with the ambassadors to Japan of various Southeast Asian countries on February 28. I have given detailed explanations of Japan’s position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and confirmed close cooperation with them.

Starting with this, we have reached out to Southeast Asian countries at various levels, and on March 2 local time, the resolution on “Aggression against Ukraine” was adopted with various Southeast Asian countries showing their support and becoming co-sponsor countries.

Speaking of recent efforts, last weekend the Japan-Philippines “2+2” was held and the four foreign and defense ministers, including myself, issued a joint statement that included a strong message requesting the “immediate stop of the use of force and the withdrawal of the military forces from the territory of Ukraine.”

In addition, Prime Minister Kishida recently visited Cambodia on March 20 and issued a joint statement with Prime Minister Hun Sen containing similar contents.

Besides these opportunities, we held telephone talks and the like with various countries. I will not go into detail about each of these, but we will continue to utilize various diplomatic opportunities to strengthen cooperation with Southeast Asian countries.

Japan-Australia-India-U.S. Summit Meeting / Visit to Japan by President Biden

Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: During an online meeting with Prime Minister Modi of India, President Biden of the United States indicated that he intends to visit Japan next month. Please tell us the significance of President Biden’s visit to Japan at this time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is continuing. I believe there are prospects for a Quad meeting to be held in conjunction with the visit, so please tell us your view on the significance of that.

Minister Hayashi: The specific schedules for the Japan-Australia-India-U.S. Summit Meeting and President Biden’s visit to Japan have not been decided. Appropriate coordination is currently underway so that both could take place in the first half of this year.

Firstly, Japan, Australia, India, and the United States have already developed practical cooperation in fields such as vaccines, infrastructure, and important and emerging technologies. It is not too much to say that among the multilayered initiatives toward a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” the Quad is playing a central role. Based on the current international situation, we would like the next Japan-Australia-India-U.S. Summit Meeting to be an opportunity to show Japan to the world the Quad’s strong commitment to cooperation toward realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”

In addition, if President Biden’s visit to Japan is realized, it will be his first visit to the Indo-Pacific region following his inauguration. We expect that it will be an opportunity to show Japan and the United States’ commitment to the Indo-Pacific region and confirm close Japan-U.S. cooperation toward realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”

The Situation in Ukraine (China’s Stance)

Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: I would like to ask about the recent NATO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. During the meeting, you stated that China has still not condemned Russia. I believe that so far, you have spoken about requesting China to take responsible actions. Please tell us the reason why you went a step further and criticized China by name during the NATO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

Minister Hayashi: I would like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the Government of Japan on each position and response taken by China regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. If I were to say anything further, it would be that, as you just said, China has abstained from voting on the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the aggression against Ukraine and the UN General Assembly resolution that was adopted and has still not condemned Russia. Furthermore, China voted in favor of the Security Council resolution submitted by Russia.

China and Russia have maintained close relations in recent years and increased the closeness of their military cooperation. We are monitoring these developments with concern. About the situation in Ukraine, Japan has been calling on China to take responsible actions. We will continue to respond in close cooperation with related countries, including the G7.

Peace in the Middle East

Pan Orient News, Azhari: My question is about another aggression but in the Middle East. First, Japan has been a leading country in supporting the Palestinians and the peace process there. However, the situation in the Palestinian territory seems to be deteriorating because Israel continues its occupation and military invasion and aggression reportedly. So, recently, Israeli military the occupation forces killed four Palestinians, including a mother of six children. What is Japan's position on that killing which was basically a revenge to Palestinian attacker in Tel Aviv? And do you think that the Israeli invasion should meet international sanctions?

Minister Hayashi: I am aware that according to reports, there were multiple casualties due to a shooting incident that occurred in central Tel Aviv, Israel, on April 7 local time. In addition, on April 10 local time, two Palestinian women were fatally shot by the Israel Defense Forces. One of them was shot when she stabbed an Israeli soldier with a knife in the West Bank area of the Jordan River.

Japan is monitoring with concern the multiple casualties in Israel and Palestine due to violence and conflict since last month, including these incidents.

Japan believes that the issues between the parties concerned in Israel and Palestine cannot be resolved through violence, but rather can only be resolved through negotiations and efforts to build mutual trust between the parties concerned. We will re-emphasize the importance of all the parties concerned continuing the efforts toward peace based on a two-state solution.

The Situation in Ukraine (Expulsion of Diplomats of the Embassy of Russia in Japan and Personnel of the Russian Trade Representative)

Kyodo News, Maeda: I would like to ask about the expulsion of Russian diplomats. Last week, MOFA requested that eight people, consisting of diplomats of the Embassy of Russia in Japan and personnel of the Russian trade representative, be expelled from Japan. What is the situation in terms of the departure of these people from Japan?

Minister Hayashi: Based on the current situation in Ukraine, following a comprehensive consideration, we have decided to request that eight people, consisting of diplomats of the Embassy of Russia in Japan and personnel of the Russian trade representative, be expelled from Japan. On April 8, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Mori announced this to Russian Ambassador to Japan Galuzin.

Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Mori conveyed the deadline for departure to Ambassador Galuzin. However, I would like to refrain from speaking about the details as this is diplomatic communication. Furthermore, at this point, I would like to refrain from answering whether the eight people who were requested to leave Japan have already done so.

Work Style Reform at MOFA

Sankei Shimbun, Ishizaki: I would like to ask about work style reform. I believe that MOFA has made efforts on work style reform to date. However, I believe that since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, some personnel have had to work long hours. Due to the prolonging of the situation, what are your thoughts on the efforts on work style reform in order to build a sustainable system?

Minister Hayashi: It is clear by looking at the situation in Ukraine that the global environment is changing at an unprecedented speed, and MOFA’s duties are increasing as a result. Due to this situation, I believe we must drastically change the work style at MOFA and appropriately respond to the rapid developments around the world.

Amidst this situation, the Headquarters to Promote Work Style Reform headed by the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs was established in December 2018. Efforts on work style reform and work streamlining have also been carried out throughout MOFA under my supervision.

In particular, MOFA has to communicate with diplomatic missions and governments of various countries located in different time zones and respond to international conferences. We have thus been promoting more flexibility in working hours and locations by encouraging a flextime system as well as a system for early and late shifts while promoting teleworking.

Additionally, we are promoting digital transformation including the launch of an online teleconference system and a portal site for MOFA personnel, as well as work streamlining including simplification of various procedures to improve the work-life balance of personnel. We will further improve the working environment so that MOFA officials can concentrate on diplomatic activities that can only be carried out by a real humans.

UN Reform

Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: I would like to ask about UN reform. During the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Policy Deliberation Commission today, a proposal to request the limiting of the use of the right of veto was approved, bearing in mind the dysfunction in the UN Security Council. Please tell us again how MOFA and the Government of Japan will promote UN reform.

Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the development regarding the proposal concerning UN reform in the LDP. I would like to consider what the Government can do after I have thoroughly read the proposal.

Additionally, I believe that the aggression by Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council with major responsibilities for the peace and security of the international community, indicates the need for a new framework of international order.

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. In particular, we believe it is important to reform the composition of the Security Council so that it reflects the reality of the current international community, and expands both the permanent and non-permanent members.

We have been working on Security Council reform under the G4 framework with Brazil, Germany, and India, which share recognition of such issues. In addition, I will make sure to raise the necessity of Security Council reform during meetings with my counterparts in various countries. The reform is certainly not easy given that the complex interests of various countries intertwine in the Security Council. Under the Kishida administration, we will continue to show leadership to realize Security Council reform, including Japan’s entry as a permanent member, in cooperation with many countries.

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