Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, April 22, 2022, 1:43 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Diplomatic Bluebook 2022
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have one announcement at the outset.
The Diplomatic Bluebook 2022 was distributed at the Cabinet meeting today.
The Diplomatic Bluebook is aimed at providing an overview of international affairs and Japan’s diplomatic activities in the previous year. In addition, the Diplomatic Bluebook 2022 also covers some moves and events from this year, including Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, focusing on particularly important points. They include Japan’s initiatives in 2021 on important diplomatic issues such as the strengthening of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, the realization of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” diplomacy with neighboring countries such as China and the Republic of Korea (ROK), responses to various concerns regarding North Korea, economic diplomacy, and global issues.
The Diplomatic Bluebook is available for viewing on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) from today. Through this publication, MOFA intends to widely promote both domestically and abroad Japan’s diplomacy in terms of how we demonstrate leadership in the international community and contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world. At the same time, we expect that it will help deepen people’s understanding of Japan’s diplomacy. That is all from me.
China-Solomon Islands Security Pact
Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: The Solomon Islands and China recently signed a security pact and this has raised concerns that China’s influence in the relevant sea could increase. What is your reaction to this? Please also tell us whether the Government of Japan intends to take some kind of approach and work with the Solomon Islands on this issue.
Minister Hayashi: At this point, the full extent of this security pact is not yet clear and the details are being confirmed. Nonetheless, the Government of Japan believes that it can have an impact on the security of the entire Pacific region, and we are following the situation with concern.
Japan-ROK Relations (Visit to Japan by the ROK’s Policy Consultation Delegation)
Jiji Press, Tanaka: The Policy Consultation Delegation of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol of the ROK will visit Japan from April 24 and hold meetings with relevant parties. Are you scheduled to meet the delegation? If you are, what issues do you intend to exchange views on, as there are quite a few matters of concern between the two countries, such as the comfort women issue and the issue of the foreign civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula?
Minister Hayashi: The detailed schedule of the Policy Consultation Delegation’s visit to Japan is currently being coordinated.
Amidst the situation in which the international community is confronted with epoch-making changes, sound Japan-ROK relations are indispensable in realizing a rules-based international order and ensuring peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world.
As North Korea is more actively conducting the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, including the recent ICBM-class ballistic missile launches, coordination among Japan, the United States, and the ROK to respond to North Korea and other issues is crucial.
Japan-ROK relations need to be developed based on the foundation of our friendly and cooperative relationship that has been built since the normalization of the diplomatic ties between the two countries in 1965. In this regard, we have high expectations for President-elect Yoon’s leadership. Based on these perspectives, the Government of Japan intends to seize the opportunity of the visit by the Policy Consultation Delegation of the next ROK’s administration and maintain steady communications with the ROK’s new administration.
Two Months since Russia’s Aggression against Ukraine
NHK, Aoki: Almost two months have passed since the start of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Could you give us an overview of Japan’s efforts so far and plans going forward? Please also tell us your thoughts on the prolonged situation.
Minister Hayashi: Japan has provided emergency humanitarian assistance reaching a total of 200 million US dollars to Ukraine and its neighboring countries. In addition, we are accepting evacuees from Ukraine in Japan if they wish.
Meanwhile, at the recent Leaders’ Video Conference on the situation in Ukraine, Prime Minister Kishida announced that Japan would increase the amount of financial assistance to 300 million US dollars to support the Ukrainian economy.
During my recent visit to Warsaw, I explained Japan’s assistance to Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba of Ukraine that preparation to provide various measures and assistance is underway. In response, Foreign Minister Kuleba expressed deep gratitude for Japan’s response and cooperation.
The Government of Japan will continue to provide support and stand by the people of Ukraine who are facing hardship.
Regarding the sanctions against Russia, the Government of Japan has imposed stringent sanction measures on Russia together with other members of the G7 and the international community to urge Russia to stop its invasion of Ukraine as soon as possible.
Generally speaking, it takes a certain amount of time for economic sanctions to take effect. Nonetheless, I am aware that various effects caused by measures implemented by relevant countries have already been visible in the Russian economy, such as rising prices, withdrawal of foreign companies, and suspension of foreign companies’ operations. These sanctions have now continued for the past two months. We will take resolute actions in solidarity with the international community, including the G7, to strengthen diplomatic and economic pressure on Russia.
We will respond to the situation with these sanction measures and by continuing to support the people of Ukraine and its surrounding countries.
A visit to the Solomon Islands by Mr. MIYAKE Shingo, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, and a visit to Japan by the ROK’s Policy Consultation Delegation
Sankei Shimbun, Chiba: I would like to ask about the issue of the Solomon Islands that was mentioned earlier. There are some reports indicating that the Government of Japan will send Parliamentary Vice-Minister Miyake to the Solomon Islands. Could you confirm if that is the actual government’s plan? I would also like to ask about the issue of ROK. At his press conference on April 25, Chairman NUKAGA Fukushiro of the Japan-Korea Parliamentarians’ Union mentioned that you would be meeting the ROK’s Policy Consultation Delegation. Please confirm if this schedule is currently being coordinated.
Minister Hayashi: Firstly, nothing has been decided on Parliamentary Vice-Minister Miyake’s visit to the Solomon Island.
Regarding the schedule with the Policy Consultation Delegation, it is currently under coordination.
China-Solomon Islands Security Pact
Japan Times, Fee: From Japan’s standpoint, what does the security pact with Solomon Islands proposed by China mean? In addition, how will Japan contribute to the regional security discussions on this matter?
Minister Hayashi: At this point, the full spectrum of this security pact has not become clear and the details are currently being confirmed. However, the Government of Japan considers that it can have an impact on the security of the entire Pacific region, and we are currently monitoring the situation with concern.
Diplomatic Bluebook 2022
Kyodo News, Maeda: I would like to ask about the description of the Northern Territories in the Diplomatic Bluebook. The Diplomatic Bluebook published today clearly states that the Northern Territories “are illegally occupied.” Apparently, this is the first time in 19 years that the phrase “illegal occupation” is used. Could you explain MOFA’s intention of using such an expression and the diplomatic policy toward Russia going forward?
Minister Hayashi: The contents to be included in the Diplomatic Bluebook are decided based on a comprehensive consideration of various diplomatic events that happened during the respective year.
Transportation of Supplies by Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) Aircraft
Asahi Shimbun, Nobira: I would like to ask about the transportation of supplies by JSDF aircraft based on the request from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This issue was scheduled to be discussed at the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Policy Deliberation Commission yesterday but was postponed due to India’s refusal. Please clarify what happened and how the Government of Japan will respond to the situation and deal with this issue.
Minister Hayashi: I would like to refrain from speaking on diplomatic exchanges. The Government of Japan will consider various possibilities including the transportation of supplies by JSDF aircraft, but nothing has been decided at this point.
G20 (Future Policy of the Government of Japan)
Independent Web Journal, Hamamoto: At the G20 Finance Ministers’ Meeting on April 20, finance ministers from the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada as well as the President of the European Central Bank (ECB) Christine Lagarde and others walked away while Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov was speaking and boycotted the Russian session. However, 16 countries including India, China and Brazil, which are not G7 members, remained seated. This figure of 16 to 4 seems to indicate the fact that G20 countries are not convinced at all by the tough sanction measures against Russia imposed by the United States and other G7 countries. Meanwhile, the G20, in which BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other growing economies participate, is a driving force for economic growth. Japan did not take part in the boycott this time, but it has been imposing tough economic sanctions against Russia in line with other G7 countries. Will Japan continue to align with the United States and others as a member of the G7, or will it emphasize the importance of economy and deepen relations with G20 countries? Please tell us your thoughts.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware that, at the G20 Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting on April 20, many participating countries, including Japan, made remarks to vehemently condemn Russia by identifying Russia’s aggression against Ukraine as the cause of many difficulties that the global economy faces. Regarding the G20’s responses to Russia, the Government of Japan will continue to discuss with Indonesia which currently holds the presidency of G20 and other G20 member states, and respond appropriately based on careful consideration of future developments.
Japan-ROK Relations (Response to the Inauguration Ceremony of President-elect of the ROK)
Dong-a Ilbo, Lee: I would like to ask about ROK’s President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s Policy Consultation Delegation. It seems that there is a strong voice of opposition in the LDP against the attendance of the Government of Japan at the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Yoon. How is the Government of Japan currently coordinating this matter?
Minister Hayashi: There is no specific schedule that has been decided at this point for Japan’s response to the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Yoon.
Japan-ROK Relations (Remarks on the Agreement on Comfort Women Issue by the Incoming Foreign Minister of the ROK)
Japan Times, Fee: What is your impression of the remarks made by the incoming ROK’s Foreign Minister on the issue of comfort women? Do you expect the President-elect Yoon administration to make progress in resolving the issue, or are you concerned that progress will be hindered by civil groups and court decisions?
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the remarks by ROK’s incoming Foreign Minister Park Jin.
The Governments of Japan and the ROK confirmed as a result of great diplomatic efforts that the issue of comfort women was “resolved finally and irreversibly” with the agreement that was reached at the Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in December 2015. This Japan-ROK agreement was also discussed between the leaders of the two countries shortly after the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the two leaders confirmed the agreement.
The Japan-ROK agreement on the comfort women issue is a commitment between the two countries. Keeping the promise made between countries is the basis of relations between countries.
Japan-ROK relations need to be developed based on the foundation of our friendly and cooperative relationship that has been built since the normalization of the diplomatic ties between the two countries in 1965. In this regard, we have high expectations for President-elect Yoon’s leadership.