Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, May 6, 2022, 5:07 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I will visit two Pacific Island countries, the Republic of Fiji and the Republic of Palau, from May 6th to 8th. Pacific Island countries have long had friendly relations with Japan and the Pacific region is extremely important strategically in securing the stability and peace of the region. Fiji is a core country among the Pacific Island countries and is also serving as the current Forum Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), the region’s political and economic policy organization. During my visit to Fiji, I am scheduled to have a meeting with Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama. Meanwhile, in Palau, where many persons of Japanese ancestry reside and which has been a friend of Japan for over 100 years based on a special bond, I am scheduled to make a courtesy call on President Surangel S. Whipps, Jr., and hold a Japan-Palau Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with Minister of State Gustav Aitaro. During my visit, I will hold candid exchanges of views to further develop relations with the two countries and reaffirm the strengthening of collaboration towards realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”
Reporter: There are some causes for concern with Pacific Island countries such as the security cooperation between China and the Solomon Islands and the expansion of China into the region. What is your aim in visiting the two Pacific Island countries this time?
Minister Hayashi: Pacific Island countries have long had friendly relations with Japan, and the Pacific region is extremely important strategically in securing the stability and peace of the region. Among these countries, Fiji is a core country and Palau has historically been a friend of Japan based on a special bond. During my visit, I will hold candid exchanges of views with the dignitaries from the governments of each country and reaffirm the strengthening of collaboration towards realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”
Reporter: I would like to ask about the response by the Government of Japan to the inauguration ceremony of the President-elect of the Republic of Korea (ROK), which will be held at the beginning of next week. There are some reports speculating that you would be attending the ceremony. What is the current state of considerations regarding this matter? In addition, if a government representative is sent to the ceremony, I believe there will be an opportunity to exchange views with officials related to the next administration of the ROK. Please tell us how you will make use of this opportunity to improve Japan-ROK relations.
Minister Hayashi: Japan-ROK and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation are indispensable for the stability of the region, including responding to North Korea. Japan-ROK relations are in an extremely difficult situation due to issues, including the issue of former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula and the issue of comfort women. However, the situation should not be left as it is. Keeping promises between countries is the foundation of relations between countries. Regarding the Government of Japan’s response to the inauguration ceremony of Mr. Yoon Suk-yeol, President-elect of the ROK, no specific plan has been decided at this point. However, the Government of Japan intends to conduct close communication with President-elect Yoon and the new administration based on Japan’s consistent position of restoring healthy Japan-ROK relations.
Reporter: I would like to ask about North Korea. CNN in the United States has reported, based on information from a person related to the U.S. government, on the possibility that North Korea will finalize preparations to resume nuclear tests by the end of this month. Could you tell us the analysis of the situation by the Government of Japan?
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the report that you mentioned. The Government of Japan is gathering information and analyzing North Korea’s military movements with serious concern. However, I would like to refrain from answering each of the specific content of the information due to the nature of the issue. In any event, the Government of Japan will continue to exert every effort into the collection and analysis of necessary information as well as monitoring and surveillance activities. We will also respond with close Japan-U.S. and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation toward the complete denuclearization of North Korea.