Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 4:51 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Visit to Japan by Director General Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to make one announcement. From May 18 to May 20, Director General Grossi of the IAEA will make a visit to Japan as a guest of honor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I am scheduled to have a meeting with him on May 19. During his stay, Mr. Grossi is planned to hold meetings with senior officials, and to visit the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Japan attaches importance to the efforts of the IAEA, which plays a significant role in nuclear non-proliferation and promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy. During the meeting, I would like to further strengthen the cooperative relationship between Japan and the IAEA. That is all from me.
Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) / U.S. Return to the TPP
Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: I would like to ask about the IPEF. The IPEF is expected to be launched during the second half of this month under the leadership of the United States. Please tell us again the evaluation and response of the government of Japan regarding this framework.
Also, I believe that Japan has repeatedly urged the United States to return to the TPP. Please tell us how Japan plans to position each framework.
Minister Hayashi: Japan welcomes the IPEF advocated by President Biden of the United States as a sign of the United States’ active commitment to the Indo-Pacific region.
The IPEF is a U.S. initiative, and discussions on details have progressed among the countries concerned, led by the United States. Japan has also been contributing constructively to the discussions.
At the same time, from the strategic perspective of the United States’ engagement with the international order in the Indo-Pacific region, there is no change to Japan’s position that it would be more desirable for the United States to return to the TPP. I have directly conveyed this point to the Secretary of State Blinken, the U.S. Trade Representative Tai, and others.
From the strategic perspective of realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” Japan will continue to request the United States to return to the TPP, promote cooperation through the IPEF, and conduct close Japan-U.S. cooperation towards establishing an economic order ideal for the region, including the United States.
Suspected Maritime Research Within Japan’s EEZ Near Takeshima by the Republic of Korea (ROK)
Jiji Press, Tanaka: Regarding the issue of the alleged research activities conducted by a research vessel of a ROK state-owned company within Japan’s EEZ south of Takeshima, I believe you are now confirming the facts with the ROK side. I would like to ask you about the current situation and the timing when this incident coincided with the ROK presidential inauguration ceremony, and some have the opinion that the Government of Japan did not make an announcement about this matter in consideration for that. Please provide an explanation about this.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the reports you have mentioned. I know that, upon receiving information about the navigation by the vessel, the Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel immediately responded in the maritime area by confirming the purpose of the action, cautioning it, as well as conducting surveillance.
In addition, we immediately requested an explanation through diplomatic channels from the ROK side regarding the navigation by the vessel concerned, and conveyed that it would be unacceptable if the research activities were conducted within Japan’s EEZ.
Additionally, I understand that we were not able to confirm whether the maritime research by the vessel was conducted within Japan’s EEZ by gathering information and analyzing in the area concerned. Therefore, as in the past, Japan’s response was limited to cautioning the vessel rather than requesting suspension of the activities.
Cases of such cautioning are not usually publicly announced, so I believe what you stated before is not correct.
The Government of Japan will continue to respond appropriately in accordance with international law and related domestic laws.
Pan Orient News, Azhari: I would like to ask about the UAE newly elected president. After the passing away of President Khalifa, how would Japan see the next level of relations with the UAE as a country under President Muhammad?
Minister Hayashi: Thank you. The Government of Japan dispatched AMARI Akira, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister to the UAE to convey our condolences on the passing of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed, President of the UAE. I would like to again express our sincere condolences.
I am aware that on May 14, H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, was unanimously elected as the new President of the UAE by the Federal Supreme Council to succeed the late President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed.
Building on the foundation created with the late President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed, Japan would like to closely cooperate with the newly elected President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to further develop friendly relations with the UAE.
Economic Security (References in the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Communiqué)
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Germany recently. I believe the term “economic security” was ultimately included in the Communiqué. Please tell us the significance of this. Particularly in what ways would you like to deepen cooperation with other countries in the future?
Minister Hayashi: I believe that it is essential to strengthen cooperation with allies and like-minded countries in order to ensure Japan’s economic security. We have made various efforts thus far, such as strengthening supply chains resilient as well as fostering and protecting important and emerging technologies, through the Japan-U.S. cooperation, Japan-Australia-India-U.S. cooperation, and other cooperation.
Recently, we have confirmed the strengthening of cooperation on economic security with European and Southeast Asian countries as well as the EU.
During the recent G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, we also confirmed that the substantial rise of geo-economic challenges to our economic security requires comprehensive and holistic responses. We also affirmed the importance of working together to address economic security concerns. The term “economic security” was thus included for the first time in a G7 outcome document in the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Communiqué.
As the scope of security rapidly expands, including the emergence of various challenges that extend across the economic and security fields, I believe the cooperation of the G7, which shares fundamental values and principles, is extremely important. Japan will actively contribute to further strengthening cooperation based on the discussions at the recent foreign ministers’ meeting.
Suspected Maritime Research Within Japan’s EEZ Near Takeshima by the ROK
Sankei Shimbun, Okada: I would like to return to the topic of maritime research by an ROK state-owned company within Japan’s EEZ. Please tell us your thoughts on how the series of developments will affect Japan-ROK relations going forward.
Minister Hayashi: I have already mentioned the facts of this matter and other details. However, I believe it is very difficult to talk about the future outlook here. To add to what I explained earlier, there is no change to our country’s basic position on firmly responding to various matters, which I stated when I visited the ROK for the presidential inauguration ceremony.
Situation in Taiwan
Independent Web Journal, Hamamoto: I would like to ask about the United States’ policy towards China. The “U.S. Relations with Taiwan fact sheet” by the U.S. Government was updated on May 5, and it has become an issue that the phrases such as “Taiwan is part of China”, and that “the United States does not support Taiwan independence”, were deleted. Some people regard this as a sign that the United States will recognize Taiwan’s independence in the future. It is believed that if Taiwan declares its independence, it would cause a contingency between China and Taiwan, which would definitely lead to Japan being involved in an armed conflict. Please tell us your own as well as MOFA’s position on the updated fact sheet.
Minister Hayashi: I would like to refrain from commenting on each of the contents of U.S. Government’s website. I would also like to refrain from answering speculative questions about a so-called “Taiwan contingency”. In any case, I believe that the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait are important for the security of Japan as well as the stability of the international community. Japan’s consistent position has always been to expect that the issues surrounding Taiwan will be resolved peacefully through dialogue.
Additionally, as a general statement, as the security environment surrounding Japan becomes increasingly severe, I would like to say that it is a matter of course that the Government of Japan to take all possible measures in order to respond to any situation, including the development of systems on daily basis.
Situation in Ukraine (Possibility of Russia Using Nuclear Weapons)
Pan Orient News, Azhari: Is Japan taking seriously the possibility of the nuclear war related to the situation between Russia and Ukraine? We heard many leaders talking about such war and Japan has been the leading country in the world against nuclear weapons. So what and how is Japan or your government planning to defend Japan against such war and to prevent it from happening preemptively?
Minister Hayashi: Japan has grave concerns about the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons amidst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. During last week’s G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Germany, I emphasized that the use as well as the threat to use nuclear weapons by Russia are absolutely unacceptable, and that it is important to maintain and strengthen the initiative for international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and called for cooperation by the G7.
As the only country to have suffered wartime atomic bombing, Japan will continue to strongly urge in various international fora that Russia must never threaten nor use nuclear weapons.
In general terms, in regard to Japan’s security policy, the security environment surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly severe and uncertain. As we face this reality, we are determined to consider all options and work to drastically strengthen our defense capabilities. Also, we will strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance, and further strengthen cooperation to achieve a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” with related countries and regional partners.
Revision of the Development Cooperation Charter
Mainichi Shimbun, Konno: I would like to ask about the Development Cooperation Charter. There are some reports about it. Please tell us the current status of consideration on its revision, and your thoughts on development cooperation in general, including ODA.
Minister Hayashi: In regard to the Development Cooperation Charter, it has not been decided to revise at this stage. However, the Government of Japan seeks ideal ways of development cooperation that are in line with changes in the international situation and the times. We will hold various discussions while comprehensively taking such international trends, the domestic situation, and other such matters into consideration.
In seeking ideal ways of development cooperation adapted to changes in the international situation and the times, we will conduct discussions based on matters such as novel coronavirus countermeasures, climate change issues, rising humanitarian assistance needs including the recent crisis in Ukraine, and the importance of economic security, as mentioned in questions earlier.