Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary ONO Hikariko

Wednesday, June 22, 2022, 3:45 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

(1) Suspension of Support for the “Matarbari Ultra Super Critical Coal-Fired Power Project (II)” through ODA

Ms. ONO Hikariko, Press Secretary: Today, I would like to make two announcements.

The first is the suspension of support for the “Matarbari Ultra Super Critical Coal-Fired Power Project (II)” through ODA.

At the G7 Summit Meeting in June 2021, the Government of Japan agreed to end new direct government support for unabated international thermal coal power generation by the end of 2021.

At that time, projects which we had already conducting processes towards implementation were not considered as “new support,” and we have been consulting with our counterpart governments.

Meanwhile, with regard to the “Matarbari Ultra Super Critical Coal-Fired Power Project (II)” in Bangladesh, taking into consideration the trend of international discussions on coal-fired power and after consultation with Bangladesh, Japan has decided not to proceed further as an ODA loan project. The project involved the construction of a high-efficiency power plant with an output of approximately 1,200 MW in the Matarbari region of southeastern Bangladesh.

At the same time, Japan will continue to cooperate in the socioeconomic development of Bangladesh, including the development of the Matarbari region.

Japan’s policy is to continue to provide comprehensive support for a realistic transition toward a decarbonized society, taking into account the unique circumstances of developing countries and utilizing diverse energy sources and technologies.

(2) Holding of “Children's Kasumigaseki Tour Day”

Press Secretary Ono: The second matter is the implementation of “Children’s Kasumigaseki Tour Day.”

“Children’s Kasumigaseki Tour Day” will be held for elementary and junior high school students at various government ministries and agencies in Kasumigaseki on August 3 and 4. MOFA will conduct six programs with the participation of the Japan Foundation and JICA Global Plaza.

Due toCOVID-19, “Children’s Kasumigaseki Tour Day” was suspended in 2020, and all the programs were held online in 2021. This year, for the first time in three years, in-person programs are scheduled with some exceptions, including the “Press Conference for Junior Reporters” by Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Uesugi and a lecture by Sakana-kun.

Please refer to the handout as well as the MOFA website for more details, including the online programs by diplomatic missions, the Japan Foundation, and JICA.

We believe that this will be an extremely valuable opportunity for children who will be responsible for the future to experience where Japanese diplomacy is conducted. All of the programs will be open to the press, so we hope you will take a look at them. That is all from me.

Suspension of Support for the “Matarbari Ultra Super Critical Coal-Fired Power Project (II)” through ODA

Asahi Shimbun, Aibara: With regard to the ODA project you mentioned in your opening remarks, which side made the request that led to the suspension? That is my first question. My second question is, are there any similar projects that were excluded from the G7 Summit Meeting in 2021, but are now being considered for suspension like the project with Bangladesh? Please tell us about these two points.

Press Secretary Ono: To begin with your first question, as I stated earlier in my opening remarks, at the G7 Summit Meeting in 2021, the Government of Japan agreed to end new direct government support for unabated international thermal coal power generation by the end of 2021. Based on this, we have been consulting with our counterpart government on the projects that are in the process of implementation. As a result, we have reached a conclusion to suspend the project.

With regard to your second question, there is the Indramayu Coal-fired Power Plant Project in Indonesia, for which the process is already being conducted toward providing an ODA loan.

However, the Government of Indonesia itself has already decided not to implement the project, and the Government of Japan has also decided not to consider further on support through an ODA loan.

Japan’s policy is to support decarbonization and energy transitions in accordance with the circumstances of each country, including Indonesia.

Support for Evacuees Outside of Ukraine

Mainichi Shimbun, Kusakabe: I would like to ask about evacuees from Afghanistan. Support for Ukrainian evacuees is spreading widely within the national government and local governments. Some people have pointed out the difference between support for Ukrainian evacuees and Afghani evacuees. The support is multifaceted, including Japanese language support, employment support, and livelihood support. I believe that Afghanistan is a country with which Japan has strong connections through the JICA study abroad program and more. Please tell us your view on what will be done regarding support for Afghani evacuees in the future.

Press Secretary Ono: With regard to Japan’s response to the Ukrainian evacuees, the entire Government of Japan is working on this as an emergency measure in the light of the crisis caused by Russia’s invasion that has shaken the foundation of the international order. Therefore, I believe that it is not possible to make a simple comparison between our current response to the people in Ukrainian and our responses to other people.

Additionally, MOFA’s policy is to continue to appropriately respond to and provide possible support for people in Afghanistan who have evacuated to Japan, taking into account their individual circumstances.

Overseas Voting (Policy and Preparation System)

Asahi Shimbun, Aibara: Changing the subject, there was an announcement on the House of Councillors election. Last year, during the House of Representatives election, implementation of overseas voting was suspended by 15 diplomatic missions due to COVID-19 and deteriorating security conditions. Are there any diplomatic missions considering suspension of overseas voting in the election this time? Please tell us about the current preparation conditions regarding this.

Press Secretary Ono: Voting is a right of Japanese citizens that is guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution, and overseas election is legal work stipulated in the Public Offices Election Act. MOFA is exerting all efforts to prepare for overseas elections so that no omission will be made.

In addition, before and after the announcement of the overseas elections, MOFA and diplomatic missions call for voting through their websites, consul emails, email newsletters, direct mail, TV and radio commercials, local information newsletters, and other means. Furthermore, public information is spread via overseas Japanese- language broadcasts, with the cooperation with NHK.

With regard to your question about overseas voting not being implemented, a total of 234 diplomatic missions will hold overseas voting for the upcoming House of Councillors regular election, but a total of eight diplomatic missions will not hold overseas voting.

Specifically, it has been decided that it would be difficult to conduct overseas voting by the Japanese embassies in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, and Libya as their personnel have been under temporarily evacuated, and at the Japanese Embassy in Iraq and the Consular Office in Erbil due to local security concerns. In addition, it has been decided to not implement overseas voting by the Embassy of Japan in the Vatican because there is not sufficient space for the voting and because the Embassy of Japan in Italy, which surrounds the Vatican, is able to conduct voting.

China’s Unilateral Development of Natural Resources in the East China Sea

Yomiuri Shimbun, Kaneko: I would like to ask about China’s gas field development, which was also brought up in Foreign Minister Hayashi’s press conference yesterday. In May this year, a new structure was discovered on the west side of the geographical equidistance line between Japan and China and after a long time, , construction is progressing rapidly. Please tell us MOFA’s current analysis on this.

Press Secretary Ono: The Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of Japan and China as well as the continental shelf in the East China Sea have not yet been delimited, and Japan takes a position that maritime delimitation should be conducted based on the geographical equidistance line between Japan and China.

Thus, it is extremely regrettable that 14 new Chinese structures have been confirmed and China has been unilaterally developing resources in this maritime area since June 2013 despite the fact that it has not yet been delimited.

We recognize that China continues to engage in activities related to oil and natural gas mining for the purpose of securing its own maritime interests.

Japan has again strongly protested against China, and strongly urged them to resume negotiations for international arrangement based on the “2008 Agreement” and to implement the Agreement as soon as possible.

Japan’s policy is to continue to monitor related developments and strongly urge China to refrain from unilateral development activities.

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