Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, July 8, 2022, 8:14 p.m. Hilton Bali Resort
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Firstly, I would like to state that the shooting of former Prime Minister Abe, carried out in the middle of an election which is the very basis of democracy, is despicable and absolutely intolerable. I condemn it in the most severe terms.
Many countries, including the G20 President Indonesia, have expressed sympathy and condolences to me during the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and bilateral meetings. I feel that this is deeply regrettable and would like to express my heartfelt prayers that he rests in peace.
This is my first time attending the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Taking this opportunity, I clearly expressed Japan’s views at the G20, and held bilateral meetings with the foreign ministers of various countries, where we had substantial discussions.
During Session 1 of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, there were discussions on the theme of “strengthening multilateralism.” I stated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an attempt to destroy the foundation of the international order built up by the international community as well as multilateralism. I also pointed out that the basic principles that have been supported by the postwar international community are being threatened by this attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force. I stressed the importance of the international community to unite so that there is a high price to pay for Russia’s series of actions. Many other countries in attendance also made similar points. Additionally, I mentioned Japan’s measures towards strengthening the functions of the United Nations and our specific contributions in the fields of climate change and global health, and pointed out the importance of our sincere efforts on these urgent issues.
During Session 2 in the afternoon, there were discussions on the theme of “addressing food and energy security.” I explained that it is completely incorrect to state that sanctions by the G7 are the cause of sharp rise in energy and food prices. The actual cause is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, particularly its blockade of the Black Sea and obstruction of Ukraine’s grain exports, and the G7’s sanctions do not target food. Many other countries in attendance also made similar points. Furthermore, In addition to our support thus far, I introduced the additional contributions of approximately $200 million to respond to the global food crisis, including assistance towards improving Ukraine’s grain storage capacity and food assistance to Africa and the Middle East. In addition, I expressed support and appreciation for the efforts by the United Nations and EU for Ukraine’s grain exports, and strongly demanded that Russia immediately allow the resumption of grain exports via the Black Sea route. In relation to energy, I pointed out the importance of the acceleration of realistic energy conversion as well as ensuring energy access depending on the unique characteristics of countries and regions.
In addition, after the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I held a meeting with Foreign Minister Retno of Indonesia, which holds the G20 Presidency. I expressed respect for Indonesia’s leadership during the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and conveyed that Japan will support Indonesia towards the success of the G20 Bali Summit. Foreign Minister Retno expressed gratitude for this. Furthermore, taking the opportunity of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I held meetings with foreign ministers of Argentina, the Netherlands, Australia, South Africa, and Spain, where I had significant exchanges of views regarding bilateral relations, regional affairs, G20 cooperation, and other such matters. Additionally, I held a Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on this occasion. During the meeting, Secretary of State Blinken, Foreign Minister Park, and I aligned our views on how to respond to further provocations by North Korea including another nuclear test, and on future measures towards the complete denuclearization of North Korea. We also concurred on conducting even closer Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation from the perspectives of strengthening regional deterrence capabilities including Japan-U.S.-ROK security cooperation, responding in the UN Security Council, and diplomatic efforts. I also obtained support again from both ministers regarding the abductions issue.
That is all from me.
Reporter: I would like to ask two questions about the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. First, I would like to ask how regional affairs were covered during the meeting. Did you discuss China, the Indo-Pacific, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea?
Minister Hayashi: Yes, during the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, we exchanged views regarding regional affairs, including China and the situation in Ukraine, as well as efforts towards realizing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific based on the strategic importance of Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation. Furthermore, we exchanged views on building strong supply chains and global issues such as global health.
Reporter: My second question is also about the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. You mentioned that there was discussion regarding nuclear testing by North Korea. What kind of discussion did you have? If there were any special notes, please introduce them.
Minister Hayashi: Yes, as mentioned earlier, we had discussions on those issues during the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. During the meeting, we exchanged serious concerns about North Korea’s nuclear missile activities and aligned our views on how to respond to further provocations by North Korea including another nuclear test, and on our future response towards the complete denuclearization of North Korea.
Additionally, we shared recognition regarding the importance of further strengthening regional deterrence capabilities and concurred on promoting Japan-U.S.-ROK security cooperation. I believe that North Korea’s nuclear missile development threatens the peace and security of the international community, including Japan, and is absolutely unacceptable. Japan will continue to make all efforts to gather and analyze necessary information and conduct vigilant monitoring. Furthermore, we will conduct Japan-U.S. cooperation, Japan-ROK cooperation, and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation towards the complete denuclearization of North Korea.
Reporter: During the sessions today, were there any cases in which you had an opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation or a discussion with Foreign Minister Lavrov? In addition, I believe this was the first international meeting you have attended in-person with the Russian Foreign Minister since the invasion of Ukraine. If you have a frank impression or reaction to this, please tell us.
Minister Hayashi: I did not have any conversation with Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia. Moreover, it is a practice of the G20 to not speak about the content of statements made by other countries, so I would like to refrain from speaking about the details. Foreign Minister Lavrov repeated the same statements that Russia has made through now. I firmly asserted Japan’s views concerning Russia, as I mentioned earlier, and many other countries made similar statements.
Reporter: In relation to the G20 yesterday and today, I believe you did not attend the dinner banquet yesterday. You attended the meeting today without leaving your seat to oppose Russia. Please tell us again the reason why the G7 took this united response.
Minister Hayashi: Yes, the G7 took a united response to firmly convey our views. This meeting had in-person attendance by Foreign Minister Lavrov as well as the foreign ministers of G7 countries, including Japan. As I mentioned earlier, I was able to clearly state Japan’s positions to Foreign Minister Lavrov himself. It was also an opportunity for many countries, including the G7 countries, to directly condemn Russia’s invasion and speak about the invasion’s negative effects on the global economy, including on sharp increases in food and energy prices. I believe that such points had a certain significance.
Reporter: Regarding former Prime Minister Abe, as you mentioned in your opening remarks, I believe that he is from Yamaguchi Prefecture like you are. What kind of presence did he have for you?
Minister Hayashi: As I stated earlier, dignitaries from various countries expressed their condolences. Although this is a regrettable case, I felt that former Prime Minister Abe has left a major legacy for diplomacy. In addition, Foreign Minister Retno of Indonesia, which holds the G20 Presidency, introduced the shooting incident to the floor and expressed sympathy on behalf of the meeting. As for myself, I was fortunate to associate with former Prime Minister Abe since before we became a Diet member, as we are from the same region. I also served twice as Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and once as Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in the Abe cabinet. I still cannot believe that he has passed away. I feel a profound sense of loss, as if there is a big hole in my heart.
Reporter: Just to confirm, did you have any informal conversations or contact with Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China or Foreign Minister Park of the ROK during the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting?
Minister Hayashi: Firstly, I did not have any such conversation with Foreign Minister Wang. I held the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that included Foreign Minister Park, as I mentioned earlier. I also had a brief informal conversation with him during the session of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in the morning. Foreign Minister Park stated that the shooting incident involving former Prime Minister Abe was deeply regrettable and concerning. Afterwards, during the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, he expressed heartfelt condolences.
Reporter: In relation to the question just now, did you not have any discussions with Foreign Minister Park on matters such as historical issues or the ideal approach to future Japan-ROK consultations?
Minister Hayashi: We did not have extensive discussions, including the matters I mentioned earlier. I stated that I would like to exert all efforts in order to restore healthy Japan-ROK relations from the extremely difficult situation now.