Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, July 22, 2022, 10:52 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Establishment of the Special Secretariat for the State Funeral for Former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Today, the Cabinet decision was made to hold a state funeral for former Prime Minister Abe and invite foreign dignitaries and others to attend the funeral. Accordingly, Japan will inform the governments of foreign countries and regions with which it has diplomatic relations of the date, time, venue and other details regarding the state funeral for former Prime Minister Abe.
Along with this decision, the Special Secretariat for the State Funeral for former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo was established within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), to ensure that we can welcome foreign attendees to the state funeral without serious incident.
MOFA will steadily proceed with the preparations for the state funeral with the Special Secretariat taking the lead. That is all from me.
The State Funeral for Former Prime Minister Abe
Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: I would like to ask about the state funeral that you announced at the beginning. Roughly how many countries with diplomatic relations does the Government of Japan expect to attend, and how many attendees are expected to attend? In addition, regarding the Special Secretariat, please tell us about the details of the work it will undertake, with what kind of structure and how many staff will be involved in the state funeral in September.
Minister Hayashi: First, I would like to explain about the structure. The Special Secretariat has been established with 30 officials, with Ishizuki Hideo, Deputy Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, as the Secretary-General.
MOFA will review the structure depending on the relevant situation, and increase the number of serving officials as necessary.
Regarding our intended funeral attendees, MOFA has already received a huge number of messages of condolence from many countries. These messages remind us once again of the significant mark that former Prime Minister Abe has left in Japan’s diplomacy.
MOFA will work to make sure that we appropriately handle and treat foreign attendees at the state funeral, with the Special Secretariat, established today, taking the lead.
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: I would also like to ask two questions regarding the state funeral. While a number of foreign dignitaries are expected to visit Japan, how will the Government of Japan conduct funeral diplomacy? This is my first question. Secondly, you mentioned earlier that Japan will inform the governments of foreign countries and regions with which it has diplomatic relations of relevant information, but does this include Taiwan? Please clarify this point.
Minister Hayashi: First, regarding the funeral diplomacy, the Government of Japan has recently decided to hold a state funeral. This decision was made based on the consideration of the fact that former Prime Minister Abe, possessing outstanding leadership and ability to execute plans, took on the important responsibility of being prime minister over eight years and eight months, the longest period in Japan’s constitutional history. We have also taken into consideration of the fact that former Prime Minister Abe has received extremely high praise from the international community, including foreign leaders, and that this incident has received words of condolence and mourning widely from within Japan and abroad.
By conducting the state funeral, Japan intends to mourn former Prime Minister Abe and show its determination not to give in to violence and to resolutely defend democracy. At the same time, we hope to convey our determination to the world that we will inherit a vibrant Japan and to open the path for the future.
In relation to the messages of condolence from non-state governments, Japan will notify the information about the state funeral to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and Palestine, as well as international organizations and agencies that offered messages of condolence following the passing of former Prime Minister Abe.
Dong-a Ilbo, Lee: The Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held this week. Mr. Edgard D. Kagan, Senior Director for East Asia at the U.S. National Security Council, expressed the recognition on the importance of improving Japan-ROK relations. Concerning this opinion, please tell us the Government of Japan’s view on the improvement of future Japan-ROK relations.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the report that you pointed out.
Japan-ROK cooperation as well as Japan-ROK-U.S. cooperation is indispensable for regional stability, including in response to North Korea. Japan-ROK relations are in an extremely difficult situation due to matters such as the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula and the comfort women issue, but I believe we cannot leave this as it is.
Keeping promises between countries is the foundation of relations between states. Building upon the conversation with Foreign Minister of the ROK Park Jin in the recent meeting, the Government of Japan will communicate closely with the Yoon Suk-yeol administration based on our consistent position to restore healthy Japan-ROK relations.
Treatment of Russia at the G20 Meeting
Pan Orient News, Azhari: I would like to ask about G20. You met Saudi foreign minister on Tuesday. Did you discuss the future of G20 because both countries, Saudi Arabia and Japan are members? There are some calls by politicians to disband G20 or to remove Russia from that. What is Japan's position on this? Thank you.
Minister Hayashi: Due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the international community considers that it is no longer possible to maintain the same relationship with Russia that it has had to date.
Regarding the treatment of Russia at the G20 meeting, the Government of Japan will respond appropriately based fully on the situation going forward, while discussing with Indonesia, the current G20 president, and other G20 member states.
I would like to refrain from speaking about the details of diplomaticexchanges. However, in the recent Japan-Saudi Arabia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with H.H. Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as in the courtesy call on Prime Minister Kishida by Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, we exchanged frank opinions on various issues including the need for cooperation of the international community in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and confirmed that we will continue to work closely together.
Sightseeing Tour Boat Accident Off the Shiretoko Peninsula (Handing Over the Victims’ Bodies by the Russian Side)
Kyodo News, Maeda: I would like to ask about the matter of handing over the bodies of the victims of the sightseeing tour boat accident off the Shiretoko Peninsula by Russia. The bodies of three victims found in the Northern territories and other locations have not yet been handed over by the Russian side. Is this because no agreement on the handover of the bodies was reached with the Russian side, or is it due to the method of handing over the bodies currently being coordinated? Please clarify the current situation. In addition, there is a concern that the sanctions against Russia may be affecting the situation. Could you tell us your view on this matter?
Minister Hayashi: Regarding the three bodies found by the Russian side near Kunashiri Island and Sakhalin, Russia is not refusing to hand over these bodies to Japan. Rather, based on the premise that the bodies be handed over to the Japanese side, earnest coordination is currently being conducted with the Russian side to reach an agreement on the method and timing of the handover. From a humanitarian perspective, we will continue to coordinate with the Russian side to realize the handover as soon as possible.
The Government of Japan has been communicating with the Russian side in a timely and appropriate manner. We do not see the sanctions against Russia and the deterioration in Japan-Russia relations causing any adverse effect on or hindering this matter.