Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Wednesday, August 10, 2022, 8:11 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Aspirations as Minister for Foreign Affairs
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have been appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs in the reshuffled second Kishida Cabinet. I would appreciate your continued support.
During the approximately nine months since I was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs in November 2021, international affairs have been changing at a hectic speed. Amidst this situation, based on the results built up by Japanese diplomacy thus far, I have visited 17 countries since my appointment, held approximately 240 in-person and online meetings, and responded to many diplomatic issues while building relationships of trust with the foreign ministers of various countries.
The international community is now at a crossroads in history. I believe we are in an extremely important situation that will determine whether we can maintain a free, open, rules-based international order and enjoy peace and prosperity in the future.
Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine is an extremely serious situation that undermines the foundation of the international order, including not only Europe but also Asia. In addition, China’s recent series of military actions, particularly its launches of ballistic missiles into the waters near Japan, including our exclusive economic zone (EEZ), is a grave issue related to the security of Japan and the safety of our people. Furthermore, the security environment is growing increasingly severe and uncertain, including nuclear and missile development by North Korea, unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force in the East and South China Seas, and increasing tensions due to changes in the military balance.
In order to respond to these challenges, I will of course continue to contribute to the formulation of a new National Security Strategy, and to discussions on fundamentally strengthening our defense capabilities toward the end of this year. As decided in the Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform 2022, it is necessary to exert all efforts to strengthen diplomatic capabilities, including expanding ODA and fundamentally strengthening our diplomatic implementation system.
Amidst this situation, I will firstly further deepen the Japan-U.S. Alliance, the cornerstone of Japan’s diplomacy and security policy, and strengthen its deterrence and response capabilities. I will also strengthen initiatives related to economic security, including follow-up on the recent Japan-U.S. Economic “2+2.”
Policy coordination with the G7, a gathering of like-minded countries, is being conducted more closely than ever before. Cooperation toward achieving a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” is also becoming more important. As the country holding the G7 presidency next year, Japan will actively advance diplomacy to maintain and develop an international order based on universal values.
In addition, as there are concerns over division in the international community, I will boldly work to strengthen the functions of the United Nations, including Security Council reform, and pursue ideal global governance that responds to new challenges of the international community. Furthermore, I will resolutely respond to the aggression against Ukraine with continued economic sanctions and other such measures, and strengthen support for Ukraine and neighboring countries.
In order to realize a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” the Japan-U.S. Alliance will be a cornerstone, and I will leverage the Quad initiatives involving Japan, Australia, India, and the United States, deepen cooperation with countries and regions including ASEAN, Europe, and the Pacific Island countries, and strengthen cooperation with Africa through TICAD8.
I will also continue to firmly respond to the abductions, nuclear, and missile issues involving North Korea. From this perspective, it is also important to further promote Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) cooperation.
Furthermore, towards realizing a “world without nuclear weapons,” I will further advance the Government’s initiatives, including responding to the NPT Review Conference which is currently being held. I will also continue to actively contribute to responding to global issues.
Although there are mounting diplomatic challenges, amidst epoch-making changes, I intend to continue to open a new frontier of Japanese diplomacy as Minister for Foreign Affairs with a balanced and stable posture and a high level of readiness, underpinned by three determinations: the determination to fully defend universal values, the determination to fully safeguard the peace and stability of Japan, and the determination to face global scale issues, including nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation as well as climate change, contribute to humankind, and take on a leadership role in the international community.
Additionally, with regard to relations with the former Unification Church, Prime Minister Kishida has issued instructions to Cabinet members to examine and strictly review any relationships with the Church upon responsibility as individual politicians in order to dispel suspicions by the people of Japan.
As for myself, I have conducted my own examination, and found that I was interviewed in 2012, 10 years ago, by an organization that has been identified as having relations with the former Unification Church. I apologize for my lack of awareness of the current status of the organization concerned. I would like to promise here that I will not have any relations with the organization in the future.
That is all from me.
Relations with the Former Unification Church
Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: In relation to the interview by an organization related to the former Unification Church, which you just mentioned, I believe that you stated you had no relations with the former Unification Church at a previous press conference. Please tell us the details of how you ascertained the interview and what specifically the interview was.
Minister Hayashi: I believe that during the press conference on August 2 that you pointed out, I stated that there was no relations with the former Unification Church. When I reexamined this based on the Prime Minister’s instructions, as I stated in the beginning, I confirmed that I was interviewed by a relevant organization in 2012, and I have clarified this. In any case, I would like to assure that I will not have any relations with the organization concerned going forward.
In February 2012, Sekai Nippo newspaper asked my office for an interview regarding matters such as the Democratic Party administration at that time, diplomacy and security, and the following year’s draft budget. I agreed to be interviewed.
Kyodo News, Maeda: In relation to the former Unification Church, is it correct to understand that your reexamination is already finished and there will be no further relationship and you did not receive any support such as donations or election activities?
Minister Hayashi: Based on my reexamination this time, I have not received any support in the form of donations or election activities from the organization you pointed out.
Jiji Press, Tanaka: I would like to ask about diplomatic matters. Regarding Japan-ROK relations, there are reports that the ROK has decided to liquidate the assets of Japanese companies by the end of this month in relation to the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula. Please tell us your recognition of the urgency of the current situation, and how you will respond.
Minister Hayashi: With regard to Japan-ROK relations, I believe that Japan-ROK and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation are essential for regional stability, including responding to North Korea.
As for the very difficult situation due to the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula, which you just mentioned, as well as the comfort women issue, I believe that it cannot be left as itis.
I believe that the foundation of relations between countries is to keep commitments made between countries. I will closely communicate with the ROK side based on Japan’s consistent position, to restore healthy Japan-ROK relations.
In addition, upon my reappointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister Kishida stated that he would like me to firmly respond to international affairs as they are becoming more severe. I intend to firmly respond based on this with regard to relations with both China and the ROK as well.
Foreign Minister Hayashi’s Assessment of His Own Work Performance Thus Far
Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: I believe that since your appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs in November 2021, you have had many situations in which you were forced to make difficult decisions, such as on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. How do you personally assess your work performance in the past year or so since your appointment?
Minister Hayashi: My efforts thus far and way of thinking going forward are as I stated at the beginning. I believe that history will probably judge our efforts and results in diplomacy.
If I were to say anything further, it would be that international affairs have been changing at a hectic pace in the approximately nine months since my appointment, and I have responded to many diplomatic matters. I intend to continue to open a new frontier of Japanese diplomacy as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Kishida Cabinet with a balanced and stable posture with a high level of readiness, underpinned by three determinations, as I stated at the beginning.
State Funeral for the Late Former Prime Minister Abe
NHK, Iwasawa: I would like to ask about the state funeral for former Prime Minister Abe. What is the current status of coordination for the state funeral to be held next month, including the number of attendees and planned attendance by foreign dignitaries?
Minister Hayashi: At the present point, the specific attendees are undecided. MOFA will continue to ensure the hospitality and like for attendees from overseas to the state funeral without any omissions.
As I stated earlier, the specific attendees and other such matters have not been decided yet.
Relations with the Former Unification Church
Kyodo News, Maeda: I would like to return to the matter of the former Unification Church. What is your conclusion in terms of whether it was appropriate to be interviewed by the Sekai Nippo in 2012?
Minister Hayashi: As I stated earlier, I agreed to be interviewed after my office received a request. I agreed to be interviewed at the time without realizing that the organization concerned had relations with the former Unification Church.
As I stated at the beginning, I truly apologize for this matter. I promise here that I will not have any relations with the organization in the future.
Conflict Between Israel and Palestine
Pan Orient News, Azhari: Congratulations on your reappointment.
My question is about the Middle East. Attacks by Israel on Gaza caused many causalities and destructions, maybe part in Israel too. We know that there are some rockets at Israel that launched from Gaza but the core of the problem is Israel's occupation.
What does Japan plan to do on this problem and Japan is against the change of status quo and against of invading other countries. So do you think that will be a new approach? Thank you,
Minister Hayashi: On August 5 local time, the Israeli military carried out air strikes against facilities related to Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip. This led to reciprocal violence, with rockets and other weapons flying intermittently from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. It is my understanding that a ceasefire was agreed upon on August 7 local time.
Japan is deeply concerned about the large number of civilian casualties resulting from this conflict. I would like to express condolences to the families of the victims.
Japan strongly hopes that the ceasefire agreement will contribute to the stabilization of the situation in the Gaza Strip and improve the socioeconomic situation. Japan calls on all relevant parties to abide by the ceasefire agreement and exercise the utmost restraint to ensure that it is upheld.
Japan is convinced that the problems faced by the people of the Middle East can never be solved through violence, but only through negotiations between the parties to the conflict and efforts to build mutual trust. I would like to encourage all the relevant parties to make such efforts as much as possible.
Visit to Nagasaki by Foreign Minister Hayashi
Mainichi Shimbun, Konno: I would like to change the subject. Yesterday, you visited the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. I would like to ask again your thoughts on the visit and how Japan will work toward a meaningful outcome at the NPT Review Conference, which is currently being held, now that you have been in touch with the area affected by atomic bombing.
Minister Hayashi: As Minister of Foreign Affairs, I accompanied Prime Minister Kishida to attend the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony. At the ceremony, I heard various messages, such as choruses and messages from local people. My determination was renewed to never allow this to happen again. Afterwards, I accompanied Prime Minister Kishida to visit the museum, together with the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare as well as the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries who was born in Nagasaki.
I have always stated that it is important to learn the reality of the atomic bombing. I was able to come into direct contact with this through various exhibits, and I strongly felt that we must ensure that this tragedy must never be repeated.
Situation in Taiwan (Evacuation Plan for Japanese Nationals)
Nikkei Shimbun, Miki: I would like to ask about Taiwan. As tensions around Taiwan are rising due to China’s military exercises, the importance of evacuation of Japanese nationals in Taiwan has been pointed out. Please tell us the Government’s view on the necessity of this evacuation plan, and the status of consideration, if there is any.
Minister Hayashi: Protecting Japanese nationals who are traveling and staying overseas is one of the most important responsibilities of MOFA. We constantly conduct necessary preparation and consideration, presuming various situations necessitating protection and evacuation of Japanese nationals who are overseas.
Due to the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from answering about Japan’s individual responses to emergencies while naming specific countries or regions. In any case, the Government of Japan will exert all efforts to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals.
Yomiuri Shimbun, Kaneko: In relation to the question just now, next month will mark the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China relations. As the situation is quite difficult, how will you resume dialogue between Japan and China? Moreover, have you received any specific instructions from Prime Minister Kishida regarding Japan-China relations?
Minister Hayashi: Since Japan and China are neighboring countries, there are various unresolved issues between us. Japan has strong concerns about the security of the region and the international community due to unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea and South China Sea, the situation surrounding the Senkaku Islands, and the expansion and increase of military activities in the vicinity of Japan.
Amidst this situation, China’s recent series of military actions, particularly its launches of ballistic missiles into the waters near Japan including our EEZ, pose a grave threat to the security of Japan and the safety of our people. We have strongly condemned this and lodged a protest to China, and demanded the immediate suspension of China’s military exercises, as its recent actions seriously affect the peace and stability of the international community.
It is important to firmly communicate precisely in such times. I have been stating that Japan is always open to dialogue with China.
Additionally, as for Japan-China relations, I believe it is necessary to state what should be stated and request China to take responsible actions, while both sides make efforts to establish a “constructive and stable Japan-China relationship” with cooperation on various common issues.
Upon my reappointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister Kishida instructed that he would like me to firmly respond to international affairs as they are becoming more severe. I intend to firmly respond based on this point with regard to relations with both China and the ROK as well.
Visit to Yasukuni Shrine
Kyodo News, Maeda: I would like to ask about visiting Yasukuni Shrine. August 15, the date of the end of WWII is approaching. Do you intend to visit Yasukuni Shrine on this day?
Minister Hayashi: As a member of the Kishida Cabinet, I will make an appropriate decision.