Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Friday, September 30, 2022, 11:08 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

(Video) Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

1. Cabinet Decision on Lifting the Suspension of Visa Exemption Measures, Etc.

Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have two announcements.

Prime Minister Kishida and Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno recently made an announcement on easing the border measures for the novel coronavirus. As part of this, it was decided at the Cabinet meeting earlier to lift the suspension of visa exemption measures and the validity of already-issued visas, which had been implemented until now based on the previous Cabinet decision.

The measures will be lifted from October 11. We expect that international exchanges will become more active with the relaxation of the measures.

2. Cabinet Decision on the Revised Passport Act Implementation Ordinance

Minister Hayashi: Second, during the Cabinet meeting today, there was a decision on the implementation ordinance of the revised Passport Act announced in April 2022. Based on international trends regarding passports and progress in information technology some application procedures for passport issuance will be completed online in order to improve convenience for applicants and make passport administration work more efficient. This will enter into force on March 27, 2023.

MOFA will continue to steadily make more consul procedures online in order to improve convenience for the people of Japan and make the procedures more efficient.

Please inquire with an official for details.

That is all from me.

Notification by Russia Declaring a Consular Officer of the Consulate-General of Japan in Vladivostok as a Persona Non Grata

Iwasawa, NHK: I would like to ask about the consular officer of the Consulate-General of Japan in Vladivostok in Russia. Please tell us the current situation, including whether the consular officer who was subject to deportation from Russia has returned to Japan.

In addition, Japan conveyed to the Russian side that it believes that it is necessary to take appropriate measures. What is being considered for those measures?

Minister Hayashi: As I stated the day before yesterday regarding this issue, it is completely not true that the consular officer of the Consulate General of Japan in Vladivostok committed illegal activities as claimed by the Russian side. Russia’s actions, including its intimidating interrogation, are a clear and serious violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the Japan-Soviet Consular Convention. I believe Russia’s actions are extremely regrettable and absolutely unacceptable.

Additionally, the declaration of the consular officer as a persona non grata is an unbelievable act, and we have lodged a strong protest to the Russian side. We will continue to strongly urge Russia to take Japan’s protests and requests seriously.

Moreover, we are currently considering the “appropriate measures.” I cannot disclose them at this time.

The consular officer departed from Russia on September 28, but he has not returned to Japan yet. I would like to refrain from providing any further details due to the nature of the matter.

Russia’s Purported “Referenda” on the Incorporation of Regions of Ukraine

Pan Orient News, Azhari: I will stay on the Russian issues. What is Japan's position on the referendum going on in some parts of Ukraine by self-declared independent territories and they want to join Russia. What is Japan's planning to do? Do you recognize or take other steps? Thank you.

Minister Hayashi: The act of “referenda” implemented in regions of Ukraine as well as the act of “incorporation” of these regions by Russia infringes upon Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, constitute a violation of international law, and shall never be recognized. Japan strongly condemns such moves.

Japan cannot condone any attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force. We will also continue to work firmly on the two pillars of imposing strong sanctions against Russia and supporting Ukraine, in cooperation with the international community including the G7.

On September 26, Japan implemented the measure to ban exports of goods related to chemical weapons. As for further sanctions against Russia, we will appropriately respond in cooperation with the international community, including the G7, based on the recent developments and other such matters.

Japan-Russia Relations (Cooperative Project with Sakhalin)

Hokkaido Shimbun, Tamamura: Fishing for Hokke mackerel has begun near the Four Northern Islands based on the agreement on safe operations between Japan and Russia. The Government of Japan has made payment for the cooperative project with Sakhalin, which the Russian side had demanded as a condition for implementation of the agreement. Japan continues to impose its sanctions against Russia. Please tell us the reason why you decided to make this payment.

Minister Hayashi: We have continued to make coordination on this issue among the parties concerned based on various related circumstances and the will of the fishermen. As a result, we have reached the start of operations today.

The Sakhalin cooperative project is conducted with the objective of promoting understanding of Japan through support for economic and social reform in Sakhalin and others. Therefore, although the implementation of this project is not a compensation for fishing operations, the Russian side considers it an inseparable element, and there is the aspect that implementation of the project indirectly contributes to implementation of the fishing operations.

Our decision to make payment for the project was a result of comprehensive consideration of the significance of the cooperative project that promotes understanding of Japan as I mentioned earlier, and the strong requests from the local fishermen for operations under the framework agreement.

State Funeral for the Former Prime Minister Abe (Attendance by the Ambassador of Myanmar to Japan)

Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: I would like to ask about Myanmar. The Ambassador of Myanmar to Japan attended the recent state funeral for former Prime Minister Abe. The Myanmar military has assumed control in Myanmar since the coup d’état. The Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs streamed the Ambassador attending the state funeral on its social media, and there has been criticism from human rights organizations and others that this seems to give legitimacy to the Myanmar military regime. Please tell us your view on whether it was appropriate to invite Myanmar to the state funeral.

Minister Hayashi: I am aware that there are various opinions on this issue. Japan sent notifications of the state funeral to all countries with which we have diplomatic relations due to the nature of the ceremony.

There has been absolutely no change to Japan’s position of not recognizing the legitimacy of the coup d’état by the Myanmar military due to the attendance by the Ambassador of Myanmar. Since the coup, the Government of Japan has been consistently demanding that the Myanmar military take concrete actions to immediately stop the violence, release those who are detained including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and swiftly restore Myanmar’s democratic political system. We will continue to strongly demand this.

50th Anniversary of the Normalization of Japan-China Relations

The Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about Japan-China relations. Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China relations. I believe that you attended the ceremony yesterday and gave an address. Please tell us again how you intend to approach China going forward, and your views on holding a summit meeting, or a foreign ministers’ meeting.

Minister Hayashi: Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China relations. On this occasion, Prime Minister Kishida exchanged messages with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang of the State Council of China. I also exchanged messages with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and participated in the commemorative reception as representative of the Government of Japan. As I stated at the reception, Japan-China relations currently have various forms of potential, but we also face many issues and concerns. Japan’s consistent position is that it is necessary to state what should be stated and request China to take responsible actions, while both sides make efforts to build “constructive, stable Japan-China relations” in which we firmly hold dialogues repeatedly on various concerns and cooperate on various common issues.

At times like this, it is important to firmly communicate, and Japan is always open to communicating with China.

Nothing has been decided at this point regarding a Japan-China Summit Meeting or a meeting between State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and I, but we would like to firmly hold dialogue with China at various levels.

Notification by Russia Declaring a Consular Officer of the Consulate-General of Japan in Vladivostok as a Persona Non Grata

Mainichi Shimbun, Konno: Allow me to go back to the issue from earlier. I would like to ask about the detainment of the consular officer of the Consulate-General of Japan in Vladivostok. Members of the Liberal Democratic Party have expressed various views analyzing the intentions and timing of this incident, as it was close to the time of the state funeral for Prime Minister Abe. What are your views on the timing and intentions concerning this issue?

Minister Hayashi: My views on this matter are as I stated earlier. I am aware that there have been various discussions, including within the ruling party. My personal views are just as I stated earlier.

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