Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Friday, October 14, 2022, 10:39 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.

Missile Launches by North Korea

Kyodo News, Ueda: I would like to ask about the missile launches by North Korea. At around 1:47 a.m., on October 14, North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile towards the Sea of Japan. Regarding North Korea’s repeated missile launches, please tell us what information the Government of Japan has on this matter and what the government’s reaction and response are.

Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: North Korea has repeatedly launched missiles at an unprecedented frequency. Following the launch of a missile that flew over Japan for the first time in five years, North Korea has launched another ballistic missile in a short period of time. Japan cannot tolerate such aggression.

The facts are as announced by the Ministry of Defense. The repeated missile launches amidst the promotion of the Japan-U.S., Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK), U.S.-ROK, Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation are a clear provocation by North Korea. North Korea’s series of actions, including the recent missile launches, pose a threat to the peace and stability of Japan, the region and the international community, and are totally unacceptable. It is nothing but an act of violation of the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and turning back on the international community. Japan strongly condemns such actions. Japan has strongly condemned this by lodging strong protests against North Korea through the embassy in Beijing.

Japan will consider its responses in cooperation with the United States and the ROK. In addition to Japan-U.S. and Japan-ROK cooperation, we will take all possible measures to respond to the situation, including the promotion of security cooperation among Japan, the United States and the ROK.

NHK, Iwasawa: In relation to the previous question, I would like to ask about the sanctions against North Korea. In response to the repeated ballistic missile launches by North Korea, the ROK announced that it will impose its own sanctions against North Korea. Could you tell us the current status of consideration on this matter, including the possibility of Japan imposing its own sanctions?

Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the Government of the ROK’s additional measures on the sanctions against North Korea. Japan supports the stance of the Government of the ROK to resolve the nuclear and missile issues caused by North Korea.

The Government of Japan will continue to cooperate closely with the international community, including the United States and the ROK, and aim for the complete denuclearization of North Korea.

Having that said, I would like to refrain from answering the question about Japan’s responses going forward at this time based on speculation. However, we have constantly reviewed specific responses from the standpoint of determining what would be most effective to comprehensively resolve issues of concern such as abductions, and nuclear and missile issues, and we will continue to consider them.

United States’ New National Security Strategy

Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: The Biden administration announced the United States’ new National Security Strategy in which China is stated as the “only competitor.” What is the reaction of the Government of Japan to this new strategy? Meanwhile, Japan is revising its National Security Strategy towards the end of this year. In addition, please tell us any potential impacts the U.S.’s new National Security Strategy has on Japan’s revision work.

Minister Hayashi: The new National Security Strategy recently released by the U.S. Government showsU.S. policy to address strategic competition faced by the international community and common global challenges for all countries through the leadership of the United States and in cooperation with its allies and partners, including Japan.

Furthermore, it reaffirms the promotion of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” and the United States’ unwavering commitment to the defense of Japan with a mention of the Senkaku Islands, which has never appeared in previous U.S. strategy documents, and the Government of Japan greatly appreciates this.

Regarding the second point about the impact of the United States’ new strategy on the formulation of Japan’s new National Security Strategy, we believe that the United States and Japan are in agreement on the direction taken, as the two countries closely coordinate to share and understand the strategies and policies on a daily basis.

Support for Ukraine

Mainichi Shimbun, Miyahara: I would like to ask about the support for Ukraine. On October 12, you had a meeting with H.E. Mr. Sergiy Korsunsky, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine, and stated Japan’s resolve to continue providing support for the people of Ukraine, in close coordination and cooperation with international organizations, Ukraine and its surrounding countries. What support does the Government of Japan plan to provide to Ukraine? In addition, please tell us the status of considerations as to whether the Government of Japan intends to include the necessary expenses in the second supplementary budget to be submitted to the current session of the Diet.

Minister Hayashi: Japan has so far announced assistance of approximately $1.1 billion in humanitarian, financial, and food-related support to Ukraine and other affected countries, such as those surrounding Ukraine, and has been implementing them sequentially, including winter preparedness.

Japan will firmly consider support for Ukraine the bitter cold of winter, even in the Comprehensive Economic Measures. We will continue to cooperate with the international community, accurately grasp local needs, and actively play our role in providing humanitarian and recovery support that is considerate of the people of Ukraine.

Japan-China Relations (The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China)

Sankei Shimbun, Okada: The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be held on October 16. It is considered almost certain that President Xi Jinping will secure a third term as General Secretary of the Communist Party. What is your view on the future of Japan-China relations?

Minister Hayashi: I am aware that the seventh plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was held from October 9 to October 12, and that the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be held from October 16.

I would like to refrain from speculating about the outcome of the National Congress. In any case, Japan-China relations have various opportunities, but also face many issues and concerns. Japan’s consistent position is that we need to say what needs to be said, hold dialogues repeatedly, and request China to take responsible actions, while both sides make efforts to build “constructive, stable Japan-China relations” in which we cooperate on various common challenges.

The Resolution Condemning the Russian Federation at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly

Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about the recent United Nations (UN) General Assembly Resolution. Recently, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted the resolution condemning the Russian Federation’s unilateral annexation of four eastern Ukraine regions. Please tell us the significance of the resolution, which had 143 votes in favor, slightly surpassing the number of votes in favor for the resolutions condemning Russia in March, as well as the reactions of the Government of Japan.

Minister Hayashi: This resolution condemns Russia’s purported “referendums” in Ukraine and its attempt to illegally annex some regions of Ukraine, and declares that the referendums are not valid. Japan has been communicating with many countries, including at the ministerial level, so that the draft resolution could be supported by as many countries as possible, and enable the UN General Assembly to show its strong will against Russia.

As a result, the resolution was adopted with a majority of 143 votes in favor, which showed the strong will of the UN General Assembly, defending the principles and purposes of the Charter of the UN against Russia's outrageous act, and Japan welcomes this.

Japan cannot condone any attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force. We will continue to cooperate with the international community, including the G7, and strongly demand that Russia immediately stop the invasion and withdraw all its military forces. In addition, we will continue to follow the development at the Security Council and the UN General Assembly with strong concern.

This resolution was adopted with 143 votes in favor, which surpassed the 141 votes in favor for the so-called “Aggression against Ukraine resolution” adopted on March 2, and the 140 votes for the so-called “Humanitarian consequences of the aggression against Ukraine” resolution on March 24.

However, the details of the resolution are not the same as previous ones. In some cases, countries that abstained from voting on the resolutions in March voted in favor this time, and vice versa. Therefore, it is not easy to discuss the increase in the number of votes by simply pointing out the decision of few countries. Furthermore, I consider it appropriate that Japan should refrain from commenting on the voting behavior of other countries.

On a side note, the resolution in 2014 condemning Russia’s purported “referendums” in Crimea was adopted with 100 votes in favor. In comparison, the resolution this time was adopted with 43 more votes in favor.

In any case, as I just stated, we understand that this General Assembly resolution was adopted with a total of 143 countries voted in favor, affirming the strong will of the UN General Assembly to defend the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, and Japan welcomes it.

The Issue of Abductions by North Korea

Nikkei Shimbun, Asahina: I would like to ask about the abductions issue. October 15 marks the 20th year since five of the abductees returned to Japan. Please tell us the reaction of the Government of Japan to the current situation in which no other abductees have been able to return since. In addition, as the abductions issue has been raised by the United States at the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting and other occasions, but has there been any achievement made from past efforts? In addition, please tell us the way the Government of Japan will work together with the current U.S. Government to resolve the abductions issue.

Minister Hayashi: A long time has passed since the abductions by North Korea took place. It is a matter of deep regret that since the five abductees returned to Japan in 2002, we have not been able to realize the return of even one abductee. I would like to share the sense of urgency held by the victims’ families who are strongly demanding the resolution of the issue.

It is important that Japan proactively work on the abductions issue in order to resolve it. Prime Minister Kishida has been expressing his resolute position to hold a meeting with Chairman Kim Jong-un without preconditions.

At the same time, it is also extremely important that Japan work in close cooperation with the United States and other relevant countries. Through various occasions, such as a meeting with the families of abductees during the visit by President Biden in May, we have gained repeated understanding and support from the relevant countries including the United States.

The abductions issue is a top priority for the Kishida administration. It is also an urgent issue with the families of the victims reaching old age. Therefore, the Government of Japan is fully committed to making its utmost efforts without missing any single opportunity to realize the return of all abductees to Japan as soon as possible.

Visit to Yasukuni Shrine

Kyodo News, Ueda: I would like to change the subject and ask about a visit to Yasukuni Shrine. Please tell us whether you plan to visit the shrine during the Annual Autumn Rites at Yasukuni Shrine, which will begin on October 17.

Minister Hayashi: As a member of the Kishida cabinet, I will make an appropriate decision.

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