Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Tuesday, November 1, 2022, 4:34 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Minister Hayashi’s Attendance at the Second Japan-Germany Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting (“2+2”) and the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I will be visiting Münster, Germany from November 3 to 4 to attend the Second Japan-Germany Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting (“2+2”) and the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
This will be the first Japan-Germany “2+2” that will be held in-person. I plan to discuss security and defense cooperation, confirm Japan-Germany cooperation in responding to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. We will also discuss regional affairs including the situation in East Asia as well as the response to North Korea, including the nuclear and missile issues as well as the abductions issue with Germany.
In addition, this will be the 10th G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting to be held this year alongside our online meetings. I plan to hold a candid exchange of views with my G7 counterparts regarding regional affairs including Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific as well as various urgent issues of the international community.
Furthermore, I plan to take this opportunity to have meetings with the foreign ministers and others from relevant countries and strengthen our cooperation.
That is all from me.
G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
NHK, Iwasawa: I would like to ask about the G7. The G7 foreign ministers have repeatedly confirmed that they will cooperate to address the situation in Ukraine, but Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine continues. Amidst this situation, please tell us the possible effects and significance of holding this 10th G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with regard to the situation in Ukraine.
Minister Hayashi: As you just stated, as the international situation grows increasingly uncertain, cooperation among G7 countries, which share fundamental values and principles, is becoming more important. In particular, G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meetings have already been held nine times this year to discuss matters such as the situation in Ukraine. Japan has contributed to the G7’s policy coordination and external communication as the only G7 member from Asia.
The meeting this time will be held over two days, as planned since the beginning of this year. Japan plans to hold candid discussions with the G7 members regarding various issues, including the situation in Ukraine as well as various matters in the Indo-Pacific, and again strengthen cooperation among the G7.
Situation in Ukraine
Pan Orient News, Azhari: Just to stay on Ukrainian issue. Does Japan believe in diplomacy to settle the war in Ukraine rather than supporting Ukraine to fight back Russia in what seems to be a very long, destructive war?
Minister Hayashi: Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is an outrageous act that undermines the very foundation of the international order that the international community has built up over a long period of hard work and many sacrifices. Unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force are absolutely unacceptable.
President Putin has repeatedly tried to justify Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and there have been no signs of changing his unyielding position and compromising. In particular, we are gravely concerned about Russia’s nuclear threats, which is absolutely unacceptable. Furthermore, its use should never occur under any circumstances.
Under suchcircumstances, in order to make Russia immediately cease its aggression and create a path to dialogue, I believe it is very important to cooperate with the international community, including the G7, and continue to implement robust sanctions against Russia as well as support for Ukraine.
Vote on the Draft Resolution on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons by the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: I would like to ask about the draft resolution on the elimination of nuclear weapons submitted by the Government of Japan last night to the First Committee of the UNGA. It was adopted with the support of 139 countries. This draft resolution refers the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. I believe it was the first time to have such a reference among the draft resolutions that Japan submits every year. Please tell us the Government of Japan’s message encompassed in this reference. In addition, please tell us again how the Government will approach the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Minister Hayashi: On October 31, the draft resolution that you mentioned was adopted with the support of 139 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. In light of the widening division within the international community over approaches on nuclear disarmament, it is highly significant that this draft resolution was adopted with support from states with various positions including nuclear weapon states such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and France.
There has been no change in Japan’s position on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. However, this draft resolution mentioned the Treaty in a manner that follows the wording of the draft final document of the NPT Review Conference held in August from the perspective of attaining broad support from countries with different positions with the aim of increasing momentum for nuclear disarmament.
Through this draft resolution, Japan will work to further enhance the momentum of the international community to achieve a world without nuclear weapons and steadily advance realistic and practical efforts, bearing in mind that the G7 Summit will be held in Hiroshima next year.
Northern Territories Issue
Hokkaido Shimbun, Araya: I would like to ask about the Northern Territories issue. President Zelensky of Ukraine announced his support for Japan’s sovereignty over the Northern Territories, and the Ukrainian parliament adopted a resolution taking the same position. Again, please tell us your reaction to this development. Do you intend to resolve the Northern Territories issue by appealing to the international community?
Minister Hayashi: On October 7, I am aware that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a resolution supporting Japan’s position concerning the Northern Territories issue, and that a Ukrainian presidential decree was announced.
I believe it is very significant that we have received understanding and support from many countries, including Ukraine, regarding Japan’s position.
Japan-Russia relations are in a difficult situation due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, but there is no change to the Government of Japan’s determination to keep our policy of resolving the attribution issue and concluding a peace treaty through negotiations with Russia.
Suspension of Participation by Russia in the Black Sea Grain Initiative
Mainichi Shimbun, Miyahara:: I would like to ask about Russia’s suspension of the grain export agreement. On October 29, the Government of Russia suspended Russia’s participation in the agreement on grain exports from Ukraine via the Black Sea, claiming that it was attacked by a terrorist. The Ukrainian side has denied its involvement in the attack. There has been criticism that Russia’s unilateral suspension of participation will cause a food crisis and grain prices to rise. Although there has been movement for partial resumption of participation, please tell us your reaction and how Japan will deal with this situation.
Minister Hayashi: Russia has announced its unilateral suspension of participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative that enables export of Ukrainian agricultural products from Black Sea ports. This is extremely regrettable, as current global food security is at risk precisely due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
We are monitoring the effects Russia’s announcement has on the global food supply. We are seriously concerned that this will affect vulnerable populations, such as the spreading hunger in developing countries.
According to the report by the United Nations, the export of grain from Ukraine under the Black Sea Grain Initiative has not been completely suspended. However, I believe it would be completely unacceptable if a situation in which the food security of the most vulnerable populations all around the world, especially in developing countries, is jeopardized due to soaring food prices caused by the suspension of grain exports from the Black Sea in future.
Along with the international community, including the G7, the Government of Japan will strongly urge Russia to immediately continue cooperation in the grain export framework based on the four-party agreement.
Harm to Japanese Nationals During the Crowd Crush Incident in Seoul
NHK, Iwasawa: I would like to ask about the incident that occurred in Itaewon, Seoul in the Republic of Korea (ROK). So far, the deaths of two Japanese residents in the ROK have been confirmed. Please tell us your reaction to such an incident involving the death of Japanese nationals. In addition, please tell us how the Government of Japan will respond, including responding to the bereaved families.
Minister Hayashi: I would like to express my sincere condolences for the two Japanese residents who died in the crowd crush incident that occurred in Seoul on October 29, as well as my sympathy to their families.
MOFA has established a Response Division headed by the Director-General of the Consular Affairs Bureau in Japan, as well as a Response Headquarters headed by Ambassador Aiboshi at the Embassy of Japan in the ROK. They are working to respond to incidents, to gather information and provide support for the families of victims.
From the viewpoint of protecting Japanese nationals, we will continue to provide as much support as possible with consideration for the families.
Furthermore, we have not received information about Japanese victims other than the two confirmed people at the present point.
Status of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Tokyo and the Ambassador of Afghanistan to Japan, and the Outlook on Reopening the Embassy of Japan in Syria
Pan Orient News, Azhari: I would like to ask about the embassies of Afghanistan and Syria. What is Japan's, what is a status of the Afghanistan embassy and ambassador in Japan and is Japan planning to reopen its embassy in Syria anytime soon?
Minister Hayashi: With regard to the Embassy of Afghanistan in Tokyo and the Ambassador of Afghanistan to Japan, there has been no change in their status as we have not received any particular communication from the Afghani side.
In addition, regarding the Embassy of Japan in Syria, it has been temporarily closed and relocated to Beirut in the neighboring country of Lebanon. We do not have any plans to reopen at this point.