Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Thursday, November 17, 2022, 10:36 p.m. Bangkok, Thailand

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Today, I attended the APEC Ministerial Meeting to be held in-person for the first time in four years here in Bangkok, Thailand. During the meeting, there were wide-ranging discussions among ministers regarding various economic matters in the Asia-Pacific region, including post-COVID-19 recovery and sustainable growth in the region.

In my opening remarks, I will briefly speak about Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine infringes upon Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and is a grave violation of international law. It also undermines the very foundation of the international order. Japan is seriously concerned about the nuclear threat posed by Russia. Such a threat is absolutely unacceptable. Furthermore, its use should never occur under any circumstances. Furthermore, Russia’s aggression poses a threat to the stable supply of food, energy, and the like. In addition, we are concerned about the false narrative spread by some countries that the worsening of the global economy, including the current surge in food prices, is due to economic sanctions imposed on Russia. The cause of the problem is Russia’s aggression.

During the APEC Ministerial Meeting, I stated these positions of Japan, strongly condemned Russia’s actions, and urged Russia to immediately stop its aggression. Additionally, with regard to the topic for this meeting, “balanced, inclusive, and sustainable growth,” I stated that Japan’s intention to contribute to capacity building toward strengthening human security and pointed out the importance of initiatives to ensure equitable access to economic activities for everyone, including women.

Moreover, with regard to the next theme of “reconnect the region,” I emphasized the resumption of safe cross-border movement of people and introduced the major easing of Japan’s border measures. Furthermore, I stated the importance of development and investment for “quality infrastructure” and transparent, fair development finance.

In addition, regarding “open, sustainable trade and investment,” I emphasized the necessity of maintaining and strengthening the rules-based fair and open multilateral trade system, led by the World Trade Organization (WTO). I also stated that Japan will defend the spirit and principles of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and uphold its high standards.

As I just stated, I believe I firmly conveyed Japan’s positions on future cooperation in APEC and on Russia’s aggression that undermines the international order.

In addition, I held bilateral foreign ministers’ meetings with Thailand, the chair of APEC, as well as Viet Nam and Papua New Guinea. During the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with Thailand, I welcomed the announcement of the “Five-Year Joint Action Plan on Japan-Thailand Strategic Economic Partnership,” which sets the direction for cooperation in the economic field over the next five years for both our countries, as this year marks the 135th anniversary of friendly relations between Japan and Thailand. We also held wide-ranging discussions on regional and international affairs, including Ukraine, North Korea, and Myanmar, and agreed to cooperate closely.

Moreover, during the Japan-Viet Nam Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, we confirmed the promotion of cooperation in extensive fields to take our bilateral relations to a new level toward the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Viet Nam next year. We also had a candid exchange of views regarding regional and global affairs and confirmed continued close cooperation.

During the Japan-Papua New Guinea Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I explained Japan’s initiatives related to cooperation with Papua New Guinea under Japan’s Pacific Bond Policy toward Pacific Island countries. Foreign Minister Tkatchenko expressed gratitude for Japan’s initiatives. We also discussed situations, including that of the Pacific Islands region, and agreed on close cooperation.

That is all from me.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: I would like to ask two questions about the APEC Ministerial Meeting. For my first question, I believe that coordination is underway to issue a statement for the APEC Ministerial Meeting. Please tell us your reaction to that, and whether a statement will really be issued.

Minister Hayashi: I believe that it was a major outcome of the meeting that we confirmed the promotion of initiatives on resuming the safe movement for people, ensuring energy and food, tackling climate change, and other such matters in order to overcome the effects of COVID-19 and realize sustainable, inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific region. As you just pointed out, though we have not yet issued a joint statement, I believe I conveyed a timely message of strongly condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine as well as about matters such as supporting the multilateral trade system and developing and investing in quality infrastructure. Japan will continue to contribute to discussions in APEC toward economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporter: I would like to ask another question related to APEC.I believe that APEC has not been able to issue a unified message, including for the past meetings. Some people view that this is certainly not positive for promoting cornerstones of free trade such as the TPP and IPEF. What do you think is necessary for stimulating free trade?

Minister Hayashi: As I stated in my opening remarks, I believe that peace and stability are the foundation for economic development in terms of free trade. In that sense, I strongly condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine throughout the APEC meeting. Based on this peace and stability, we will support the multilateral trade system including the WTO. Additionally, whether it is for trading or pushing the economy forward, it is extremely important for developing countries to develop infrastructure, though this may be less frequently discussed in Japan. In that sense, firmly and steadfastly implementing development and investment for quality infrastructure will greatly contribute to promoting trade and investment. As I stated earlier, I have firmly stated this point.

Reporter: At the APEC meeting, you referred to the effects of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine on the development of the Asia-Pacific region. What specific effects do you believe it is having on APEC’s economic development, and how will the Government of Japan contribute to resolving such issues?

Minister Hayashi: First, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine infringes upon Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and is a clear violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter. I have repeatedly stated that such unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force are absolutely unacceptable as they undermine the foundation of the international order. This aggression threatens the stable supply of food and energy. I believe that this is having major effects on the development of the Asia-Pacific region. Furthermore, we are concerned about the spreading of false narrative that the current worsening of the economy is due to the economic sanctions against Russia. I emphasized that the real cause is Russia’s aggression during this meeting and other opportunities.

As I answered earlier, regional peace, safety, and stability are truly the foundation of growth. Russia’s actions threaten peace and stability, which are the foundation of growth. I believe that this view is widely shared among the APEC members. Accordingly, I believe that various economies will firmly work to strengthen their solidarity regarding the importance of maintaining and strengthening the international order based on the rule of law.

Reporter: With regard to the Japan-China Summit Meeting, how would you like to coordinate your visit to China, including the specific timing?

Minister Hayashi: Yes, during the Japan-China Summit Meeting today, the leaders agreed on close communication at all levels, including the summit level. Amidst this, it was agreed to proceed with coordination on my own visit to China, as the Chinese side had extended an invitation before.

Reporter: I would like to ask about the Japan-China Summit Meeting that you just mentioned. What was your impression of the Summit Meeting, which was held for the first time in three years? Please tell us your reaction.

Minister Hayashi: As you just stated, this was the first Japan-China Summit Meeting to be held in person in about three years. It was also the first in-person meeting between Prime Minister Kishida and President Xi. The two leaders had a candid, in-depth discussion on the broad direction of Japan-China relations, challenges and pending issues, and the potential for cooperation.

I believe the meeting was truly an opportunity that will lead to the establishment of a constructive, stable Japan-China relations in which Japan states what should be stated and requests China to take responsible actions, while both sides cooperate on common issues.

Japan-China relations have various forms of potential yet also face many challenges and pending issues. Based on today’s meeting, I believe it is important to continue close communication at all levels, including the summit level, toward building a constructive, stable relations I mentioned earlier.

Reporter: Allow me to ask this again. Can you tell us about the outlook for your visit to China, which was agreed upon before?

Minister Hayashi: Yes, today, the summit leaders agreed to proceed with coordinating my visit to China, for which the Chinese side already extended an invitation, as I mentioned earlier.

Reporter: I would like to change the subject. The journalist KUBOTA Toru, who had been detained in Myanmar, was released today. Please tell us again your view on the circumstances from the journalist’s detainment leading up to his release, as well as about matters such as the future response.

Minister Hayashi: Japanese Ambassador to Myanmar Maruyama and others have repeatedly and strongly requested the early release of Mr. Kubota. The Myanmar side explained that his release was due to the strong appeal from the Government of Japan.

Mr. Kubota met with Ambassador Maruyama and has already departed from Yangon airport. He will return to Japan tomorrow, November 18.

The Government of Japan will continue to make all efforts to protect Japanese nationals, and strongly urge the Myanmar side to improve the situation.

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