Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, December 16, 2022, 10:32 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Situation in Peru (Ensuring the Safety of Japanese Nationals)
NHK, Iwasawa: I would like to ask about the situation in Peru. Protests against the detention of former President Castillo in Peru still continues, and the Government of Peru declared a state of emergency on December 14. There are reports suggesting that Japanese tourists are being prevented from leaving the country. Please tell us what the Government of Japan currently knows about the situation, including any harm to Japanese nationals.
Please also tell us how you will proceed to urge caution to Japanese nationals, such as by raising the level of Travel Advice and Warnings.
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I am aware that the Government of Peru has declared a state of emergency from December 15 to 30 throughout the country due to the protests against the dismissal of President Castillo by Peru’s Congress on December 7, which have included destructive acts against public institutions and violence.
At the moment, we have not confirmed any harm to the lives or health of Japanese nationals in Peru. However, we know that travel remains difficult due to the closure of airports and roads. The Embassy of Japan in Peru is keeping in contact with Japanese nationals who are experiencing difficulties with travel and appealing to the Peruvian authorities to ensure their safety.
In addition, we are urging Japanese nationals in Peru to take caution as needed through spot information, consul emails, and other means. We will continue to make all efforts to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals.
As for raising the level of Travel Advice and Warnings, we will make an appropriate decision depending on the situation.
Formulation of the New National Security Strategy, Etc. (Counterstrike Capabilities and China’s Reaction)
Kyodo News, Ueda: I would like to ask about the three security documents. The Government of Japan will make a Cabinet decision on the three security documents today. The documents will stipulate the possession of counterstrike capabilities and significantly change Japan’s security policy. First, please tell us your reaction to this.
Furthermore, the documents describe China’s military activities as being “unprecedented and the greatest strategic challenge.” The National Defense Strategy also includes the term “threat.” China has already objected to this. Please tell us your opinion on this.
Minister Hayashi: As technologies pertaining to missiles etc. change and evolve at a rapid speed, and the security environment surrounding Japan is increasingly and rapidly becoming severe, consideration of so-called “counterstrike capabilities” has been conducted to protect the lives and livelihoods of the people of Japan.
I am aware of China’s reaction as you pointed out. A decision has still not been made on the new National Security Strategy and other documents, so I would like to refrain from commenting based on speculation about specific content as well as such reactions.
Formulation of the New National Security Strategy, etc. (International Cooperation with Like-Minded Countries / Definition of Like-Minded Countries)
TV Asahi, Sawai: I would like to ask a related question. The three security documents, for which will be approved by the Cabinet later, contain statements about cooperative support for the militaries of like-minded countries in order to strengthen deterrence. In addition to strengthening the Japan-U.S. Alliance, I believe that expanding cooperation with like-minded countries is also a major point. Last month, Prime Minister Kishida already proposed international cooperation as part of the efforts to strengthen comprehensive defense capabilities, such as with like-minded countries for strengthening deterrence. I believe that this is a new initiative, such as provision of equipment and infrastructure improvements for like-minded countries with the aim of deterrence, which would be separate from ODA. What specific support and cooperation does MOFA have in mind? Furthermore, which countries do “allies” refer to in such cases?
Minister Hayashi: You mean like-minded countries?
TV Asahi, Sawai: Yes, I meant like-minded countries. Excuse me. Please tell us if there is a definition of “like-minded countries”, such as which nations they refer to. Does this also mean that Japan will be able to provide different forms of support to Ukraine from now on?
Minister Hayashi: As the security environment surrounding Japan becomes increasingly severe, in order to deter unilateral changes to the status quo by force, to ensure peace and stability especially in the Indo-Pacific region, and to create a desirable security environment for Japan, it is essential to drastically strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities and enhance the deterrence capabilities of like-minded countries.
In order to achieve this objective, Japan has been discussing on adopting a cooperation framework for provision of materials and equipment and other matters to meet the security needs of like-minded countries, aside from ODA which aims for the socioeconomic development of developing countries.
As I stated earlier, the decision has still not been made on the new National Security Strategy and other documents, so I would like to refrain from commenting based on speculation about specific content.
As for the term “like-minded countries,” I understand that it is a term generally used to refer to countries that share objectives on certain diplomatic issues.
With regard to which countries, including Ukraine, are considered “like-minded countries,” we make a separate decision for each country from the perspective of whether they share the same objectives with Japan in relation to each diplomatic issue.
Visit to China by Foreign Minister Hayashi
Jiji Press, Tanaka: I would like to ask about your visit to China. It was confirmed during the previous summit meeting that your visit to China is being coordinated. There are some reports that the visit will take place within the year. Please tell us where you are with the coordination. Furthermore, if the visit is realized, I believe it would mean the full-fledged resumption of dialogue with China. What specific points would you like to confirm?
Minister Hayashi: Nothing has been decided at this point regarding my visit to China.
Additionally, during the recent Japan-China Summit Meeting, the leaders agreed to conduct close communication at all levels, including the summit level. Meanwhile, they also agreed to move forward with the coordination for my visit to China, as I have been invited by the Chinese side.
We will continue to coordinate the specific timing.
The United States’ Return to the TPP (Recommendation by Vice President Cutler of the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI))
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about the TPP. Ms. Wendy Cutler, who was formerly the Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative in charge of the TPP negotiations during the U.S. Obama administration, recently announced her recommendation that the United States return to the TPP. Japan has been repeatedly urged the United States to return to the TPP Please tell us your reaction to Ms. Cutler’s recommendation.
Minister Hayashi: Japan has been consistently conveying to the United States that it would be desirable for it to return to the TPP, from the strategic perspective of engagement in the international order in the Indo-Pacific region.
I would like to refrain from commenting one by one on the content of a recommendation made by an expert. However, I believe it would be desirable for Japan if this report can be used as an opportunity to encourage discussion on the TPP within the United States on what framework there should be if the United States were to return and leads to creation of momentum towards the United States’ return.
ODA Budget (Strategic and Efficient Utilization)
Sankei Shimbun, Hiroike: I would like to ask about ODA. Some reports suggest that the Ministry of Finance has requested MOFA to review the provision of a total of 12.8 billion yen in grant aid to 19 countries that opposed the United Nations resolution condemning Russia. Please tell us if that is true and about MOFA’s policy.
Minister Hayashi: It is my understanding that the reports you are asking about are presented as one of the reference materials for the discussions on the strategic and efficient utilization of ODA during the meeting of the Fiscal System Council on November 29, 2022.
In addition, the assistance you point out includes support via international organizations implemented from a humanitarian perspective as well as grassroots support for local NGOs and the like, and it is not limited to national governments.
For the implementation of grant aid projects, we determine the validity of each project, including the diplomatic significance as well as the humanitarian and development situations of other countries. Even if we were to implement grant aid to countries that opposed the resolution related to Russia, we do not believe that would directly mean the grant aid was inappropriate. We have entered an age in which the international order is being undermined. I believe it is becoming increasingly important to use diplomacy to urge such countries through various means, including ODA.