Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Tuesday, December 20, 2022, 12:27 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Start of Online Payment for Consular Fees
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: At the outset, I have one announcement.
During the Cabinet meeting today, it was decided to partially revise the Cabinet Order on Fees Collected by Consul Officers. This will enable online payment by credit card for consular services fees handled by diplomatic missions. This is a pioneering initiative within the central ministries and agencies as a part of government’s efforts to promote online administrative procedures. The date of the entry into force of the revised Cabinet order is on March 27, 2023.
Online payment will initially be available at five overseas diplomatic missions, and will be sequentially expanded.
MOFA will continue to steadily promote online consular services to further improve convenience and administrative efficiency, while taking into account the trend toward cashless services both domestically and abroad. For further details, please ask our staff.
That is all from me.
Spread of COVID-19 Infections in China
Asahi Shimbun, Nohira: I would like to ask about the situation of COVID-19 in China. COVID-19 infections have been spreading in China since it reversed its Zero-Covid policy. Medical institutions are under pressure and there is confusion on the ground. Please tell us your reaction to this situation.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware that infections are spreading in China and that medical institutions are under pressure, as the Chinese national government and local governments have stated at press conferences and the like.
The Government of Japan is closely monitoring with strong interest the impact of the infection trends and quarantine measures in China on the lives of people including Japanese residents, the activities of Japanese companies, and the Chinese economy.
Under these circumstances, based on the infection trends in various regions, we have been issuing consul emails through the local Japanese embassies and consulate generals to alert people about quarantine measures, infection prevention, outpatient examinations, and other points. We have also been responding to consultations from Japanese residents in China.
We will continue to gather and analyze relevant information and will make all efforts to protect Japanese nationals and support the activities of Japanese companies, including communication with the Chinese side, based on the specific situation of Japanese residents in China.
Issue of Israel and Palestine, Russia’s Aggression Against Ukraine
Pan Orient News, Azhari: My question is about the new Israeli government that was established and led by the same prime minister and which Israel maintain its annexation of Palestinian and Syrian land by military force, thus changing the status quo.
Japan has been taking a lead in international role against the change of status quo by force, especially against Russia recently.
Will Japan stand against Israeli annexation of Palestinian and Syrian land by force like you do in the same way against Russia? Thank you.
Minister Hayashi: Generally, I believe that the unilateral annexation of territories occupied by force is not recognized under international law. From this perspective, Japan has consistently maintained its position that it does not recognize the annexation of the Golan Heights by Israel, and has strongly urged the Government of Israel to refrain from unilateral actions to change the status quo, based on the position that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be resolved through negotiations between the parties under a “two-state solution.”
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine threatens the very foundation of the international order that the international community has built over a long period of hard work and many sacrifices. Japan has been responding with firm resolve in cooperation with the international community, including the G7.
Japan is now considering its relations comprehensively with each country, taking into account each specific situation.
Missile Launches by North Korea
Kyodo News, Kinashi: I would like to ask about North Korea. On December 18, North Korea launched two intermediate-range ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan. Some people believe that this was a reaction to the security documents that mention the possession of “counterstrike capabilities.” Please tell us your reaction and analysis. Furthermore, some reports suggest that North Korea will conduct a nuclear test somewhere after mid-January. Please tell us the Government of Japan’s view on this.
Minister Hayashi: North Korea’s repeated launches of ballistic missiles, with unprecedented frequency and forms, including the one on December 18, pose a serious and urgent threat to Japan’s security as well as to the peace and security of the region and the international community, and are absolutely unacceptable. The launches are also in violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.
The Government of Japan has been constantly gathering and analyzing necessary information on North Korea’s military moves. We believe that North Korea may conduct further provocations, including a nuclear test in the future.
We will continue to promote the full implementation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and to aim for the denuclearization of North Korea while conducting close Japan-U.S. and Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) cooperation as well as cooperation with the international community.
Joint Military Exercise by the Chinese and Russian Navies
NHK, Iwasawa: I would like to ask about the joint military exercise by China and Russia. The Ministry of Defence of Russia announced that it will conduct a joint military exercise with the Chinese navy in the East China Sea from December 21. Please tell us your reaction to this. Please also tell us your views on the impact on Japan’s security as the exercise will be conducted in the East China Sea.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware that on December 19, the Ministry of Defence of Russia announced that the Chinese and Russian navies will conduct a joint military exercise in the East China Sea from December 21 to 27.
Recently, the Chinese and Russian militaries have been conducting joint activities with increasing frequency near Japan. In 2022, they have also implemented joint navigation by vessels and joint flights by bombers.
I am aware that the joint military exercise by the Chinese and Russian navies announced this time is one that has been conducted almost every year. We will constantly monitor the impact on Japan’s security caused by a series of actions by China and Russia in our vicinity, including the exercise this time.
Visit to Nagasaki by President Biden of the United States
NHK, Iwasawa: I would like to ask about the G7 Hiroshima Summit next year. There are some reports suggesting that the governments of Japan and the United States are considering a visit by U.S. President Biden to Nagasaki in the occasion of G7 Summit that will be held in Hiroshima in May 2023. Please tell us the status of consideration, including whether or not this is factually accurate.
Minister Hayashi: We are considering in various forms regarding the events during the G7 Summit. However, no specific consideration has begun for the individual schedules of country leaders, including President Biden of the United States.
North Korea’s Reaction to the New National Security Strategy and Other Documents
Jiji Press, Tanaka: Since there was a question on North Korea earlier, I would like to ask another question. The spokesperson of North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Japan’s possession of counterstrike capabilities would be unacceptable. He also stated that North Korea would show how much it is concerned and displeased by taking actual action, and hinted at military provocation. Please tell us your reaction to this.
Minister Hayashi: We constantly strive to gather and analyze information with serious concern with regard to North Korea’s moves, including its military developments. However, I would like to refrain from commenting on each move in detail, including what you pointed out.
The Government of Japan will continue to make all efforts to gather and analyze necessary information and to implement vigilance and surveillance activities. We will also continue to conduct close Japan-U.S. cooperation and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation toward the complete denuclearization of North Korea.