Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Tuesday, January 10, 2023, 4:37 p.m. Buenos Aires

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

Opening Remarks

Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: During the week from January 4 to today, I have visited four Latin American countries: Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, and Argentina. As Japan will serve as the G7 Presidency and a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) this year, it was beneficial for me to start this year with a visit to Latin American countries, which have a long history of relations of trust and friendship with Japan and share fundamental values.

With each country, I held extensive discussions on strengthening bilateral economic relations, cooperation, and exchanges, as well as regional affairs including Ukraine and East Asia and cooperation in the international arena. In light of the current severe situation faced by the international community, we confirmed that we will further cooperate to maintain and strengthen the free and open international order based on the rule of law as well as respond to important international issues such as climate change countermeasures. In addition, I deepened discussions and exchanges with Nikkei people, Japanese descendants, who serve as an important bridge between Japan and various Latin American countries. I also held a meeting with Japanese business representatives, and discussed measures to revitalize trade and investment with their respective countries.

In Mexico, I met with Secretary of Foreign Affairs Ebrard and Secretary of Economy Buenrostro. We concurred to further develop bilateral relations in extensive fields such as politics, the economy, academic research, and science and technology as well as deepen cooperation in the international arena as we welcome the 135th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Mexico this year. We also confirmed cooperation to improve the business environment for companies in both our countries.

In Ecuador, I paid a courtesy call on President Lasso and met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Holguín. We confirmed that we would further strengthen bilateral relations in various fields, such as trade and investment, and cooperate on international issues, including UNSC reform, as both of Japan and Ecuador are non-permanent members of the UNSC from this year.

In Brazil, I first met with and exchanged views with members of the world’s largest Nikkei community in Sao Paulo. In Brasilia, though I witnessed the protests that occurred on January 8, amidst this situation, I held an unrushed exchange of views with Minister of Foreign Affairs Vieira for nearly three hours. I was told that I was the first guest of honor following the inauguration of the new administration in Brazil. I again expressed my support for President Lula, who was democratically elected, and his new administration, and stated that the threat to democracy by violence should not be tolerated. In addition, under its new administration, Minister Vieira and I concurred that Japan and Brazil will continue to promote bilateral cooperation, including in food, energy, and mineral resource fields, as well as cooperation and collaboration in the international arena, including the UN, as G4 members to advance UNSC reform. I also gave a speech on the theme of “Expanding ‘Networks of Solidarity’ -Japanese Diplomacy together with Latin America and the Caribbean-” at Rio Branco Institute in Brasilia.

In Argentina, I paid a courtesy call on President Fernández and met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Cafiero and Minister of Economy Massa. We concurred on strengthening bilateral relations, leveraging the momentum of the 125th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Argentina this year. I also exchanged views on strengthening economic relations with Argentina, a country with world-class mineral and food resources.

As we face a historical crossroads due to issues such as the situation in Ukraine, I believe that my visits were significant in that I held candid dialogues with my fellow foreign ministers in those countries, confirmed further cooperation and collaboration, and deepened our personal relationships of trust.

Furthermore, in terms of relations with Latin American countries, on January 6, Japan decided to extend emergency grant aid of $3 million through international organizations for implementing emergency humanitarian assistance in areas of health, water and sanitation, and food in response to the cholera outbreak in Haiti. We hope that this will help the people of Haiti to overcome the difficulties they are facing.

On my visit to the United States from tomorrow, I will first attend the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (2+2) with Defense Minister Hamada on January 11 in Washington D.C. In accordance with Japan’s security strategy documents, we plan to coordinate our recognitions of security issues faced by Japan and the United States, and discuss future cooperation to maintain and strengthen free and open international order based on the rule of law, and the directions for strengthening the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance as well as security and defense cooperation in the region.

On January 12, in New York, I will chair a ministerial-level open debate on the theme of the rule of law. The UN, which is the core of multilateralism, and especially the UNSC, the UN’s essential organization, holds important responsibilities for realizing the rule of law in the international community. During the debate, I would like to call for participation by not only UNSC members but also extensive UN member states, exchange views with various countries on issues surrounding the rule of law that are faced by the international community, and have lively discussions that will contribute to strengthening the rule of law in the international community.

That is all from me.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: You mentioned “as the G7 Presidency” during your opening remarks. I believe that of the four countries you visited this time, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina are G20 members. As the G7 Presidency, how does Japan intend to strengthen relations with G20 members this year?

Minister Hayashi: Today, the international community is at a historic turning point as it encounters the COVID-19 pandemic as well as Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which undermines the very foundation of the international order. At the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Karuizawa, Nagano and the G7 Hiroshima Summit, which will be held amidst this situation, we would to strongly convey to the world the G7’s firm determination to resolutely reject unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force and the use of threats through nuclear weapons, as well as its strong will to protect the international order based on the rule of law.

In addition, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has had significant negative impacts on the global economy and the lives of people around the world, in various aspects such as energy and food. The G7 will strongly respond to various issues such as climate change, energy, food, and health faced by the international community, including developing countries.

In responding to these issues, many initiatives have been expanded to the entire international community based on discussions at the G7. In this regard, I believe that linkage with the G20, the premium forum particularly for international economic cooperation, is essential. In addition, Brazil will succeed India as the G20 Presidency next year. As the G7 Presidency, Japan will closely cooperate with G20 members, including Latin American countries.

Reporter: I would like to ask about illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. What kinds of initiatives will Japan be planning regarding IUU fishing countermeasures in Latin America? In addition, please tell us the specific status of the initiatives under consideration- how many countries and people will be included.

Minister Hayashi: I believe that illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing – so-called IUU fishing – threatens free and open international order based on the rule of law. It is also a major issue for many Latin American countries. During my visit, I met with Minister Holguín of Ecuador and discussed IUU fishing and shared concerns about it. In addition, during my speech regarding policy toward Latin America that I gave in Brazil, I raised the importance of the international community to speak out against acts inconsistent with international rules such as IUU fishing, and to share knowledge on how to counter them.

In order to contribute to enhancing capacity for IUU fishing countermeasures, by March of this year, Japan plans to invite government officials from Latin American countries who engage in maritime security or fisheries to Japan for training on countermeasures against IUU fishing. We are currently considering the target countries to make the training effective. We will also consider with Latin American countries what other cooperation and collaboration are possible.

Reporter: I would like to ask about initiatives in cooperation with the Nikkei community. What kinds of initiatives will Japan be planning for cooperation with the Nikkei community in Latin America? Among those initiatives, please tell us the status of initiatives under consideration such as the specific timing for commencement and their scope. Please also tell us your thoughts on the significance of cooperation with the Nikkei community from the perspective of strengthening cooperation with Latin American countries.

Minister Hayashi: The Latin America region has approximately 2.3 million Nikkei people, the largest number in the world. They form a bond between Japan and Latin America, and are the cornerstone for fostering trust and respect for Japan in Latin American countries. During my recent visit to Sao Paulo, I held exchanges with various Nikkei people and felt the strong sentiments of people who share the same roots in Japan.

On the other hand, in recent years as the generations change in the Nikkei community, there are concerns about the weakening of relations between young Nikkei people and Japan.

Amidst this situation, I believe there is an increasing need to implement measures to strengthen bonds between Japan and the Nikkei community in the Latin America region. From this perspective, in my meeting with Nikkei organizations during my recent visit to Sao Paulo, I announced the upcoming establishment of the Division for Collaboration with Communities of Japanese Immigrants and Descendants (“Nikkei”) in Latin America within MOFA.

Going forward, under the Division, we will invite young Nikkei people to Japan, who will lead the next generation and help them deepen their understanding of Japan, and provide support to create Japan culture projects and Nikkei community networks in Latin American countries. In addition, at the end of last year, Japan decided to provide support of 640 million yen for the provision of Japanese medical equipment to Nikkei medical organizations in Latin American countries as well as Japanese materials and equipment to Nikkei agricultural organizations. We will begin various initiatives as soon as possible, including the establishment of the Division for Collaboration with Communities of Japanese Immigrants and Descendants (“Nikkei”) in Latin America.

Reporter: I would like to ask about the suspension of visas by China. Please tell us your reaction and the future response to the announcement that the Chinese embassy in Tokyo has temporarily suspended the issuance of visas for Japanese people to visit China from January 10.

Minister Hayashi: I am aware that, on January 10, the Government of China announced that it would restrict the issuance of visas as a border measure concerning the spread of COVID-19 infections on the Chinese mainland, targeting some countries including Japan.

Due to the rapidly worsening situation of COVID-19 infections in China as well as the difficulty in gaining details of the situation, Japan has been taking temporary measures, including tests upon entry and submission of a negative test certificate since December 30 last year, in order to avoid a surge of COVID-19 infections into Japan.

Japan has been implementing border measures with consideration that the international movement of people is not limited to the extent possible, with the aim of ensuring countermeasures against COVID-19. On the other hand, it is extremely regrettable that China has restricted the issuance of visas for reasons other than COVID-19 countermeasures. We have lodged a protest to China using diplomatic channels, and requested a repeal of China’s measure.

Japan will appropriately respond while monitoring the situation of infections in China and how China discloses information.

Reporter: I would like to ask about Mercosur. Mercosur is a framework composed of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, and the Japanese business community has requested the early conclusion of an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with Mercosur. Did you have any discussions about Mercosur during series of your visits? In addition, how will the Government of Japan proceed with Mercosur?

Minister Hayashi: With regard to a Japan-Mercosur EPA, there have been requests from various countries that make up Mercosur and people related to companies. They have expressed interests during my series of visits this time as well. I conveyed that there are various opinions within Japan too about how to strengthen economic cooperation with Mercosur, and that I would like to continue discussions within Japan.

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