Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Friday, January 20, 2023, 4:45 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

(Video) Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

Support for Countermeasures against Landmines and Unexploded Ordnance in Ukraine

Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to make one announcement.

Japan has been providing assistance to Ukraine in various areas. Most recently, from January 15 to January 20, we conducted training for the personnel of the Government of Ukraine on landmine detectors, in cooperation with Cambodia, to which we have been providing assistance for the removal of landmines for over 20 years.

As a prerequisite for the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine, the removal of landmines and unexploded ordnance is an important issue. Making use of the experience and knowledge gained in cooperating with countermeasures against landmines and unexploded ordnance in Cambodia and other countries, Japan will continue to contribute to the reconstruction and recovery of Ukraine, in close cooperation with the people of Ukraine. That is all from me.

Support for Countermeasures against Landmines and Unexploded Ordnance in Ukraine

TV Asahi, Sawai: I would like to ask about the landmine removal support in Ukraine through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which you spoke about in your opening remarks. Could you tell us the significance of the recent support for Ukraine that was implemented in cooperation with Cambodia, which is part of the Global South? It was announced that four landmine detectors were provided, but is there a possibility of further increasing the number of detectors, providing landmine clearance vehicles, or dispatching personnel? Next month will mark one year since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; what types of further assistance would Japan, as the G7 Presidency in 2023, intend to provide to Ukraine?

Minister Hayashi: In December 2022, the Government of Japan decided to extend support of approximately $500 million for Ukraine and its surrounding countries as part of the supplementary budget. Regarding Japan’s future support, we are currently coordinating with international organizations, JICA, and Japanese NGOs for the swift implementation of winterization assistance, removal of landmines and debris, rebuilding people’s lives, and other forms of support in various areas.

As with the most recent effort for the removal of landmines and unexploded ordinance in cooperation with Cambodia, we will effectively implement these various forms of support for Ukraine in a manner that allows them to be easily recognized as Japan’s development cooperation, while utilizing the experience and knowledge that we have cultivated to date.

From January 15 until January 20, in Cambodia, we provided training to the members of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU), which is in charge of measures to deal with clearing landmines.

The training was conducted at the landmine clearance centre, called the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, which has accumulated experience operating Advanced Landmine Imaging Systems (ALIS), utilizing Japanese technologies. In addition, we are also providing training from Japanese experts on how to use ALIS, and raising awareness for activities on landmine risk and other relevant themes.

By-Election in Yamaguchi Prefecture for the House of Representatives

Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: This is not a diplomatic matter, but I would like to ask about the upcoming by-election and the issue of constituency adjustment associated with changes in the boundaries of the constituencies. In Yamaguchi Prefecture, the by-election for the House of Representatives in April may take place as a “double by-election.” Meanwhile, there will be one less constituency than now in the prefecture for the next election for the House of Representatives. Even if a candidate wins the by-election, some constituency adjustments will have to happen. As you may also compete in such a situation, how will you intend to deal with it?

Minister Hayashi: I am aware that various discussions are being held mainly by the Liberal Democratic Party of Yamaguchi, so I will respond to this matter while keeping an eye on the development of the discussions.

“Determination of the People” in the National Security Strategy (NSS)

Kyodo News, Ueda: I would like to ask about the National Security Strategy (NSS). The NSS document approved by the Cabinet in December 2022 emphasizes the importance of the “determination of the people” in promoting the National Security Strategy. The document also clearly states the policy to improve the environment that will enable the people to proactively participate in the security policy. However, what exactly does this “determination of the people” refer to? Please tell us the view of the Government of Japan.

Minister Hayashi: The meaning of the “determination of the people” in the question is as stated in the NSS. Namely, “the exercise of power as a nation begins with the determination of its people.”

If I were to say anything further, as is also stated in the NSS, “Japan’s security environment is as severe and complex as it has ever been since the end of World War II,” and “based on the recognition that the primary responsibility for defending Japan lies with itself,” in order to steadily execute the Strategy, which encompasses a broad range of fields beyond traditional boundaries of diplomacy and defense by taking full advantage of comprehensive national power, it is essential for the Government of Japan to gain the understanding and cooperation of its people. This is what it meant.

Since the recently formulated NSS stipulates diplomatic capabilities as one of the main elements of comprehensive national power for Japan’s national security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will make further efforts going forward together with the people of Japan.

G7 Hiroshima Summit (Visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum)

Asahi Shimbun, Takahashi: There are only four months left until the G7 Hiroshima Summit 2023. Prime Minister Kishida has expressed his intention to discuss the theme of “a world without nuclear weapons.” Do you hope that the G7 leaders visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum to learn about the reality of the atomic bombing when they come to Hiroshima to attend the Summit?

Minister Hayashi: No specific schedule of the Summit has been decided. However, it is important to firmly convey the reality of the atomic bombing to the world including the high-level officials of each country, as the start of all efforts toward nuclear disarmament.

We are currently considering various aspects of the specific schedule for the G7 Hiroshima Summit 2023 in May. At the Summit, we hope that the G7 leaders will demonstrate to the world from bombsite Hiroshima their strong commitment to prevent a recurrence of the devastation of nuclear weapons and resolutely reject military invasion.

Recommendation of Sado Island Gold Mines as a World Heritage Site

Jiji Press, Tanaka: I would like to ask about the registration of the Sado Island Gold Mines as a World Heritage Site. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (ROK) is increasingly and strongly protesting against this matter. The press secretary of the ROK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed his regret regarding the recommendation submitted by the Government of Japan, and they also summoned Minister NAMIOKA Daisuke to protest. Please tell us how the Government of Japan will work on this matter to achieve a successful registration of the site.

Minister Hayashi: On January 19, Japan submitted an official recommendation document for the “Sado Island Gold Mines” to the UNESCO Secretariat.

The 45th session of the World Heritage Committee, which was scheduled to be held in Russia in June 2022, was postponed, and the schedule for the next committee is undecided at this moment.

In any case, Japan will continue to engage in respectful discussions with relevant countries including the ROK to ensure that the extraordinary value of the “Sado Island Gold Mines” as a cultural heritage will be recognized in the UNESCO arena, in order to realize its inscription on the list of World Heritage Sites.

Revision of the Act on Travel Expenses of National Public Officers, etc.

Kyodo News, Ueda: I would like to ask about the revision of the Act on Travel Expenses of National Public Officers, etc. While the Government of Japan plans to submit a revision proposal of the Act on Travel Expenses of National Public Officers, etc. next year, travel allowance for national public officers has not been revised since 1984. Thus, there is a strong demand for improvements that match the current situation. Please tell us your view on this matter, including the necessity of revising this act.

Minister Hayashi: The Act on Travel Expenses of National Public Officers, etc. contains Appended Table 2, which stipulates daily allowance and accommodation fees. This table has not been revised since 1984, as it was just mentioned, and therefore the contents of the law has not kept pace with the recent depreciation of the yen and high prices in other countries. Adjustment for proper payment of travel expenses has been diligently conducted. In any case, officials conducting Japan’s diplomatic activities should not be forced to pay their own expenses, and for this reason, the situation should be rectified.

Regarding the revision of the Act on Travel Expenses of National Public Officers, etc., towards the end of 2022, the Ministry of Finance, which has jurisdiction over this law, announced its intention to start reviewing relevant system reforms, with the aim to submit a revision proposal to the Diet during 2024. MOFA welcomes this decision.

We hope that a revision of the law that appropriately addresses current issues surrounding the Act on Travel Expenses of National Public Officers, etc. and will be realized. At the same time, MOFA will continue to closely cooperate with the finance authority, while deepening the discussion at the meeting of the “Diplomatic Activities Foundation Strengthening Project Team” chaired by State Minister for Foreign Affairs TAKEI Shunsuke.

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)

Sankei Shimbun, Hiroike: I would like to ask about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). On January 22, it will be two years since the TPNW entered into force. Japan has not signed this treaty, but please tell us about Japan’s stance on the treaty and how the Government of Japan will work to realize the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Minister Hayashi: The TPNW is an important treaty that can be seen as a way toward “a world without nuclear weapons.” However, though the cooperation of nuclear-weapon states is necessary for changing the reality, none of the nuclear-weapon states have participated in the treaty.

As the only country to have suffered atomic bombing during wartime, Japan’s basic stance is to work to involve nuclear-weapon states and make realistic and practical efforts toward “a world without nuclear weapons.”

In 2022, Prime Minister Kishida attended the Tenth NPT Review Conference for the first time as the Prime Minister of Japan and proposed the “Hiroshima Action Plan.” Following this, Japan promoted various realistic and practical initiatives including holding the High-level Meeting of the Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the first meeting of the International Group of Eminent Persons for a World without Nuclear Weapons in Hiroshima.

Based on the trust of our sole ally, the United States, we will continue to work to foster the momentum of the international community in accordance with the “Hiroshima Action Plan” and with the view to the G7 Hiroshima Summit 2023, we will exert all efforts to realize “a world without nuclear weapons.”

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