Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary ONO Hikariko
Wednesday, January 18, 2023, 3:45 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Announcement of the Intention of Resignation by President Phuc of Viet Nam
Kyodo News, Ueda: I would like to ask about Japan-Viet Nam relations. President Nguyen Xuan Phuc of the Communist Party of Viet Nam has resigned. The president of Viet Nam is the head of state under the constitution, and it is unusual for the president to resign in the middle of his term of office. President Phuc had interacted with the Government of Japan and party leaders. Please tell us how his resignation will affect Japan-Viet Nam bilateral relations.
Ms. ONO Hikariko, Press Secretary: I am aware that as of yesterday, January 17, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc announced his intention to resign during an extraordinary meeting of the Central Party Committee of the Communist Party of Viet Nam, and that it was approved at the meeting.On behalf of the Government of Japan, I would like to refrain from making comments about the domestic affairs of other countries. In any case, Viet Nam will continue to be an important partner for realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” In addition, 2023 marks an important milestone for both Japan and Viet Nam as it is the 50th anniversary of the establishment of our bilateral relations. Japan’s policy is to continue to promote cooperative relations with Viet Nam in all fields under our Extensive Strategic Partnership.
Issue of Former Civilian Workers from the Korean Peninsula
Mainichi Shimbun, Aoki: I would like to ask about the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula. With regard to the solution plan indicated recently by the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK), this would entail having an ROK foundation pay damages to the plaintiffs on behalf of Japanese companies. In that case, it can be said that there would be a “right to indemnity” against Japanese companies. Please tell us whether the Government of Japan can approve the situation with the existence of this “right to indemnity.” In addition, please tell us if the Government of Japan is currently making any requests to the Government of the ROK regarding the handling of this “right to indemnity.”
Press Secretary Ono: I am aware of the reports you pointed out. However, I would like to refrain from making comments on such reports one-by-one and regarding speculative questions.
In any case, during the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting in November 2022, the two leaders reaffirmed to pursue an early resolution of the issues between the two countries, and communication is continuing based on this between our diplomatic authorities? The Japan-ROK Director-General Level Talk was also held on January 16 this week.
Based on the foundation of our friendly and cooperative relations built up since the normalization of relations between Japan and the ROK in 1965, we will continue to closely communicate with the Government of the ROK towards restoring healthy Japan-ROK relations and further developing those relations.
Coordination Towards the Revision of the Act on Travel Expenses of National Public Officers, etc.
Asahi Shimbun, Nagasaki: Some reports suggest that the Government is considering revision of the act on travel expenses that stipulates the travel expenses for national public officers. I believe that the background for this is the depreciation of the yen and rising prices. Please tell us what is under consideration and your current views on this.
Press Secretary Ono: So that the personnel of MOFA and diplomatic missions, who are at the forefront of diplomatic activities, can carry out strong diplomacy, we recognize that it is essential to fully ensure their working environment, including travel expenses and all kinds of benefits, which is the foundation of their activities as well as their living standards.
On the other hand, the current international sharp rise in prices and the depreciation of the yen have had a major impact on travel expenses and benefits for overseas personnel. In various situations, personnel have actually been forced to bear costs at their own expense.
In response to this situation, MOFA established a project team chaired by State Minister for Foreign Affairs Takei on December 26, 2022 to discuss extremely important issues concerning our organizational footing.
With regard to the revision of the Act on Travel Expenses of National Public Officers, etc., the Ministry of Finance, which has jurisdiction over the Act, announced at the end of last year that it would begin discussing the revision of the Act with a view to submitting it to the Diet in 2024, and MOFA welcomes this announcement.
MOFA will continue to closely cooperate with the fiscal authorities to ensure that the revision of the Act appropriately addresses the current issues surrounding it.
Visit to China by Secretary of State Blinken of the United States
Yomiuri Shimbun, Yokobori: It is being reported that Secretary of State Blinken of the United States will visit China from February 5 to 6, and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed that. What are Japan’s expectations for the upcoming U.S.-China meeting? In addition, in relation to this, what is the current status of coordination for the visit to China by Foreign Minister Hayashi?
Press Secretary Ono: We are aware of the reports you pointed out.
I would like to refrain from making comments about communication between third countries. If I were to say anything further, it would be that we recognize that the stability of U.S.-China relations is extremely important for the entire international community.
Japan will continue to urge China to fulfill its responsibilities as a major power while advancing various forms of cooperation under our strong relationship of mutual trust with our ally, the United States.
In addition, during the Japan-China Summit Meeting in November 2022, Japan and China agreed to maintain close communication at all levels including the leaders’. Amidst this, with regard to the visit to China by Foreign Minister Hayashi at the invitation of China, we have concurred to advance coordination going forward. We plan to continue to conduct coordination on the specific timing.
G7 Hiroshima Summit
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: There are about four months left until the G7 Hiroshima Summit in May. Japan’s G7 Presidency began on January 1. Prime Minister Kishida has visited various countries and MOFA will begin full-fledged activities including public relations. Please tell us what you would like to focus on in these efforts in the near term and the current status of preparations.
Press Secretary Ono: As you pointed out, Japan’s G7 Presidency began in January 2023. We have been preparing while consulting with related countries. During the G7 Hiroshima Summit scheduled in May, we would like to firmly show the G7’s determination regarding various important issues.
For example, I believe that one important issue will be to demonstrate with a historical significance the G7’s determination to resolutely reject military invasions, intimidation by nuclear weapons, and attempts to overthrow the international order.
With regard to series of overseas visits by the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan’s positions as the G7 President have been firmly conveyed to the leaders and foreign ministers of various countries, and we believe that we have held significant exchanges of views.
MOFA’s policy is to deepen cooperation with various ministries while receiving cooperation from the local Hiroshima people so that the entire Government can work for smooth operation, flawless security, and the like towards the success of the G7 Hiroshima Summit.