Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Friday, February 24, 2023, 3:44 p.m. New York

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

Opening Remarks

Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Exactly a year ago today, Russia began its aggression against Ukraine.

At today’s Security Council ministerial meeting, I stated that the aggression is a violation of the United Nations (UN) Charter by a permanent member of the Security Council, which bears the heaviest responsibility for international peace and stability. At the same time, I reiterated that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected, that Russia must immediately stop its war of aggression and withdraw from Ukraine, and that it is important for the international community to support Ukraine.

This is not a European war but a serious challenge by Russia to the free and open international order based on the rule of law. Any attempt to change the status quo by force or coercion anywhere in the world can never be tolerated.

It is precisely because of this widely shared recognition that yesterday, 141 countries, accounting for more than 70% of all UN member states, strongly supported the General Assembly resolution calling for peace in Ukraine.

In addition, during my stay in New York, I held bilateral meetings with Ghana, Slovakia, Guatemala, Spain, Italy, Malta, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Croatia, and exchanged views with the UN ambassadors and others from Pacific island countries.

Through these meetings, we deepened our shared understanding of the situation in Ukraine. We also held candid discussions regarding bilateral relations, regional and international situations, such as the response to North Korea’s repeated provocations and violation of Security Council resolutions including the recent launch of an ICBM-class ballistic missile, and common issues faced by the international community, and confirmed to work together on these matters.

Through this visit, I was reminded that the UN can play an important role in shaping mainstream international public opinion, even as it is noted that the Security Council has not been functioning effectively. Japan, while seeking to enhance functions of the UN, including reforming the Security Council, will continue to make efforts to maintain and strengthen the international order based on the rule of law.

That is all from me.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: Yesterday, after the emergency special session of the UN General Assembly, you explained to press that you “called on many countries, including the Global South, to support” the adoption of the resolution. Please tell us what you found difficult in calling on these countries with various positions.

Minister Hayashi: It is highly significant that the General Assembly resolution calling for peace in Ukraine was adopted yesterday with 141 countries in favor, which accounts for more than 70% of all UN member states.

This war tends to be viewed as a European war, that is, a war between Ukraine and Russia. However, a majority of states supported the resolution, not only due to the various calls we made, but also due to the widely shared recognition that a permanent member of the Security Council, which bears the heaviest responsibility for the peace and security of the international community, is committing a serious violation of the UN Charter, and that unilateral changes to the status quo by force will not be tolerated anywhere in the world.

At the same time, many countries known as the Global South are facing a variety of issues respectively, such as regional conflicts, terrorism, food and energy crises, infectious diseases, and climate change. It is becoming ever more important for developed countries to extend their full support to deal with these issues.

Reporter:I have a question related to the emergency special session of the UN General Assembly. Around 50 countries showed consideration for Russia and voted against the resolution, by opposing or abstaining, once again highlighting the divisions in the international community. As the G7 presidency, how will Japan call on these countries and demonstrate leadership over the situation in Ukraine in the lead-up to the Hiroshima Summit in May?

Minister Hayashi: I may be repeating myself, but in the recent UN General Assembly resolution, more than 70% of all UN member states called for an immediate halt to Russia’s aggression and expressed strong support for Ukraine.

In order to not tolerate Russia’s outrageous acts and stop its aggression as early as possible, Japan has imposed strict sanctions against Russia and strongly supported Ukraine which is making its utmost efforts to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as its homeland and families. Under this policy, Japan has been taking a united response as the G7.

Furthermore, it is important for the international community, including the so-called Global South, to unite and raise their voice. At the G7 Leaders’ Video Conference that was just held, the G7 shared the importance of engagement with and support for the Global South and concurred to work together in calling on these nations.

We need to continue to carefully work on these countries and gain their understanding, while advocating the importance of maintaining and strengthening the international order based on the rule of law. Japan has continued to take advantage of various opportunities to approach these countries, and as this year’s G7 presidency, we will actively lead the international discussions.

Reporter:On the 24th, the Government of China released a document stating its position in relation to the situation in Ukraine. According to the document, both Russia and Ukraine should work in the same direction in aiming for a comprehensive ceasefire. In light of the current situation in Ukraine, please tell us your thoughts regarding this stance expressed by China.

Minister Hayashi:Yes, Russia is still continuing its aggression against Ukraine, and President Putin stated that the annexed Ukrainian regions are not up to negotiations. There are no signs of any attempt by Russia to work in the same direction. As Ukraine continues making its utmost efforts to defend its homeland, it is up to the Ukrainian people to determine how to approach negotiations to determine the future of Ukraine.

We are aware that, on the 24th, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced China’s position on the situation in Ukraine in a 12-point document titled “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis.” Japan has been exchanging views with China regarding the situation in Ukraine, and we will continue to urge China to take responsible measures.

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