Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Tuesday, January 31, 2023, 12:29 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

Visit to Japan by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed of the State of Qatar

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

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed of the State of Qatar is visiting Japan from January 30 to 31 as a guest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is the first visit to Japan by the Qatari Foreign Minister since October 2019.

Today, Minister Mohammed will pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Kishida and we will hold the second Japan-Qatar Strategic Dialogue. We plan to hold an exchange of views regarding matters such as bilateral relations and regional affairs.

Qatar is an important partner for Japan’s energy security. Through this visit to Japan by Minister Mohammed, I would like to further strengthen Japan-Qatar relations and deepen bilateral cooperation toward the stability of the international energy situation. That is all from me.

Issue of the Former Civilian Workers from the Korean Peninsula (Status of Progress in the Talks Between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK))

Mainichi Shimbun, Takeuchi: I would like to ask about the so-called issue of the former civilian workers from the ROK. The Government of the ROK held a public debate to hear the views of relevant people, and the Japan-ROK Director-General Level Talk was held yesterday, January 30. Please tell us the status of progress as well as your assessment on the talks between Japan and the ROK.

In addition, there are reports that if the Government of the ROK decides on the proposed solution for the issue, the Government of Japan is considering to provide another explanation of its position that has been expressed since past Government statements, and indicating its appropriate remorse and heartfelt apology. Please tell us if this is true.

Minister Hayashi: During the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting in November 2022, Prime Minister Kishida and President Yoon reaffirmed to pursue an early resolution of pending issues between Japan and the ROK, and talks have been accelerating between our diplomatic authorities. Recently, I also held a telephone talk with Foreign Minister Park. Yesterday, Director-General Funakoshi of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, who is visiting Seoul in the ROK, held a candid exchange of views regarding Japan-ROK relations in general, including the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula, with Director-General for Asian and Pacific Affairs Seo Min-jeong of the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

During the talk, both sides reaffirmed maintaining communication in order to resolve the pending issues and restore and further develop healthy Japan-ROK relations.

I would like to refrain from commenting on any further details as this is a matter of diplomatic communication.

Process for Deciding a Policy on Possession of Counterstrike Capabilities and Increasing Defense Spending

Asahi Shimbun, Uechi: I would like to ask about the Diet and diplomatic relations. During the Budget Committee meeting yesterday, Secretary-General Okada of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan pointed out that the order of the process for the possession of counterstrike capabilities and the defense budget has been in reverse, with the explanation given to the United States and other matters taking place without any discussion in the Diet. Please tell us your view on this point that the Diet is being dismissed and ignored.

Minister Hayashi: Active discussions have been held regarding the three security-related policy documents by the National Security Council meeting of four ministers, the Advisory Panel, the ruling party working team, and others. The resulting policy of the ruling party has been indicated in the form of the Cabinet decision on the three security-related policy documents.

Under the parliamentary Cabinet system, the ruling party is in charge of the national government. First of all, the policy was decided by the ruling party after a careful process lasting more than a year. I do not believe that there was any problem in the process.

During the Japan-U.S. “2+2” and other opportunities, we have provided an explanation to the United States on the current status, as the Government decided to fundamentally reinforce Japan’s defense capabilities, including counterstrike capabilities, through a considerable increase in defense spending under the three new security-related policy documents.

Additionally, the Government of Japan has submitted the FY2023 budget that includes the fundamental reinforcement of defense capabilities to the Diet, and is engaged in active debate in the Diet with the ruling and opposition parties. We intend to provide further careful explanations to the people of Japan through this process. After the Diet deliberates and passes the budget, the policy will enter into force, so I do not believe it is correct to state that the process has ignored the Diet.

Two Years Since the Coup D’état in Myanmar

Sankei Shimbun, Okada: I would like to ask about the situation in Myanmar. Tomorrow, on February 1, it will be two years since the military in Myanmar seized power through a coup d’état. To date, the Government of Japan has cooperated with the international community, including ASEAN, to request the Myanmar military to take measures including the immediate suspension of violence, but there is still no end in sight for the situation. Please tell us your current recognition of the situation in Myanmar and how the Government of Japan will respond going forward.

Minister Hayashi: Tomorrow will mark two years since the start of the coup d’état. However, the Myanmar military is not listening to the voices of the international community, and there are no signs of stopping its acts of violence. We are gravely concerned about the deteriorating situation in Myanmar, for which there has been no progress on ASEAN’s “Five-Point Consensus.”

Amidst this, we have been monitoring the movements of the Myanmar military with high concern, such as whether they will lift the declaration of a state of emergency and the forced election.

By taking concrete actions to immediately stop the violence, release those who have been detained including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and swiftly restore Myanmar’s democratic political system, as well as implementing ASEAN’s “Five-Point Consensus.”, the Government of Japan will continue to strongly urge the Myanmar military to make sincere efforts for the peaceful resolution of the issues in a manner acceptable to the people of Myanmar and to the international community.

Issue of the Former Civilian Workers from the Korean Peninsula (Future Outlook)

Dong-a Ilbo, Lee: I would like to ask about the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula. The working-level Japan-ROK Director-General Level Talks have been held in order to discuss the issue of the former civilian workers. Please tell us whether there are plans to have talks at levels such as the foreign minister or vice minister level. Furthermore, there are reports on the possibility of a summit meeting, so I would like to ask about that as well.

Minister Hayashi: As I stated earlier, I recently held a telephone talk with Foreign Minister Park. With regard to the Director-General Level Talks, it is as I stated earlier. Nothing has been decided about the future schedule.

Souvenir Gifts from the Overseas Visits by Prime Minister Kishida

NTV, Mori: I would like to ask about souvenir gifts from Prime Minister Kishida’s overseas visits. During the recent Budget Committee meeting, Prime Minister Kishida stated that he bought souvenirs during his recent overseas visit to give as gifts to Cabinet ministers and others. Did you receive such a gift? If you did, what was it?

Minister Hayashi: It is true that I received a souvenir gift from Prime Minister Kishida from his recent overseas visit. I would like to refrain from answering about the content.

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