Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Friday, February 3, 2023, 10:30 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

Foreign Minister Hayashi to Visit Okayama Prefecture (“Local to Global”)

Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to speak about one matter.

On February 5, I willvisit Okayama Prefecture with diplomatic corps in Japan as the third round of the “Local to Global” Project, which aims to promote the attractiveness of Japan’s regional areas to the world. During this visit, I will be accompanied by Mr. TAKEI Shunsuke, State Minister for Foreign Affairs.

During this visit, I will have an exchange of opinions with people from local governments and business communities, together with the diplomatic corps, in Kurashiki City where the G7 Kurashiki Labour and Employment Ministers’ Meeting will be held this April, and will also visit attractive sightseeing spots and textile-related industrial facilities in this area.

In Okayama City, I am also scheduled to hold a roundtable dialogue on Japan’s diplomatic policy and the promotion of Okayama’s appeal together with people based in Okayama, including youths, who are actively contributing to various fields. That is all from me.

Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk

Jiji Press, Tanaka: Last night, you had the first telephone talk with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China Qin Gang. Based on the telephone talk, please tell us how Japan will be building stable and constructive Japan-China relations. In addition, could you tell us about your visit to China, which was confirmed at the Summit Meeting in November 2022, including the status of coordination regarding the visit and how likely it will be realized.

Minister Hayashi: On February 2, I held a telephone talk with H.E. Mr. Qin Gang, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, for approximately 50 minutes.

I stated that I would like to cooperate with Minister Qin in order to realize the broad direction of building a “constructive and stable relationship,” which is an important shared recognition between us. Minister Qin expressed the same view. I also stated that Japan and China need to have dialogues precisely because there aremany issues and concerns between our two countries, and agreed with Minister Qin that we would steadily advance dialogues in each field.

Japan will continue to maintain close communication at all levels, including the summit and foreign minister levels, firmly assert our position, and strongly request China’s responsible actions, while maintaining dialogue, including on various concerns, and cooperating on matters of common interest. It is important that both Japan and China accelerate our efforts to build a “constructive and stable relationship.”

Regarding my visit to China, I was invited once again by Minister Qin. We will continue to coordinateon the precise timing.

Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: In relation to the previous question, please tell us which side, China or Japan, called for the telephone talk, and whether views on the border control measures were exchanged. I ask this because the Chinese side started issuing travel visas for Japanese nationals, while the Japanese side has been implementing measures since December 2022, which include strengthening inspections. Regarding this situation, please tell us once again about how the Japanese Government plans to respond.

Minister Hayashi: I will first answer the question about which party initiated the talk. We conducted concrete coordination with the Chinese side based on the mutual understanding of the need to hold a bilateral meeting with the two ministers, while considering the appointment of Minister Qin as Foreign Minister.

With regard to the issue of border control measures, the Chinese side made a remark on the relaxation of measures taken by the Japanese side. I explained the stance of Japan on this matter to the Chinese side.

The Government of Japan will continue to respond flexibly with the temporary border control measures, while maintaining the current measures for the time being and observing the infection situation in China.

Achievements While Holding the Presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in January

NHK, Iwasawa: I would like to ask about Japan’s initiatives at the UNSC. January, when Japan held the UNSC presidency, has come to an end, As thePresidency, please tell us whether there were any positive outcomes or issues faced at the UNSC. In addition, considering that it will soon be one year since Russia started its invasion of Ukraine, how will Japan continue to address the enhancement of the UNSC as a member?

Minister Hayashi: It has only been one month since Japan’s UNSC term started. The UNSC is a very important forum for forming international public opinions on various issues facing the world. On January 12, I hosted a ministerial-level open debate on the theme of the “rule of law” and chaired the debate. With the participation of 77 countries and regions, the largest number in the past year, I believe that the debate deepened the international community’s recognition of the “rule of law.” In addition, on January 26, I also hosted an open debate on the theme of peace building, focusing on various issues facing the so-called Global South, in which 74 countries and regions participated.

On the other hand, I also keenly felt conflicts within the UNSC. As the Chair, I worked hard to make sure that tough but candid discussions were conducted on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, where tensions are escalating, and the issues related to Afghanistan, Ukraine, North Korea, and other countries. Despite the difficult and severe circumstances, we were able to unanimously adopt all three resolutions concerning Syria, Colombia, and Cyprus. In particular, I found it highly meaningful that the resolution to continue the cross-border humanitarian assistance to Syria, which is suffering from conflicts, was unanimously adopted.

Japan is also taking the penholder role for Afghanistan and has assumed the position of Deputy Chair of the 1718 Sanctions Committee. In addition to implementing UNSC reform, it is also important to improve the transparency of the current UNSC. Japan will continue to work on this matter.

Amidst the continuous severe situation surrounding the UNSC, and as the one-year mark of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, mentioned earlier, is approaching, we will continue to actively contribute to the situation by ensuring that the UNSC can fulfill its original responsibilities, in cooperation with other member states and looking ahead to the next turn for Japan to hold the UNSC presidency, which is expected to be in March 2024.

Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Relations (Issue of Former Civilian Workers from the Korean Peninsula, Watching the World Baseball Classic (WBC))

Kyodo News, Ueda: I would like to ask about Japan-ROK relations. In relation to the resolution for the issue of former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula, which was proposed by the ROK side, some reports suggest that if the ROK side decides to approve the resolution, the Government of Japan intends to express its “appropriate remorse” and the “spirit of apology,” or the Japanese side will ease export restrictions to the ROK. A few plans are on the table between the Governments of Japan and the ROK. Please tell us the current status of consultations. In addition, there are also some reports on the plan that President Yoon Suk-yeol of the ROK may visit to watch the WBC’s Japan vs. ROK match in March with Prime Minister Kishida. Please tell us the status of coordination or confirm whether it is true.

Minister Hayashi: I am aware of those reports, but I would like to refrain from commenting on individual reports.

If I were to say anything further, following the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting in November 2022 in which the two leaders reaffirmed to pursue an early resolution of this issue between the two countries, the diplomatic authorities of Japan and the ROK have accelerated consultations. Recently, I also held a telephone talk with Foreign Minister Park Jin.

Furthermore, we had two Japan-ROK Director-General Level Talks last month, and the participants of the meetings had a candid exchange of views on overall Japan-ROK relations, including the issue of former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula. The two sides reaffirmed to continue close communication to resolve the issue, and restore and further develop healthy Japan-ROK relations.

Based on the foundation of friendly and cooperative relations built since the normalization of our diplomatic relations in 1965, we will closely communicate with the Government of the ROK to restore and further develop healthy Japan-ROK relations.

Regarding the report on the two leaders planning to watch the WBC match, there is no such plan.

One-year Mark of Russia’s Aggression Against Ukraine

Asahi Shimbun, Uechi: I would like to ask about Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. It has been nearly one year since Russia began the ongoing aggression against Ukraine. As the G7 Presidency, is Japan coordinating a summit meeting, a foreign ministers’ meeting, or other similar meetings on this matter? In addition, what kind of message does Japan, as the G7 Presidency, intend to issue on the occasion of the one-year mark?

Minister Hayashi: Nothing has been decided on holding the meetings that you have just mentioned.

In any case, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine threatens the very foundation of the international order that the international community has built over a long period of hard work and many sacrifices. To defend the global peaceful order, we consider that it is necessary for the international community, including the G7, to unite and respond with firm resolve.

The G7 has been united in its response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Japan, as the G7 Presidency, will ensure the cooperation of the international community, including the G7, and continue to impose sanctions against Russia and strongly promote support for Ukraine more than before.

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