Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Wednesday, April 5, 2023, 4:29 p.m. Brussels
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Today in Brussels, Belgium, I attended the NATO Partner Session of the Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs for the second time as the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, following last April. Also, yesterday morning, I attented a meeting of the Japan-EU EPA Joint Committee, followed by the G7 Trade Ministers' Meeting online in the afternoon. I also took this opportunity to hold bilateral talks and other meetings with a total of 12 countries and organizations.
At the G7 Trade Ministers' Meeting, co-chaired by Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry NISHIMURA Yasutoshi and myself, we discussed maintaining and strengthening a free and fair trade system and enhancing economic security. We also issued a G7 Trade Ministers’ Statement. I pointed out the importance of a candid exchange of views among members who share fundamental values, in order to address the current challenges facing the free and fair trade system. I also stated, based on the outcomes of this meeting that I would like to continue discussions towards the 2nd Trade Ministers' Meeting to be held in Sakai, Osaka, in October, and to drive discussions in Geneva regarding the WTO. The other ministers agreed with my statement.
At the meeting of the Japan-EU EPA Joint Committee, I exchanged views with Mr. Valdis DOMBROVSKIS, Executive Vice President of the European Commission for an Economy that Works for People and European Commissioner for Trade, to ensure the proper and effective implementation of the Japan-EU EPA. We discussed various issues that the international community faces in diverse areas, such as economic security, and confirmed close cooperation between Japan and the EU, which share fundamental values. I also reiterated Japan's strong request for the early lifting of the EU's import restrictions on Japanese food products, which were introduced after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
At the NATO Partner Sessions of the Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, we discussed responses to the aggression against Ukraine and the situation in the Indo-Pacific region. I announced Japan's support for Ukraine by contributing 30 million USD to NATO's Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP) Trust Fund, and that Japan participated for the first time in NATO-led airlift operations for disaster relief supplies to support Türkiye after the recent earthquake. Furthermore, I explained that Japan-NATO cooperation is steadily progressing in various fields.
In addition, I once again welcomed NATO's expanded involvement in the Indo-Pacific and introduced Japan’s new plan for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP).” I also expressed Japan's desire to strengthen cooperation with other countries to further strengthen a free and open international order based on the rule of law. Many of the ministers agreed with my point that the security of Europe and that of the Indo-Pacific region cannot be separated. They also praised Prime Minister Kishida's recent visit to Ukraine for the strong message it sent to the international community. Furthermore, many countries expressed their appreciation for Japan's contribution to NATO's CAP Trust Fund to support Ukraine.
Also, during the Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO, met with representatives of NATO's Asia-Pacific partners from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea. I held a bilateral meeting with Secretary General Stoltenberg, as well as with representatives of Belgium, the EU, Türkiye, Portugal, Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, and Denmark. I also held talks with Sweden and the United Kingdom to discuss the response to Russia's aggression against Ukraine and cooperation towards realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” and we confirmed our cooperation. I also had brief conversations with representatives of the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, and other countries.
I feel that this visit to Brussels has enabled us to take another step forward in cooperation between Japan and NATO. Recognizing that the security of Europe and that of the Indo-Pacific region are inseparable, in order to maintain and strengthen a free and open international order based on the rule of law. Japan will continue to cooperate with NATO, its members and partners, as well as other like-minded countries, while taking into account Japan's National Security Strategy. That is all from me.
Reporter: I would like to ask about your attendance at the NATO Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs. As you mentioned earlier, this was your second time attending the meeting since last April. How do you see the deepening cooperation between Japan and NATO, and how will Japan contribute to and cooperate with NATO as a partner state in the Indo-Pacific region? In addition, NATO seems to have high expectations for Japan with regard to analyzing the situation in China. Based on your visit to China, can you tell us what exchanges of views you had on the situation in China?
Minister Hayashi: At last year's Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, I stated that the security of Europe and that of the Indo-Pacific cannot be discussed separately, and that further cooperation among like-minded countries is necessary. I was very pleased to see that NATO member states and partner countries have shared this recognition over the past year.
Recently, Japan-NATO cooperation has progressed in various areas. Japan and NATO have been working on revising the Individually Tailored Partnership Programme (ITPP). Through this document, in addition to traditional areas of cooperation, we will dramatically strengthen our cooperation with NATO in new areas such as cyberspace, outer space, disinformation, and critical emerging technologies.
During the meeting, I also refer to my recent visit to China, and explained the current situation surrounding the Indo-Pacific region, such as the continued and intensifying attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force in the East China Sea and South China Sea.
My visit to Brussels has enabled us to take another step forward in cooperation between Japan and NATO. As the international community stands at a historical crossroads, we intend to take Japan-NATO cooperation to a higher level in order to maintain and further strengthen a free and open international order based on the rule of law.
Reporter: This visit will be followed by the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting next week and the G7 Hiroshima Summit next month. Japan, the only G7 member from Asia, as the G7 Presidency, how do you intend to connect the discussions on the Indo-Pacific region from the Partner Session to the summit, and what results do you hope to achieve?
Minister Hayashi: At the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting and the G7 Hiroshima Summit, we intend to discuss the regional situation in the Indo-Pacific as one of the most important issues. At the Partner Session of the NATO Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and at the meeting between Secretary General Stoltenberg and the Asia-Pacific partners (AP4) of NATO, we discussed matters such as responses to the aggression against Ukraine and the situation in the Indo-Pacific. I also reiterated that Japan welcomes NATO's expanded involvement in the Indo-Pacific and would like to further strengthen cooperation with like-minded countries and partners, including the AP4, to uphold the international order based on the rule of law. The participants supported this statement. Based on the discussions today, Japan, as the G7 Presidency, would like to lead the discussions in the G7 process.
Reporter: I'd like to ask about Japan-China relations. On April 4, personnel from the Japanese Embassy in Beijing paid a consular visit to the male employee of Astellas Pharma who is being detained. They confirmed he is in good health. The meeting ended up taking place immediately after your visit to China, but what is your impression of China's response, and how will you arrange for the detainee's swift release?
Minister Hayashi: On the afternoon of April 4, local time, Japanese Embassy personnel in China conducted a consular meeting with the Japanese man in his 50s who was detained by Chinese authorities in Beijing in March. Due to the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from providing details of the meeting, but we did confirm with the man that he has no particular health problems.
During my recent visit to China, I protested this incident and strongly reiterated Japan’s resolute position on this matter, including the Japanese national’s swift release. We will continue to strongly urge China, through various levels and occasions, to swiftly release this citizen.
Furthermore, in terms of protecting Japanese nationals, we have been providing everything possible, such as contacting families and other parties involved, and we will continue to respond appropriately.