Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, March 10, 2023, 3:21 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Participation in the Multi-Party Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement (MPIA)
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: As stated in the press release issued this morning the Cabinet adopted understanding regarding Japan’s participation in the MPIA in response to the current impasse of the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement system.
The MPIA is an interim mechanism established by like-minded members, including the EU, to substitute the functions of the Appellate Body, with the arbitration stipulated in the WTO Agreement.
Based on the belief that the MPIA will enhance the predictability of the WTO dispute settlement system and contribute to the maintenance and strengthening of the rules-based multilateral trading system, Japan has decided to participate in the MPIA.
Japan has been actively participating in international discussions for WTO dispute settlement system reform. Japan will continue to lead efforts toward WTO reform.
That is all from me.
Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Summit Meeting
NHK, Iwasawa: I would like to ask about the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting. The Government of Japan has announced that a Japan-ROK Summit Meeting will be held next week. What results are expected from the meeting?
In addition, please tell us how you will take part in the visit to Japan by President Yoon of the ROK, including whether you will accompany Prime Minister Kishida at the Summit Meeting.
Minister Hayashi: President Yoon Suk Yeol and his spouse are scheduled to visit Japan from March 16 to 17. I would like to refrain from answering based on speculation about matters such as whether I will accompany Prime Minister Kishida to the Summit Meeting.
The ROK is our important neighboring country that should cooperate to respond to various issues in the international community. We expect the two leaders to hold candid discussions during President Yoon’s visit to Japan, and Japan-ROK relations will be further developed based on the friendly cooperative relations we have had since the normalization of our relations.
Japan-U.S.-ROK Response to the Short-Range Ballistic Missile Launches by North Korea
Sankei Shimbun, Okada: Yesterday, on March 9, North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile towards the waters west of the Korean Peninsula. The visit to Japan by President Yoon of the ROK was announced yesterday and Japan-ROK relations are heading to normal. Amidst this, please tell us your thoughts again on how to respond to North Korea and strengthen Japan-U.S.-ROK, Japan-ROK, and Japan-U.S. cooperation.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the announcement by the ROK military authorities as well as North Korea’s announcement about the missile launch that you pointed out.
The ROK is our important neighboring country that we should cooperate with to respond to various issues in the international community, including responding to North Korea. Since the inauguration of the Yoon administration, Japan and the ROK have been in close communication, including at the summit level such as the planned visit to Japan by President Yoon next week. In light of the current strategic environment, the Government of Japan is strengthening Japan-ROK and Japan-U.S.-ROK strategic cooperation, including in the area of security.
Japan will continue to conduct close Japan-U.S. and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation while collaborating with the international community in order to promote complete implementation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and aim for the denuclearization of North Korea.
Japan-ROK Relations (Issue of Former Civilian Workers from the Korean Peninsula (CWKs), Radar Irradiation)
Kyodo News, Ueda: In relation to this, I would also like to ask about Japan-ROK relations. The Government of the ROK’s announcement of the solution to the CWKs issue created momentum towards improving relations between Japan and the ROK. How will you approach the pending issues between Japan and the ROK, such as the radar irradiation issue caused by the ROK navy against the Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF), and the measures to strengthen export controls?
In addition, a delegation from the business community will accompany President Yoon on his visit to Japan. Please tell us whether you have plan to meet with the delegation, and your expectations for exchange between the business communities of Japan and the ROK.
Minister Hayashi: The ROK is our important neighboring country that we should cooperate with to respond to various issues in the international community. We expect that with the two leaders holding candid discussions during President Yoon’s visit to Japan, Japan-ROK relations will be further developed based on the friendly cooperative relations we have had since the normalization of our relations.
As for the radar irradiation incident, I understand that the MOD and SDF will continue to closely communicate with the ROK side in order to resolve pending issues, including prevention of recurrence of such an incident.
In addition, the review of our export controls towards the ROK announced in July 2019 was conducted in order to appropriately implement export controls from the perspective of security.
Both Japan and the ROK have decided to quickly hold relevant bilateral talks regarding pending issues concerning export controls in order to return to the conditions prior to July 2019.
Visits to Foreign Countries by Ministers During Diet Sessions
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: This week on March 7, the secretaries-general and chairpersons of the diet affairs committees of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito met to discuss how to respond to the G20 Foreign Minister’s Meeting, and agreed that overseas visits by ministers during Diet sessions should be allowed on a flexible basis. I understand that the response will be discussed with the opposition parties. What is your reaction to this move by the ruling parties regarding your absence at the recent G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting? Please tell us your opinion.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware that there have been various developments in the Diet in relation to overseas visits by ministers during Diet sessions.
Responding to the Diet as well as diplomatic activities, including overseas visits, are both important. MOFA will continue to carry out active diplomatic activities while receiving the understanding of the Diet.
Statement by Former LDP Secretary-General KOGA Makoto
Asahi Shimbun, Uechi: In a television program recorded yesterday, former LDP Secretary-General KOGA Makoto, former chair of the Kochikai faction, raised your name as a future candidate for President of the LDP and his successor in the Kochikai. Please tell us your reaction to this, and how you will respond to such expectations.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the report you pointed out. I would like to refrain from commenting here in my capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs. If I were to say anything further, it would be that I will firmly carry out the duties I have been given now as Vice Chairman of the Kochikai and Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Kishida Cabinet.
Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) Treated Water
Reuters, Murakami: Tomorrow will mark 12 years since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant. While some countries have said they understood the decision to release the ALPS treated water into the ocean later this year, there are still some voices of concern. For example, the Hong Kong government is reportedly considering suspending seafood imports from Fukushima prefecture if Japan goes ahead with releasing the ALPS treated water into the ocean. How successful would you say Japan’s effort to ease concerns over the water have been, and why do you think some are still concerned? Thank you.
Minister Hayashi: With regard to handling of the ALPS treated water, Japan has been carefully following international laws and taking measures with maximum consideration regarding the impact on the environment as well as human health and safety based on international practices. We have been providing careful explanations to the international community including neighboring countries and regions in a transparent manner based on scientific evidence.
Amidst this, during the Japan-Micronesia Summit Meeting held in February, President Panuelo stated that the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) now has deep trust in Japan’s intentions and Japan’s technological capabilities in not harming our shared oceanic assets. He also stated that the FSM approves of Japan’s efforts and is no longer as afraid or concerned about them as before.
Furthermore, I provided an explanation to UN General Assembly President Kőrösi , during his recent visit to Japan, and he showed his understanding.
Japan will continue to implement the discharge of the ALPS treated water in a manner that firmly ensures that there is no harm on the environment or human health. We will continue to utilize all opportunities to provide explanations in a highly transparent manner based on scientific evidence to the international community and continue to work to foster understanding while receiving reviews by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which has technical expertise.
Japan-ROK Shuttle Diplomacy
NHK, Iwasawa: I would like to ask about Japan-ROK shuttle diplomacy. Mutual visits by the leaders of Japan and the ROK have not been taken place since 2011, with the exception of international meetings and the like. What are your thoughts on the importance of shuttle diplomacy on Japan-ROK relations? Furthermore, what expectations do you have for the resumption of shuttle diplomacy taking the opportunity of the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting next week?
Minister Hayashi: President Yoon of the ROK and his spouse are scheduled to visit Japan from March 16 to 17. However, I would like to refrain from answering based on speculation now about the content of the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting to be held during the visit, including the matters you asked about.
Election of President Xi Jinping at the National People’s Congress (NPC) of China
Kyodo News, Ueda: I would like to ask about Japan-China relations. The plenary meeting of the NPC of China was held on March 10, President Xi Jinping was voted to his third term as president. Please tell us the reaction of the Government of Japan to this, as well as how you will respond, such as consideration on sending a congratulatory message.
Minister Hayashi: We are aware that Secretary-General Xi Jinping was elected President during the meeting of the 14th NPC today.
There are various possibilities for Japan-China relations, as well as many challenges and pending issues. At the same time, Japan and China both have major responsibilities for the peace and prosperity of the region as well as the world.
While maintaining the positive momentum gained at the Japan-China Summit Meeting in November 2022, Japan will state what should be stated and strongly request China to take responsible actions, while working to build a “constructive and stable Japan-China relationship” through the efforts of both countries, in which both sides firmly engage in dialogue such as dialogue at the summit level, including on various pending issues, and cooperate on common issues.
Furthermore, based on the custom between our two countries, Prime Minister Kishida sent a congratulatory message to President Xi on the occasion of his election.