Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa

Tuesday, March 14, 2023, 3:51 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

(1)Decision on the Date of the Second Meeting of the International Group of Eminent Persons for a “World without Nuclear Weapons” and Provision of Funding to the United Nations (UN) for the “Youth Leader Fund for a world without nuclear weapons”

Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have four announcements to make at the beginning of this press conference.

First, it has been decided that the second meeting of the International Group of Eminent Persons for “A World without Nuclear Weapons” will be held on April 4 and 5 in Tokyo.

For the upcoming meeting, it is planned to be held in-person with participation by three Japanese people, including Chair SHIRAISHI Takashi, and six foreign national members from nuclear-weapon states, non-nuclear weapon states, and elsewhere. It is also planned to have five foreign national members participate online.

In addition, we have made arrangements with the UN regarding the launch of “Youth Leader Fund for a world without nuclear weapons,” which was announced by Prime Minister Kishida, and will soon contribute $10 million to the UN.

The purpose of the Fund is to invite future leaders from both nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states to Japan to learn the reality of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to create a global network of young people, including those from Japan, towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. Japan will continue to closely cooperate with the UN to fully demonstrate the effectiveness of the efforts made through the Fund.

(2)Release of the White Paper on Development Cooperation 2022

Minister Hayashi: Next, at the Cabinet meeting today, I made a statement regarding the release of the White Paper on Development Cooperation 2022.

This White Paper introduces Japan’s development cooperation activities during the past year. It begins with the “Special Feature” in Part I which introduces Japan’s efforts in response to the situation in Ukraine. It describes emergency and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and neighboring countries as well as support for the stability and reconstruction of Ukraine.

ODA is the most important tool of diplomacy, and its importance is growing as the world is at a turning point in history. Japan intends to further expand and strategically and effectively utilize ODA. As the discussion on the revision of the Development Cooperation Charter progresses, we will continue to actively promote efforts to achieve the SDGs and realize the principles of the FOIP, while gaining further public understanding and support for development cooperation through this White Paper.

(3)Earthquake in Türkiye (Dispatch of Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) Aircraft for NATO’s Support Activities)

Minister Hayashi: Thirdly, on March 14 today, Japan dispatched an SDF aircraft to Pakistan in order to transport emergency relief supplies, such as tents that are located in Pakistan, to Türkiye based on the Law Concerning Dispatch of the Japan Disaster Relief Team in response to the earthquake that occurred in southeastern part of Türkiye.

This is the first international emergency relief operation to be carried out in cooperation with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), upon the request from the Government of Türkiye, a member of NATO, and NATO, to Japan, its global partner, to cooperate in the transportation of relief supplies by an SDF aircraft.

Japan will continue to provide necessary assistance in cooperation with NATO and international organizations, while utilizing its experience and knowledge as an earthquake-prone country.

(4)Joint Leaders Statement on AUKUS

Minister Hayashi: The fourth matter is that on March 13 local time in the United States, the leaders of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States issued the Joint Leaders Statement on AUKUS, and announced Australia’s plan to acquire conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs). The Statement also noted that the plan is based on the non-proliferation commitments of the three countries and that they will continue to hold relevant consultations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

As the foundation of the international order is shaken and the regional security environment becomes increasingly severe, the AUKUS initiative will contribute to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, and Japan has consistently supported this. At the Japan-Australia Summit Telephone Meeting today, Prime Minister Kishida conveyed this message to Prime Minister Albanese.

In order to realize a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” Japan will continue to strengthen various forms of cooperation with its ally, the United States as well as with Australia and the United Kingdom, which are like-minded countries, with whom we are advancing various forms of cooperation in security and defense.

That is all from me.

Missile Launches by North Korea

Kyodo News, Ueda: I would like to ask about the missile launches by North Korea. This morning, North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles towards the Sea of Japan. It is thought as a display of North Korea’s military power in response to the large-scale joint military exercises that began on March 13 between the militaries of the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Please tell us the reaction of the Government of Japan. In addition, the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting is scheduled for this week. Do you expect that cooperation for responding to North Korea will be reaffirmed?

Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the announcement by the ROK military authorities regarding the missile launch by North Korea.

Due to the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from answering about the content of each specific piece of information.

In any case, North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches with unprecedented frequency and forms are a serious and imminent threat to Japan’s security, as well as a threat to the peace and security of the region and the international community. They are absolutely unacceptable.

Japan will continue to conduct close Japan-U.S. and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation while cooperating with the international community in order to promote the complete implementation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and aim for the denuclearization of North Korea.

In addition, with regard to the visit to Japan by President Yoon, it is planned for President Yoon Suk Yeol and his spouse to visit Japan from March 16 to 17. I would like to refrain from answering now based on speculation regarding the content of the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting that will be conducted during the visit.

Grave Visits on the Four Northern Islands

Hokkaido Shimbun, Araya: I would like to ask about the resumption of grave visits in the Northern Territories. During the Budget Committee meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Kishida stated that the Government will continue to appropriately respond and put particular emphasis on grave visits. Grave visits were postponed last year. Is the Government of Japan requesting the Russian side for the resumption of grave visits? What responses are you specifically considering towards resumption of the grave visits?

Minister Hayashi: The resumption of the Four-Island Exchange, including grave visits in the Northern Territories, is a matter of utmost priority for future Japan-Russia relations.

Because of the worsening Japan-Russia relations following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine as well as the effects of COVID-19, grave visits have not been held for three years. We strongly hope that the grave visits can be resumed as soon as possible. We are conducting diplomatic communication via both countries’ embassies and other means regarding projects, including the grave visits in the Northern Territories.

Suspension of Visa Exemption by Brazil

NHK, Iwasawa: I would like to ask about immigration measures in Brazil. Some reported that the Government of Brazil has decided to require acquisition of a visa for visitors to Brazil from Japan for tourism and other purposes from October 2023. Please tell us what the Government of Japan knows about the measure, as well as your reaction to this. In addition, please tell us how you will appeal to the Government of Brazil.

Minister Hayashi: I am aware that the Government of Brazil has recently announced that, from the perspective of reciprocity, it has decided to withdraw the measures introduced from 2019 to exempt Japanese, U.S., Canadian, and Australian nationals from obtaining short-term visas for entry into Brazil.

As COVID-19 winds down, it was expected that this would contribute to the further development of exchanges between our two countries, such as increasing the number of tourists from Japan to Brazil and improving the convenience in business matters. It is regrettable that this announcement has been made.

In any case, Japan will continue to hold talks with the Government of Brazil to promote people-to-people and economic exchanges between Japan and Brazil.

China’s Diplomacy

Asahi Shimbun, Uechi: Through China’s mediation, Iran and Saudi Arabia have agreed to normalize their diplomatic relations. Some reported that President Xi Jinping is planning to visit Russia to meet with President Putin, and with President Zelenskyy. What is you view on China’s efforts and presence, and how do you think this will change the dynamics of international politics?

Minister Hayashi: Japan is closely monitoring the developments in relations between China and various countries as you pointed out. However, I would like to refrain from commenting one by one on communication between third-party countries and such relevant actions.

Additionally, Japan welcomes the agreement on normalization of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia as a positive move towards the peace and stability of the Middle East.

Japan-India Relations (Visit to India by Prime Minister Kishida)

Mainichi Shimbun, Takeuchi: I would like to ask about Prime Minister Kishida’s visit to India scheduled to start on March 19. I feel that this visit is an extremely short interval, about two weeks after your visit to India in early March. India is increasingly taking the lead in the Global South, which refers to emerging and developing countries centered on the southern hemisphere. What is the Government of Japan’s view on the importance of relations with India?

Minister Hayashi: As the international community faces a series of major crises, Japan, which holds the G7 Presidency this year, attaches great importance on cooperation with India, which holds the G20 Presidency. During my visit to India, I had a meeting with Foreign Minister Jaishankar in which we confirmed that we will closely cooperate as the countries holding the G7 and the G20 presidencies.

In addition, as the G7 President, Japan attaches great importance on strengthening relations with countries in the so-called “Global South.” From this perspective, Japan believes that cooperation with India, which is demonstrating leadership in efforts such as hosting the “Global South Summit” in January 2023, is increasingly important. During Prime Minister Kishida’s visit to India, we hope to deepen discussions based on such points.

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