Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Friday, March 17, 2023, 4:42 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Foreign Minister Hayashi’s Visit to the Solomon Islands and Cook Islands
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have two announcements to make.
From tomorrow, March 18, to March 22, I will visit the Pacific Island countries, the Solomon Islands and the Cook Islands. The Pacific Island countries are a region of extreme strategic importance for ensuring regional stability and peace. My visits to both countries will be the first visits by a Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs. This will also be the first visit by a Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Polynesia area.
The Solomon Islands have overcome their history of being the site of fierce battle during World War II and has become a friend of Japan with which we have built consistent postwar relations of friendship and goodwill. I will pay a courtesy call to Prime Minister Sogavare and hold a foreign ministers’ meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Manele. The Cook Islands are this year’s chair country for the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), the regional framework, and I plan to meet with Prime Minister Brown, who also serves as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Through these visits, I hope to hold candid exchanges of views towards further developing bilateral relations with both countries, discuss regional affairs, and confirm the strengthening of cooperation towards realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP).
(2) Further Measures Taken by the Government of Japan Against North Korea
Minister Hayashi: As for the second matter, since last year, North Korea has been conducting a series of provocative actions, including repeatedly launching ballistic missile with unprecedented frequency and manner. Amidst this, on February 18, North Korea launched an ICBM-class ballistic missile which landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) within the Sea of Japan. Yesterday, on March 16, North Korea also launched an ICBM-class ballistic missile. This is a grave and imminent threat to Japan’s national security and threatens the peace and security of the region and the international community, which is totally unacceptable for Japan.
Amidst this situation, the Cabinet meeting today approved the additional designation of three individuals who have engaged in nuclear and missile development, which are prohibited by the United Nations Security Council resolutions related to North Korea, as being subject to asset freezing based on the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act. This as a further measure of the Government Japan against North Korea to comprehensively resolve the various abductions, nuclear, and missile issues.
Japan strongly demands that North Korea take concrete actions towards resolving the various abductions, nuclear, and missile issues. Japan will continue to aim for the denuclearization of North Korea while conducting close Japan-U.S. and Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) cooperation and cooperating with the international community.
That is all from me.
Foreign Minister Hayashi’s Visit to the Solomon Islands and Cook Islands
NHK, Iwasawa: I would like to ask about your foreign visits which you mentioned in your opening remarks. During your foreign visits, what views do you plan to exchange regarding matters towards realizing FOIP, including the importance of Pacific Island countries, Japan’s support, and Japan’s plan regarding the discharge of the ALPS treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station?
In addition, the Government of Japan intends to strengthening its engagement with the Global South due to the situation in Ukraine. From this perspective, what are your thoughts on the significance of directly visiting the Pacific Island countries?
Minister Hayashi: The Pacific Island countries are strategically very important for ensuring regional stability and peace, where sea lanes connecting Japan and Australia and the sea lanes from the Indian Ocean through the South China Sea to the Pacific Ocean intersect.
The sustainable development of the Pacific Island Countries, which are Japan’s partner in the international community, is important from the perspective of realizing FOIP. Through bilateral initiatives, the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM), and cooperation with like-minded countries, Japan has been strongly supporting the development and unity of the Pacific Island countries in a way that meets the needs of the various countries.
Through these visits, I will hold candid exchanges of views with the leaders and others from the Solomon Islands and Cook Islands towards further developing bilateral relations, discuss regional affairs, and confirm the strengthening of cooperation towards realizing FOIP. I will also build even stronger relationships of mutual trust with both countries through in-person communication that places importance on the Pacific Island countries.
In addition, Japan is strengthening dialogue with Pacific Island countries regarding the ALPS treated water. We will continue to provide careful explanations based on scientific evidence with high transparency. During my visits as well, I will firmly provide explanations regarding Japan’s position on ensuring safety.
Mainichi Shimbun, Takeuchi: I would like to ask about the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting yesterday. During the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting, the leaders concurred on the importance of relaunching the high-level Japan-ROK-China trilateral process at an early time. What effects are assumed regarding the Japan-ROK-China process? In addition, please also tell us about the outlook on when the next Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit, which is suspended now, will be held.
Minister Hayashi: With regard to the specific process and schedule for future Japan-China-ROK cooperation, we will firstly firmly advance consideration at the working level among the three countries based on the results of the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting yesterday.
Kyodo News, Ueda: I would like to ask a follow-up question on Japan-ROK relations. During the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting yesterday, the leaders agreed on holding of the Japan-ROK Security Dialogue and the Japan-ROK Vice-Ministerial Strategic Dialogue at an early stage. Specifically when are these meetings planned to be held? In addition, dinner between the foreign ministers was held separately from the dinner between the leaders of Japan and the ROK. What kind of discussion did you have?
Minister Hayashi: The ROK is an important neighboring country with which Japan should cooperate in dealing with various issues of the international community. In particular, it goes without saying that it is important to have close Japan-ROK cooperation and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation based on the current strategic environment, including responding to North Korea.
During the summit meeting yesterday, the two leaders concurred to accelerate holding active inter-governmental communication in wide-ranging fields, including government, economics, and culture fields, in order to promote mutually beneficial cooperation for both Japan and the ROK. Specifically, the leaders concurred on firstly resuming the Japan-ROK Security Dialogue and the Japan-ROK Vice-Ministerial Strategic Dialogue at an early stage.
Details including the specific schedule for the dialogues will be arranged based on the communication between both leaders.
In addition, I held an informal, private social dinner in Tokyo with the Foreign Minister of the ROK in order to establish a personal relationship of mutual trust. The dinner was held for social purposes, and we did not discuss specific topics.
Chancellor of Germany Scholz’s Visit to Japan
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Welter: Hayashisan two questions please. One is on the relations with South Korea and Japan. President Yuan today asked for scientific study on the security of releasing the Fukushima water into the Pacific. Do I have to take that as a sign that there is missing trust between Korea and Japan?
And the second question, tomorrow you have this huge summit meeting between Japan and Germany with two heads of governments and six ministers in each side, which is first for Japan to do it in that format. What do you expect to this huge gathering happening tomorrow?
Minister Hayashi: First, in response to your first question, as I stated earlier, there were various conversations regarding issues between our two countries. I would like to refrain from speaking about the details as this was diplomatic communication.
In addition, tomorrow, March 18, the Japan-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations will be held with Chancellor Scholz and relevant ministers from Germany who will visit Japan.
The establishment of the Japan-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations was confirmed during the Japan-Germany Summit Meeting in April 2022 as a new consultation framework between Japan and Germany with participation by the country leaders and several ministers with the purpose of promoting Japan-Germany cooperation on wide-ranging themes.
Through the summit meetings between Chancellor Scholz of Germany, which held the G7 Presidency last year, and Prime Minister Kishida as well as the Inter-Governmental Consultations, we expect to further deepen cooperation towards the G7 Hiroshima Summit as well as cooperative relations, including on the field of economic security, with Germany, our important partner with which we share fundamental values.