Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko
Wednesday, November 15, 2023, 5:33 p.m. San Francisco
Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs: At the outset, I would like to give a brief explanation of my itinerary since yesterday.
Today, I attended Session II of the APEC Ministerial Meeting. Discussions took place on the themes of “Building a resilient and interconnected region that advances broad-based economic prosperity.”
I stressed that with a view to ensure the economic prosperity of APEC through the liberalization and facilitation of trade, maintaining and strengthening the WTO regime is essential, and for that purpose achieving a meaningful, tangible outcome at the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) is important. In addition, I stated that advancing APEC-wide growth with the participation of women, youth, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is a priority agenda in the areas of trade and investment and pointed out the importance of promoting APEC’s work to address this agenda.
Through the two days of discussions, I was able to confirm with the other APEC ministers our determination to turn the Asia-Pacific into a more resilient and interconnected region.
At the meeting with the ROK Foreign Minister, two of us welcomed the recent close communication taking place in the foreign minister level, and discussed a wide range of issues including bilateral relations and international affairs in preparation for the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting to be held on November 16. In addition, we reaffirmed to continue to work closely together to further advance the Japan-ROK relationship and broaden the scope of our cooperation.
At the Japan-Philippines Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the two sides concurred to steadily promote bilateral cooperation in areas such as security, as well as the materialization of Japan-U.S.-Philippine cooperation. In addition, we confirmed that we would work closely on issues such as the situation in the East and South China Seas, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and women, peace and security (WPS), and toward the success of the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit Meeting in December.
At the Japan-Peru Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, we affirmed our collaboration to prepare for a bilateral cooperation road map and shared the view that we would work together for the success of APEC Peru 2024. Additionally, I extended my appreciation for the hospitality of the Peruvian side during Her Imperial Highness Princess Kako’s visit to Peru.
Today, November 15, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted a resolution on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. It contains provisions that Japan has called for repeatedly, including humanitarian pauses, the establishment of humanitarian corridors, the immediate and unconditional release of hostages, and all parties’ adherence to international law. As a UNSC member, Japan has been undertaking various diplomatic efforts, including close coordination with other UNSC members and others to ensure that the UNSC expresses its intention in an appropriate manner. Japan welcomes the adoption of the resolution and calls on all parties to act in good faith based on the resolution.
That is all from me.
Reporter: I would like to ask about the U.S.-China Summit Meeting. The U.S. and Chinese leaders held a meeting today and agreed on the resumption of high-level military dialogues among others. Please share your reaction and assessment of the meeting. In addition, could you again update us on the arrangements of a Japan-China Summit Meeting, as well as explain the significance and objective of holding the meeting?
Minister Kamikawa: First, we are aware that President Biden and President Xi Jinping held a U.S.-China Summit Meeting here in San Francisco this morning, November 15, local time. The Government of Japan would like to refrain from commenting on the discussions between third countries. We are closely following the developments.
Japan considers that stable U.S.-China relations are critical to the international community. Japan will continue to urge China to fulfill its responsibilities as a major power while advancing various forms of cooperation, under our strong relationship of mutual trust with our ally, the United States.
At this stage, I cannot comment on your question on a Japan-China Summit Meeting.
Reporter: I have a question about the situation surrounding Israel and Palestine. As you just stated in your opening remarks, this afternoon, local time, the UNSC adopted a resolution at its emergency meeting on the situation in Gaza. The resolution was adopted after members failed to agree on the previous four draft resolutions. In particular, the resolution focuses on the harm inflicted upon children. Please tell us your assessment of the resolution resulting in such content.
Additionally, I would like to re-ask what I asked at yesterday’s press conference. The Israeli military reportedly raided the largest hospital in northern Gaza and is conducting operations against Hamas. Yesterday, you responded that, “All the parties concerned must adhere to international law, including international humanitarian law,” and went on to say that: “For example, acts such as unnecessarily involving innocent civilians as ‘human shields’ go against the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and are unjustifiable.” I believe you were referring to Hamas. Am I right that you were condemning the acts of Hamas even in the context of the Israeli military’s attacks on a hospital? Please share your views.
Minister Kamikawa: Regarding your first question, as I already stated at the beginning, the resolution contains provisions that Japan has called for repeatedly, including humanitarian pauses, the establishment of humanitarian corridors, the immediate and unconditional release of hostages, and all parties’ adherence to international law. As a UNSC member, Japan has been undertaking various diplomatic efforts, including close coordination with other UNSC members and others to ensure that the UNSC expresses its intention in an appropriate manner. Japan welcomes the adoption of the resolution and expects all parties to steadily implement the resolution.
The local situation is changing rapidly. In light of the resolution’s adoption, the UNSC needs to continue to fulfill appropriate responsibilities toward achieving humanitarian pauses, improving the humanitarian situation, realizing humanitarian assistance, and calming down the situation as soon as possible. Japan will continue to actively address these issues in cooperation with the international community.
Regarding your second question, there have already been numerous deaths and injuries in the Gaza Strip and surrounding areas, and we are gravely concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation. Furthermore, the large number of hostages must be released immediately, which is also a very serious issue.
As I stated yesterday, all the parties concerned must adhere to international law, including international humanitarian law. In addition, we consider that it is necessary to take all possible measures, including humanitarian pauses, so as to prevent harm to civilians from military operations. It is obvious that civilians at hospitals need to be prevented from being harmed. With Israel, I myself have been emphasizing the importance of protecting civilians and calling on Israel to act in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law.
Japan will continue to urge all the parties concerned to adhere to international law, including international humanitarian law. At the same time, Japan will actively and persistently continue our diplomatic efforts to improve the humanitarian situation, and calm down the situation, etc., while closely communicating with relevant countries and international organizations.