Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary YOSHIDA Tomoyuki

Wednesday, November 25, 2020, 3:46 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks - Election of Candidate OTANI Mikiko in the Committee on the Rights of the Child Members Election

Mr. YOSHIDA Tomoyuki, Press Secretary: Today, November 25, which is November 24 local time, the Committee on the Rights of the Child members election was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The nine incumbent members up for reelection were reelected, and 14 people competed for the spots. As a result of the election, incumbent lawyer OTANI Mikiko from Japan was reelected with 145 votes.

I perceive that Ms. Otani was reelected as a result of appreciation for her activities during her first term as well as Japan’s initiatives through now, and I am pleased.

Ms. Otani is dedicated to protection and promotion of particularly women’s and children’s rights in Japan and abroad, while teaching in the fields of family law and international human rights law as well as giving lectures and practicing as a lawyer. She began serving as a member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2017, and has now been reelected.

I remember being very grateful to her in relation to the Hague Convention when I worked in the North American Affairs Bureau.

I believe that Ms. Otani will leverage her extensive knowledge and experience to contribute even more actively to the activities of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and have important significance for Japan, which promotes diplomacy on human rights. That is all from me.

Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Asahi Shimbun, ABE: I would like to ask about the Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held yesterday. Communication has been conducted between the foreign ministers of Japan and China by telephone and other methods even amidst the novel coronavirus crisis. What are your thoughts on the significance and results of the in-person meeting?

Press Secretary YOSHIDA: Yesterday, Foreign Minister Motegi held a Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and working dinner with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who visited Japan. The Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held for one and a half hours, and the working dinner was held for one hours and 10 minutes. Also, there was a tête-à-tête lasting up to 30 minutes between the foreign ministers with only their interpreters accompanying them prior to the working dinner.

This was the first meeting to be held with the resumption of high-level visits between Japan and China during the novel coronavirus crisis. The significance was emphasized during the foreign ministers’ joint press conference yesterday.

I believe it was of major significance that we could confirm, through this meeting, that stable Japan-China relations are important for the peace, stability, and prosperity of the region as well as the international community, amidst the extremely difficult international situation due to the novel coronavirus crisis, and that Japan and China, as responsible major powers, contributing to efforts on various issues faced by the international community will lead to further strengthening of Japan-China relations.

Regarding the fields in which both sides have agreed interests and direction, I believe there have been considerable results achieved as there will be practical cooperation going forward. I would also like to add that there was a firm conversation based on Japan’s basic positions directly in-person regarding various unresolved bilateral issues through this meeting.

Asahi Shimbun, ABE: You just stated that there was discussion about various unresolved issues. Foreign Minister Motegi also stated that he strongly requested China to take positive actions in regard to the Senkaku Islands issue yesterday. However, Chinese vessels have entered Japan’s contiguous zone in the waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands today as well. Although Japan has strongly requested responses, there are doubts about whether it is leading to China changing its actions. What are your thoughts on this point?

Press Secretary YOSHIDA: I believe that Foreign Minister Motegi provided an explanation about the Senkaku Islands in the joint press conference yesterday. He clearly conveyed the request to State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang based on Japan’s position.

As you pointed out, a Japan Coast Guard patrol boat confirmed the navigation by Chinese vessels at 8 a.m. this morning. Navigation by Chinese vessels in Japanese waters has been confirmed for a total of 306 days so far, which is extremely regrettable. Patrol boats have issued warnings in the maritime areas, and severe protests have been issued through diplomatic channels.

This issue was brought up during the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting yesterday as well as the Chief Cabinet Secretary’s meeting with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang this morning.

Regarding the joint press conference yesterday, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang’s statement based on China’s position is completely unacceptable. Foreign Minister Motegi clearly conveyed his request concerning Japan’s position to State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang during the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

During the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Foreign Minister Motegi conveyed Japan’s strong concerns to State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang and requested action by China, while bringing up the intrusions by Chinese vessels into Japan’s territorial waters that have reached the highest level ever this year as well as the specific individual cases of Chinese vessels navigating in Japan’s contiguous zone and nearing Japanese fishing boats.

Japan will continue to respond firmly but in a calm manner to resolutely defend our territorial land, sea, and airspace.

Nikkei Shimbun, KATO: I would like to confirm one point about what you just stated. You said that the position of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang is completely unacceptable. Is it correct to understand that Foreign Minister Motegi said that during the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting?

Press Secretary YOSHIDA: As I just stated, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang’s statement during the joint press conference yesterday was based on China’s position, and is unacceptable.

The joint press conference yesterday followed the customary practice of having each of the Japanese and Chinese sides make a statement one by one. As the host, Foreign Minister Motegi made his statement first.

Next, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang as the guest finished by making his statement. I cannot speak about when this was brought up during the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. However, as I just stated, Foreign Minister Motegi clearly conveyed to State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Japan’s position and strongly requested China to take action while mentioning specific individual cases of intrusions by Chinese vessels.

Case of the Defendant Carlos Ghosn

NHK, WATANABE: I believe that MOFA issued a press release regarding the case of Carlos Ghosn yesterday. An opinion was issued that stated that the measures applied to Mr. Ghosn constituted arbitrary detention, and I believe Japan objected by saying that this was incorrect. What measures is Japan considering taking to respond to this situation going forward? Regarding this issue, if you know about the situation concerning Mr. Ghosn at the present point, how will the Government of Japan handle Mr. Ghosn?

The press release just explained the details of the case. However, rather than that, for example, is consideration being conducted on issuing a Press Secretary’s Statement or another such stronger statement with a message?

Press Secretary YOSHIDA: In regard to the case of Mr. Ghosn , the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recently adopted an Opinion on this case concerning the Government of Japan, and the Government of Japan made an objection. I believe a press release was distributed to you all in the Kasumi Club, and Minister of Justice Kamikawa also explained the content in her press conference yesterday.

Just to confirm this, I would like to say that Japan sets out appropriate criminal justice procedures and administers them properly in order to clarify the truth in criminal cases while guaranteeing the fundamental human rights of individuals concerned. Because arrests and detentions in Japan are carried out in accordance with procedures stipulated in the Code of Criminal Procedure based on fundamental human rights as well as other related laws, the measures applied to defendant Ghosn cannot be considered to be arbitrary detention.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations Human Rights Council is a group of experts that reports on the results of investigations. However, the opinions are ultimately only those of the experts, and are not opinions of the United Nations. Therefore, this Opinion is not legally binding for member states and is not the Opinion of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

That being said, under Japanese law, in order to protect the rights of the people concerned in criminal proceedings, Japan cannot provide to the Working Group information related to investigations and trials. Amidst this situation, Japan has fully explained this situation repeatedly.

Despite this, the Working Group reached its decision based solely on biased allegations from Mr. Ghosn’s side, and Japan issued its objection that this Opinion is totally unacceptable. This objection is the Government of Japan’s message to the international community and the Working Group.

Various consideration was conducted in regard to the method of lodging the objection to the Opinion. After considerable coordination with related ministries and agencies, namely the Ministry of Justice which has jurisdiction over this issue, we immediately issued Japan’s detailed opinion in the form of a press release that provides explanations on the content submitted in the Opinion.

In regard to the case of Mr. Ghosn, Japan is aware that Mr. Ghosn is continuing to stay in Lebanon. Japan’s justice authorities have also requested for Interpol to issue a wanted notice for Mr. Ghosn due to his illegal departure from Japan in an inappropriate manner after an investigation was being conducted and a case was being brought against him. The Government of Japan will continue to convey its stance internationally in this way, and the ministries and agencies concerned will cooperate on the handling of this case by justice authorities.

The Next Ambassador to Japan of the Republic of Korea (ROK)

Asahi Shimbun, ABE: The Office of the President of the ROK announced its internal decision on the next ROK Ambassador to Japan. According to the Office of the President, it seems that this was in reaction to the inauguration of the Suga administration. Does Japan view this as a movement toward improving Japan-ROK relations?

Press Secretary YOSHIDA: I am aware of the announcement and reports that the Government of the ROK has made an internal decision to appoint Mr. Kang Chang-il, the former Chairman of the Korea-Japan Parliamentarians' Union, as the next ROK Ambassador to Japan. However, it is the international custom not to comment on other countries’ appointments for ambassadors and other posts. I would thus like to refrain from commenting at the present point.

Asahi Shimbun, ABE: You just said you are aware of the reports. The ROK has announced its internal decision, so has Japan agreed on the personnel selection as a diplomatic agrément?

Press Secretary YOSHIDA: Although I might be repeating myself, it is customary to have an agrément involving the agreement of the recipient countries for internal appointments of ambassadors. However, it is the international norm not to comment on whether this procedure is being conducted as well as what is being done until the final decision has been made. So please excuse me, but I would like to refrain from answering.

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