Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Sunday, December 12, 2021, 7:32 a.m. United Kingdom (Liverpool)
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I attended the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting here in Liverpool all day yesterday. We had in-depth discussions on international affairs and other matters. I departed Tokyo on Friday evening following the Diet deliberations and worked here throughout Saturday. Following that, I will attend the G7 and ASEAN session and then head back to Japan. This has truly been a whirlwind visit. In addition to the G7 ministerial meeting, I also held many bilateral meetings including with the foreign ministers of G7 countries, so I believe this has been a very fruitful visit.
During the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting, we held candid, frank discussions on various issues faced by the international community. Through these discussions, I strongly felt anew the significance of the G7, which shares fundamental values, cooperating to lead the international community.
China was a topic of discussion from the beginning of the morning session yesterday. I brought up our strong concerns and opposition to the continuing and strengthening unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, our serious concerns about the situation in Hong Kong and the human rights situation in Xinjiang, the importance of the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait, economic coercion, and other matters. I stated that Japan will say what should be said and strongly request China to take responsible actions, as we aim to build constructive and stable relations by continuing dialogue and cooperating on common challenges. There were also statements from the G7 countries, including expressions of concerns about various points.
During the afternoon session, regarding North Korea, I emphasized that it is essential to have a complete implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions toward complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of all weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) as well as missiles of all ranges. I also called for the understanding and cooperation of various countries on the abductions issue. Various countries expressed their concerns about North Korea’s nuclear missile development and support regarding the abductions issue.
During the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting yesterday, we also had discussions on Russia, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Africa, Iran, and other matters. As there was participation by development ministers, we also discussed economic partnership, including financing for development. Last night, in addition to the G7, the foreign ministers of Australia, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Brunei, and the Philippines participated, and we discussed open society while having dinner together.
To attend the Budget Committee on Monday, I will return to Japan after excusing myself following the G7 and ASEAN foreign ministers session today. A results document is planned to be issued after all the schedule finishes. I also made good use of the intervals between meetings and held bilateral meetings with Foreign Secretary Truss of the United Kingdom, Secretary of State Blinken of the United States, Foreign Minister Baerbock of Germany, Foreign Minister Le Drian of France, Foreign Minister di Maio of Italy, Foreign Minister Payne of Australia, and Foreign Minister Joly of Canada. During the reception before the dinner, I had an informal conversation with Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong of the ROK.
I have actively held telephone talks since assuming my position of Minister for Foreign Affairs, but I recognized anew that it is very important to directly meet with foreign dignitaries, build personal relationships and discuss various issues of the international community and deepen mutual understanding. That is all from me.
Reporter: Please tell us your assessment of your first overseas visit. You also mentioned your in-person meetings with the foreign ministers of various countries. In particular, what was the atmosphere of your meeting with Secretary of State Blinken of the United States, which is Japan’s ally? Moreover, foreign reports are suggesting that you performed the Beatles’ “Imagine” during the dinner banquet. Please tell us the details of your performance and the reason for choosing that song.
Minister Hayashi: Thank you. This was a very short trip due to factors including the Diet schedule. Although it was a limited time, I recognized anew that it is essential to meet in person and build personal relationships with my counterparts from various countries and have candid discussions on various issues of the international community to deepen cooperation with like-minded countries.
Although we have had a telephone talk, Secretary of State Blinken and I met in person for the first time during the plenary meeting and the foreign ministers’ meeting. However, I did not have the feeling that I was meeting him for the first time. I believe it was very good that we could deepen our exchange of views in an extremely open atmosphere.
In addition, the venue for the dinner banquet was the Beatles museum, and we had a brief tour before the dinner. There was a section of the museum dedicated to John Lennon, and everyone took a commemorative photograph where there were items connected to “Imagine.” We were told that it is okay for someone to sit at the white replica piano and play a song. Since it was the “Imagine” room, I played a short verse about one-third the length of “Imagine” by improvising, and I believe everyone had a good time.
Reporter: ASEAN is attending the G7 meeting for the first time. I believe ASEAN will participate in sessions after this. Please tell us what you feel the significance is of this meeting with the participation by ASEAN, which Japan had been requesting to be invited.
Minister Hayashi: Thank you. Based on the decision of the G7 President, everyone from ASEAN was invited. I feel it is very significant that ASEAN is participating in this meeting. They are officially participating in the session that will be held from now, and I was also able to talk with the foreign ministers who participated in the dinner banquet yesterday before this meeting. I recognize that it is very good for us that the G7’s interest in the Indo-Pacific region, including ASEAN, is rising.
Reporter: This is related to the question earlier about your assessment, what sort of uniqueness or “Hayashi color” would you like to set forth going forward based on your first overseas visit this time? Please answer based on your assessment.
Minister Hayashi: Well, as I stated at the beginning, although I had spoken with many of the attendees through telephone talks, by meeting them in person, I feel that we deepened our personal relationships of trust through informal conversations before and after meetings. As I have always stated until now, I will promote diplomacy with three forms of determination: the determination to protect universal values, the determination to protect Japan’s peace and stability, and the determination to contribute to humanity and lead the international community. To advance our diplomacy in such a sense, I felt through this visit that it is extremely important to have cooperation with the G7 countries that share fundamental values and principles. I will continue to approach issues with a high response-ability and an unwavering stance.
Reporter: I would like to ask about the so-called “diplomatic boycott.” I believe there was a session yesterday to discuss China, and I have heard that various countries stated their respective positions on the Beijing Games. What kind of view did you share? I have also heard that this was not particularly a topic of discussion during the Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Did you discuss the response to the Beijing Games during other bilateral meetings with the foreign ministers of other countries? Please tell us if you did.
Minister Hayashi: Firstly, there was a brief exchange of views regarding the Beijing Olympic Games, including introductions from countries that have already announced their positions. I stated that Japan will decide our response to the Beijing Olympic Games at an appropriate time by comprehensively considering various circumstances. In principle, it is a rule of the G7 to not introduce the statements of other countries during the sessions and bilateral meetings, so I would like to refrain from answering your question.