Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 11:22 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Holding of the Japan-Germany Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting (“2+2”)
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would firstly like to announce one matter. I am scheduled to hold the first Japan-Germany “2+2” this afternoon in the teleconference format.
Japan and Germany are partners that share fundamental values. We welcome Germany’s increasing interest in the Indo-Pacific region, including its formulation of Policy Guidelines for the Indo-Pacific Region.
The Japan-Germany Agreement on the Security of Information was signed on March 22. Based on this and other developments, during the “2+2” meeting today, I would like to hold wide-ranging discussions on realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” cooperation in security and defense fields, and regional situations, and for this to lead to further promotion of bilateral security cooperation. That is all from me.
NHK, Yamamoto: I would like to ask a question in relation to the Japan-Germany “2+2” you just mentioned. What is your analysis of the background for Germany showing such a strong interest in the Indo-Pacific region even though it does not have any overseas territories?
Minister Motegi: There are some European countries that have territories and islands in the Indo-Pacific region, but most countries do not even if they have overseas territories. The United Kingdom and various EU countries such as France and the Netherlands have growing interest in the Indo-Pacific region. I believe that a major reason for this is that the Indo-Pacific region accounts for half of the population of the world, and will truly become a global growth center. At the same time, I believe that the background for this is that Japan and the United States, as well as Australia, India, and Europe share fundamental values such as democracy, respect for fundamental human rights, and the rule of law, and have growing recognition that they need to firmly protect the international order.
Water Treated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (Concerns of Neighboring Countries)
Sankei Shimbun, Ishinabe: I would like to ask about the treated water at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The Government of Japan officially decided to release the treated water into the ocean today, and China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have indicated their serious concerns about this. What is the Government of Japan’s policy on how to explain this to neighboring countries and the international community?
Minister Motegi: We have been actively providing information with high transparency to the international community, including China and the ROK, about the handling of the ALPS treated water through information provision to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and careful explanations to diplomatic corps.
The United States has highly appreciated Japan’s policy decision today. I believe that Secretary of State Blinken stated this on his Twitter account as well.
Also, I do not believe the reactions by China and the ROK were completely in the same context. It is my understanding that before TEPCO actually releases the treated water into the ocean, it will receive approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority regarding the detailed plan and installation of necessary equipment. Only then will TEPCO actually release the treated water into the ocean. It is expected that the release of the treated water will begin two years from now.
In this way, the process will advance following proper procedures while safety is confirmed and the results are announced.
Japan will be sure to adhere to international law as well as domestic and overseas regulations and rules, and ensure safety, when handling the ALPS treated water. Specifically, measures will be taken to evaluate the potential effects on the ocean environment prior to actually releasing the treated water based on related international law and customs. Monitoring will also be continuously conducted after the release, and measures are planned to be taken to grasp the situation in the environment.
Based on the basic policy announced today, we will work to foster understanding in Japan as well as the international community through thorough explanations on a scientific basis, and exert all efforts for countermeasures against reputation damage.
Situation in Myanmar (ODA for Myanmar)
Freelance, Shiba: I would like to ask about the situation in Myanmar. Recently, the Myanmar military spokesman stated that weeds and harmful insects must be eliminated, and that pesticide would be spread if necessary. Amidst this situation, what explanation will be given to voters about continuing economic support and economic cooperation for Myanmar?
Minister Motegi: Does your question assume that we are continuing economic support?
Freelance, Shiba: For example, loan repayment, loan continuance, and ODA.
Minister Motegi: Is that being continued now? Loan repayment is not the same thing as ODA.
Freelance, Shiba: Is Japan continuing support for Myanmar?
Minister Motegi: Please clarify the basis of your question.
Freelance, Shiba: Will the economic cooperation for Myanmar being planned now be suspended?
Minister Motegi: Nothing is being planned.
Freelance, Shiba: Nothing at all is being planned.
Minister Motegi: Since the coup d’état on February 1, we have not made any new decisions on any ODA projects with the Myanmar military-led system. I believe that there are not any future projects that need to be decided in a swift manner at the present point.
Import Restrictions on Japanese Foods
Asahi Shimbun, Sugawara: My question overlaps with the previous question about the treated water. There are still countries that have suspended or placed restrictions on importing Japanese foods and other products due to the accident in Fukushima. Although you spoke about this before, please tell us again your views on how you will respond in order to receive understanding overseas regarding these import restrictions.
Minister Motegi: We have provided explanations on a scientific basis of the safety of Japanese foods using various opportunities, such as ministerial meetings, thus far to countries that have import restrictions on Japanese foods, including foods made in Fukushima. There have been examples of such countries that have completely lifted or relaxed their restrictions due to this.
On the other hand, because there are countries that still have such restrictions, we will continue urging them. At the same time, we believe that countermeasures against reputation damage are a major issue in terms of the decision on the basic plan made this time. As I stated before, we will release the treated water on a scientific basis while firmly following a two-year process before the water is actually released. After the water is released, we will continue to ensure safety by conducting inspections and studies, including firm monitoring. As we provide explanations on all of this, we will continue to work toward having overseas countries lift their import restrictions.
Situation in Myanmar (ODA for Myanmar)
Freelance, Shiba: Thank you for calling on me again. I believe that there is still existing ODA for Myanmar that is being continued. Are you not considering temporarily suspending existing ODA for Myanmar?
Minister Motegi: Firstly, I would like to speak generally about Myanmar. Within the international community, Japan is a country with various communication channels with Myanmar, including the Myanmar military. In cooperation with the international community, we have been strongly urging the Myanmar military on three matters: firstly to immediately stop resorting to violence against civilians, secondly to release those who are detained, and thirdly to swiftly restore Myanmar’s democratic political system.
We will consider our response to Myanmar going forward from the perspective of what kind of urging and pressure would be most effective to calm down the situation, and what would be most effective to restore the democratic political system, as I stated just now. There is much discussion about sanctions. However, I have held exchanges of views many times with the foreign ministers of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the major ASEAN countries on issues concerning Myanmar, and I feel that they have highly appreciated Japan’s response and urging.
We will continue to cooperate with the international community. At any rate, a situation with bloodshed has arisen. We will consider matters such as what would be effective to calm the situation. We will also make decisions on ongoing projects while taking into account various circumstances such as whether the decision would help calm the situation.