Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Tuesday, July 6, 2021, 11:10 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Additional Provision of Vaccines to Taiwan
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs:I would like to speak about one matter. Regarding the overseas provision of vaccines, the necessary preparation for the second round of vaccines that Japan will send to Taiwan, which I recently spoke about, has been completed, so we will send 1.13 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Taiwan by air the day after tomorrow on July 8.
After the Great East Japan Earthquake ten years ago, Japan received various heartwarming support from Taiwan, including the prompt relief donation. As Taiwanese people face difficulty now, I hope that Japan’s provision of vaccines will contribute to preventing the spread of novel coronavirus infections in Taiwan. That is all from me.
Movement Restrictions in Indonesia
Asahi Shimbun, Sato:I would like to ask about restrictions on entering and leaving Indonesia. It is being reported that the Government of Indonesia is requiring foreign nationals leaving the country to be vaccinated and is impeding Japanese nationals from returning to Japan. But later, it has also been reported that the restriction has been partially relaxed. Please tell us if the reports are true, and about the response by the Government of Japan.
Minister Motegi:The Government of Indonesia issued a notification on July 4 that it would strengthen restrictions on foreign nationals entering and leaving the country as novel coronavirus infections continue to spread in the country.
The notification stated that foreign nationals staying in Indonesia would have to be vaccinated in the country if they travel inside or outside the country.
Due to this announcement, MOFA and the Embassy of Japan in Indonesia inquired the Government of Indonesia about the details of the measures and requested that the movement of Japanese residents in Indonesia not be restricted excessively.
As a result, we have confirmed that foreign nationals staying in Indonesia, including Japanese nationals, do not need to show proof of vaccination if they directly leave the country. We have already informed Japanese residents in Indonesia and others through a consul email.
Proof of vaccination will be needed for movement within Indonesia. We will continue to urge the Government of Indonesia to ensure that the movement of Japanese residents in Indonesia is not restricted excessively.
Message from President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan (Mudslide Damage in Atami)
Taiwan Central News Agency, Yang:Many people in Taiwan are distressed by the mudslide damage that occurred in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture. On the night of July 3, President Tsai Ing-wen posted a message on her Twitter account that said, “We are preparing to provide necessary support to Japan.” The people of Taiwan also want to return the courtesy to Japan for its provision of vaccines. Please tell us your thoughts regarding this matter.
Minister Motegi:We are sincerely grateful. On behalf of the Government of Japan, I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for the heartwarming condolence messages and offers of support we have received from President Tsai of Taiwan and many other countries, regions, and organizations following the recent damage caused by heavy rain.
As I have mentioned earlier about the Great East Japan Earthquake in relation to Taiwan, mutual support and assistance have been under way in various forms between Japan and Taiwan. I believe this is a proof of the friendship between Japan and Taiwan. I expect that we will work out the details on what form of assistance it will take, but I would first like to express our heartfelt gratitude for the sentiments expressed by Taiwan.
Provision of Vaccines to Indonesia
Tribune News, Susilo: In relation to the press conference on June 28, you made a statement in your press conference on June 25 about provision of about one million vaccine doses.
Minister Motegi: Excuse me. What press conference on June 28?
Tribune News, Susilo: Your press conference, I mean meeting, in Italy.
Minister Motegi: A meeting with whom?
Tribune News, Susilo: The Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
Minister Motegi: I am the Foreign Minister.
Tribune News, Susilo: Between the foreign ministers of Japan and Indonesia.
Minister Motegi: I see, with Foreign Minister Retno of Indonesia.
Tribune News, Susilo: That’s right.
Minister Motegi: Yes.
Tribune News, Susilo: I found the announcement on the website. Not much is written. Returning to my question, you stated that Japan would provide about one million doses of vaccines to Indonesia in your press conference on June 25, but the official announcement from Foreign Minister Retno of Indonesia states that it will be two million doses of vaccines. Which number is correct?
I am also interested in whether those AstraZeneca vaccines are manufactured in Japan or the United States. The issue of therapeutic medication is not written. Thank you.
Minister Motegi: Japan has already provided one million doses of vaccines to Indonesia on July 1. I held a meeting on this matter with Foreign Minister Retno on the fringe of the G20 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting in Italy. I stated that Japan would provide about one million doses of vaccines on July 1, and Foreign Minister Retno expressed gratitude.
I have also stated that amid the ongoing very difficult novel coronavirus situation in Indonesia, Japan will consider and coordinate additional provision of vaccines going forward. We did not discuss the therapeutic medication in that meeting.
Vaccine Provision by Japan to Various Countries
Reuters, Swift: You've mentioned Taiwan and Indonesia, but do you have any more updates on other donations to other Asian countries that were due to start this month?
Can you explain why these were made bilaterally and not through the COVAX program that you announced earlier last month?
Minister Motegi: Firstly, Japan is not only providing vaccines on a bilateral basis. From the perspective of multilateralism and international cooperation, we have been providing support to the COVAX Facility, the only international framework for equitable provision of vaccines, and other international organizations. As stated, Japan cohosted the COVAX AMC Summit with Gavi on June 2, and helped COVAX firmly achieve its necessary funding goal within the year.
I believe that Japan’s contributions to international frameworks are appreciated by the international community. We will continue to firmly cooperate with multilateral frameworks, international organizations, and others.
So far, because AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Japan have not cleared requirements such as receiving approval from the WHO, we have received urgent requests for vaccine provision by various countries and have been providing vaccines through bilateral frameworks to countries and regions that already have contracts with AstraZeneca plc. I believe that such provision on both multilateral and bilateral basis is being conducted in many major countries now.
In terms of our provision thus far, we have already provided 1.24 million doses to Taiwan, and later provided one million doses respectively to Viet Nam, Indonesia, and Malaysia. In addition, this week, we plan to provide one million doses to Thailand and the Philippines, and complete provision of an additional one million doses to Viet Nam.
Also, as I have just stated, with regards to Taiwan, we will provide the second batch of 1.13 million doses on July 8.
Regarding the support through COVAX, if we can clear the requirements such as receiving approval by the WHO, we will coordinate with relevant organizations and plan to provide support from mid-July a total of 11 million doses of vaccines to Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, Pacific Island countries, and others through the COVAX Facility.
In regard to Pacific Island countries, Prime Minister Suga recently announced at PALM9 that Japan aims to provide three million doses of vaccines within the year starting from mid-July.
Situation in the Middle East (U.S. Air Strikes on Iranian-Backed Militant Group Bases, Visit to the United Arab Emirates by the Foreign Minister of Israel)
Pan Orient News, Azhari: I would like to ask about the Middle East. The United States reportedly launched air raids against what is described in the media as Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, the Israeli Foreign Minister is visiting UAE for expanding peaceful relations. It seems war and peace is still the name of the game in the Middle East. There are also reports that you might visit the area. What is Japan's position on the current situation and future prospects?
Minister Motegi: As stated, last month, the new Bennett administration was formed in Israel, and Foreign Minister Lapid made the first visit to the United Arab Emirates as an Israeli Foreign Minister. Japan expects that these movements will lead to easing tensions and stabilization in the Middle East.
On the other hand, Japan will continue to monitor the situation in the Middle East with a high sense of urgency, including the effects of the recent U.S. air strikes on Iranian-backed militant group bases on the border of Iraq and Syria.
As you know, Japan has built friendly relations over many years with various Middle Eastern countries. We will continue diplomatic efforts while leveraging our relations with these countries and closely cooperating with relevant countries towards peace and stability in the Middle East.
Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games
Tribune News, Susilo: In regard to the Olympic Games, I believe that invitations have been sent to VIPs. As of now, which countries plan to have people attend the Games?
Minister Motegi: The invitations are not sent by the Government.