Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu

Friday, November 13, 2020, 5:30 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

[IT広報室_3]外務省[英]記者会見 即時掲載-20201117184702
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

(1) Re-election of Judge Iwasawa of the International Court of Justice (ICJ)

Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would firstly like to briefly make two announcements.

In the election of judges of the ICJ this morning, the incumbent Judge IWASAWA Yuji was reelected after splendidly receiving the top number of votes among the five successful candidates.

I perceive that this result was of course due to his achievements as well as the international community's appreciation for Japan's stance of placing importance on the rule of law.

I believe that there is great significance for Japanese people serving in important positions at international organizations, such as an ICJ judge. Several Japanese people have served in the top positions at important international organizations, including five United Nations-related organizations such as the International Telecommunications Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Japanese people are currently serving as the leaders of organizations such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Customs Organization.

Of course, I do not believe this is enough. We will advance mid- to long-term initiatives in order to send excellent human resources to serve in the top positions or as managers at international organizations.

(2) Japan-U.S. Exchange Project

Minister MOTEGI: I would also like to introduce MOFA's new project starting this fiscal year.

MOFA and the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) are jointly implementing an exchange program for local junior high and high school students as well as children of U.S. Forces members in regions where there are U.S. Forces Japan facilities and areas. The project will be held jointly by the U.S. Forces Japan and related municipalities.

The first program will be held in Misawa City on December 5 and 6. Following this, programs will be held successively in Sasebo City and Iwakuni City in January and February 2021.

Full efforts will of course be made for novel coronavirus countermeasures, such as having the students wear masks. The students will have exchanges in English with the children of U.S. Forces Japan members utilizing schools in U.S. Forces Japan facilities and areas.

It is expected that this exchange program will not only contribute to promoting mutual understanding between the U.S. Forces Japan and local society, but also lead to fostering human resources who are active in the international community. 

That is all from me.

Telephone Talk between Prime Minister Suga and President-elect Biden

Independent Web Journal, HAMAMOTO: I would like to ask about the telephone talk held yesterday between Prime Minister Suga and President-elect Biden of the United States.

MOFA announced that President-elect Biden indicated commitment toward applying Article 5 of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan for the Senkaku Islands. However, the official announcement of Mr. Biden's administration transition team states that it places emphasis on the United States' deep commitment under Article 5 of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, and does not mention the Senkaku Islands at all. MOFA's press release seems to state that Mr. Biden brought up the subject of the Senkaku Islands.

What I would like to confirm is whether the Japanese side actually only asked Mr. Biden for additional confirmation regarding the Senkaku Islands later. What did Mr. Biden say and what did Prime Minister Suga say about the Senkaku Islands…

Minister MOTEGI: Excuse me, that is incorrect.

Independent Web Journal, HAMAMOTO: Yes.

Minister MOTEGI: That is incorrect.

Independent Web Journal, HAMAMOTO: Incorrect, yes.

Minister MOTEGI: That is my answer.

Independent Web Journal, HAMAMOTO: What do you mean by incorrect? 

Minister MOTEGI: I mean that what you are saying is incorrect.

Independent Web Journal, HAMAMOTO: So that is your answer.

Minister MOTEGI: Yes.

Independent Web Journal, HAMAMOTO: Yes. Thank you.

NHK, YAMAMOTO: In relation to this, you stated during the meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives that there was an excellent discussion during yesterday's telephone talk. What points did you particularly appreciate within the discussion?

Minister MOTEGI: During the telephone talk between Prime Minister Suga and President-elect Biden of the United States yesterday, at the beginning, Prime Minister Suga offered congratulations on the election of President-elect Biden and Ms. Harris, the first woman to be elected Vice-President in the United States. I spoke with Prime Minister Suga this morning, and he said that there was a fruitful discussion in a very harmonious atmosphere.

During the telephone talk, Prime Minister Suga stated that the Japan-U.S. Alliance is essential for the peace and prosperity of the increasingly severe region surrounding Japan as well as the international community, and it needs to be further strengthened. He also stated that he would like to cooperate toward realizing a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific."

In response, President-elect Biden affirmed his commitment to apply Article 5 of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan for the Senkaku Islands, and that he looks forward to working together in order to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance and achieve the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region..

Furthermore, they agreed on close cooperation between Japan and the United States on shared issues of the international community such as novel coronavirus measures and climate change issues. Prime Minister Suga also requested cooperation on the abductions issue.

In this way, although the telephone talk had limited time, I assessed that it had very fruitful content.

U.S. Presidential Election (U.S.-China Relations)

Independent Web Journal, HAMAMOTO: There are reports that three high officials of the Department of Defense have resigned following Secretary of Defense Esper in the Trump administration, which has less than 70 days left in its term of office. Before these reports, the Global Times of China pointed out that President Trump's relations with China could descend into a possible final madness, analyzing that there is a high possibility of tensions between the United States and China further heightening concerning Taiwan, the South China Sea, and other matters. How does MOFA analyze this? Thank you.

Minister MOTEGI: As also done with the Trump administration, with the next U.S. administration, Japan and the United States will firmly hold exchanges of views regarding various regional situations, conduct coordination, share our recognitions, and coordinate our policies for responding.
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