Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu

Tuesday, October 1, 2019, 11:09 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Situation in Hong Kong

Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about the situation in Hong Kong. National Day in China was celebrated while the citizens’ protest movement had not been resolved. You indicated in your inaugural press conference that you expected swift resolution of the situation through peaceful talks among the people concerned. What is your view of the current situation?

Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: With regard to the recent situation in Hong Kong, I am extremely concerned that many people were injured as a result of clashes between demonstrators and the police. In addition, large-scale protest demonstrations will take place today, so I strongly expect that the stability of Hong Kong will be preserved through a swift settlement of the situation through peaceful talks among the people involved. At the recent Japan-China Summit Meeting, Prime Minister Abe indicated the importance of a free and open Hong Kong to continue to prosper under “one country, two systems.” I will continue to monitor the situation with high interest.

In addition, because there are many Japanese companies that have advanced to Hong Kong and many Japanese nationals reside there, we have repeatedly issued warnings including the issuance of a travel warning on August 14. Based on the information of a protest demonstration that will be held today, spot information was again issued yesterday. At the moment, no damage has been confirmed to a Japanese national in relation to this issue.

Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement

NHK, Yamamoto: The Japan-U.S. trade agreement was not signed at the Summit Meeting in New York. At this point, when will the actual signing take place, and will the signing take place in Japan or in the United States?

Minister Motegi: It has not been decided whether it will be held in Washington D.C. or in Tokyo. However, we would like to have it signed as soon as possible. In the case of Japan, there is a Cabinet meeting for the signing, so it has been agreed to sign it on the day the Cabinet meeting is conducted.

Both the leaders of Japan and the United States have agreed that going forward, the Japan-U.S. trade agreement as well as the Japan-U.S. digital trade agreement shall be quickly signed, and that once the domestic procedures are completed in each country, the agreements should quickly enter into force. Work is being advanced under that understanding. It will probably be soon, with the signing being able to take place in early October.

Situation in Iran

NHK, Watanabe: Can I ask in relation to the situation in Iran? Yesterday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mousavi disclosed that toward easing tensions, a proposal had been received from the Government of Japan of providing a loan to Iran at the scale matching the amount of Iranian oil purchased. Did the Government of Japan make such proposal? What are your current views on the steps for easing tensions? I would like you to answer these two points.

Minister Motegi: How long would you like me to develop on the first part? How long should my answer be?

NHK, Watanabe: Please answer with the details if you know them.

Minister Motegi: About the first question, not the second.

NHK, Watanabe: Yes, the first one.

Minister Motegi: You had two questions, and you would like me to speak at length about the first question.

NHK, Watanabe: Yes, please.

Minister Motegi: At the recent Japan-Iran Summit Meeting, based on the fact that the situation had grown more severe because of the attacks on Saudi crude oil facilities, a frank exchange of views was held toward easing tensions in the Middle East and stabilizing the situation. Prime Minister Abe stated that Iran is a major power in the region, and that he would like Iran to play a constructive role toward peace and stability in the region. He also conveyed that Japan would play a role toward easing tensions and stabilizing the situation.

In response, President Rouhani stated that regional security is also very important to Iran and that he would firmly handle it. In addition, Prime Minister Abe requested President Rouhani that compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) be respected, as well as for cooperation to ensure safe navigation of ships. In response, President Rouhani replied that he would make maximum efforts for ensuring safe navigations.

As for the framework, persistent dialogues will be continued and all efforts will be exerted toward easing tensions in the Middle East and realizing peace and stability.

As part of these efforts, that is to say those for easing tensions in the Middle East and for realizing peace and stability, Japan has had traditionally friendly relations with Iran, and thus various approaches to resolving issues can be considered. However, at this point, I would like to refrain from answering about the specific ways forward.

NHK, Watanabe: The Iran side specifically made a disclosure at a press conference. Was such a proposal made?

Minister Motegi: It is as I have just stated.

Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

China Youth Daily, Zhang: How was your impression on the Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in New York at the end of last month? Also, do you plan to visit China this year or at some point? Please answer those two questions as much as you can.

Minister Motegi: 17 years ago, when State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang was Chinese Ambassador to Japan, I was State Minister for Foreign Affairs. Our relationship began at that time, so although this was our first Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I believe it was a good reunion meeting that took place in a warm atmosphere.

With President Xi’s visit to Japan next spring as a State Guest in mind, we confirmed to raise Japan-China relations to a new stage and to carve out a new era for Japan and China by further developing exchanges and cooperation in all fields and cooperation, while carrying out high-level mutual visits and appropriately handling unresolved issues. I believe it was a very significant meeting.

It has not been decided when I will visit China, but I would like to visit the country seizing an appropriate opportunity.

Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement

Nikkei Shimbun, Kato: I would like to ask about the Japan-U.S. trade agreement. I believe that an approval process at an extraordinary Diet session will be necessary after the formal signing. The opposition parties have pointed out that the result of the negotiations was not win-win to both sides, so how will you gain the understanding of the opposition parties and the people of Japan?

Minister Motegi: For the procedures going forward, there will be a Cabinet meeting for the signing, and then a Cabinet meeting will be held for submitting the agreement to the Diet. The agreement will be submitted to the Diet. Since the time of the agreement, we have provided considerably careful explanations regarding the contents of the agreements, what became of each part and how much the agreements arrived to a win-win result. I will provide even more careful explanations of the agreement’s content and how it will provide win-win results for both sides, and how they are perceived by the people concerned.

Once the agreement was finalized, President Trump and Prime Minister Abe signed a joint statement at the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting, which was attended by people from Japan’s financial circles and people from related U.S. organizations. I believe you have heard that workers in the agricultural sector in the United States all support and appreciate this agreement. At the same time, in Japan as well, people and organizations related to agriculture as well as people from the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Keidanren, the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and various other related organizations highly evaluate this agreement. While I believe the agreement was appreciated by people from the related organizations, I will firmly exert all efforts to provide careful, precise explanations on each item.

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