Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Friday, October 11, 2019, 5:29 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Military Operation by the Turkish Military Forces in Northeast Syria
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I issued a statement yesterday regarding the military operation by the Turkish military forces to Northeast Syria. I am deeply concerned that the latest military operation would make the settlement of the Syrian crisis more difficult and cause further deterioration of the humanitarian situation. I would like to once again underscore that the Syrian crisis cannot be solved by any military means.
Japan hopes that all parties concerned will play a constructive role in improving the humanitarian situation in Syria and in advancing the UN-led political process. Japan will continue to work closely with the international community toward the settlement of the crisis in Syria.
Military Operation by the Turkish Military in Northeast Syria
NHK, Takashima: In relation to Syria, President Trump has indicated his intention to mediate between the two countries. What role does Japan hope to play?
Minister Motegi: There have been various statements regarding this issue, but as the military operation has just begun now, the Government of Japan is monitoring the situation with interest. As I have just stated, we will continue to work closely with the international community regarding the settlement of the crisis in Syria as well as on international counter-terrorism measures.
Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Relations (Consultation based on the WTO Agreement)
NHK, Takashima: I would like to ask about Japan and the ROK regarding the WTO. The bilateral consultation is taking place today. I believe the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is in charge of this, but how does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expect this issue to be resolved?
Minister Motegi: The bilateral consultation between Japan and the ROK is taking place today in Geneva. As I have reiterated, Japan’s review of its export control is fully compatible with the WTO Agreement, and we thus intend to firmly explain that there is no problem at all.
Situation in Hong Kong
Kyodo News, Saito: I would like to ask about the situation in Hong Kong. You answered questions in the Diet about the situation in Hong Kong yesterday. Although I would be asking a similar question, can you please explain how the Government of Japan will appeal to China and the Hong Kong authorities regarding the situation in Hong Kong going forward?
Minister Motegi: As I answered in the Diet yesterday, I believe that Hong Kong is an extremely important partner for Japan with close economic relations and people-to-people exchange. I believe that a free and open Hong Kong society is important for the prosperity and development of this region, including Japan.
Firstly, we have pointed out to China at various levels the importance of prosperity of a free and open Hong Kong under “one country, two systems”. Prime Minister Abe has also clearly conveyed this on occasions such as the summit meeting during the G20 Osaka Summit. We will continue to monitor the situation with high interest.
Rescheduling of the Sightseeing Pilot Tour Related to the Joint Economic Activities on the Four Northern Islands
Asahi Shimbun, Narazaki: The sightseeing pilot tour scheduled for this week, which is part of the joint economic activities with Russia, was postponed. What is your reaction, when do you think it will be rescheduled to, and how will this affect the peace treaty negotiations?
Minister Motegi: The tour was postponed due to unavoidable circumstances on the Russian side. I would like to re-coordinate the implementation of the tour with the Russian side, and I believe they will accept our suggestion. We are coordinating with Russia to carry out the tour as soon as possible, after the end of this month.
Explosion of an Iranian Oil Tanker in the Red Sea
NHK, Takano: I would like to ask about the situation in Iran. It seems there was an explosion of an Iranian tanker. What information does the Government of Japan have thus far?
Minister Motegi: I am aware of the reports and have seen photographs. The Government of Japan is monitoring the situation with high interest. We are also gathering information.
Asahi Shimbun, Takeshita: In relation to this, have you received any information on the effects on Japan-related ships so far?
Minister Motegi: We have not received any such information so far.