Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Friday, November 8, 2019, 4:18 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
G20 Aichi-Nagoya Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to report on one matter. I will hold the G20 Aichi-Nagoya Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on November 22 and 23. The G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will have three themes : 1. Promotion of Free Trade and Global Governance, 2. Realizing the SDGs, and 3. Africa’s Development.
Firstly, at the session on Promotion of Free Trade and Global Governance, in addition to leading discussions on the urgent WTO reform and rule-making based on the “Osaka Track,” I will introduce bilateral initiatives such as the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement. At the second session on the SDGs, I will gain momentum for accelerating actions toward the realization of a “society where no one will be left behind” based on the results of the SDG Summit this September. Finally, at the third session on Africa’s Development, I will deepen discussions regarding the fields of economy, development, as well as peace and security, taking into account the outcomes of TICAD7 in Yokohama held this year.
To close Japan’s G20 Presidency, I hope to demonstrate Japan’s diplomatic leadership building on the outcomes of the G20 Osaka Summit.
In addition, taking this opportunity, I will send out to the world the various appeals of Nagoya, Aichi, which is a world-leading industrial focal point and one of the biggest trading ports in Japan, and also has a number of historical heritages including Nagoya Castle.
G20 Aichi-Nagoya Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (Bilateral Meetings with Various Countries)
NHK, YAMAMOTO: In regard to the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting you just mentioned, I believe that bilateral meetings with various countries are being coordinated in conjunction with it. Russia and the Republic of Korea (ROK) seem to draw attention, so can you please tell us the current status of coordination?
Minister MOTEGI: At present, it is expected that foreign ministers from 20 countries will attend. Not only G20 countries, but also several other countries will attend. Amidst that, all the meetings, including the three sessions I mentioned, will basically take place on Saturday. There will not be much time and the slots for bilateral meetings are limited, but I would like to try to hold bilateral meetings with as much time as possible, including with Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov.
The ROK’s Photographic Coverage of Communication between the Leaders of Japan and the ROK
Korea JoongAng Daily, YOON Seol-young: There were some reports today that there were some opinions from people working for the Government of Japan that it was impolite for the ROK side to have photographed the conversation between President Moon Jae-in and Prime Minister Abe without permission. What are your thoughts on such opinions of people working for the Government of Japan?
Minister MOTEGI: I am not in the position to provide explanations on behalf of the Government of Japan regarding each and every matter concerning the ROK side. I believe that the important point is for the ROK to remedy its current breach of international law as soon as possible.
Proposal by ROK National Assembly Speaker MOON Hee-sang
Yonhap News Agency, LEE Se-won: I would like to ask about the requisitioned workers issue. When National Assembly Speaker Moon recently visited Japan, he proposed the solution of the method of creating a fund for the workers with voluntary donations from both Japanese and ROK companies as well as raising funds from the citizens of both countries. How does the Government of Japan evaluate this proposal?
Minister MOTEGI: Is it correct to understand that your question is about the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula?
Yonhap News Agency, LEE Se-won: Japan uses that phrase for the issue.
Minister MOTEGI: Is that the question or not?
Yonhap News Agency, LEE Se-won: Yes.
Minister MOTEGI: In regard to the matter you mentioned, it is my understanding that the National Assembly of the ROK is exploring it, and I would thus like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the Government of Japan regarding discussions in the legislature of another country. There is no change in the position of the Government of Japan to strongly request the Government of the ROK remedy its breach of international law. I believe that the ball is truly in the court of the Government of the ROK.
Yonhap News Agency, LEE Se-won: If the Government of the ROK proposes such a solution, is there a possibility that it would be considered by the Government of Japan?
Minister MOTEGI: What do you mean by “such a solution”?
Yonhap News Agency, LEE Se-won: A solution like the one proposed by National Assembly Speaker Moon.
Minister MOTEGI: It is as I have just answered about the proposal by National Assembly Speaker Moon. If the Government of the ROK proposes an idea to remedy its breach of international law, then naturally the Government of Japan would like to hear about it.
Withdrawal of Endorsement for a Project Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Friendship between Japan and Austria
Kyodo News, TAKAO: I would like to ask about the issue of the withdrawal of official endorsement by the Embassy of Japan in Austria of the art exhibition being held now in Vienna. Despite the fact that the Embassy of Japan endorsed the art exhibition after receiving the application by the organizer side, MOFA withdrew approval one month after the exhibition began. Can you please tell us the details concerning how the discussion went during this time?
Also, I believe that you probably thought that the endorsement should be withdrawn after receiving a report concerning the exhibition content, so can you please also tell us your recognition of this?
Minister MOTEGI: With the aim of promoting exchanges between Japan and Austria and the wide-ranging participation of citizens of both countries in the 150th anniversary of friendship between our two countries, the Embassy of Japan in Austria is endorsing anniversary projects that fulfill certain requirements among cultural projects being held in both countries for the anniversary.
Regarding the exhibition being held now at the Museums Quartier Vienna, the anniversary project endorsement was given based on the explanation of intent concerning the exhibition content at the time of the application. However, after that, as a result of confirming the details of the exhibition content and re-consideration, it became clear that the exhibition does not fulfill the requirements for anniversary projects that promote mutual understanding and friendly relations between Japan and Austria. The organizers were thus informed of the withdrawal of anniversary project endorsement.
This decision was based on the determination that the exhibition does not fulfill the requirements for anniversary projects, and is not an evaluation concerning the freedom of expression of the artwork in the exhibition.
Kyodo News, SAITO: I would like to ask another question about the art exhibition in Austria. You just said that the endorsement was withdrawn because the exhibition did not fulfill the requirements, but I believe that it is being called into question how the determination was made for whether or not it satisfies the requirements. If you felt that it did not satisfy the requirements after hearing the reports thus far, could you tell us why you felt it did not satisfy the requirements, as there might be a similar case going forward. Can you please tell us your thoughts on where the line is drawn?
Minister MOTEGI: As I stated before, the requirement is to promote mutual understanding and the friendly relations between Japan and Austria amidst welcoming the 150th anniversary of friendship between our two countries. The perspective would be whether it leads to correct mutual understanding and whether it leads to promotion of friendly relations.
Independent Web Journal, KIHARA: I would like to further ask a question on this. I heard that House of Representatives member KONISHI Hiroyuki requested an explanation from MOFA regarding this matter on October 31. It seems that he wrote on his blog that he asked a question concerning the anti-Japanese exhibition on the 150th anniversary of friendship between Japan and Austria. Frankly speaking, the content of the exhibition includes criticism of the administration, works satirizing Emperor Showa , and works with various nuclear power-related themes. Was it decided that such content is, in short, anti-Japanese, and that that is not in conformance with the requirements? Please answer about that point.
Minister MOTEGI: It is the exact same as the previous question. It does not meet the two intents for anniversary projects that I mentioned before. Furthermore, this is not an evaluation concerning thefreedom of expression of the works in the exhibition.
The ROK’s Photographic Coverage of Communication between the Leaders of Japan and the ROK
Korea JoongAng Daily, YOON Seol-young: I would like to return to an earlier subject. Was a protest issued to the ROK side regarding the photography during the conversation onsite or after the disclosure of photographs?
Minister MOTEGI: I have not heard about that. In any event, I believe that the important point is that the ROK should remedy its breach of international law.
Deliberations in the Diet Regarding the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement
NHK, YAMAMOTO: I would like to ask about deliberations in the Diet regarding the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement. There were deliberations today in the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives. The opposition parties requested materials such as the minutes of the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting, protested that they were not shown them and left the committee. Discussions by the ruling and opposition parties are probably continuing now, but what are the Government’s position on presenting the materials?
Minister MOTEGI: We are addressing the Diet in a sincere and careful manner as much as possible for deliberations concerning the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement and the Japan-U.S. Digital Trade Agreement. Additionally, the management, materials, and other matters are indeed decided through discussions by the committee chairman and directors . The Government will respond as much as possible for what is decided by them.
Situation in Hong Kong
Jiji Press, MARUHASHI: I would like to ask about the situation in Hong Kong. A situation arose today in which a man who seemed to be a protester died. I believe that the situation is deteriorating, so what are your views on this matter? Also, I would like to confirm if you issued a protest to the Government of China or the government in Hong Kong, or took any other action.
Minister MOTEGI: I am aware of the reports that a student who appeared to be participating in the protest movement died. We will monitor the situation. We are very concerned about the recent situation in Hong Kong. We urge the people concerned for a solution through self-restraint and peaceful talks, and have strong expectations that Hong Kong will maintain stability by swiftly settling the situation.
As for the Government of Japan, at the recent Japan-China Summit Meeting, Prime Minister Abe stated that he is very concerned about the situation in Hong Kong, requested a peaceful solution through self-restraint and dialogue by the people concerned, and conveyed that the prosperity of a free and open Hong Kong under “one country, two systems” is important. Thus, I do not think that it would help to say anything beyond the position that we would like to request a peaceful solution and that the situation be resolved through self-restraint and peaceful talks.
Proposal by ROK National Assembly Speaker MOON Hee-sang
NHK, TAKANO: I would like to return to Japan-ROK relations. You stated that you cannot comment directly on the proposal by National Assembly Speaker Moon. There was a question about what would happen if the Government of the ROK submitted a similar proposal. In regard to this point, would soliciting voluntary contributions from companies and individuals from both Japan and the ROK for making compensation payments be consistent with the Government of the ROK remedying its breach of international law, which you mentioned earlier? If it is voluntary, would Japan paying money be consistent with remedying the breach of international law? Please answer about that point.
Minister MOTEGI: It is quite difficult to answer hypothetical questions. We would like to make a decision when receiving a specific proposal. In any event, if there is a proposal for remedying the breach of international law, then we would like to fully hear about it.
Japan-Russia Relations (Visit to Russia by Senior Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs MORI)
NHK, WATANABE: I would like to ask about Japan-Russia relations. There was a Vice-Ministerial-Level Consultation in Moscow on November 6. Can you please give your evaluation of the Vice-Ministerial-Level Consultation as well as your thought on how you would like to advance the joint economic activities going forward in light of this based on the peace treaty negotiations, which you are in charge of?
Minister MOTEGI: On November 6, Senior Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs MORI held a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Morgulov centered on the joint economic activities on the Four Northern Islands with the attendance of ministries and agencies concerned of Japan and Russia. In particular, there was a summary of the implementation status of the pilot project for the joint economic activities, which was highly appreciated by both Japan and Russia. I have received a report that there was also specific discussion regarding the direction for the future, and that there was confirmation regarding the importance of steadily advancing initiatives going forward. I have heard that it was overall a significant consultation with discussion on humanitarian measures for the former islanders as well as the future political schedule and other matters.
As I stated in my opening remarks, the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held this month, during which I would like to coordinate a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov. I have also been invited to visit Russia, so I would like to visit Moscow within the year if various circumstances permit.