Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary OHTAKA Masato

Wednesday, November 20, 2019, 4:53 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) G20 Aichi-Nagoya Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Mr. OHTAKA Masato, Press Secretary: I would like to discuss four matters during my opening remarks. Firstly, the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will take place this weekend. As has been explained, the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held on November 22 and 23 in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture as the closing event of the year in which Japan has held the G20 presidency.

The meeting will have three themes which are Promotion of Free Trade and Global Governance, Realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and African Development. We will reconfirm various agreements from the G20 Osaka Summit including the “Osaka Track” and the “G20 Principles on Quality Infrastructure Investment,” and will conduct frank discussions regarding how to materialize various policies and systems taking into account the current international situation.

(2) The 10th Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI)

Press Secretary OHTAKA: The second matter is that the 10th Ministerial Meeting of the NPDI will be held on November 23 on the margins of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Nagoya City that I just mentioned. In this meeting, discussions are planned to be held regarding maintaining and strengthening the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) system, the significance of transparency, and other matters toward the 2020 NPT Review Conference next year, which marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the NPDI and the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the NPT. Amidst differences in countries’ positions on disarmament and an increasingly uncertain outlook for international disarmament and non-proliferation, I would like this ministerial meeting to show high-level commitment to improving and strengthening the NPT system as an NPDI that aims for realistic and practical proposals. Given that it will be very significant to convey the importance of raising transparency, Japan is putting a lot of effort into this.

(3) Visit to Japan by His Holiness Pope Francis (Change of Term Used in Japanese)

Press Secretary OHTAKA: The third matter is in relation to the visit to Japan by His Holiness Pope Francis from November 23 to 26. Until now, two different Japanese terms have been used within Japan for the leader of the Vatican: “Roma Ho-o” and “Roma Kyoko”.

Based on the fact that there is an extremely large number of examples of the general use of “Kyoko” including by Catholic officials, as well as confirmation with the Vatican that there is no problem with the use of “Kyoko” as the general term by the Government of Japan, it has been decided that the Government of Japan will use the Japanese term “Kyoko” going forward during the visit to Japan by Pope Francis.

(4) Situation in Hong Kong (Release of the Japanese National)

Press Secretary OHTAKA: The last matter is in relation to Hong Kong. As has been explained, a Japanese tourist was detained in the vicinity of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on November 17. I believe that it has been explained to you that he has been released. The Government of Japan will of course continue to provide as much support as necessary and possible from the perspective of protecting Japanese nationals. However, I would like to take this opportunity to again request Japanese people absolutely not to go nearby places where protests are taking place or places where it seems like there will be unrest in Hong Kong, regardless of the purpose.

G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (Outlook for a Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting)

NHK, WATANABE: In relation to the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, has a visit to Japan by Foreign Minister KANG Kyung-wha and meeting been set up at present?

Press Secretary OHTAKA: For the G20 meeting, participation is planned by foreign ministers and others from 29 countries and organizations including the invited countries, but coordination is still being conducted for separate bilateral meetings. In terms of the actual participants at present, contact has been received about participation of foreign ministers from various countries including Foreign Minister Faurie of Argentina and Foreign Minister Faisal of Saudi Arabia, the G20 Troika members. It is fine for you to understand that continued coordination is being conducted for the others.

Situation in Hong Kong (Release of a Japanese National)

Nikkei Shimbun, KATO: I would like to ask about the Japanese national released in Hong Kong. If you are aware of his current status and whether he has left Hong Kong to come back to Japan, can you please tell us?

Press Secretary OHTAKA: There are reports that he has been released. However, due to the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from answering his identity as well as what he is doing.

Yomiuri Shimbun, GOTO: In relation to Hong Kong, I believe that it is quite difficult for tourists to grasp where protests are taking place in real time. What kind of method is MOFA considering to convey information?

Press Secretary OHTAKA: As has been explained to you all, we are always distributing various travel information, and in particular, spot information is frequently released regarding situations that are changing daily like Hong Kong. Recently in particular, spot information on various movements on the grounds of universities has been released, such as spot information on November 15. We will continue to distribute the latest information that will contribute to everyone’s safety as needed in this form, so I would like to request that you continue following this spot information.

Japan-ROK Relations (General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA))

NHK, WATANABE: I would like to ask about Japan-ROK relations. The expiration date is approaching for the GSOMIA. What is the status of coordination between the governments of Japan and the ROK regarding this issue at present?

Press Secretary OHTAKA: As I have stated repeatedly regarding this issue, from Japan’s perspective, there is no change to our position that the decision by the Government of the ROK to terminate the GSOMIA reflects its total misapprehension of the current regional security environment, which is extremely regrettable. In that sense, the Government of Japan will continue to request the ROK to take sensible actions based on the current security environment.

Cherry Blossom Viewing Party

Kyodo News, ONOZUKA: I would like to ask about the Cherry Blossom Viewing Party. At the meeting of the Committee on the Cabinet of the House of Representatives today, there was an announcement on the list of names as well as the number of people who each ministry and agency had recommended to be invited. The Cabinet Office disclosed this, but MOFA has not. What is the reason for not disclosing this?

Press Secretary OHTAKA: I believe your question is referring to the data on the number of people recommended to be invited. MOFA aims to provide accurate information and is currently earnestly investigating. Once that is over, we will of course disclose the information.

Kyodo News, ONOZUKA: When I asked about this last week, you did not mention the existence of a list of names. Are you now aware of lists extending multiple years?

Press Secretary OHTAKA: I stated last week that documents are appropriately managed based on related Japanese laws such as the Public Records and Archives Management Act. At present, I can also say that the documents you have just mentioned were not disposed of.

NHK, WATANABE: In relation to these questions, I believe that there was attendance by diplomats including ambassadors from various countries in Tokyo. The Prime Minister’s Office is currently considering suspending next year’s Cherry Blossom Viewing Party. I believe that the party has actually played a role in diplomacy, so its suspension could affect diplomacy. How do you evaluate the various diplomatic effects of having foreign people view Japanese cherry blossoms and socializing in such a space? How do you assess the Cherry Blossom Viewing Party from the perspective of diplomacy, and will its suspension be a loss for diplomacy?

Press Secretary OHTAKA: I believe that your question is based on the significance of networking with various diplomacy-related people based in Tokyo and having them understand Japanese culture. Naturally, MOFA believes that that is extremely meaningful. On the other hand, as there are various other opportunities to understand Japanese culture as well as build relations with diplomats based in Tokyo, I do not believe that we have to rely on only the Cherry Blossom Viewing Party. However, I imagine that there will be various reconsideration on that point going forward, but our view is as I stated.

Kyodo News, ONOZUKA: To confirm, although you could not say whether a record of names existed last week, why can you now say this week that it has not been disposed of?

Press Secretary OHTAKA: The investigation is continuing, and we are earnestly carrying out the work for it. As a result, as I just stated, at present I can say that it has been confirmed that the related items have not been disposed of.

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