Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Friday, November 29, 2019, 9:51 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Ballistic Missile Launches by North Korea
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to make two announcements. The first is about the ballistic missile launches by North Korea. Yesterday, North Korea launched two ballistic missiles. This violated the related Security Council Resolutions and is highly regrettable. Such launches are a serious challenge not only to Japan but also to the international community. Japan immediately lodged a severe protest to North Korea using the Beijing “embassy” route and has strongly condemned this. Immediately following the missile launches, MOFA contacted the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and others, confirmed close cooperation, and is exerting all efforts for information-gathering and analysis.
(2) Minister MOTEGI’s Visit to India
Minister MOTEGI: My other announcement is regarding my visit to India. I am planning to visit India from today, November 29, to December 1. We are scheduled to hold the first ever Japan-India Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting (“2+2”) and a Japan-India Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue. I am also planning to use this opportunity to pay a courtesy call to Prime Minister Modi. I believe that having the foreign ministers and defense ministers from Japan and India meet together and have a discussion will be a good opportunity for confirming close cooperation between Japan and India toward realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” and discussing the direction of concrete cooperation. In addition, I would like to hold a frank exchange of views regarding bilateral security and defense cooperation as well as the regional and international situations in preparation for the visit to India by Prime Minister Abe. That is all from me.
Minister MOTEGI’s Visit to India
NHK, TAKANO: I would like to ask about your visit to India that you just announced. Against the backdrop of its abundant economic strength, China is strengthening its influence not only in this region and the South Asia region but also in various areas. What significance do you believe holding a Japan-India “2+2” Meeting for the first time will have within that context?
Minister MOTEGI: Toward realizing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, Japan is strengthening cooperation in the region utilizing multilateral frameworks with cooperation not only between Japan and India but also with the United States and Australia. As has been stated, although relations between Japan and China have completely returned to their normal path through mutual high-level visits, China has continued to take actions to unilaterally change the status quo through force or coercion in the East China Sea and South China Sea. I believe that it is important for Japan and India to deepen their cooperative relation for issues including freedom of navigation and maritime security.
Japan-ROK Relations (Japan-ROK Director-General Level Policy Dialogue, Issue of the Former Civilian Workers from the Korean Peninsula)
NHK, WATANABE: I would like to ask about Japan-ROK relations. It was agreed to hold a Director-General Level Policy Dialogue in December, which was mentioned by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. As this relates to Japan-ROK relations, it is also a matter of diplomacy. In that sense, what is your perception of this? Also, how does the Government of Japan grasp the current situation, including the draft bill in the ROK related to the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula? How does the Government view this process?
Minister MOTEGI: To answer your former question, I would like to expect progress through solid discussions between the authorities of both countries. In regard to your latter question, it seems that a solution, such as establishing a fund, is being sought in the ROK National Assembly. However, I would like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the Government of Japan regarding discussions in the legislature of another country. There is no change to the position of the Government of Japan that the fundamental issue is that the ROK should swiftly remedy its breach of international law. There is no change to the fact that the ball is now in the ROK’s court.
Expectations for Saudi Arabia’s G20 Presidency
PanOrient News, AZHARI: My question is about the G20 that Japan has held successfully last week in Nagoya. Next one will be in Saudi Arabia, the first Arab country, and it’s in the Middle East, where the tension has been on the rise recently, and we know that Japan is determined to reduce the tension and has been taking initiatives to achieve that goal. So, my question is what you think Japan would advise and hope from the next G20 summit in Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.
Minister MOTEGI: Firstly, the G20 Aichi-Nagoya Foreign Ministers’ Meeting last week was the final meeting held under Japan’s presidency this year, which thankfully I believe ended as a great success and received extremely high evaluations from various countries. Saudi Arabia will assume the G20 presidency from December 1. I held an exchange of views with Foreign Minister Faisal of Saudi Arabia last week during the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. I believe that the ability to transform the results of the G20 Osaka Summit and the discussions at the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting into actions will be tested, and Japan will continue to deepen discussions while cooperating with Saudi Arabia. I believe the approach for how to hold meetings as well as what to do about the themes will be decided by the country with the G20 presidency. For example, a decision on how to handle the situation in the Middle East would be made mainly by Saudi Arabia. Japan will cooperate as a member of the Troika toward the success of the G20 under Saudi Arabia’s presidency.
Reports about Minister MOTEGI’s Possible Visit to the United States
Kyodo News, TAKAO: There are reports that you might visit the United States in mid-January next year. Can you please tell us the current status of coordination?
Minister MOTEGI: Nothing has been decided about that. However, I have discussed with Secretary of State Pompeo that we would like to find an opportunity for a meeting as soon as possible.
President Trump’s Signing of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act
Asahi Shimbun, OTA: The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act was passed in the United States. There are concerns that this will further worsen U.S.-China relations. What is your view?
Minister MOTEGI: I would like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the Government of Japan on decisions and other matters of the legislature of other countries. However, there is no change to the fact that Japan is highly concerned about the current situation in Hong Kong, and we have a close understanding with our ally the United States. While requesting the people concerned again to resolve this through self-restraint and peaceful talks, I strongly hope that the situation will quickly be resolved and the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong will be maintained under “one country, two systems.”