Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Tuesday, January 21, 2020, 10:45 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Diplomacy Address by Minister MOTEGI
NHK, YAMAMOTO: The Diet convened yesterday and you gave a diplomacy address. Were there any points that you wanted to particularly emphasize during your address? Also, during the previous extraordinary session of the Diet, the Japan-US trade agreements were major treaties and agenda items. How will MOFA approach the current session of the Diet?
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: During my diplomacy address yesterday, I stated that I want to advance Japanese diplomacy by focusing on six areas. I will advance strengthening of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, the resolving of pending issues with North Korea, and diplomacy with neighboring countries. I believe that each of these issues are important. MOFA will work as one to firmly address these matters, while cooperating with related countries as well as related ministries and agencies.
Amidst this, in the last part, as the international situation is unmistakably becoming increasingly tense, expectations from other countries toward Japan as well as Japan’s presence are growing. I will further raise Japan’s presence by converting it into our coordination capacity on the global stage. That is the direction I will move forward in.
There will be a dozen or so agreements concluded with foreign countries, including investment agreements and social security agreements, at this session of the Diet, and I will exert all efforts so they receive firm approval.
New Type of Coronavirus in China
Yomiuri Shimbun, ABE: I would like to ask about the new type of coronavirus spreading in China. A meeting of relevant ministers was held this morning, but how will MOFA respond to ensure the safety of Japanese residents and travelers in the area? Also, spot information is currently being issued, but will there be consideration about issuing information on the risk of infection?
Minister MOTEGI: A meeting of relevant ministers was held this morning before the Cabinet meeting. In regard to the pneumonia related to the new type of coronavirus originating in China, a patient in Japan was confirmed for the first time on January 15. As of January 21, over 220 cases have been confirmed in Japan, China, Thailand, and the Republic of Korea (ROK).
Since January 6, MOFA has been issuing spot information on the infection as necessary on the Overseas Safety Website and through email, disseminating to Japanese residents and travelers in the affected areas information on the outbreak conditions in China, Thailand, and the ROK, dispatching information from quarantine stations, and issuing alerts. We will continue to cooperate with local governments and related organizations, conduct information-gathering, and issue information at the appropriate timing and in the appropriate ways.
I would like to take this opportunity to request Japanese residents and travelers in the affected areas to endeavor to obtain the latest information.
Defendant Carlos Ghosn’s Departure from Japan
Wall Street Journal, Landers: Is it correct to understand that, thus far, Japan has not made a direct request to Lebanon for the forced repatriation of Mr. Ghosn? If that is true, then why?
Minister MOTEGI: I am troubled by that presumption. Because this is one specific criminal case, I of course cannot speak about the specific content of the criminal proceedings. I would be troubled if you made a presumption either way about something I cannot speak about.
Situation in Myanmar (Statement by Japanese Ambassador to Myanmar MARUYAMA)
TV Asahi, OISHI: I would like to ask about the Rohingya, the Muslim minority group in Myanmar. Regarding the case in which the Myanmar Government has been accused of genocide, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is expected to announce a provisional ruling on January 23. Amidst this, Japanese Ambassador to Myanmar Maruyama told the local media, “I hope that the ICJ does not issue a ruling for provisional measures .” This statement is being interpreted as one in support of the Government of Myanmar. Can you please confirm whether this is the official position of the Government of Japan? Can you please also share the Government’s view on this matter?
Minister MOTEGI: I held various exchanges of views in regard to the situation in Myanmar and Rakhine State during my recent visits to various countries in Southeast Asia. I believe that, first and foremost, we must firmly advance various initiatives for democratization in Myanmar, stabilize the situation in Rakhine State, and support the repatriation of displaced persons. Rather than unilaterally saying what method would be best, I would like to advance initiatives going forward from the perspective of having Myanmar and the people concerned consider what initiatives they can firmly undertake themselves. Japan will provide as much support as we can.
TV Asahi, OISHI: I apologize for asking about a statement in an interview with local media, but I believe Ambassador Maruyama also indicated the perception that the military in Myanmar did not commit genocide. Rohingya residents of Japan and others have pointed out that this series of statements seems to deny the persecution of the Rohingya and promotes the position of the Government of Myanmar that does not accept the United Nations investigation. What are your thoughts on this point?
Minister MOTEGI: I have not confirmed the detailed content of Ambassador Maruyama’s interview with local media. I will confirm it further.