Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu

Tuesday, February 18, 2020, 9:24 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks - Novel Coronavirus

(1) Cruise Ships (MS Westerdam)

Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to report on matters concerning cruise ships related to MOFA. Firstly, in regard to the MS Westerdam, the four Japanese passengers have all tested negative for the novel coronavirus through PCR examination conducted in Cambodia. They left Cambodia aboard an ANA flight late at night yesterday, February 17, and arrived at Narita Airport early this morning. PCR examination is currently being conducted on them at the quarantine station at Narita Airport. The Japanese crew member does not currently wish to go ashore. We will provide necessary support while maintaining contact with the crew member.

(2) Cruise Ships (Diamond Princess)

Minister MOTEGI: In regard to the foreign passengers of the Diamond Princess who have gone ashore and left Japan, in addition to the United States which has already operated chartered flights, Canada has communicated its intention to have Canadian citizens go ashore and be repatriated aboard its own chartered flight before tomorrow, February 19. On February 17, Prime Minister Morrison announced Australia’s decision to repatriate Australian citizens aboard its own chartered flight before February 19, and expressed gratitude for Japan’s support related to the repatriation operation.

In addition, Italy, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and Hong Kong have indicated that they will dispatch planes at certain stages going forward, and it is possible that the same request will be received from other countries and regions in future.

It is necessary to have various coordination, such as when the chartered flights will land, going forward for having the citizens of these countries and regions go ashore and return to their countries. In regard to passengers who will go ashore before February 19, as it was with the case of the United States, coordination is planned to be made going forward so that they move to the airport as well as undergo the departure process without coming into contact with the Japanese public.

Outlook for the Visit to Japan by President Xi Jinping of China

Sankei Shimbun, RIKITAKE: I believe that at the Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Munich, you agreed with Foreign Minister Wang Yi that President Xi Jinping’s visit to Japan will proceed as planned. However, it seems that yesterday, Chinese state media reported that the meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China on February 24 will have a discussion about postponing the meeting of the National People’s Congress. I believe that if the meeting of the National People’s Congress is postponed, it could affect the schedule for President Xi’s visit to Japan. Can you please tell us the outlook on this at present?

Minister MOTEGI: Firstly, at the Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on February 15, Foreign Minister Wang and I agreed that the timing for President Xi’s visit to Japan would be spring this year, and coordination is currently being conducted on the specific schedule. Also, I am aware of the reports and am monitoring China’s movements regarding coronavirus measures and other matters, but at present, President Xi’s visit to Japan will be as planned and preparation will be carefully advanced for that.

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