Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Thursday, March 5, 2020, 5:13 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: With regard to President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Japan, while the two sides have been coordinating toward a visit this spring, we have decided to reschedule it to a time that is convenient for both.
If I may elaborate slightly, last week I held discussions regarding President Xi’s state visit during the Japan-China foreign ministers’ talk and with Member of the Central Politburo of the Communist Party of China Yang Jiechi who visited Japan.
Based on such discussions, Japan and China continued to discuss this matter, and as a result, the two sides shared the view that top priority must be given to preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus, which is the biggest issue at this moment, and that both sides need to prepare adequately to ensure President Xi’s state visit is fully successful.
As I stated earlier, while the two sides have been coordinating toward President Xi’s visit to Japan this spring, we have decided to reschedule it to a time that is convenient for both, based on such perspectives. Japan and China will coordinate with each other closely through diplomatic channels regarding the specific timing.
It remains unchanged that we intend to make President Xi’s state visit an opportunity to demonstrate domestically and internationally that both Japan and China will fulfill their responsibilities on issues facing the region and the international community. Japan and China will fully coordinate with each other on the visit.
Reporter: Was the decision made at this timing because you consider that we are now in a different phase?
Minister MOTEGI: The detailed schedule was being coordinated. And at last week’s foreign ministers’ talk and at my meeting with Politburo Member Yang Jiechi, we shared the view regarding the current situation of the coronavirus and the significance of President Xi’s state visit to Japan, which will be the first visit to Japan by a Chinese President in ten years. On such basis, it was decided today that the dates will be rescheduled.
Reporter: Will the task of finding a convenient time be started once the novel coronavirus has come to some sort of a halt, or will you continue to say this persistently?
Minister MOTEGI: In principle, I expect that our coordination and discussions will proceed based on the overall situation. As I stated at the beginning, there is no mistake that, right now, the biggest task for both Japan and China as well as for the international community is to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and bring it under control. At the same time, it is the shared goal of Japan and China to ensure that President Xi’s state visit produces significant outcomes, and therefore, we will reschedule it taking into account such elements.
Reporter: Not necessarily because of the postponement of the President’s visit, but given the circumstances that led to it, do you intend to impose any restrictions on entry into Japan for arrivals from countries, such as China, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and Iran?
Minister MOTEGI: Such matters have not been decided at this moment in time. We intend to constantly review our measures and take adequate responses to prevent the spread of infection, including border control measures.
Reporter: You stated that the dates will be coordinated. Some express the view that the visit will likely take place in or after autumn. What are your thoughts on this? Could you also tell us whether the dates will be considered taking into account the announcement of a fifth political document as an outcome?
Minister MOTEGI: It was decided today that the state visit scheduled for this spring will be rescheduled. Going forward, we intend to coordinate the dates through diplomatic channels. Obviously a variety of diplomatic and political activities are scheduled, and we hope to make a decision by mutually taking into account such schedules.
Reporter: Can you please comment on the fifth political document?
Minister MOTEGI: We will make a variety of preparations to ensure that the visit produces outcomes.
Reporter: I believe the visit was also a vital opportunity for the Japanese and Chinese leaders to discuss matters, including intrusion into Japan’s territorial waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands and the issue of import restrictions on food products. What is your view regarding the impact of rescheduling on Japan-China relations?
Minister MOTEGI: As has been explained, reciprocal visits have taken place frequently between Japan and China at the leader and foreign minister levels, following the resumption of reciprocal visits between leaders in 2018. In this sense, there is no doubt that Japan-China relations have fully gotten back on normal track. Meanwhile, there are issues that need to be resolved between Japan and China, and it is essential that outstanding issues be resolved through such reciprocal visits and exchanges. We obviously hope that President Xi’s visit to Japan produces significant outcomes. Meanwhile, Japan and China are conducting a variety of discussions regarding various issues through diplomatic channels on a day-to-day basis, and in this context, we hope to resolve issues that can be resolved one by one and make progress on issues on which progress can be made one by one.
Reporter: Some media have reported that the Government is considering implementing restrictions on entry into Japan for arrivals from China and the ROK. Can you tell us the status of such considerations?
Minister MOTEGI: It is as I responded earlier.