Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary OHTAKA Masato
Wednesday, March 18, 2020, 4:37 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Announcement of the FY2019 Opinion Polls on Japan
Mr. OHTAKA Masato, Press Secretary: I would like to speak about one matter in my opening remarks. MOFA commissions public opinion polls on Japan every fiscal year in order to clarify the general image of Japan overseas, such as observing views about bilateral relations, level of trust in Japan, how important Japan is, and the fields of interest people have concerning Japan, including understanding, evaluation, and hopes for Japan’s foreign policy, fields in which it is hoped to have international contributions or cooperation from Japan, and more.
The FY2019 opinion polls were conducted in November 2019 targeting the United States, 10 ASEAN countries, Mongolia, Australia, India, and three countries in Africa – Kenya, Côte d'Ivoire, and South Africa, and the results have been compiled.
The results will be distributed as a press release later. The content will also be uploaded to the MOFA website.
Novel Coronavirus (Overseas Commentary about the Government of Japan)
Sankei Shimbun, HARAKAWA: I would like to ask a question concerning the novel coronavirus.
You mentioned the overseas image of Japan during your opening remarks. I believe that there have been various reports in overseas media concerning the measures for the novel coronavirus of the Government of Japan, including the responses to the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
You recently contributed a rebuttal to an article by a Japanese professor in the New York Times. Besides this, is MOFA aware of any other overseas commentary that it considers unjustified? If so, can you firstly please tell us how MOFA is responding?
Press Secretary OHTAKA: As has been stated, there have certainly been various reports in overseas media and other sources regarding Japan’s efforts and the situation in Japan. We would like to refrain from commenting on each one. However, as you just pointed out, it is possible that we issue rebuttals on occasion when necessary. Speaking based on that, I believe you understand that it is extremely important to provide various explanations for accurate communication and understanding regarding the situation in Japan and the measures and responses being taken by the Government of Japan. We have been undertaking this thus far and will continue to do so.
For example, we have actively held various briefings for overseas media as well as press conferences, as part of our response to the novel coronavirus, believing them to be meaningful. As stated, we did this yesterday as well. Including that, I believe that the foundation is to have public communication of accurate information regarding the situation in Japan and the measures taken by the Government of Japan.
Novel Coronavirus (MOFA’s Efforts)
Sankei Shimbun, HARAKAWA: In relation to this, I would like to ask about MOFA’s efforts. For example, can you please introduce if any efforts or responses are being taken recently from the perspective of preventing infections among personnel? Or as another example, can you introduce if there are any circumstances such as instructions being issued to make utmost efforts to use telephone calls, email, and teleconferences to avoid overseas travel that had normally been used until now, while we are in a situation in which it is difficult for people to physically travel overseas?
Press Secretary OHTAKA: In regard to infection prevention for MOFA personnel, the Government has naturally been recommending what is also being recommended to the people of Japan including what has high risks and what is recommended including handwashing. Amidst this, I believe that MOFA personnel have a firm awareness and are making sure they act in accordance with the recommendations.
In regard to various overseas communication, cooperation, and diplomacy, the reality is that the various tasks we need to implement are increasing due to the novel coronavirus. Of course there are many things to do besides the novel coronavirus, and we are carrying out necessary cooperation and communication as well as seeking mutual understanding each day for that.
There is always a counterpart in diplomacy, so as you stated, we do not rule out means of seeking understanding such as telephone talks depending on the situation. Amidst this, we are working to firmly continue the diplomatic efforts that we need to carry out overall.