Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary OHTAKA Masato

Thursday, April 23, 2020, 3:45 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Emergency Economic Measures (Supplementary Budget)

Yomiuri Shimbun, YANADA: Please excuse me for asking about a matter that came up during your previous press conference. I would like to ask about external communications, which have been allocated funding in the supplementary budget. It is being raised that such communications will clear up negative impressions of Japan. However, I believe that various reports are being issued by the foreign press with a considerably critical tone in relation to the Government of Japan’s medical measures and economic measures. My first question is, how are you responding to such foreign media coverage? As for my second question, the content of the economic measure projects in the supplementary budget pays considerable attention to social media. What were the background reasons for deciding to place emphasis on that?

Mr. OHTAKA Masato, Press Secretary: Firstly, in regard to your first question, what we have in mind for the supplementary budget is not only current issues. Although we still do not know the time span and how the novel coronavirus situation will end going forward, in any event, as various developments unfold, the budget was compiled assuming that it will continue to be necessary for the Government of Japan to accurately communicate Japan’s situation as well as our efforts.

In regard to the current situation, there are certainly people inside and outside Japan who are talking about the Government’s efforts. The reality is that reports are being issued based on the opinions of such people. I believe that we must firmly communicate accurate information in regard to such reports as emphasized in the supplementary budget.

As of now, as has been stated, we are making efforts for firm communications, including livestreaming the Foreign Minister’s press conferences in Japanese and with English interpretation. The entire Government is conducting active communication, including various English communication by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) and the Cabinet Secretariat. MOFA has been closely collaborating with related ministries and agencies, including the MHLW and the Cabinet Secretariat, to cooperate on various communications.

As specific examples, we are conducting briefings that include members of the foreign press as well as press conferences, and we have enabled participation and asking questions in English from home from the week before last.

We have been working on external communications in that way. In relation to your second question, in addition to regular traditional reporting, the presence of social media is increasing significantly now. It is of course a general issue that governments must make firm efforts concerning the new presence of social media. So the basic thinking for the supplementary budget is that particularly in this situation, we must firmly pay attention and respond to the presence of social media.

Current Situation of the Novel Coronavirus

Kyodo News, TAKAO: If you know it, can you please tell us the latest number of Japanese nationals who left foreign countries and returned to Japan? Also, at his press conferences, Minister Motegi announces the number of people who are currently abroad and cannot return to Japan for various reasons. Can you please tell us the latest number if you know it?

Press Secretary OHTAKA: Minister Motegi always tells you the latest numbers, and told you them at his press conference this Tuesday. Actually, the numbers have not really changed since Tuesday.

In short, about 7,500 Japanese nationals have been repatriated thus far, and there are about 1,100 Japanese nationals who wish to leave the country they are in and return to Japan going forward. Among the latter number, it is expected that about 450 people will return to Japan this month. We are steadily achieving results in the number of repatriated Japanese nationals. Besides this, the numbers have not changed much.

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