Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu

Friday, May 1, 2020, 11:46 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

Japanese Nationals Leaving Foreign Countries Where Flights etc. are Suspended, and Returning to Japan

Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: In regard to the number of Japanese nationals who have left foreign countries and returned to Japan, which I have reported on at previous press conferences, 8,470 Japanese nationals have been repatriated thus far. There are still approximately 500 Japanese nationals in about 30 countries, a slight decrease from before, who would like to return to Japan. Among them, about 350 Japanese nationals have plans to return to Japan by May 7, after the Golden Week holiday period.

In particular, on May 4, it is planned for about 60 people to leave Peru aboard a private chartered flight arranged by a local travel agency. Furthermore, next week, it is planned for about 30 people to leave Algeria aboard a chartered flight arranged by a Japanese company.

Going forward, we will continue to firmly follow such situations and provide necessary support.

Novel Coronavirus (Repatriation of Crew Members Aboard the Cruise Ship Docked in Nagasaki)

Asahi Shimbun, SATO: In regard to the Italian cruise ship docked in Nagasaki, I understand that MOFA and the operating company are currently conducting discussions toward repatriation of the crew members. Can you please tell us if there are any prospects such as for the timing of their repatriation?

Minister MOTEGI: The majority of the crew members are from four or five countries in particular. We are conducting coordination centered on those countries as well as Italy, which is the country of registration of the ship as well as the country of the company operating the ship, and the country where most of the crew members are from. There are quite good prospects for their repatriation.

First Cabinet Meeting Held in the Teleconference Format

TBS, HASHIGUCHI: I would like to ask about Cabinet meetings. A Cabinet meeting was held for the first time in teleconference format today. Can you please tell us your impressions, such as what was good about attending as well as issues?

Minister MOTEGI: Ministers have been seeing each other at the Diet committee meetings, but besides those meetings, other meetings have been conducted in the round robin style and we have not had opportunities to see each other. I thought it was good that I could see everyone after a long time and that they seemed healthy.

Novel Coronavirus (Status of Coordination for Provision of Avigan)

Sankei Shimbun, HARAKAWA: I would like to ask about the free provision of Avigan. You answered in the Diet yesterday about countries that would like to receive Avigan and countries for which coordination has been completed. Can you please tell us the latest status of coordination as of today? Also, if Avigan has already been provided to any countries, can you please provide information? Additionally, can you please tell us how much Avigan will be provided to one country? An approximate answer is fine.

Minister MOTEGI: As I answered in the Diet yesterday, during my telephone talks with foreign ministers of various countries, there has been extremely high interest in Avigan. We have received requests for provision of Avigan through diplomatic channels from close to 80 countries thus far. I believe that I answered yesterday that coordination had been completed for specific provision going forward to 39 countries, and as of today coordination has been completed for 43 countries.

Although coordination has been completed for 43 countries, the earliest that shipment can actually begin is after the Golden Week holiday period, so no country has received it yet. However, various countries have conveyed their gratitude when we have decided to provide Avigan to them. We will provide it to them as quickly as possible.

In terms of the amount, coordination is being advanced to provide each country with an amount suitable for 20 people in principle, and up to a maximum of 100 people, as it would be for clinical research.

I believe that medication will probably be used in the short-term to bring the novel coronavirus under control, and in the medium to long-term, development of a vaccine will be done. Japan will firmly advance private and public sector cooperation as well as international cooperation on medication development of Avigan, which is expected to be effective for early stage patients, and Remdesivir, which is said to be for those who are seriously ill.

Novel Coronavirus (Request to the Republic of Korea (ROK) for Support and Cooperation)

Dong-a Ilbo, KIM: I would like to ask about the ROK. In the Diet this Wednesday, Prime Minister Abe stated that sharing information and experiences concerning the novel coronavirus responses with the ROK would be useful for Japan’s own response to the novel coronavirus. I believe that this can be understood as a very positive message. Is there a possibility that there could be a request to the ROK for support or cooperation by the Government of Japan or at the diplomacy level going forward?

Minister MOTEGI: The ROK is a neighboring country of Japan, and I believe that cooperation is important for advancing various responses. I also believe that not only the ROK, but also various countries of the international community sharing their experiences and expertise concerning the novel coronavirus is significant for preventing the spread of infections.

We are conducting various exchanges of views and other communication. Although there are some reports now about PCR test kits, at the present point it is not true that we are communicating with the Government of the ROK specifically about matters such as provision of test kits.

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