Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary OHTAKA Masato
Thursday, May 14, 2020, 4:30 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Novel Coronavirus (Request for Relaxation of Immigration Restrictions from China and the Republic of Korea (ROK))
Yomiuri Shimbun, OYABU: In relation to the novel coronavirus, travel has begun between China and the ROK limited to people related to companies and others who are proven to have tested negative for the novel coronavirus. It seems that China and the ROK are requesting Japan to adopt such a “fast track” system. Can you please tell us MOFA’s current position and thoughts on this?
Mr. OHTAKA Masato, Press Secretary: We have held exchanges of views repeatedly at various levels with China concerning the novel coronavirus, including about Japan-China cooperation and collaboration as well as future measures to prevent the spread of infections. Although I would like to refrain from answering about particular cases of diplomatic communication, if I were to say anything more, we believe that the current challenge is international cooperation and collaboration to deal with the global spread of the novel coronavirus. MOFA has conducted various discussions numerous times, which of course include the Japan-China-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Teleconference Meeting and Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talks, and I can certainly say that we will closely communicate with China going forward.
Novel Coronavirus (Discussions at the World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization (WHO))
Sankei Shimbun, RIKITAKE: The WHA will be held next week on May 18. At his recent press conference, Minister Motegi mentioned the necessity to discuss whether the WHO has functioned adequately thus far concerning its response to the novel coronavirus. Can you please tell us how Japan would like to lead the discussion on whether the WHO has functioned adequately?
Press Secretary OHTAKA: It is difficult to speak about how we will specifically address the WHA at this point. Generally, as you all surely believe, the international community must be united for corresponding to this infectious disease that is affecting the world on such a massive scale. There are various views about the WHO. However, as the WHO has specialized expertise and implements support on the ground, cooperation with WHO is necessary, and we must support the WHO.
However, as we have been stating since before, in order to prepare for a similar situation in the future, after the novel coronavirus situation winds down, the entire international community should cooperate to review the functions of the WHO, including its initial response. That is Japan’s basic position.
In accordance with that basic position, although I cannot say at the present point what can be done at the WHA on May 18, we are of course considering various matters, and we will respond during the actual assembly meeting as various discussions take place.
Building a New Economic Partnership between Japan and the United Kingdom
Nikkei Shimbun, KATO: The Government of the United Kingdom recently announced that negotiations on a free trade agreement with Japan would begin soon. Can you please tell us whether the schedule for consultations and other matters have been decided?
Press Secretary OHTAKA: As agreed upon between the leaders of Japan and the United Kingdom, based on the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, the Government of Japan will swiftly work to build a new economic partnership with the United Kingdom following Brexit.
I am aware that on May 13 United Kingdom time, the Government of the United Kingdom announced its approach to negotiating a free trade agreement with Japan. Japan welcomes the announcement of this approach. Currently, Japan and the United Kingdom are earnestly conducting working-level preparatory consultations. Although there is the ongoing situation of the novel coronavirus disease, our current position is that we would like to start negotiations as soon as possible.