Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 2:50 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Japanese Nationals Leaving Foreign Countries Where International Flights Etc. are Suspended and Returning to Japan
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: In regard to repatriation of Japanese nationals, which I always report on, a total of 9,923 Japanese nationals have been repatriated thus far. There are about 260 Japanese nationals in 27 countries who wish to return to Japan. Among them, about 60 people are scheduled to return to Japan within this month.
Joint Economic Activities on the Four Northern Islands (Shelving the Issue of Jurisdiction)
Asahi Shimbun, SATO: Concerning the legal framework for the joint economic activities in the Northern Territories, there are some reports that Russia is proposing shelving the issue of jurisdiction. Can you please confirm whether that is true and tell us if there are details you can talk about, such as the current status of coordination?
Minister MOTEGI: In regard to your question, there is no change to the fact that we will diligently work toward implementation of the project in a manner that does not harm the legal positions of both the Japanese and Russian sides, based on the agreement between Prime Minister Abe and President Putin in Nagato. We are currently coordinating the future schedule and other matters through diplomatic channels while monitoring the novel coronavirus situation and other circumstances.
Yomiuri Shimbun, OYABU: I would like to ask about the G7 Summit. It seems that the United States, which holds the G7 Presidency, would like to hold the G7 Summit in the country in late June. Although it will not be a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, what discussions and outcomes do you expect there will be concerning the novel coronavirus as well as other matters related to international affairs?
Minister MOTEGI: Coordination is currently being conducted on the schedule and format of the G7 Summit. I believe that the G7 countries, which share the universal values of democracy, fundamental human rights, and the rule of law, must cooperate and lead global infection control measures in a manner that is free and open to all countries and regions. At the G7 Summit, Japan will exhibit strong leadership for global infection control measures and creating the international order in the time of the novel coronavirus, while leveraging our experience and expertise.
In addition, as Prime Minister Abe stated at his press conference yesterday, support that utilizes a patent pool is important from the perspective of quickly producing medications and vaccines in large quantities and spreading them at an affordable cost to all countries, including developing countries. We will firmly conduct preparation to make this an outcome of the G7 Summit.
At the same time, I believe the schedule will depend on the global situation of the novel coronavirus. I believe that how to approach the global economy going forward will of course be discussed.
Novel Coronavirus (MOFA’s Work System)
NHK, YAMAMOTO: I would like to ask about MOFA’s teleworking system. Yesterday, the state of emergency was lifted. Although most of the divisions of MOFA have advanced teleworking through now, do you plan to change this situation?
Minister MOTEGI: I believe that the current teleworking situation will not change soon. In a sense, I believe we must think of new work styles and new lifestyles that can coexist with the novel coronavirus, so it is necessary to continue teleworking and other measures now. We will also continue our rotation system and other such measures.
In addition to teleworking, it is also important to consider measures regarding contact among people who commute to work at MOFA. If, for example, it is possible to reduce half of commuting and 60% of meetings as well as other forms of gathering, then it would be 0.5 x 0.4 reduction of the contact. In other words, we expect 80% of reduction by the measure.
In any event, the question would be what kind of approach is necessary for novel coronavirus measures. At the same time, I believe it is important to balance the containment of novel coronavirus and the resumption of various meetings and diplomatic discussions.