Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu

Friday, June 5, 2020, 3:01 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

Raising of Warning on Infectious Diseases Levels

Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Firstly, I would like to make an announcement about the raising of Warning on Infectious Disease Levels. The novel coronavirus is continuing to spread, centering on emerging and developing countries. Caution is still needed under this situation. As of today, over 6.57 million people in 188 countries and regions have been confirmed to be infected, and the global number of deaths is over 380,000 people.

Considering various circumstances such as the rate of infected people per 10,000 people and daily trends, we have decided to newly raise the Warning on Infectious Disease Level to Level 3 for 18 countries, which are the countries in red listed on the document distributed to you. The Level has already been raised for these countries.

Novel Coronavirus (Relaxation of Restrictions on Entering and Leaving Japan)

NHK, KIMURA: I would like to ask about the gradual relaxation of restrictions on entering Japan. During your telephone talks with Viet Nam, New Zealand, and Australia, I believe that you discussed the possibility of allowing travel by essential human resources between Japan and those countries. Can you please tell us the outlook on what conditions will be set for after relaxation of restrictions, such as PCR tests and waiting periods after entering Japan?

Minister MOTEGI: Firstly, I have held telephone talks with over 40 countries thus far, not just those three countries. Although the novel coronavirus has of course considerably wound down in the three countries in comparison to the rest of the world, as I stated recently, we will relax restrictions gradually. I believe that the restrictions will firstly be relaxed gradually for essential human resources, and for a limited number of countries.

Additionally, it is of course necessary to take appropriate infection control measures. We are currently conducting consideration with the ministries and agencies concerned regarding what measures are necessary and appropriate for infection control measures, including the issues of PCR tests and quarantines or, in other words, waiting periods.

NHK, KIMURA: Although I believe that the issue is currently under consideration, the two-week waiting period is being requested upon arrival, and when you take into account the needs of people who enter Japan, I wonder how that waiting-period goes in line with such needs. What do you think about the two-week waiting period?

Minister MOTEGI: How to strike the balance between novel coronavirus measures and resumption of economic activities is extremely important, including for domestic circumstances within Japan. Although people who come to Japan on business and for other reasons naturally want to work actively from the day they arrive, we must also consider whether it is appropriate in terms of fully carrying out infection control measures. That includes testing, and how to set the limits for their movement is an issue. We are currently conducting consideration on those points and other matters, together with the ministries and agencies concerned.

Raising of Warning on Infectious Diseases Levels

NHK, KIMURA: I would like to ask about a different matter. Earlier, you listed the countries for which the Warning on Infectious Diseases Level was set to Level 3. Is it correct to expect that the denial of entry into Japan from those countries will be decided after discussions with the concerned government ministries and agencies, as well as the related Cabinet ministers, just like the process as before?

Minister MOTEGI: That is basically true but those 18 countries are not the ones with a very large amount of inbound and outbound between Japan. We will take measures at the appropriate timing.

Novel Coronavirus (Relaxation of Restrictions on Entering and Leaving Japan)

Yomiuri Shimbun, ABE: I would like to ask about relaxation of restrictions on entering Japan. Although I understand that this also depends on the other countries involved, in advancing discussions, roughly what date does the Government of Japan have in mind for allowing resumption of travel?

Minister MOTEGI: We are currently conducting discussions.

Issue of the Former Civilian Workers from the Korean Peninsula (Movement to Liquidize Assets Seized From a Defendant Japanese Company)

TV Asahi, OISHI: I would like to ask about Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) relations. Concerning the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula, the ROK is carrying out the public notification process, thereby taking a step forward in the procedures for liquidation of assets of Nippon Steel Corporation. Can you please tell us your reaction to this? Also, you have long emphasized that liquidation must be avoided. Can you please tell us how you will approach Japan-ROK consultations going forward?

Minister MOTEGI: I believe that the judgment by the ROK Supreme Court concerning the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula as well as the related judicial procedures, including the procedures you mentioned, are a clear breach of international law.

Additionally, the measures this time are not being undertaken to achieve liquidation. They are being taken to advance the procedures concerning the order to seize assets. If liquidation occurs in the future, it will cause a severe situation. That must be avoided. I clearly stated this point during the recent Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk. Japan and the ROK agree on the recognition that we must resolve this issue before that occurs. We will firmly conduct consultations, including through diplomatic channels.

Novel Coronavirus (Relaxation of Restrictions on Entering and Leaving Japan)

Sankei Shimbun, HARAKAWA: I would like to ask about the gradual relaxation of restrictions on immigration, regarding which many questions have already been asked. In the discussions with some other countries, will you aim for the so-called principle of reciprocity? In other words, do you aim for the same condition for foreigners and nationals?

Minister MOTEGI: As I have stated many times, I believe that basically it is desirable for both countries to take the same measures and at the same timing. However, different countries have different systems. I believe there will be slight differences such as in the conditions of Japanese nationals visiting the other country and foreigners visiting Japan, as well as the timing. However, I believe that it is desirable for the conditions to not differ much.

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