Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Tuesday, June 9, 2020, 4:28 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Situation in Hong Kong (Participation in the Statement By the United States, the United Kingdom, and Others; Statement by the G7)
Asahi Shimbun, TOSA: I would like to ask about China’s introduction of the national security law on Hong Kong. There are some reports that Japan was asked to join the four countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, when they issued a statement against China. Can you please tell us if Japan was asked to join in issuing the statement? Also, can you please tell us the reason for why Japan did not join?
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Regarding the matter, I believe that what you said is largely incorrect.
Firstly, in terms of Japan’s position on the situation in Hong Kong and the facts of the matter thus far, when the National People’s Congress decided on the law concerning Hong Kong on May 28, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga and I immediately expressed Japan’s serious concerns before other relevant countries. We have also been stating that Hong Kong is an extremely important partner for Japan with which Japan maintains close economic ties and people-to-people exchanges, and that it is the long-standing policy of Japan to attach great importance to upholding the free and open system which Hong Kong has been enjoying and the democratic, stable development of Hong Kong under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework.
Furthermore, I instructed Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Akiba to summon Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou to directly convey Japan’s position to China. In this way, Japan immediately communicated our strong position to China directly at a high level, and we have been communicating clearly to the international community. The countries concerned, including the United States and the United Kingdom, highly appreciate our response. The report that alleges that these countries are disappointed is absolutely incorrect.
For this matter, Japan believes that it is important to closely cooperate with the countries concerned, including the G7 countries, that share fundamental values and way of thinking. I have recently held telephone talks with Foreign Secretary Raab of the United Kingdom, Foreign Minister Payne of Australia, and others. During the telephone talks, we shared our deep concerns about the situation in Hong Kong, and confirmed that we will cooperate.
The international community or related countries issue joint statements on various global issues, which are not limited to Hong Kong’s case. They are issued in various frameworks, and that itself is diplomacy. Although I do not intend to speak about the details of each discussion, Japan will cooperate with the countries concerned, including the G7 countries, to issue appropriate messages concerning the situation in Hong Kong.
Asahi Shimbun, TOSA: In terms of the G7 framework, do you mean that coordination is being conducted to issue a statement by the foreign ministers? Or do you mean that a statement will be issued when a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is held, although the timing for such a meeting is not certain? Also, in that case, is it correct to understand that Japan will work so that the phrase “serious concern” is included in the statement?
Minister MOTEGI: Did you hear my comment before? Would you like me to say it again?
Asahi Shimbun, TOSA: All right, I understand.
Nikkei Shimbun, KATO: I would like to confirm some points about the situation in Hong Kong. According to the statement issued by the United States, the United Kingdom and others, the decision on the national security law conflicts with China’s international obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984. Is it also Japan’s recognition that the decision conflicts with the Sino-British Joint Declaration? Also, China is saying that this is a domestic issue, but what is your reaction if you view this from the perspective of the “rule of law,” which Japan emphasizes?
Minister MOTEGI: Firstly, Hong Kong is an extremely important partner for Japan with which Japan maintains close economic ties and people-to-people exchanges. It is the long-standing policy of Japan to attach great importance to upholding the free and open system which Hong Kong has been enjoying and the democratic, stable development of Hong Kong under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework.
Moreover, in regard to the Sino-British Joint Declaration, it is my understanding that the United Kingdom, a former colonial power, is stating that if China advances the decision by the National People’s Congress, it will conflict with China’s obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
In any event, Japan attaches importance to the principles of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework. We are seriously concerned about the decision made by China’s National People’s Congress regarding policies toward Hong Kong in the midst of strong concerns expressed from the international community and the people of Hong Kong and about the current situation in Hong Kong. Japan’s response concerning this matter will be as I answered before.