Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu

Friday, June 19, 2020, 10:56 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

Novel Coronavirus (Step-By-Step Measures to Restart the International Movement of People)

Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: The step-by-step measures to restart the international movement of people were decided by the National Security Council (NSC) and the Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters yesterday. For the time being, we will conduct consultations and coordination with Viet Nam, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, and when preparations are complete, we will experimentally conduct partial and gradual travel.

We have been holding consultations and discussions with the four countries, including Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talks. Regarding Japan and Thailand, as announced yesterday, at the Japan-Thailand Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk, we confirmed that we would conduct coordination to build a system to enable travel between our two countries by human resources who are essential for business in our countries.

Regarding Japan and Viet Nam, as announced earlier and stated in the document distributed to you, we agreed to partially and gradually relax restrictions concerning travel between our two countries. Coordination will be conducted through diplomatic channels concerning the details of the timing of resumption of travel as well as the forms to be taken. I believe that it will not take much time.

In addition, regarding Australia and New Zealand, both countries have indicated that they will firstly prioritize consultations between themselves. We will continue to conduct coordination concerning what forms of travel can be restarted with both countries.

From the perspective of getting the economy back on track, it is important to partially, gradually restart international movement by people in forms that are compatible with the prevention of the spread of the novel coronavirus. We will continue to respond while conducting close cooperation with the ministries and agencies concerned as well as various countries.

Novel Coronavirus (Restarting the International Movement of People, Coordination with Viet Nam)

NHK, YAMAMOTO: In regard to relations with Viet Nam, you mentioned that resumption of travel will not take much time. Is it correct to understand that it will actually be possible for people to travel within this month? Furthermore, will it be mutual travel, including both people traveling from Japan to Viet Nam as well as people traveling from Viet Nam to Japan?

Minister MOTEGI: In regard to the timing, we are at the stage of final coordination. Travel is supposed to be mutual.

Vietnam News Agency, DAO: Who will be prioritized in the first stage of the relaxing of the entry ban? When will Japan remove its entry ban for Vietnamese people? Who will be the first to come to Japan?

Minister MOTEGI: As I stated before, we will prioritize these four countries. If it proceeds in the present form, there will probably be travel with Viet Nam and Thailand before Australia and New Zealand. However, coordination will be conducted on when travel will begin to be allowed and whether Viet Nam or Thailand will be first.

Yomiuri Shimbun, ABE: Besides these four countries, yesterday Prime Minister Abe indicated that Japan will sequentially expand travel with other countries and regions. However, I believe that it will be a difficult matter to balance preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus while advancing partial resumption of travel. Can you please tell us what points you will place importance on while conducting consideration on sequentially expanding the target countries and regions?

Minister MOTEGI: Firstly, although priority is on the four countries to conduct coordination, we will also conduct comprehensive consideration of conditions concerning the novel coronavirus inside and outside Japan, and sequentially expand the countries and regions with which exceptional travel is allowed. One condition is of course whether the novel coronavirus situation has wound down, and this is extremely important to a certain extent. At the same time, it is also important whether there are needs for travel related to business and other matters. There are also several other conditions, but we will expand the countries and regions by making decisions through comprehensive consideration centered on such conditions.

Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Export Control (Request by the ROK to Establish a World Trade Organization (WTO) Panel))

Sankei Shimbun, HARAKAWA: Yesterday, the Government of the ROK requested the WTO Dispute Settlement Body to establish a panel due to the ROK’s allegation that Japan’s implementation of severer export control on semiconductor materials since last year was unfair. Can you please tell us the position of the Government of Japan regarding this, including whether Japan issued a protest?

Minister MOTEGI: We have conveyed to the ROK that it is extremely regrettable that they requested the WTO Dispute Settlement Board to establish a panel despite the fact that the export control authorities of Japan and the ROK have been conducting dialogues to resolve the pending issues through now. Japan will respond appropriately in accordance with the WTO Agreement process.

New National Security Strategy (Direction of Discussions)

NHK, YAMAMOTO: I would like to ask about security policy, which Prime Minister Abe mentioned in his press conference yesterday. Prime Minister Abe announced that the National Security Council (NSC) would discuss Japan’s security policy approach and work out a new direction. There have also been discussions regarding enemy base strike capability within the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Prime Minister Abe stated yesterday that proposals on such matters must be reflected upon. Do you have an outlook on what direction the discussions will take going forward?

Minister MOTEGI: It is true that this matter will be discussed going forward. As the security environment surrounding Japan grows increasingly severe, it is the Government’s important responsibility to protect the lives and assets of the people of Japan, and we have built a seamless system through various forms of cooperation with the United States, our ally.

During last night’s press conference, Prime Minister Abe used the terms “deterrence” and “response capacity,” and stated that he would like to hold thorough discussions at the NSC regarding the security strategy approach, including what needs to be done to strengthen deterrence and response capacity and what we should achieve to protect Japan, and for the direction to be firmly worked out and swiftly executed. MOFA will also advance firm discussions with the ministries and agencies concerned.

Various discussions are being conducted within the LDP, including on enemy base strike capability. As Prime Minister Abe stated in his press conference yesterday, we will reflect upon such discussions together with the ministries and agencies concerned.

Novel Coronavirus (Restarting the International Movement of People, Coordination with Viet Nam)

Vietnam News Agency, DAO: Why did the Japanese Government choose Vietnam among the first 4 countries to remove the entry ban?

Minister MOTEGI: As you are aware, there have been no new cases of novel coronavirus infections in Viet Nam for a long time. I believe that the situation has wound down considerably. At the same time, there are needs for travel by various people between Japan and Viet Nam. Also, from the perspective of strengthening Japan’s strategic partnership with Viet Nam, we would like to partially, gradually restart travel.

Novel Coronavirus (Restarting the International Movement of People, PCR Tests)

Independent Web Journal, WATARAI: In regard to travel between Japan and the four countries you mentioned, it can be considered that there is a sizeable gap between the PCR test situation in Japan and those countries. During the negotiations stages, I think that criticism and opinions have been expressed about Japan’s PCR test system.

Minister MOTEGI: No, there have not.

Independent Web Journal, WATARAI: You mean there hasn’t been any?

Minister MOTEGI: Yes.

Independent Web Journal, WATARAI: I understand.

Back to Press Conferences