Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu

Tuesday, June 23, 2020, 1:40 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Memorial Day to Commemorate the Fallen During the Battle of Okinawa

Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to speak about three matters during my opening remarks. Firstly, in regard to the 75th Memorial Day to Commemorate the Fallen During the Battle of Okinawa, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences for the fallen along with my earnest wish for eternal peace.

Even today, the 75th anniversary of the end of the war, the people of Okinawa are experiencing a major impact. This is an unacceptable situation that we take very seriously. I will continue to exert all efforts as the Minister for Foreign Affairs to listen to the feelings of the people of Okinawa.

During the Memorial Day ceremony today, Ms. TAKARA Akane, a third-year student at Okinawa Prefectural Shuri High School, recited her “Poem for Peace.” I was very moved. Her poem included the lines, “I am here now / Because you saved that person / During that time.” It is certainly true that we would not be here today if our predecessors had not acted courageously during that time. I felt a new resolve to foster a country filled with hope and peace that will never again experience the ravages of war.

(2) 60th Anniversary of the Entry Into Force of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty

Minister MOTEGI: The second matter I would like to speak about is that today marks the 60th anniversary of the entry into force of the current Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. My basic thoughts concerning the Japan-U.S. Alliance at the time of the 60th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty are as indicated in the Joint Statement issued in January 2020 by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defense of Japan and the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense of the United States. I would like to take this opportunity to briefly state my thoughts again.

Rooted in our unwavering commitment to values such as democracy, respect for human rights, and a rules-based international order, the Japan-U.S. Alliance plays a role as a cornerstone in ensuring the peace and security of our two countries as well as the Indo-Pacific region and the international community, including through regional security cooperation. Our Alliance is stronger, broader, and more essential today than ever.

The Japan-U.S. Security Treaty is the core of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. Japan will continue to closely cooperate with the United States, and work to ensure the peace and prosperity of the region and the international community.

(3) Travel to Viet Nam by Japanese Businesspeople

Minister MOTEGI: The third and final matter I would like to speak about is our agreement with Viet Nam to relax restrictions partially and gradually on mutual travel between our two countries, which I announced during my last press conference.

Since my announcement, we have advanced coordination concerning specific measures and procedures with the Vietnamese authorities.

Amidst this, from the day after tomorrow, it has been decided to operate special flights from Japan to Viet Nam over the three-day period on June 25, 26, and 27 arranged by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Viet Nam. Through these flights, it is planned for about 440 Japanese residents and businesspeople to travel to Viet Nam. They will be the first flights from Japan to Viet Nam since the agreement to relax restrictions partially and gradually on mutual travel between our countries.

For this travel, the people who go to Viet Nam will enter the country in accordance with Viet Nam’s designated process of measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Also, among the travelers, businesspeople who will return to Japan after a relatively short time are expected to enter Japan in accordance with the trial measures for entry based on the decision made last week on June 18 by the National Security Council (NSC) and the Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters. Specifically, on the condition that they comply with additional infection control measures, it is expected that measures will apply to them that enable limited business activities during the 14-day waiting period, such as waiting at home.

Intrusion by China Coast Guard Vessels Into the Waters Surrounding the Senkaku Islands

Sankei Shimbun, RIKITAKE: I would like to ask about Chinese government vessels. It has been confirmed that Chinese government vessels entered Japan’s contiguous zone around the Senkaku Islands for 71 consecutive days. It was also confirmed that vessels entered Japan’s territorial waters yesterday. Can you please tell us your view about such repeated activities by China and about the response by the Government of Japan?

Minister MOTEGI: Amidst the need for international cooperation and collaboration due to the global spread of novel coronavirus infections, I believe it is extremely regrettable that Chinese government vessels have been repeatedly sailing through Japan’s contiguous zone and intruding into our territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands. We have been repeatedly issuing severe protests regarding such activities by China through diplomatic channels.

There will be no genuine improvement in Japan-China relations without stability in the East China Sea. This point has been repeatedly raised by Prime Minister Abe to President Xi Jinping, and I have repeatedly raised it to State Councilor Wang Yi. We have been strongly requesting China to take action on this.

Japan will continue to respond calmly yet firmly with determination to resolutely defend our territorial land, sea, and air space.

60th Anniversary of the Entry Into Force of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty

Nikkei Shimbun, KATO: I would like to ask about the 60th anniversary since the amendment of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. During his recent press conference, Prime Minister Abe stated that he would like the NSC to conduct thorough discussions regarding Japan’s security strategy this summer, and also indicated that he would like discussions to be held on enemy base strike capability proposed by the Liberal Democratic Party. I believe that Japan and the United States have had a division of roles as “shield” and “spear.” Can you please tell us your thoughts on whether the discussions this time will include review of the approach to the division of roles of “shield” and “spear”?

Minister MOTEGI: Firstly, the discussions in the NSC this summer will not start only because this year is the 60th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. As the security environment surrounding Japan grows increasingly severe, I believe that we have reached an extremely important time to have discussions on the desirable form of Japan-U.S. cooperation and about strengthening Japan’s defense and response capabilities.

It is not the case that we can simply characterize the security environment and necessary deterrence and defense capabilities as Japan being the “shield” and the United States being the “spear.” Furthermore, I believe that the deterrence and defense capabilities are not sufficient, so we would like to have thorough discussions this summer about how Japan should strengthen its defense capabilities amidst cooperation and division of roles with the United States.

Resumption of Travel Between Japan and Viet Nam (Gradual Relaxation of Restrictions)

Kyodo News, TAKAO: I would like to ask about the gradual relaxation of restrictions on traveling to and from Viet Nam, which you introduced in your opening remarks. You mentioned Viet Nam’s designated process of measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Is it correct to understand that Japanese businesspeople should prove negative on a PCR test when they enter and leave the country, present an itinerary in Viet Nam, and take other such actions?

Minister MOTEGI: We are currently conducting final coordination regarding the trial measures for resumption of travel between Japan and Viet Nam. It will of course be necessary for people traveling to Viet Nam to comply with Viet Nam’s designated measures. The details are currently being coordinated.

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