Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu

Tuesday, June 30, 2020, 1:34 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Situation in Hong Kong (National Security Law)

NHK, YAMAMOTO: I would like to ask about the issue of Hong Kong. It is being reported that the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress passed the national security law concerning Hong Kong. What is your reaction?

Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: There has not been an official announcement as of now. If it is true that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress enacted the national security law on Hong Kong as is being reported now, then it is regrettable that it was enacted despite the strong concerns of the international community and the people of Hong Kong. Also, if it is enacted, then it will undermine trust in the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. We will respond appropriately while cooperating with related countries.

High Speed Railway Project in Indonesia

Economic Monthly, Susilo: Excuse me, I do not know if this has already been asked but I have a question in regard to the plan by the President of Indonesia relating to Japan’s high speed railway project in Indonesia. The Government of Indonesia would like to integrate the railway projects by Japan and China, probably as a cost-saving measure. What are the thoughts of the Government of Japan on this? Have you received an official request from the Government of Indonesia? What progress has been achieved thus far for the Jakarta-Surabaya project? Thank you.

Minister MOTEGI: I am aware of the various recent reports about the railway project in Indonesia. Japan is currently implementing the preparatory survey for cooperation concerning the main line railway acceleration project for the long distance between Jakarta in northern Java and Surabaya. We will continue to hold discussions and consultations with Indonesia. Since this is currently under discussion and related to the government of our counterpart country, I would like to refrain from answering about the details.

Selection of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General (Support for the Republic of Korea (ROK)’s Candidate)

YTN (ROK), Lee: I would like to ask two questions.

Minister MOTEGI: Please ask them one at a time.

YTN (ROK), Lee: I will. My first question is about the selection of the WTO Director-General. At last week’s press conference, you stated that Japan is conducting consideration about its response. Does your response include announcing Japan’s view that Ms. Yoo Myung-hee, the candidate running from the ROK, would be unsuitable as Director-General?

Minister MOTEGI: As I stated recently, we are currently considering our response. It is not true that we have decided our position on specific candidates.

G7 Summit (Japan’s Response to the Idea to Invite the ROK)

YTN (ROK), Lee: My next question is about the G7. The Government of Japan announced its recognition that maintaining the current structure is extremely important. Why is Japan effectively opposed to increasing the number of member countries, including the ROK?

Minister MOTEGI: I believe it is the shared recognition of the G7 that the significance of the G7 lies in holding frank, free discussions about issues faced by the international community among the leaders of the member countries, who share fundamental values.

This forum began during a global economic crisis, in which countries with the largest economies held discussions on such themes. It has become a platform to discuss not only about the economy, but various issues faced by the international community. I believe that it is extremely important for not just Japan, but also for the G7 to maintain such a framework.

Additionally, it is my understanding that the G7 has often conducted outreach to invite non-member countries and international organizations.

It is my understanding that ultimately the United States, which is the G7 President this year, will coordinate this year’s G7 format.

Situation in Hong Kong (National Security Law)

TV Asahi, OISHI: In relation to the question at the beginning, numerous Japanese companies have entered Hong Kong and many Japanese people live there. Can you please tell us your thoughts at the present point about what effects the law will have on Japanese people and companies when it is implemented?

Minister MOTEGI: Because 26,000 Japanese nationals live in Hong Kong and 1,400 Japanese companies are active there now, the future of “One Country, Two Systems” is extremely important for Japan, which maintains close economic ties and people-to-people exchanges with Hong Kong. It is the long-standing position of Japan to attach great importance to upholding a free and open system and ensuring democratic and stable development under the “One Country, Two Systems” framework of Hong Kong, which has been a truly important partner of Japan with which we maintain close economic relations and people-to-people exchanges. We will continue to respond appropriately while cooperating with related countries.

Developments Concerning the West Bank Area of the Jordan River

Pan Orient News, AZHARI: What is Japan’s official position on the reported plans by Israel to annex the West bank? In general, what do you think Japan would do if China or Russia annexed disputed territories?

Minister MOTEGI: Regarding peace in the Middle East, Japan supports a “two-state solution” to the conflict between Israel and Palestine. There has been no change to our position that various issues, including the status and borders of the West Bank area of the Jordan River, should be resolved through negotiations by the parties concerned.

Situation in Hong Kong (National Security Law)

Yomiuri Shimbun, OYABU: In relation to the situation in Hong Kong, the United States announced that it will take measures to suspend exports of military- and defense-related technology to Hong Kong due to the decision on the national security law. If there are any measures that Japan is considering, can you please tell us about them?

Minister MOTEGI: As I stated at the beginning, there has not been an official announcement about the law as of now. Although there are reports that mention various responses we might take if the law is enacted, at the present point Japan’s option is to respond appropriately in cooperation with related countries.

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

JTBC JoongAng Ilbo, Yoon: It has been one year since the export control review by the Government of Japan, and the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula is still continuing. Liquidation of assets is now being discussed for the latter issue. What methods do you think could resolve these two issues at the same time?

Also, at past press conferences, you stated that you would like to hold consultations with the ROK before assets are liquidized. What are your specific thoughts on that?

Minister MOTEGI: Firstly, what is happening now is the process for seizure of assets, which is not the same as liquidizing assets. However, if liquidizing assets does occur, then I believe this will become an extremely serious situation. I have repeatedly conveyed that point to the ROK. I clearly stated that to Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha during our recent Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk as well.

On the other hand, for the dispute settlement case in the WTO, we will continue to appropriately respond in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the WTO. The issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula and the export control issue are different matters. The issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula has indeed become a breach of international law due to the decision by the ROK Supreme Court, and I hope that the ROK will remedy it.

Novel Coronavirus (Resumption of Travel)

Nikkei Shimbun, KATO: I would like to ask about the relaxation of immigration restrictions. Travel has been partially resumed, as special flights were operated to Viet Nam recently. Negotiations have also been conducted with Thailand, and I believe that there will be an announcement about relaxing entry restrictions soon. Can you please tell us the status of those negotiations?

Minister MOTEGI: As I stated recently, we are currently conducting consultations and coordination firstly with four countries – Viet Nam, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand – regarding resuming travel gradually on a trial basis, in a manner that also prevents the novel coronavirus from once again spreading. We will allow travel sequentially with countries with which we have completed coordination.

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