Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Friday, July 3, 2020, 10:43 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Constitutional Amendment in Russia (Effects on the Japan-Russia Peace Treaty Negotiations)
NHK, YAMAMOTO: I would like to ask about the peace treaty negotiations with Russia. The nationwide vote was conducted in Russia, and it was decided to amend the constitution. Due to this, it seems that the administrative authorities of Kunashiri Island and others newly installed a stone monument commemorating the constitutional amendment on the island, which is part of the Northern Territories. The monument apparently includes wording from the part of the amendment that prohibits ceding territory. Can you please tell us your view on this series of developments by the Russian side, and what effects this will actually have on the negotiations?
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I am aware of the various developments. Also, the peace treaty negotiations are ones that must be conducted between our two governments. I will continue to exert all efforts to persistently work on the negotiations under the basic policy to resolve the attributions issue and conclude a peace treaty, based on the agreement between Prime Minister Abe and President Putin.
National Security Law in Hong Kong (Support for the People of Hong Kong)
AFP, HASEGAWA: In regard to Hong Kong, the Government of the United Kingdom and others are announcing that they will take in people who want to immigrate from Hong Kong due to the enactment of the national security law by China. Does Japan have a plan to conduct consideration of the same kind of measure?
Minister MOTEGI: Firstly, it is regrettable that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress recently enacted the national security law on Hong Kong despite the strong concerns of the international community and the people of Hong Kong. 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 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. At the present point, I have not received any reports of damage to Japanese companies or Japanese nationals in relation to the law. However, there are currently 26,000 Japanese nationals living in Hong Kong and 1,400 Japanese companies active there, so the future of the “One Country, Two Systems” framework is extremely important for Japan, as we maintain close economic ties and people-to-people exchanges with Hong Kong. I will continue to firmly monitor the future effects related to the law, including from the position of protecting Japanese nationals.
The United Nations Security Council’s Ceasefire Resolution in Relation to the Novel Coronavirus (Continuing Operations against ISIL)
Pan Orient News, AZHARI: There are reports that the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution calling for a global ceasefire in order to fight the pandemic of COVID-19 appropriately. But it seems they have an exception that the war on so-called Islamic State should continue. What is Japan’s position on this, and why.
Minister MOTEGI: Firstly, I would like to welcome the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous adoption of the resolution concerning the novel coronavirus on July 1. In regard to the fight against extremism, I believe that it is necessary for the entire international community to continue efforts to stop the revival of ISIL and the global spread of extremism.
In addition, international efforts continue to be necessary for the peace and stability of the Middle East, including Syria and Iraq. In order to eliminate hotbeds for extremism, Japan will continue to cooperate with the international community and work on peace and stability in the Middle East.
National Security Law in Hong Kong (Response by the United States)
Kyodo News, TAKAO: I would like to ask about the situation in Hong Kong. In regard to the recently enacted Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Secretary of State Pompeo of the United States stated that this is not a U.S.-China challenge, but rather a challenge between freedom and authoritarianism, and is aiming for global cooperation with related countries. What is your reaction, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, to Secretary of State Pompeo’s statement, and how will Japan respond?
Minister MOTEGI: Japan’s basic position is as stated in the recent “Statement by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu,” and I also gave an answer earlier about this question. We have been responding to the national security law in Hong Kong in cooperation with related countries, including the United States, and also indicated our grave concerns about this matter in the G7 Foreign Ministers' Statement on Hong Kong that was recently issued. There is no change to our intention to continue to cooperate with related countries and request China to respond appropriately.
Kyodo News, TAKAO: I would like to ask a related question. The U.S. Congress unanimously passed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which includes sanctions against China. It is being reported that the sanctions will apply to high-level Chinese officials and the financial organizations that they have transactions with. Do you think that Japan also needs to implement some sort of sanctions going forward?
Minister MOTEGI: I would like to refrain from commenting about individual policies of the United States. For the parts of your question beyond that, it is as I answered earlier.
Novel Coronavirus (Support for Infection Control Measures for Emerging Countries)
Yomiuri Shimbun, GOTO: I would like to ask about support for infection control measures for emerging countries. The Government of Japan is providing grant aid to Southeast Asia and Africa. I believe that the policy is to ultimately provide support to about 100 countries. What is the current status of coordination for that at the present point? Also, the support is being provided at an unprecedented speed, so can you tell us the timing for which it is aimed to finish providing the support?
Minister MOTEGI: Frankly speaking, I believe that the Cabinet decision and other matters are proceeding at a very fast speed that is unprecedented. Firstly, international cooperation to address the novel coronavirus is extremely important. Above all, it is an urgent challenge for the entire international community to control the spread of infections by supporting developing countries with vulnerable healthcare systems. Japan is calling for such support, and is taking a leadership role in providing it.
The first supplementary budget includes grant aid aimed at contributing to healthcare-related equipment and other supplies in developing countries. I participated in the specific discussions about providing grant aid to about 100 countries. Coordination and other actions are being conducted now at an unprecedented speed. Cabinet decisions have been completed to provide support to 81 countries through today, exchanges of notes have been concluded with 30 countries, and the procedures to sequentially provide support are being conducted.
Speaking based on the pace of ODA thus far, I believe that this support is probably proceeding at an unprecedented pace. We will swiftly conduct the procedures for the remaining countries.
Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Export Control
Yomiuri Shimbun, GOTO: I would like to ask about Japan’s export control affecting the ROK. One year has passed since Japan strengthened its export control concerning semiconductor-related items for the ROK. As a new development, the Government of the ROK has presented a case in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Can you please explain Japan’s position again?
Minister MOTEGI: To date, the export control authorities of Japan and the ROK have been conducting dialogue to resolve pending issues. It is extremely regrettable that the ROK recently requested the WTO Dispute Settlement Body to establish a panel despite that. Japan will continue to respond appropriately in accordance with the WTO Agreement process.