Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Tuesday, July 14, 2020, 11:51 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Personnel Decisions on Senior Officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: During the Cabinet meeting today, personnel decisions related to senior officials of MOFA were approved.
The official announcement is scheduled for Tuesday, July 21 next week. The personnel decisions on MOFA senior officials were made by considering various factors, but two factors in particular were stressed. The first was the continuity of policies, and the second was the organization’s restructuring in terms of appointing talented young human resources. I believe that the senior officials who have held important positions have truly done good jobs. I hope that they continue to work actively as the faces of Japan in positions such as ambassadors.
The European Parliament’s Resolution Concerning Removal of Children in Japan
NHK, YAMAMOTO: Excuse me for asking again about the same topic you spoke about during your press conference last week. I would like to ask two questions about the EU’s resolution about the Hague Convention in relation to Japan.
At your previous press conference, you answered that cases need to be separately considered between cases that are subject to the Hague Convention and cases that are not subject to it that occur in Japan. Although Japan is responding appropriately to cases that are subject to the Hague Convention, the EU believes that Japan is not adhering to international rules. What do you think is the cause of this difference in recognition?
Also, how will you gain the understanding of the EU going forward?
Minister MOTEGI: Firstly, if we look at the facts of the matter such as the numbers, I believe that Japan’s assertion is clear. Regarding the return to EU countries based on the Hague Convention of children who were removed to Japan, the Government of Japan decided to provide assistance for 26 cases. There have been 123 cases in which Japan decided to assist the return of children with all countries which are party to the Convention. Among those cases, regarding EU countries, there have been 26 cases through now in which the Government of Japan made the decision to provide assistance. Among those cases, between Japan and the EU countries, return of children was realized for 11 cases. Between Japan and all the countries which are party to the Convention, return of children was realized for 43 cases, which means that one fourth of those cases are those between Japan and EU countries.
Also, the Government of Japan has been repeatedly providing explanations to the EU and EU countries regarding our efforts, including the amended Implementation Act that strengthens the efficacy of the execution of returning children which entered into force in April 2020.
Despite these objective facts, there are many groundless assertions in the European Parliament’s decision that are impossible to understand. However, Japan has consistently responded to cases in an appropriate manner that are subject to the Hague Convention through consultations with the central authorities of EU countries based on the Convention.
NHK, YAMAMOTO: I have one more related question. The EU is requesting Japan to quickly respond to cases of removal of children that occur in Japan and are not subject to the Hague Convention. It seems that this alludes to the necessity of changing the law to approve joint custody. This is related to domestic law so the Ministry of Justice would be the primary one to respond, but can you please tell us your thoughts on what system would be necessary for the benefit of children?
Minister MOTEGI: This matter is being considered by the Ministry of Justice, so I believe you should ask them about it.
The United States’ Policy on the South China Sea
Yomiuri Shimbun, ABE: Secretary of State Pompeo of the United States said in a statement that Beijing’s territorial claims concerning the South China Sea are completely unlawful. The United States has maintained a neutral position regarding the territory dispute up until now. What is your reaction to the statement, and what is the view of the Government of Japan?
Minister MOTEGI: I would like to state that we welcome and support the commitment of the United States.
Amidst the increasing severity of the regional security environment, I believe that this announcement by the United States shows its unwavering commitment to regional peace and stability.
Japan has been consistently advocating for the importance of the rule of law and the use of peaceful means, not the use of force or coercion. In addition, the award of the Arbitral Tribunal is final and binding to the parties to the dispute based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Thus, the countries concerned must abide by the award. That is what we have been pointing out.
Japan will continue to cooperate with the international community, including the United States, to protect free, open, and peaceful seas.
Novel Coronavirus (Border Enforcement Measures Concerning Travel)
Nikkei Shimbun, KATO: I would like to ask a question about border enforcement measures. There are some reports stating that travel restrictions will be relaxed for business managers from the United States and Europe. Can you please tell us the current status of consideration of the Government of Japan?
Minister MOTEGI: For the first round, we are conducting consultations with four target countries regarding allowing resumption of travel by human resources necessary for business. There has been considerable progress in the discussions with Viet Nam and Thailand in particular.
Additionally, I believe that further resumption of travel in a manner that is compatible with infection control measures is an extremely important matter. Amidst this, there is the issue of expanding the countries with which travel is allowed, which we will advance sequentially from countries where the spread of infections is winding down. At the same time, it is an urgent matter to help the Japanese economy recover by focusing on aspects related to people. For this, we are currently at the stage of consideration, or in other words discussions, with related ministries and agencies regarding what people are considered necessary human resources and, if travel is allowed, what kind of schemes are compatible with infection control measures.
Novel Coronavirus (Announcement Regarding the Number of Infected People in the U.S. Forces Japan)
Kyodo News, TAKAO: I would like to ask about the situation concerning novel coronavirus infections at U.S. Forces Japan bases. Several people related to the U.S. Forces have been confirmed to be infected at MCAS Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture, Misawa Airbase in Aomori Prefecture, and MCAS Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Governor Tamaki of Okinawa Prefecture, where many infected people were confirmed in particular, plans to come to Tokyo in the near future and request the national government to ask the United States to disclose information regarding the situation of infections. Can you please tell us your thoughts on how the Government of Japan will appeal to the United States based on this?
Minister MOTEGI: Due to the current situation, under my instructions, we have already requested the United States to thoroughly augment strict measures to prevent the spread of infections and closely conduct information-sharing. We will cooperate with the U.S. Forces Japan, including by conducting information-sharing regarding this matter, and respond appropriately.