Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary YOSHIDA Tomoyuki
Wednesday, August 26, 2020, 3:47 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Re-entry Into Japan by People with Status of Residence in Japan
Radio France, NISHIMURA: I would like to ask about the measures for re-entry into Japan by people with status of residence in Japan. Since the decision last month, has there been consideration about any new measures or relaxation of restrictions? There have been various reports in the media in Japan recently, but has there actually been consideration about anything?
Mr. YOSHIDA Tomoyuki, Press Secretary: The Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters made a decision on July 22. At that time, it made a statement about making sequential consideration of re-entry by foreign people with status of residence in Japan and then entry into Japan by others. Currently, as it was at that time, it has been decided to allow re-entry into Japan by foreign people with status of residence in Japan who received re-entry permission and left Japan before the date when entry into Japan began to be denied due to implementation of border enforcement measures.
As you stated, there have been various reports recently, and I too have been monitoring them. Regarding expansion of people who will be allowed to re-enter Japan, the current situation is that we will continue to conduct consideration while sufficiently monitoring the novel coronavirus conditions within Japan and overseas. As a result of the continued consideration, if anything is decided, I believe it will be properly announced.
Incident Involving the Oil Leak from a Japan-Related Ship in Mauritius
Kyodo News, ONOZUKA: I would like to ask about the oil leak in Mauritius. The owner of the ship that caused this incident is a Japanese company. My first question is, how does the Government of Japan recognize this incident? Also, concerning support going forward, people in the opposition parties are calling for active support, so how does the Government of Japan intend to respond?
Press Secretary YOSHIDA: In regard to the incident of the massive oil leak from a large bulk carrier owned by a Japanese company that has been stranded off the coast of Mauritius in the western Indian Ocean, the Government of Japan recognizes that this is causing serious damage to the environment of Mauritius and is monitoring with great interest.
We are currently communicating with the Government of Mauritius, and made a comprehensive decision based on their needs and our bilateral relations with Mauritius thus far to dispatch the first Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) Expert Team on August 10.
Based on the results of that, on August 19, we dispatched the second JDR Expert Team. The second JDR Expert Team is composed of experts in environmental fields, and is currently conducting activities locally to provide support for oil removal, dealing with oil pollution that has washed ashore, and grasping the effects on ecosystems.
In regard to this incident, Japan will continue to exert all efforts for everything we can do for support activities to restore the environment around Mauritius and removal of pollution and oil.
Japan-U.K. Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)
Mainichi Shimbun, TADOKORO: I would like to ask about the Japan-U.K. EPA. Can you please tell us if the reports that a ministerial-level teleconference meeting or telephone talk will be held on August 28 are true? Also, can you please tell us the current outlook on the feasibility of aiming for an agreement in principle by the end of August?
Press Secretary YOSHIDA: You asked about the negotiations on Japan-U.K. economic partnership. Regarding your question about a ministerial consultation, it is currently still not a stage in which I can say whether that is possible or not. The final negotiations are currently being conducted by the authorities of Japan and the U.K. At this point in time, I would like to state that this is not a situation in which I can answer whether there will be a consultation or not.
On the other hand, as a result of Minister Motegi’s trip to the United Kingdom when he conducted negotiations, it was agreed to discuss the issues to aim for an agreement in principle by the end of August.
Regarding the outlook, the negotiations are being conducted so we will not know until the very end, but we know that the final work is being conducted based on what was agreed between the two ministers.
Situation in Belarus
NHK, WATANABE: Two statements in your name have already been issued about Belarus. After this, the situation has changed in various ways, including President Lukashenko looking down at citizens from a helicopter in the sky while holding an automatic rifle, and it is being said that he might escape to Russia. How does the Government of Japan view the current situation in Belarus after the issuance of the two statements? What is the stance toward the situation in Belarus? My second question is, what is your understanding of the situation regarding the Japanese man who is currently being detained and what is the status of negotiations toward his release?
Press Secretary YOSHIDA: As you pointed out, two statements were issued regarding the situation in Belarus on August 11 and August 18. It is my understanding that the large-scale protest gatherings are still continuing and the local situation is very tense. We are monitoring with serious interest the developments of various diplomatic activities by Europe, which neighbors Belarus, as well as Russia. As stated in the previous statements, as this situation continues, the Government of Japan hopes that a dialogue among a wide range of domestic political groups in Belarus will be held, and that the situation will improve in a manner which reflects the collective will of the Belarussian people and respects the principles of the rule of law and democracy. We are conveying this position to the Belarussian authorities.
Also, in regard to the Japanese man in his 20s who has been detained by the authorities that you asked about, a consul meeting was held at the embassy. At the present point we have confirmed that he does not have any health issues, but I cannot share any conditions beyond that or about any communication.
Entry Into Japan by Foreign Exchange Students with Status of Residence in Japan
Radio France, NISHIMURA: I would like to ask about foreign exchange students. When will foreign exchange students be allowed to enter Japan?
Press Secretary YOSHIDA: You mean foreign exchange students in Japan. I believe there have been reports about this. The ministry with jurisdiction over this matter is the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), so please inquire with MEXT about the details. According to what we have heard, it is necessary to advance receiving exchange students while continuing to implement the current border enforcement measures and thorough infection control measures. Entry into Japan will be allowed sequentially firstly for government-sponsored students who have been recruited, accepted, and provided funding by the Government of Japan, and we have heard that they will be allowed to enter Japan from the end of August. We have heard that MEXT is confirming the acceptance systems of universities that the students will attend, and students will be accepted sequentially from where preparation has been completed.