Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary YOSHIDA Tomoyuki
Wednesday, September 9, 2020, 3:46 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Number of Japanese Staff Members at International Organizations
Mr. YOSHIDA Tomoyuki, Press Secretary: I would like to make one announcement in my opening remarks. The statistics on the latest numbers of Japanese staff members active at international organizations have been released, and I would like to introduce them.
As of the end of last year, according to MOFA’s own calculation survey, 912 Japanese staff members worked at United Nations-related agencies, the highest number ever. This was an increase of 30 people over the previous year.
The schedule of the “Japan Revitalization Strategy (Revised in 2015)” approved by the Cabinet in June 2015 states the Government’s goal of having 1,000 Japanese staff members working at United Nations-related agencies by 2025. I believe that the number this time shows steady progress toward this goal.
The background for this is the Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Program that dispatches young human resources to international organizations. We analyze that the major factor has been the acquisition of posts at international organizations by the people dispatched under this program after their dispatch period has ended.
Amidst various restrictions due to the current spread of novel coronavirus infections, MOFA is conducting the selection test via interviews, which are usually held in person, for the JPO Program online. Through such efforts, we will continue dispatching JPOs to be Japanese staff members at international organizations and support people who want to challenge themselves at international organizations. That is all for my introduction in my opening remarks.
Number of Japanese Staff Members at International Organizations
Yomiuri Shimbun, OYABU: In relation to this matter, is it correct to understand that the 88 people who are above management level is also the highest number ever? Also, you mentioned that the background for the increase in the number has been due to the increasing cases of people dispatched as JPOs acquiring posts at international organizations after their dispatch period has ended. Is this because the number of people dispatched as JPOs has increased, or is it because there has been a focus on providing support for the appointment of people to become regular staff members after their dispatch period as JPOs has ended?
Press Secretary YOSHIDA: Firstly, as shown on the left-hand graph in the handout, the 88 people who are in management level positions shown on the red line is the highest ever number since we began collecting the statistics.
Regarding the JPO Program that you asked about, although I do not have the exact number at hand, I have heard that there were 325 examinees this year. Although I cannot directly answer your question because I have not received materials comparing the specific numbers, please inquire with the bureau or department in charge if necessary. What I have heard from the bureau or department in charge is that this number has not increased much recently and that there were years with higher numbers of examinees in the past.
Therefore, it is my understanding that people who applied to and were dispatched as JPOs worked hard to receive their posts at international organizations.
Yomiuri Shimbun, OYABU: I would like to ask additional questions. How do you feel Japan’s influence on such international organizations has increased through the increase in the number of Japanese staff members? How would you like to increase Japan’s influence going forward?
Press Secretary YOSHIDA: I believe this question was also brought up during the Foreign Minister’s press conference last year. As I believe then-Foreign Minister Kono also explained at the time, increasing the number of Japanese staff members at international organizations is not necessarily just for them to act in the interests of Japan, but rather to have them exhibit efforts to promote the interests of the international community as international public servants. On the other hand, Japanese staff members at international organizations are one barometer showing Japan’s presence to the international community. I also believe there is important significance in people at international organizations executing policies who understand Japan’s way of thinking.
As I introduced in my opening remarks, this is a goal raised in the Japan Revitalization Strategy. I believe that we are steadily heading toward achieving the goal of having 1,000 Japanese staff members at international organizations by 2025. Amidst this, Japan has made major contributions to the international community. It will be in Japan’s national interests if we can increase our presence in the international community to the same level as Japan’s contributions thus far by increasing the number of Japanese people working at international organizations.
NHK, WATANABE: In relation to this, I do not fully understand the left-most graph. It says “excluding JPOs,” so is it correct to understand that this is the pure increment without JPOs? What year was the JPO Program started?
Press Secretary YOSHIDA: Firstly, regarding this graph which includes the number I introduced in my opening remarks, the JPO Program dispatches young people to international organizations with support from the Government of Japan. In that sense, the JPOs are sponsored. The number I introduced in my opening remarks and the numbers in this graph exclude people dispatched under the JPO Program. I said 912 earlier, but the number of Japanese people at international organizations including currently dispatched JPOs is 1,021.
Also, you asked about the details of the JPO dispatch program, so I will introduce them. MOFA began utilizing the program in 1974. The JPO Program is not a Japanese system. It is a program adopted by other countries as well under various agencies of the United Nations. Japan already has a history of 40-odd years of utilizing the program. Basically, the program dispatches young people under the age of 35 to international organizations for two years in principle. They accumulate work experience and aim to become regular employees of the international organization.
NHK, WATANABE: I will inquire about the details with the department in charge. You mentioned that 1,021 Japanese people including JPOs are working at international organizations. Does that mean the Government’s goal of having 1,000 Japanese staff members at international organizations by 2025 excludes the JPOs?
Press Secretary YOSHIDA: Yes.
G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the Poisoning of Alexei Navalny
NHK, WATANABE: The G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement regarding the poisoning incident of the Russian opposition leader was issued this morning at 6 a.m. Japan time. If you read the text, you can see that the name of the country being condemned is completely omitted in the beginning, although I believe it is Russia. The beginning states that “we,” with the names of the G7 countries then written, “are united in condemning, in the strongest possible terms, the confirmed poisoning of Alexei Navalny.” But the name of the country that should be condemned is not written. I do not think this was just changed for the Japanese language version of the statement. However, Japan is conducting the peace treaty negotiations with Russia. When Russia invaded Crimea as well, Japan’s sanctions were less than other European countries and the United States. I believe that position might also be reflected in this statement. What is your view?
Press Secretary YOSHIDA: Your question just now is about the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the Poisoning of Alexei Navalny that was issued today. The beginning of the statement has the sentence subject of “we,” mentioning the G7 countries. I believe it begins with “We, the G7 foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union, are united in condemning….” Therefore, the statement was adopted with the unity of the G7.
The statement strongly condemns the poisoning of Mr. Navalny based on the results of an investigation by the Government of Germany, and calls on the Government of Russia to ensure transparency and bring the perpetrators to justice based on the fact that Russia was where the incident occurred.
The poison used is known popularly as Novichok. If that is what it is, then it is a chemical nerve-agent banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention. It is a nerve gas, so it violates international standards. Its use cannot be forgiven, no matter who used it, what the purpose was, who the target was, and what form it was used in. The position of the Government of Japan is that this is impermissible, and it is my understanding that Japan participated in this statement based on that position.
NHK, WATANABE: Excuse me, perhaps I am misunderstanding, but it seems that it is not known whether there was state participation in the poisoning, so Russia was not written. In other words, Russia is being called on to investigate the cause because the incident occurred in the country, but Russia is not condemned because it is not known whether there was state participation by Russia in the incident. It seems that the statement condemns the poisoning incident and calls on Russia to give a proper explanation, but does not condemn Russia.
Press Secretary YOSHIDA: It is my understanding that this statement was written as a result of various discussions among the G7 based on the explanations from the Government of Germany and its investigation results. The consensus was for the statement to call on the Government of Russia to ensure transparency and bring the perpetrators to justice, in short due to the recognition that Russia was the location where the incident occurred.