Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Monday, September 7, 2020, 4:03 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have just held a telephone talk with Prime Minister Jugnauth of Mauritius.
At the outset, I paid respect to the Government and the people of Mauritius for responding to the oil spill off its coast under difficult circumstances. I also explained that the Government of Japan takes the accident very seriously, and upon the request of Mauritius, immediately dispatched the Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) Expert Teams as well as provided equipment, and also conveyed my intention to continue to send experts.
Following the outset remarks, I mentioned I recognize that the issues of the restoration and revival of Mauritius cover a wide range of areas including the environment, the economy, and the society. Based on such understanding, I expressed my intention to advance cooperation from mid- and long-term perspectives in a swift manner.
In particular, there are three support measures. I conveyed Japan’s readiness to swiftly carry out the following cooperation based on the requests of the Government of Mauritius. One is cooperation to ensure safety of navigation for preventing the recurrence of accidents and to strengthen the capability of initial response to oil spills. Secondly, we will dispatch experts to conserve and restore mangrove forests and cooperate with environmental monitoring including coral reefs and restoring ecosystems to recover the contaminated environment. In addition, people in the affected areas have been significantly impacted. We will provide fishery-related equipment and promote inshore fisheries to restore the livelihoods of people in the affected areas, especially of small-scale fishery communities.
I also explained that Japan will consider other necessary cooperation to support the recovery and development of the Mauritian economy, listening to the needs of Mauritius including financial aspects. Tourism is a major sector for Mauritius. In this regard, I explained Japan’s intention to extend cooperation of an unprecedented scale to Mauritius. If the situation allows, Japan would like to send a public-private business mission to promote tourism and trade between Japan and Mauritius and hold seminars on trade and investment.
In response, Prime Minister Jugnauth appreciated the immediate dispatches of the JDR Expert Teams as well as the quick deliveries of equipment. Japan has provided various supports for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response through international organizations, and Prime Minister Jugnauth expressed his gratitude for this assistance. Prime Minister Jugnauth stated that it was an urgent task not only to restore the environment, which has deteriorated due to the oil spill, but also to recover the economy, which has been damaged since the COVID-19 pandemic. In this light, he deeply appreciated Japan’s proposal of cooperation during today’s telephone talk and expressed his expectations for Japan’s continuous supports. Prime Minister Jugnauth stated that Japan is by no means responsible for the accident, and that Mauritius is grateful for Japan’s various forms of cooperation, including the swift dispatches of the JDR Expert Teams.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Jugnauth and I shared the view on continuing close cooperation between the two countries in order to restore the environment and develop the economy and the society of Mauritius. That is all for my overview of the meeting.
Reporter: Which of the two of you proposed today’s meeting?
Minister MOTEGI: I proposed it. Over this past month, Japan dispatched JDR Expert Teams three times and has implemented immediate responses based on the situation of the affected areas. As I just stated, as Japan’s support measures for the mid- and long-term have generally been decided for the restoration of the natural environment and the economic recovery of Mauritius, I proposed the telephone talk in order to provide an overview of the support measures. Japan’s support measures were nearly in full alignment with Prime Minister Jugnauth’s requests. I believe we were able to have an excellent meeting. It was a great opportunity to explain Japan’s support measures directly to the leader of Mauritius.
Reporter: Could you tell us how early you expect the support measures to begin?
Minister MOTEGI: It will depend on the measure. For example, ensuring safety of navigation is not something that can be done immediately from tomorrow. Some measures will require conducting studies before the measures are developed. As for measures such as the provision of equipment to small-scale fishery communities that I mentioned earlier, we intend to advance them quickly.
Reporter: With regard to the supports for fishery communities which you just noted, some local newspapers reported that the Government of Mauritius has sought payment of 3.2 billion yen from the Government of Japan for fishery support expenses. Could you tell us if a specific amount was discussed during today’s meeting?
Minister MOTEGI: During today’s meeting, I provided an overview of Japan’s support measures, and Mauritius asked questions regarding the main pillars of the supports. We did not discuss precise numbers. I informed Japan’s basic view, and Prime Minister Jugnauth expressed appreciation for Japan’s intention to extend unprecedented supports, including financial aspects.
Reporter: You said the Prime Minister stated that Japan is not responsible for the accident. Does that mean the Prime Minister does not consider the Government of Japan to be responsible?
Minister MOTEGI: The Prime Minister stated that he considers Japan is not responsible for the accident. This was mentioned in the context of expressing his appreciation for Japan’s dispatches of JDR Expert Teams and other supports to date, as well as appreciation for proposing warm support measures today, including mid- and long-term supports for addressing environmental issues, recovering the economy, and ensuring safety of navigation.