Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Friday, October 16, 2020, 11:20 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Negotiations on Host Nation Support for the U.S. Forces Japan
Yomiuri Shimbun, MORIYAMA: I would like to ask about Host Nation Support (HNS) for the U.S. Forces Japan. I believe that the full-fledged consultations between the Japanese and U.S. authorities will begin for the framework from 2021. Can you please tell us how you view the current burden of expenses and expenditure items, including whether they are appropriate?
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Coordination is currently being conducted between Japan and the United States about when to start the next negotiations and in what format. If I were to say anything further, it would be that as the security environment surrounding Japan grows increasingly severe, I believe the Japan-U.S. Alliance based on the Japan-U.S. security arrangements has an indispensable presence for not only the defense of Japan but also the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.
Furthermore, as the targets of security policies expand to new domains such as cyber and outer space, and such threats also expand, I believe the roles that Japan and the United States both must play have expanded.
Additionally, as the stationing of the U.S. Forces in Japan is a core component of the Japan-U.S. security arrangements, I believe HNS has played an important role for ensuring the seamless and effective activities of the U.S. Forces Japan. When we conduct the next negotiations, we will appropriately respond based on the increasingly severe regional security situation and Japan’s severe financial situation. However, I believe that the current HNS for the U.S. Forces Japan is appropriately divided based on the agreement between the governments of Japan and the United States.
Kyodo News, NAKATA: I would like to ask a related question. In relation to the Special Measures Agreement (SMA) that negotiations will start for, as both Japan and the United States utilize the Japan-U.S. Alliance going forward, what do you think the appropriate form of the SMA would be?
Minister MOTEGI: The negotiations will be conducted going forward. I would like to refrain from answering because commenting about Japan’s specific policy, procedure, and content for the negotiations would of course affect the negotiations.
The United States’ 5G Clean Path
Nikkei Shimbun, KATO: In relation to the Clean Network program for the telecommunications field advocated by the United States, there are some reports that Japan conveyed that it would not participate. Please tell us if that is true.
Minister MOTEGI: During my recent Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with Secretary of State Pompeo, although we did not discuss the Clean Network program in relation to cybersecurity, Secretary of State Pompeo did explain the United States’ general initiatives. I stated that Japan would like to deepen cooperation with the United States in this field, and that Japan supports the basic concept of the 5G Clean Path Initiative on securing safe communication between diplomatic facilities.
In addition, ensuring cybersecurity through supply chain risk countermeasures, including for procurement of telecommunications equipment, is extremely important for the international community, including Japan. Japan will continue to strengthen cooperation in the cybersecurity field with the United States.
Overseas Visits by Prime Minister Suga (Viet Nam, Indonesia)
Economic Monthly, Susilo: Prime Minister Suga plans to visit Indonesia the day after tomorrow. Indonesia is currently in a serious situation regarding the novel coronavirus. You might not have heard, but has Prime Minister Suga been injected with a vaccine before leaving? Also, will you be accompanying Prime Minister Suga?
Minister MOTEGI: A vaccine?
Economic Monthly, Susilo: Yes, a vaccine. A vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
Minister MOTEGI: Excuse me, has a vaccine for the novel coronavirus been completed? Do you mean a PCR test, not a vaccine?
Economic Monthly, Susilo: As a countermeasure.
Minister MOTEGI: Firstly, the final coordination is currently being conducted on the schedule for Prime Minister Suga’s visits to Indonesia and Viet Nam. For overseas visits, as is true for me, I believe it is important to take complete countermeasures, including PCR tests as well as limiting travel and not having any contact with general people at the destination.
Those countermeasures will of course be taken. One of the utmost priorities for Japan’s diplomacy is ensuring regional as well as global peace and prosperity through realizing a free and open order based on the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific region. ASEAN is positioned centrally in the region and is key for initiatives toward realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”
From this perspective, Prime Minister Suga will visit Viet Nam, which holds the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020, and Indonesia, a major country in ASEAN that you mentioned. I believe it is very significant that Prime Minister Suga will directly visit those countries and confirm strengthening of cooperation at the summit level with Prime Minister Phuc and President Joko.
Border Enforcement Measures by the Hawaii State Government
TBS, MORIKAWA: I would like to ask about cross-border travel between Japan and Hawaii. The Hawaii state government has stated that it will exempt Japanese tourists and others from its 14-day quarantine measure. Regarding the approach to negotiations between the Hawaii state government and the Government of Japan, if Hawaii relaxes its measure, can you please tell us if Japan will consider some sort of reciprocal relaxation of measures?
Minister MOTEGI: To get back on track for economic recovery going forward, I believe it is extremely important to advance allowing resumption of cross-border travel in a way that balances prevention of the spread of the novel coronavirus. We have allowed phased resumption of cross-border travel through initiatives such as the “Residence Track” and the “Business Track” thus far with Thailand, Vietnam, and other countries and regions.
As emphasized in doing so, we will make decisions while having to conduct comprehensive consideration of matters such as novel coronavirus infection conditions in the country or region, business needs, and the needs for cross-border travel.
I am certainly aware of the response by Hawaii. On the other hand, I believe that the number of people infected with the novel coronavirus per 10,000 people in Hawaii is about 30 times that of Japan. Therefore, we must think about that situation when conducting consideration.
Visit to Yasukuni Shrine (Annual Autumn Festival)
Kyodo News, NAKATA: The Annual Autumn Festival at Yasukuni Shrine will be held tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Will you visit the shrine and offer a masakaki tree? Also, please tell us the reason.
Minister MOTEGI: I have received the same question in spring and autumn for many years and have given the same answer. Do you know what it is?
(Indication of yes by reporter)