Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary YOSHIDA Tomoyuki

Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 3:46 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Appointment of Foreign Deputy Press Secretary ONO Hikariko as Cabinet Public Relations Secretary

Asahi Shimbun, Abe: Today, it was announced that Foreign Deputy Press Secretary ONO Hikariko has been appointed as Cabinet Public Relations Secretary. What is your assessment of Ms. Ono’s work style thus far, and what do you think her strengths are?

Mr. YOSHIDA Tomoyuki, Press Secretary: Ms. ONO Hikariko has served as Deputy Assistant Minister while I have been Press Secretary. She has been appointed Cabinet Public Relations Secretary, and I believe her CV and other materials are being distributed to you. As will be clear if you read the materials, Ms. Ono has served in posts such as Director of the Public Diplomacy Strategy Division in the Minister’s Secretariat and Deputy Cabinet Press Secretary. She also served as Spokesperson of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Until today, she was Foreign Deputy Press Secretary and Deputy Assistant Minister of the Minister’s Secretariat.

In this way, she has a very long history and much expertise in public relations and press-related work. She will surely take an active role in public relations work to domestically and externally convey the important policies of the Cabinet.

I knew Ms. Ono from the time she entered MOFA. As you can see, she has an extremely good-natured personality, has become close with a variety of people, and in that sense has displayed her ability for building personal connections.

This is actually my first post related to public relations and the press. In that sense, I took every opportunity to ask for opinions and consult with Ms. Ono, who was at the time Deputy Assistant Minister. She provided me with firm, accurate advice. I therefore expect that she will fully show her strengths in her new post as well.

NHK, Watanabe: I would like to ask some questions in relation to the question asked just now. On the other hand, what is your view on the successor for the Cabinet Public Relations Secretary post coming from MOFA amidst the difficult situation in which former Cabinet Public Relations Secretary Yamada resigned due to the recent series of scandals? I believe this is a time when people are paying attention. Won’t she carry a heavy burden during this difficult time when the administration has been shaken amidst the issue of the scandal of her predecessor?

Press Secretary Yoshida: As this is a matter of human resources, there are aspects that are quite difficult to comment on. However, as I just stated, Cabinet Public Relations Secretary Ono who will newly serve in that post has much experience and many capabilities. In that sense, I believe she is truly the right person for the job.

Although there is currently a difficult situation now as you pointed out, I expect that Cabinet Public Relations Secretary Ono will play an active role because she will fully show a sincere approach to ethics, public service rules, and government work, as a government official.

Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Relations (President’s Address at the March First Independence Movement Day Ceremony)

Asahi Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about the address given by President Moon Jae-in of the ROK. In the press conference yesterday, Foreign Minister Motegi stated that it is difficult to make an assessment with merely a statement of the ROK’s stance to seek to resolve the issues . However, in his address, President Moon mentioned Japan-ROK relations much more than his addresses last year and the year before last, and the positive phrases stand out. I believe that Japan can interpret that aspect positively, so can you tell us your thoughts on this?

Press Secretary Yoshida: President Moon Jae-in gave an address at the March First Independence Movement Day Ceremony. I am aware that the address included phrases that seem to indicate a forward-looking sentiment concerning Japan-ROK relations. Japan and the ROK are important neighboring countries to one another, and our relationship has been that we should build up good relations based on that position. Nevertheless, Japan-ROK relations are in a very difficult situation now. I believe that Foreign Minister Motegi provided a detailed explanation on this point yesterday. Firstly, if the ROK’s sentiments on Japan-ROK relations are as President Moon stated, then we would like the ROK to take an appropriate response to restore a sound state of relations so that such positive sentiments become a reality.

Of course, there is no change to Japan’s stance of maintaining communication between our diplomatic authorities in order to restore a sound state of Japan-ROK relations.

Asahi Shimbun, Abe: I have a related question. In that case, is Japan’s stance that it is difficult to appreciate such a forward-looking message from President Moon as long as the ROK does not indicate any specific solutions for issues such as the judgment in the comfort women lawsuit?

Press Secretary Yoshida: As stated in regard to Japan-ROK relations now, there are layers, agreements and international commitments between our two countries, including the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula and the comfort women issue, which you mentioned. The ROK is currently not abiding by the agreements it made with Japan on those issues. It is naturally a prerequisite for countries to abide by agreements. Japan-ROK relations are currently in a difficult situation because the ROK is not properly implementing the agreements.

Therefore, rather than whether or not we appreciate President Moon’s address, we would like the ROK to make efforts if the country wants to indicate a forward-looking stance on Japan-ROK relations. As I just stated, Japan’s consistent position has been that the prerequisite is for the ROK to quickly remedy the situation of its breach of international law and the agreements between our countries.

Appointment of Foreign Deputy Press Secretary ONO Hikariko as Cabinet Public Relations Secretary

TBS, Kashimoto: I would like to return to the subject of Ms. Ono. For the decision on her appointment, did you speak with her? If you did, please tell us about the circumstances and what you spoke about to the extent possible.

Press Secretary Yoshida: The letter of appointment has not been received yet, so I would like to refrain from speaking in much detail. Ms. Ono of course came to work at MOFA this morning, and I exchanged words with her and said I would like her to work hard in her new position. I believe that the letter of appointment will be delivered later, so I would like her to proceed to her new post after receiving it.

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