Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Tuesday, April 6, 2021, 3:05 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk
Asahi Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about the Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting yesterday. The statement issued by China says that State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi opposed Japan’s interference in China’s internal affairs involving Xinjiang and Hong Kong. What was specifically communicated involving interference in China’s internal affairs? Also, please tell us how you objected.
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I held a telephone talk with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi for about one and a half hour yesterday from 6 p.m. The telephone talk went considerably over the scheduled time, but I believe we had an extremely frank, substantive discussion.
During the telephone talk, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and I confirmed the importance of Japan and China together contributing to the region and international community as responsible major powers. We expressed our expectations for advancing exchanges and dialogues in a wide variety of fields toward the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China next year.
I again conveyed serious concerns regarding intrusions into Japan’s territorial waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands by the Chinese Coast Guard, China’s Coast Guard Law, the situation in the South China Sea, the situation surrounding Hong Kong, and the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and strongly requested China to take concrete actions.
For such diplomatic communication, I believe that basically the Japanese side announces what discussions were conducted, while the Chinese side announces China’s positions. I believe that China explained its basic positions and views. But at the very least, our telephone talk was certainly not like the situation in Alaska.
In addition, I strongly reiterated the call for the prompt removal of import restrictions on Japanese food products.
Furthermore, we held a frank exchange of views regarding economic relations between Japan and China, international situations including North Korea and Myanmar, and various issues faced by the international community such as the novel coronavirus and climate change.
We agreed that international cooperation is extremely important for the situation in Myanmar. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi again stated that China will cooperate in regard to North Korea and the abductions issue. We also agreed to advance Japan-China cooperation on climate change.
The telephone talk this time was proposed by China, and was held yesterday as a result of coordination on the schedule. As I have stated through now, there has been no change to Japan’s position of utilizing high-level opportunities to firmly assert what should be asserted, resolve pending issues one by one, and request China to take concrete actions.
Plans for Vaccination in Relation to Minister Motegi’s Overseas Visits
TV Tokyo, Kato: When he was asked about vaccination for overseas visits by Cabinet ministers during his press conference today, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato answered that it is planned to provide vaccination against the novel coronavirus in advance to related people who are thought to be necessary to vaccinate.
I would like to ask you about this.
Minister Motegi: Excuse me, I have not heard the press conference. Could you state your question more precisely?
TV Tokyo, Kato: Yes, I will. Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato answered that it is planned to provide vaccination against the novel coronavirus in advance to related people who are thought to be necessary to vaccinate. I would like to ask you about this. Please tell us your current plans for getting vaccinated.
Minister Motegi: It is usually difficult to make time for overseas visits when the Diet is in session. Coordination is currently being conducted on overseas visits, so I would like to get vaccinated going forward, as stated by the Chief Cabinet Secretary, from the perspective of taking full measures against the novel coronavirus. I plan to get the vaccine.
The Obama Administration’s Nuclear Policy
Tokyo Shimbun, Ueno: I would like to ask about the Obama administration’s consideration on a “No First Use” declaration on nuclear weapons. A former high official in the Government of the United States stated in an interview with the Tokyo Shimbun that the United States decided not to make the declaration due to opposition by Japan. Can you please tell us whether this actually happened and the facts of the matter?
Minister Motegi: Japan and the United States constantly conduct close, broad exchanges of views regarding various matters related to security and defense cooperation between our two countries. We have been conducting close communication on nuclear deterrence policy, including during the period of the Obama administration. I would like to refrain from answering about the details of our communication as this is an issue concerning Japan’s security.
Tokyo Shimbun, Ueno: I have a related question. In that case, to ask you a general question, can you please tell us your opinion on how the Government of Japan would view and react to the United States considering a “No First Use” declaration?
Minister Motegi: I do not believe that the “No First Use” declaration that the United States was thinking of or considering – I do not know how best to phrase it – was completely without conditions.
Speaking completely generally, I do not believe it would be significant unless all nuclear-weapon states did this simultaneously in a verifiable manner. However, at the present point there is no verification method whatsoever in terms of the intentions of the countries concerned, so it would be difficult to rely on the concept of “No First Use” and fully protect Japan’s security.
Situation in Jordan
Pan Orient News, Azhari: I would like to move on to the Middle East. There were some developments in Jordan. The King seems to have ordered some arrangement toward former crown prince. Now the situation seems to have stabilized. I wonder what Japan’s position is on this issue, because the United States made a statement that they are closely watching the situation. Japan and Jordan enjoy very strong friendly relations, so what is your comment on this?
Minister Motegi: We will continue to monitor the future developments concerning the series of measures regarding the former Crown Prince and the other people concerned.
Jordan is a strategic partner of Japan, and an important country for realizing stability in the Middle East.
I visited Baghdad twice during the Iraq War via Amman both times, for example. Jordan is an extremely important country for the stability of the Middle East. We will continue to work toward the peace and stability of the Middle East while closely collaborating and cooperating with Jordan.
Situation in Myanmar (Sanctions Against the Myanmar Military)
Asahi Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask about the situation in Myanmar. During the meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives last week, regarding sanctions, you stated that it would be simple if imposing sanctions would immediately resolve the situation. Is it correct to understand that you think the method of sanctions against the Myanmar military would not lead to restoration of the democratic political system?
Minister Motegi: I believe I gave a considerably careful explanation regarding this issue during the Committee meeting. At any rate, I believe that we should aim for the calming down of the situation must and that the democratic political system must be restored.
If we think about sanctions, there are various kinds. For example, there are severe sanctions restricting all transactions such as the complete sanctions on North Korea based on the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and sanctions that are not like that. Amidst this, what would be most effective to urge or, to put it another way, pressure the Myanmar military? I believe it is extremely important to consider what would be most effective from the perspective of what we want Myanmar to become, as I stated earlier. My conviction on that has not changed.