Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary YOSHIDA Tomoyuki
Wednesday, March 24, 2021, 3:48 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Statement by Next Commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) (Taiwan)
Asahi Shimbun, Abe: I would like to ask a question in relation to Taiwan. During his testimony to the U.S. Congress, Commander Davidson of the USINDOPACOM stated that the threat to Taiwan could manifest in the next six years. What is the Government of Japan’s perception of this statement? Also, does the Government of Japan share this sense of crisis with the U.S. side?
Mr. YOSHIDA Tomoyuki, Press Secretary: I believe your question is about the statement made by Commander John Aquilino of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, who has been nominated to be the next Commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
I do not know the full statement made in the hearing, so I cannot reply about the details. But I have heard that such a statement was made. As I have repeatedly stated through now, the Government of Japan has held the consistent position that we expect that the situation concerning Taiwan will be resolved peacefully through direct dialogue among the parties concerned. Based on this, Japan and the United States exchanged views and information, including about the current situation surrounding Taiwan, during the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (Japan-U.S. “2+2”) last week.
As a result, Japan and the United States agreed on our recognition of the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which was included in the Joint Statement.
Accordingly, Japan and the United States share basic recognition of cross-strait relations. However, individual statements are a separate matter, and I would like to refrain from commenting.
Kyodo News, Asada: In relation to Commander Aquilino’s statement, he also stated in the hearing that he would request capacity building by Japan in the security field.
This can be said to show the Biden administration’s stance on cooperating with Japan on responding to China going forward. What is your reaction to this statement? Also, I believe that there will be cases of Japan negotiating with the United States in the security field going forward, so how does Japan intend to meet the expectations of the United States?
Press Secretary Yoshida: In relation to the first question, I do not know the full context and details of the statement in the hearing made by Commander Aquilino, who is nominated to be the next commander of the USINDOPACOM, so I would like to refrain from commenting. However, in relation to the Government of Japan, I believe Commander Aquilino spoke about the need to continue to invest in improvements to missile defense, air dominance, and ISR capabilities with the Self Defense Force, and the need to together implement and utilize joint exercises while enhancing Japan’s capabilities. I believe you are referring to that segment of Commander Aquilino’s statement.
If I were to say anything further, it would be that we recognize that within the current severe security environment surrounding the region, Japan strengthening its defense capabilities and enhancing capabilities to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance are important matters now.
As I stated earlier, during the Japan-U.S. “2+2” held last week, we shared this recognition and confirmed that we will work to implement Japan-U.S. joint exercises, deepen cross-domain cooperation including for the new space and cyber domains, and strengthen extended deterrence.
We believe we will be accelerating consultations and cooperation with the United States regarding the further strengthening of deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance based on the recognition we share with the Biden administration that I mentioned.
Going forward, I believe we will advance work to add specific consideration of such matters between the authorities of our two countries based on the confirmed matters and discussions during the Japan-U.S. “2+2” this time.
Japan-U.S. “2+2” (China’s Objection)
Sankei Shimbun, Tamura: In response to the Joint Statement for the “2+2” that you just mentioned, Zhao Lijian, the Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, strongly criticized it on March 17 by saying that Japan is the strategic vassal of the United States and that Japan broke faith and harmed relations with China, among other statements. Please tell us your reaction to this and how the Government of Japan has responded.
Press Secretary Yoshida: I am aware that after the “2+2” during a regular press conference of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on I believe March 17, the Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a statement like you just asked about. We will make clear that the content of the statement, including the phrases he used, is completely unacceptable.
Japan has taken various opportunities, including the recent Joint Statement of the Japan-U.S. “2+2,” to convey its thoughts to the international community. We have lodged our objections to China that such actions are unacceptable and conveyed our basic recognition through diplomatic channels.
If I were to say anything further, it would be that the Japan-U.S. Alliance is the cornerstone of Japan's diplomacy and security, as well as the cornerstone of the peace, stability, and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region beyond that. This is accurately stated in the Joint Statement. I believe that the Indo-Pacific region has probably become the most important region in the world now.
Based on this recognition, Japan and the United States agreed to promote the rules-based international order during the “2+2” this time, and confirmed that Japan would not only cooperate with the United States but also with like-minded countries that share the same views.
In this way, this will spread in a context not just limited to Japan and the United States. Accordingly, I believe you should recognize that China’s statement that you asked about is not pertinent.
On the other hand, China is the world’s second largest economy and Japan is the third, and both our countries are located in the Indo-Pacific region, which is an important space as I just mentioned. Accordingly, Japan believes that our countries naturally share a responsibility to jointly work on issues faced by the region.
Japan believes it is important for both Japan and China to fulfill their responsibilities and meet the expectations of the international community in accordance with the rules of the international community. Additionally, there are various unresolved issues, such as the situation of the East China Sea, between Japan and China. There are also situations in China which the international community is concerned about. Japan’s view on this is that we will firmly assert what we should assert, resolve the pending issues one by one, and strongly request China to take specific actions, including during high-level opportunities.
I wanted to take this opportunity to re-clarify those points in response to your question.
Asahi Shimbun, Abe: I believe that it is naturally the position of Japan to say that the term “vassal” is completely unacceptable, as you stated. I understand Japan’s position in response to the official spokesperson of China calling Japan the extreme phrase “vassal.” Has Japan lodged a protest or something similar that it is rude to use such an extreme word?
Press Secretary Yoshida: I have spoken about Japan’s view in detail, so I will not repeat myself. It is difficult for me to guess what the Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had in mind when he made his statement. However as a person with the same job, I would not use such phrases in public settings.
Having said that, we are objecting to China that such a statement is completely unacceptable, and are conveying our views on the “2+2” and China’s statement though diplomatic channels. I will not say how we specifically phrased our objection, but we would like to expect that the Government of China will fully understand our objection