Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Tuesday, April 27, 2021, 4:17 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Visit to Europe by Foreign Minister Motegi
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to speak about five matters today.
The first matter is about my overseas visits. If various circumstances permit, I will visit Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the United Kingdom, and Poland from the day after tomorrow, April 29, to May 8 before and after the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
The United Kingdom holds the presidency of the G7 this year while Italy holds the presidency of the G20, so Europe is serving as the stage for multilateral diplomacy. In addition, as discussions on the Indo-Pacific grow increasingly active in the EU, I believe it is extremely important to firmly show Japan’s presence in Europe at this timing.
In particular, the solidarity of the G7 is important. At the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting in the United Kingdom, I would like to hold frank exchanges of views with my counterparts from the G7 countries which share fundamental values, about regional situations, various issues of the international community, and other matters.
(2) ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting
Minister Motegi: The second matter is about the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting held last Saturday. I issued a Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs this morning. The Government of Japan welcomes the “Five-Point Consensus,” the result of the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting held on April 24th, as a step toward improving the situation in Myanmar, and highly values ASEAN’s efforts.
Moving forward, it is important to ensure that the “Consensus” will lead to concrete outcomes. If the extreme violence committed against Myanmar’s civilians by the Myanmar military continues, I believe it will unavoidably affect the movements of Japanese companies operating in Myanmar as well as future investment.
In cooperation with related countries including ASEAN, the Government of Japan will continue to strongly urge the Myanmar military to stop resorting to violence, release those who are detained, and restore Myanmar’s democratic political system.
(3) Diplomatic Bluebook 2021
Minister Motegi: The third matter is about the Diplomatic Bluebook. The Diplomatic Bluebook 2021 was distributed at the Cabinet meeting today. The Opening Special Features in this year’s Diplomatic Bluebook provide detailed explanations of our response to the novel coronavirus, particularly support for repatriating Japanese nationals abroad, assistance at an unprecedented speed for developing countries with vulnerable healthcare and medical systems, initiatives toward ensuring equitable access to vaccines, and other matters.
In addition, it also mentions U.S.-China relations that attracted major attention last year, initiatives toward realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” and economic diplomacy such as the Japan-U.K. Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) that entered into force last year.
The Diplomatic Bluebook can be viewed on MOFA’s website from today. In addition, printed copies are planned to be made available from the end of June. We expect that the Diplomatic Bluebook will deepen understanding in Japan and abroad about the diplomacy of Japan, which plays a leading role in shaping the post-novel coronavirus order and rule-making.
(4) “Last One Mile Support” for Developing Countries
Minister Motegi: The fourth matter is in relation to support for developing countries. Japan is promoting “Last One Mile Support” to boost building of cold chains to deliver vaccines to each and every person in developing countries.
As the first step of this, on March 9 Japan decided to implement support for Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, and Pacific island countries. The first batch of equipment – 500 vaccine transport containers – arrived in Sri Lanka last weekend.
In addition, as the second batch, today Japan decided to provide Emergency Grant Aid worth 4.2 billion yen for establishing cold chains and other matters to 31 countries in Africa and the LAC region.
Japan will continue to advance speedy support while leveraging our strengths.
(5) Port Visit in Japan by the U.K. Carrier Strike Group
Minister Motegi: Lastly, I would like to speak about the fifth matter in relation to the U.K. carrier strike group. Yesterday, the United Kingdom announced that the U.K. carrier strike group, centered on the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, would make a port visit in Japan. This is a representation of the United Kingdom’s “Indo-Pacific tilt.” Japan welcomes this as further promotion of security and defense cooperation between Japan and the United Kingdom, which has been deepening in recent years. We also welcome that a Dutch navy frigate will join in the U.K. carrier strike group and also plans to make a port visit in Japan. That is all from me.
Water Treated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) (Tweet by the Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
TBS, Kashimoto: I would like to ask about a tweet by the Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Yesterday night on his personal Twitter account, Spokesperson Zhao Lijian of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a tweet that seemed to mock the policy on the release into the ocean of ALPS treated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. He has been making provocative tweets through now while serving in his position as Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If you have seen this tweet, please tell us your frank impression and whether you will convey any sort of view to China about the tweet.
Minister Motegi: I have seen the tweet. However, I will not comment as Minister for Foreign Affairs on tweets made at the spokesperson level one by one. We immediately issued a severe protest about this matter and requested the deletion of the tweet through diplomatic channels.
Diplomatic Bluebook 2021 (Reaction by the Republic of Korea (ROK))
TV Asahi, Sato: I would like to ask about the Diplomatic Bluebook. In response to the announcement of Japan’s Diplomatic Bluebook, the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs asserted that Takeshima is clearly the inherent territory of the ROK and summoned Minister SOMA Hirohisa to protest. Please tell us your reaction to the response by the ROK side. Also, in relation to the comfort women issue, the ROK has requested that Japan act in compliance to the spirit of apology and remorse. Due to this response by the Government of the ROK, how will you lead the resolution of the issues between Japan and the ROK going forward?
Minister Motegi: Today, we received a protest from the ROK side about descriptions in the Diplomatic Bluebook related to the ROK, including about Takeshima and the comfort women issue. However, we objected that the ROK’s protest is unacceptable based on Japan’s consistent position.
Japan-ROK relations are in an unprecedentedly difficult situation due to the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula, the comfort women issue, and other such issues. At the same time, I believe that Japan-ROK cooperation as well as Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation are essential, including for responding to North Korea.
Situation in Palestine
Pan Orient News, Azhari: Japan has been one of the biggest supporters for the Palestinians and the Middle East Peace Process. It called on Israel many times to withdraw from occupied territory. Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian civilians recently and are still clashing in East Jerusalem, and seems to be supporting the provocation acts of illegal Israel settlers around the Al-Aqsa Mosque. What is Japan’s position on the latest developments?
Minister Motegi: Japan is deeply concerned about the recent rising of tensions and accompanying harm to civilians in Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and neighboring regions. We condemn the attacks on civilians by rocket launches from the Gaza Strip.
Japan is convinced that the issues between the parties concerned in Israel and Palestine can only be resolved through negotiations between the parties concerned and efforts to build mutual trust, and will absolutely not be resolved through violence.