Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Friday, May 28, 2021, 1:48 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: This morning, the deliberations in the plenary session of the House of Councillors were moved to an earlier time, and the approval of MOFA’s treaties and investment agreements was conducted earlier. I apologize that the time for this press conference was suddenly moved to this afternoon.
(1) Emergency Grant Aid for India
Minister Motegi: I would firstly like to report about two matters related to Emergency Grant Aid.
The first matter is that today, the Government of Japan decided to extend Emergency Grant Aid of approximately $14.8 million to India.
This assistance is part of the additional grant assistance of up to $50 million that I recently told External Affairs Minister Jaishankar about in London. Specifically, based on the request for additional support from the Government of India, this assistance will provide 1,000 ventilators and 2,000 oxygen concentrators. As a result, 1,800 ventilators and 2,800 oxygen concentrators in total will be provided to India through a series of recent Japanese assistance.
(2) Developments in Israel and Palestine (Assistance in the Gaza Strip)
Minister Motegi: The other matter is support for Palestine. Due to the situation in Israel and Palestine, I held focused telephone talks respectively with the foreign ministers of Israel, Palestine, and Jordan the day before yesterday and yesterday. I urged that efforts be made to ease tensions through a lasting ceasefire, and held exchanges of views regarding emergency support in the Gaza Strip and other matters.
Due to the recent clashes, major damage has occurred in the Gaza Strip. Various needs for support have arisen, such as medical and health care needs, including novel coronavirus countermeasures, and food assistance needs. I have issued instructions for Japan to quickly implement humanitarian reconstruction efforts to meet those needs. As the first part of this, we will advance coordination to implement Emergency Grant Aid of up to $10 million through international organizations.
Japan will continue to play an active role, including for ongoing confidence building measures among the parties concerned toward a two-state solution regarding the Middle East Peace Process, and providing emergency assistance and reconstruction support later in the Gaza Strip. That is all from me.
Provision of Vaccines to Taiwan
Jiji Press, Echigo: I would like to ask about provision of vaccines to Taiwan. According to some reports, Japan will provide AstraZeneca vaccines to Taiwan, which is struggling to procure vaccines. Please tell us if that is true as well as about the status of coordination within the Government.
Minister Motegi: Japan believes that it is important to ensure equitable access to safe, effective vaccines in all countries and regions toward achieving Universal Health Coverage. Japan will cohost the COVAX AMC Summit next week. Prime Minister Suga and I will attend and plan to call on the international community to cooperate toward achieving that.
Based on this perspective, we will swiftly conduct consideration and decide on a specific policy on the ideal way to provide excess vaccines beyond the number of people eligible for vaccines in Japan to other countries and regions that currently have a shortage of vaccines.
I believe it is well-known in Japan that during the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake 10 years ago, Taiwan immediately began to collect contributions and provided various forms of support. Although Taiwan has managed to control novel coronavirus infections considerably effectively since last year, recently infections have been spreading. I believe that the vaccine production system will be considerably established by around July. However, in the stage before then, there is a shortage of vaccines. We will firmly conduct consideration on this while thinking about the situations in respective regions, our relations with various countries, and other matters.
Detainment by the Chinese Authorities of Professor Yuan Keqin of the Hokkaido University of Education
Hokkaido Shimbun, Furuta: As of tomorrow, it will have been two years since former Professor Yuan Keqin of the Hokkaido University of Education was detained by Chinese authorities. A Chinese lawyer has conveyed that he held an interview with Professor Yuan in early May. Has the Government of Japan confirmed his safety? Beyond that as well, his family and friends are strongly urging for him to be released, so is the Government of Japan working toward his release?
Minister Motegi: Professor Yuan Keqin worked for many years in education at a Japanese university. We are monitoring this matter with interest. However, I would like to refrain from commenting any further due to the nature of the matter.