Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Tuesday, June 15, 2021, 10:16 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Provision of Vaccines by Japan
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to make one announcement. It is about Japan’s provision of vaccines to various countries.
To ensure equitable access to vaccines around the world, at the same time as conducting provision and distribution of vaccines through international organizations that have received financial contributions secured at the recent COVAX AMC Summit, I believe that provision of vaccines themselves is also extremely important as needs are growing.
Japan has received requests for vaccine provision from various countries and regions up until now. As the first part of our vaccine provision, Japan provided 1.24 million vaccine doses to Taiwan free of charge on June 4. Based on novel coronavirus infection conditions and the situation of vaccinations, Japan recently decided to provide about one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in Japan to Viet Nam free of charge. It is planned to ship the vaccines from Japan tomorrow, June 16, and for them to arrive in Viet Nam on the same day.
I would like to express respect to the people concerned who recently cooperated to realize the provision of the vaccines, including AstraZeneca plc.
Continuing on from this, if various circumstances permit, we will provide vaccines manufactured in Japan to Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia, which I believe would begin from early July. Coordination will be advanced for this going forward. We will also consider additional provision of vaccines to Taiwan, Viet Nam, and others.
In regard to vaccine provision to other countries and regions, based on the situation of the global spread of novel coronavirus variants and delays in vaccine provision, we will conduct consideration taking into account various aspects such as domestic vaccine manufacturing conditions, infection conditions in various countries and regions, and vaccine needs.
Furthermore, going forward we would like to provide vaccines not only on a bilateral basis as I just mentioned, but also through multilateral provision through COVAX, if conditions are met such as receiving WHO approval regarding the provided vaccines, and by advancing coordination with COVAX. That is all from me.
Provision of Vaccines by Japan
NHK, Yamamoto: Regarding provision of vaccines which you just explained, is speed a focus in sending vaccines directly to various countries rather than via COVAX?
Minister Motegi: Basically, that is true. Also, Viet Nam as well as Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia which I just mentioned all have contracts with AstraZeneca plc, so coordination can be conducted relatively swiftly. The process, such as receiving approval, takes a little time for vaccine provision through international organizations, so we are taking the method of direct vaccine provision with a focus on speed to these countries that have vaccine shortages and extremely severe infection conditions.
Nikkei Shimbun, Tobita: I would like to ask another question about vaccine provision. You mentioned previously that recipient countries would be considered on infection conditions as well as their relations with Japan. Viet Nam, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia were selected for provision this time. Please tell us what was taken into consideration in terms of their relations with Japan.
Minister Motegi: The countries that were considered and that coordination has begun for are ASEAN countries. Although infections had been low in Thailand and some other countries, they have begun to spread considerably. The situation in Malaysia is considerably severe.
ASEAN and Japan have had extremely important relations through now. Furthermore, ASEAN countries are also extremely important for realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” which Japan advocates and various countries are promoting. We made decisions on recipient countries based on comprehensive consideration of aspects including domestic infection conditions, local vaccine shortages, and their relations with Japan.
Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Relations (Contact Between the Leaders of Japan and the ROK during the G7 Summit)
Dong-a Ilbo, Kim: I would like to ask about a Japan-ROK Summit Meeting at the G7 Summit. According to Japanese media reports today, both governments…
Minister Motegi: Excuse me. You said, “According to Japanese media reports.”
Dong-a Ilbo, Kim: Yes. Both governments at the Summit.
Minister Motegi: What?
Dong-a Ilbo, Kim: Both governments.
Minister Motegi: Both governments.
Dong-a Ilbo, Kim: Yes. Both governments had discussed how to have contact between the leaders of Japan and the ROK before the G7 Summit. There are also reports that Prime Minister Suga prepared a question and answer summary concerning President Moon Jae-in. So did Prime Minister Suga himself decide at the Summit not to hold an informal conversation or meeting with President Moon? Please tell us if that is true.
Minister Motegi: Firstly, the reports you mentioned are clearly mistaken. Reports about a meeting being prepared in advance came from the ROK and are not true. We are clearly lodging a protest.
As I stated in my last press conference, there was limited time on the fringes of this G7 Summit, so it was particularly difficult to take time to meet the leaders of the outreach countries. There are various possibilities for holding informal conversations, but time is not allotted for possible informal conversations with various countries. The leaders are in the same venue, so it is possible that they would naturally greet each other a little if they came close, which is what actually happened.
NHK, Yamamoto: Please tell us your overall assessment of the G7 Summit. Also, you were present at the G7 Summit held in 2019 in France, and I believe that compared to then, this time there were many points of agreement and outcomes. What is your analysis of the background for the strengthening of international cooperation among the G7?
Minister Motegi: The G7 countries shared recognitions on various aspects such as the importance of multilateralism and international cooperation, including on the global spread of novel coronavirus infections. The G7 Summit was held in-person for the first time in two years since the G7 Summit in Biarritz. In those two years, various global issues have occurred including the novel coronavirus. The leaders conducted frank exchanges of views amidst these issues as well as major changes in climate change, the free economy, the globally economy, free trade, and regional situations. I believe that those outcomes were firmly incorporated in the message of the G7 Summit Communiqué .
During the discussions spanning three days, Prime Minister Suga further deepened relationships of mutual trust with G7 leaders, actively contributed to discussions regarding important issues of the international community, and led frank discussions between the leaders. I met with Prime Minister Suga recently at the Prime Minister’s Office, and he said that the leaders had extremely positive reactions.
Japan participated as the only G7 member from Asia. The G7 announced its clear shared views regarding various issues, including the important issues that had outcomes at the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting such as realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” and the increasingly severe regional situation. Due to this, I believe that a good Communiqué was compiled.