Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu

Thursday, September 23, 2021, 4:46 p.m. The United States

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Good morning. On my second day of my visit to New York, I met with the foreign ministers of the Republic of Korea (ROK), Qatar, Russia, France, and Indonesia, as well as United Nations Secretary-General Guterres. After this, I will have a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan.

In the morning, I had a Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting for the first time since the meeting in London in May. Although the meeting with Foreign Minister Chung was scheduled to be 30 minutes, it ended up being 50 minutes, and we exchanged views in a more frank manner and in-depth than our previous meeting. Firstly, during our meeting, in light of the recent ballistic missile launches by North Korea, we agreed to continue close Japan-ROK cooperation toward the complete denuclearization of North Korea. We also had a frank exchange of views regarding bilateral relations. I firmly conveyed Japan’s consistent positions on the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula, the comfort women lawsuit judgment, and other bilateral issues. I again requested the ROK to take appropriate measures. Foreign Minister Chung and I agreed to accelerate communication, including talks between our diplomatic authorities, in order to restore healthy Japan-ROK relations and cooperate in extensive fields.

I had just met with the Foreign Minister Mohammed of Qatar, following the Strategic Dialogue I had with him in Doha during my recent visit to the Middle East. Qatar has certain influence over the Taliban within the international community. In the meeting, we concurred on the importance of ensuring inclusive political processes and the protection of human rights, including those of women, in Afghanistan. We also agreed to cooperate for the departure of related people from Afghanistan.

During the meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia, we discussed the issue of concluding a peace treaty, joint economic activities on the Four Northern Islands, the Four-Island Exchange Program, bilateral relations in the field of economy and other areas, and international affairs. I stated my intention to promote overall Japan-Russia relations in a broad range of fields, including the issue of concluding a peace treaty, in a mutually beneficial manner. Foreign Minister Lavrov and I shared the view that Japan and Russia will continue discussions at various opportunities in order to develop the overall relationship between Japan and Russia. We also exchanged views on North Korea. I asked for Minister Lavrov’s understanding and cooperation for the immediate resolution of the abductions issue and once again received support from Minister Lavrov.

During the meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Guterres, we exchanged views on responses to emerging challenges of the international community, referring to the Secretary-General’s recent report “Our Common Agenda.” We also exchanged views regarding the situations in North Korea, Afghanistan, and Myanmar. I stated that a unified message by the international community is important and that the UN has an important role in this regard, and we confirmed our close cooperation.

In the meeting with Foreign Minister Le Drian of France, I expressed high appreciation for and welcomed France’s increased engagement in the Indo-Pacific region as well as the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy. France is Japan’s valuable partner as an “Indo-Pacific nation.” I conveyed that Japan would like to continue our cooperation with France and the EU in the region.

Just a moment ago, I was meeting with Foreign Minister Retno of Indonesia. That is why this press conference was delayed. In addition to regional affairs such as Myanmar, North Korea, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea, we discussed novel coronavirus countermeasures and infrastructure cooperation. Particularly in regard to the situation in Myanmar, we exchanged views on recent developments including the activities of ASEAN Special Envoy Erywan, and agreed to continue to closely cooperate. In addition, Indonesia will hold the G20 presidency in 2022 as well as the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2023, which will mark the 50th anniversary of Japan-ASEAN Friendship and Cooperation. We confirmed that we will continue to jointly address regional and international issues.

After this, I will hold a meeting with Foreign Minister Qureshi of Pakistan. We will hold discussions focused on issues such as the situation in Afghanistan.

Although the spread of novel coronavirus is not over, various countries are expanding active diplomacy under the name of multilateralism. I felt anew by coming to the United Nations, the hub of multilateral diplomacy. I have met with over 10 foreign ministers during my visit. Based on the personal relationships I have built so far, I believe I was able to promote a diplomacy that strengthens the Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision and Japan’s position in the international community. That is all from me.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: I would like to ask about your meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia. During your meeting today, did you exchange views regarding the concept announced this month by President Putin of establishing a tariff-free zone in the Northern Territories? If so, what did you say? Please share with us.

Minister Motegi: I again conveyed Japan’s position regarding President Putin’s statement and others. I told Foreign Minister Lavrov that leaders of both Japan and Russia confirmed that the joint economic activities would be promoted in a manner that does not harm the legal position of either side, so we would like to promote accordingly.

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