Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu

Tuesday, October 5, 2021, 10:51 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

(Video) Press Conference by Foreign Minister Motegi
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

Aspirations as Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Following my service as Minister for Foreign Affairs in Abe Cabinet and Suga Cabinet, it has been decided that I will serve in the same capacity in Kishida Cabinet. I would appreciate your continued support.

Face-to-face diplomacy has been limited for about a year and a half due to the global spread of the novel coronavirus. However, over the past two years, I have had over 200 telephone talks and online video teleconferences.

In addition, beginning with the Japan-U.K. Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations in London in August 2020, I have visited 52 countries and regions including in Europe, North America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean region. I have forged personal relationships of trust with the foreign ministers of various countries and developed “diplomacy with both tolerance and strength.”

Firstly, for the globally important issue of novel coronavirus countermeasures and equitable access to vaccines, Japan cohosted the COVAX AMC Summit on June 2. In addition, Japan continued our provision of vaccines to Southeast Asian countries, Pacific Island countries, and others. After the vaccines reached those countries and regions, Japan also actively advanced “Last One Mile Support” to deliver vaccines to vaccination sites. These efforts by Japan have been highly appreciated around the world. We will continue to play an active role in overcoming the novel coronavirus.

Even if vaccinations proceed and infections fall to a certain extent in developed countries, there is still a risk of resurgence of the infections if vaccinations do not proceed in other countries and virus remains. We will promote initiatives that include support for developing countries based on the idea that “no one is safe until everyone is safe.”

On the other hand, if we turn our attention to the regional security environment, we see that the security environment surrounding Japan is growing increasingly severe, including North Korea’s recent nuclear and missile activities as well as unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea, including near the Senkaku Islands.

In addition, in terms of the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) that Japan advocates, the Indo-Pacific region is truly a global growth center, but at the same time the power balance is rapidly changing in the region. Amidst this development, since assuming my position as Minister for Foreign Affairs, I have worked to build firm relationships of personal trust between Japan and the United States, including with Secretary of State Blinken, and to strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance, which is the linchpin of Japan’s diplomacy and security.

To add, Prime Minister Kishida promptly had a telephone talk with President Biden today. It was an extremely frank telephone talk lasting for 20 minutes. It seems that Prime Minister Kishida met with then-Vice President Biden several times when he was the Minister for Foreign Affairs during the Obama administration. They have decided to call each other by their first names, “Joe” and “Fumio,” from now on. I want them to deepen this relationship of personal trust. We will work to strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance while making national security policies more strategic and systematic.

In addition, the FOIP vision promoted by Japan is expanding in various ways. We will further expand fields of cooperation, including with the Quad consisting of Japan, Australia, India, and the United States, as well as ASEAN and Europe, toward realizing the vision based on fundamental values including democracy, the rule of law, and human rights.

Such cooperation includes infrastructure development until this day, and has expanded to include various fields including everything from maritime security to vaccine cooperation, climate change cooperation, and cooperation in increasing supply chain resilience. We will expand the fields of cooperation, and create various cooperation frameworks and collaborate.

Japan’s relations with neighboring countries are also important. It is true that there are difficult issues, but that is precisely the reason why we are continuing high-level communication with China, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia, and others. Amidst this situation, we will firmly state what should be stated, and work on building stable relations while managing the issues.

In the economic field, Japan has truly shown leadership for expanding free, open, and fair economic zones, including the conclusion of the TPP, the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement, the Japan-U.K. EPA, and the RCEP, as well as for making new rules in the digital field. I believe that various countries appreciate this. The 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) and other such meetings are scheduled to be convened soon. We will continue to strongly advance economic diplomacy that is unique to Japan. Furthermore, given that our age of economy has been changing, I believe we must create various new rules and systems suitable for the new 21st century global economy.

With regards to climate change, Japan is advancing domestic initiatives aiming to be “carbon neutral” by 2050 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 46% by 2030. We will also cooperate with the international community to firmly work on responding to the global issue of strengthening initiatives toward achieving the SDGs.

In addition, under the new Kishida administration, being the only country to have experienced wartime atomic bombing, I believe Japan must firmly play a role of leading nuclear-weapon states including the United States toward a world without nuclear weapons. From that perspective, the Government of Japan will advance further initiatives, including in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference expected to be held in January 2022.

Since I first aspired to devote myself to politics, I have maintained a firm belief: humans cannot change the past or the nature but can change the future and society. I regard the current crisis, including the novel coronavirus, as an opportunity to “change the future and society.” Based on the foundation of my experiences and relationships of mutual trust with my counterparts in various countries that I have built up as Minister for Foreign Affairs, I will exert all efforts to promote diplomacy and further enhance Japan’s presence in the international community. That is all.

Cooperation with the Minister in Charge of Economic Security

NHK, Yamamoto: I would like to ask about economic security. The Kishida administration has established a new minister post in charge of economic security, and I believe there is also a similar department in MOFA. How will the coordination be done between the new minister?

Minister Motegi: Firstly, the range of economic security is not limited to conventional areas, and is rapidly expanding to encompass economic and technology areas. Cross-national competition has been surfacing in the area of economic security. In particular, it has become more important than ever to secure strategic goods and key technologies and prevent technology leaks. The Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform 2021 decided by the Cabinet in June 2021 states that we will proceed with consideration on economic security initiatives in order to take measures including the improvement of systems necessary to promote policies Amidst such efforts, Prime Minister Kishida has established the post of Minister in charge of Economic Security. The Minister will steadily promote necessary whole-government initiatives toward ensuring economic security while cooperating with relevant ministries and agencies.

While cooperating with the newly established Minister in charge of Economic Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will actively contribute to whole-government initiatives.

Situation in Taiwan (Intrusion by Chinese Military Aircraft Into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ)

Asahi Shimbun, Aibara: I would like to ask about the situation in Taiwan. Yesterday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense announced that over 50 Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s ADIZ. The United States expressed serious concern over this. What are your thoughts and reaction?

Minister Motegi: I am aware of the development you pointed out. Japan believes that peace and security in the Taiwan Strait is important. This point was confirmed in the Japan-U.S. “2+2” held on March 16, 2021, and the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting held on April 16, 2021. Our consistent position has been that we hope that issues surrounding Taiwan will be resolved peacefully through direct dialogue among the parties concerned. The Government of Japan will continue to monitor related developments. Furthermore, we will not simply observe the developments, but also firmly consider what responses could be taken and what preparation we need to advanced in thinking about various situations.

Diplomacy Toward Russia

NHK, Watanabe: You have worked on Japan-Russia relations until this day. The new Kishida administration has been inaugurated. It has not been possible to hold face-to-face negotiations on the peace treaty due to the novel coronavirus. Please tell us again how you will work on the peace treaty negotiations, including the Northern Territories issue with Russia, as face-to-face diplomacy has been gradually resuming.

Minister Motegi: You have mentioned that face-to-face diplomacy has not been possible, but I recently met Foreign Minister Lavrov at the United Nations. During the meeting, I stated that I intend to advance Japan-Russia relations as a whole in a broad range of areas, including the conclusion of a peace treaty in a mutually beneficial manner. We shared the view that Japan and Russia will continue discussions at various opportunities in order to develop the overall relationship between Japan and Russia. I will firmly work on the negotiations under the policy of resolving the attributions issue and concluding a peace treaty.

Diplomacy Policy Under the New Administration

Pan Orient News, Azhari: Congratulation on continuing. You said Minister that there will be no major change in Japan’s foreign policy as it is, based on the foundation. But how would you run the diplomacy in your style, given the so-called “dovish” and very peaceful or too peaceful approach of Prime Minister Kishida.

Minister Motegi: I believe that there will be no change to the Japan-U.S. Alliance being the linchpin of Japan’s diplomacy, and of our intention to firmly contribute to realizing FOIP and lead the world in the rule-making in economic areas, while cooperating on shared issues of the entire international community including the novel coronavirus and climate change.

I believe that the trust towards Japan which has been built up until this day is extremely important. Various countries trust Japan, including in the Middle East. Based on this trust, Prime Minister Kishida stated that he will promote diplomacy and security in a resolute manner with three forms of resolution: resolution to protect democracy, resolution to protect Japan’s peace and security, and resolution to contribute to humanity and lead the international community. I believe there will be no change to such policy.

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