Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko

Wednesday, January 17, 2024, 9:40 a.m. Ankara, Türkiye

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

Opening Remarks

Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have completed my approximately two week-long overseas visit today and will be returning to Japan. Visiting a total of nine countries, I was able to get my new year off to a great start. As I have already explained about the individual outcomes, I would like to take this opportunity to briefly share my impressions.

First of all, I received messages of sympathy for the Noto Peninsula Earthquake from all the countries and international organizations I visited. I conveyed that the Government of Japan is doing everything it can under the leadership of Prime Minister Kishida, and I expressed my deepest appreciation for their cordial messages.

On that note, I would like to highlight three outcomes of my overseas visit.

The first is greater and deeper unity among like-minded countries. The respective countries especially welcomed Japan’s strong commitment to taking the initiative in supporting Ukraine. In addition, I unveiled “Japan’s Nordic Diplomacy Initiative” and sent out a powerful message that Japan will enhance its relations with the Nordic countries. Furthermore, Japan and Türkiye, which will celebrate the centenary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, concurred to further strengthen our relationship.

Moreover, this visit has convinced me that these initiatives can become even more robust if not only our governments but also our public and private sectors work together.

Secondly, I conducted follow-ups and preparations for Prime Minister Kishida’s summit diplomacy. In Ukraine, President Zelenskyy reiterated his gratitude for the contributions made by Prime Minister Kishida as the G7 Presidency last year. In the United States, I was able to hold in-depth discussions ahead of Prime Minister Kishida’s official visit to the U.S. I will make continued efforts to support Kishida diplomacy and steadily demonstrate Japan’s presence in the international community.

The third outcome concerns the efforts that have been high on the diplomatic agenda since I took office as Minister for Foreign Affairs. I held a total of seven meetings related to Women, Peace and Security (WPS), including meetings with women and children from Ukraine in Kyiv and Warsaw, and subsequent meetings in the Nordic countries and the U.S. Additionally, I visited three international judicial organizations, namely, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) for the first time as a Japanese Foreign Minister. At these organizations, I advocated the importance of upholding and strengthening the free and open international order based on the rule of law. Furthermore, I enjoyed interacting with the younger generations who will bear the future, including my visit yesterday to Ankara University.

It is critical that we lead the outcomes of this visit to concrete initiatives. Taking into account the outcomes of last year’s G7 Hiroshima Summit as well, I will continue to work to uphold and strengthen the free and open international order based on the rule of law and ensure a world where human dignity is secured.

That is all from me.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: I have a question related to Taiwan. In response to the statement you issued on the presidential election in Taiwan congratulating Mr. Lai, China lodged a protest, saying that your statement was an interference in China’s internal affairs. Could you please share your comment?

Minister Kamikawa: China expressed its stance on the recent presidential election in Taiwan and lodged a protest with Japan. However, I will refrain from disclosing the details of our diplomatic communication, including my views. That being said, Taiwan is an extremely crucial partner and an important friend with which Japan shares fundamental values, such as freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and basic human rights, and enjoys close economic relations and people-to-people exchanges. Japan has always congratulated Taiwan on its smooth holding of democratic elections. It has been the consistent position of the Government of Japan to maintain a working relationship with Taiwan on the non-governmental basis, based on the 1972 Japan-China Joint Communique. Based on this position, we will work toward further deepening cooperation and exchanges between Japan and Taiwan.

Reporter: I would like to ask about the situation surrounding Israel and Palestine. January 14 marked 100 days since the military conflict between the Hamas Islamic group and Israel began, and more than 10,000 children have been reportedly killed in Gaza. Public hearings have also started in the proceedings instituted by South Africa against Israel before the ICJ on the grounds that Israel’s attacks constitute genocide. You have highlighted the rule of law and WPS throughout your visit, including by visiting Ukraine and the international judicial organizations in Europe. I believe the situation in the Gaza Strip is not an exception. Could you tell us again what was in your mind about the Middle East situation throughout your visit? Please also tell us if your thoughts have changed in any way from before.

Minister Kamikawa: The many people who have been taken hostage have not been released even now, more than 100 days after Hamas and others launched the terror attacks, and this is inflicting great pain to the detainees and their families. At the same time, in the Gaza Strip, there have been numerous deaths and injuries including children, women, and elderly people. The Government of Japan is seriously concerned about this critical humanitarian situation.

In addition, Japan firmly condemns the interference by the Houthis with the rights and freedoms of navigation in the waters around the Arabian Peninsula, particularly in the Red Sea. The regional situation remains totally unpredictable, and Japan is following the situation with grave concern.

During my series of meetings, my counterparts and I carried out serious discussions on what should be done to end the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as soon as possible, and we confirmed with each other our strong determination to jointly work toward ending the crisis. It is necessary to create conditions that are acceptable to both Israel and Palestine as quickly as possible, and it is important to make all possible efforts to do so, including faithfully implementing the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

In light of the outcomes of my visits and other factors, I am determined to actively and persistently continue to make efforts to calm down the situation as soon as possible and bring stability to the region.

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