Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko

Monday, February 12, 2024, 4:04 p.m. Suva, Fiji

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

Opening Remarks

Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs: As my visit to the Independent State of Samoa and the Republic of Fiji comes to an end, I have already made announcements on individual meetings. I also stated earlier the results of the Ministerial Interim Meeting. So, here I would like to mainly state my impression.

In this series of meetings, I have focused on further strengthening our “kizuna” with the Pacific Islands region, which is growing in importance within the changing international community, and on exchanging candid views concerning the approaches to future cooperation ahead of PALM10 in July.

First, with regard to Samoa, through meetings with Prime Minister Fiame and other occasions, I realized the strength of mutual trust between both countries that is supported by a history of people-to-people exchanges, even as the situation surrounding the region changes significantly. In addition, Japan shares with the region the sense of crisis on climate change and supports regional unity. The fact that I was able to encourage the Pacific Climate Change Centre (PCCC), a collaboration that embodies such views of Japan, was also significant in relation to today’s discussion.

In Fiji, I held individual meetings and talks with a total of 10 countries and regions on the margins of the Ministerial Interim Meeting. With these countries and regions, in addition to bilateral cooperation, I was able to have in-depth discussions about peace and stability in the region.

In particular, in regard to the “rule of law,” I have comprehensively pursued a diplomacy for strengthening the “rule of law” in the international community since this January. Today, I focused on the importance of “a free and open ocean.” To be specific, I also introduced support and other measures to strengthen law enforcement capacity that also contributes to measures against illegal operations. Many participants expressed their interest and expectations for the cooperation of Japan in the maritime security area. We intend to continue advancing diplomacy to strengthen the “rule of law” in the oceans.

If circumstances permit, I will attend the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Brazil, and visit Latin American and Caribbean countries. I intend to continually strengthen consistent cooperation to maintain and develop “a free and open ocean” that is supported by a maritime order based on the rule of law. That is all from me.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: Amid the changes in international affairs, with major countries such as the U.S., China, and Australia increasing their engagement and expansion of Pacific Island countries, what did you think was the relationship with island countries that Japan should aim for through the Ministerial Interim Meeting and bilateral meetings? In addition, I would like to ask if you have any thoughts about cooperation and support to island countries that you think is necessary in the future, now that you have actually seen the situation in island countries. Furthermore, I believe you really felt the hot atmosphere of these Pacific Island countries. Please tell us if you personally have a desire to revisit Pacific Island countries. Thank you.

Minister Kamikawa: Through the Ministerial Interim Meeting and bilateral meetings, I strongly felt the strength of the “kizuna” of trust based on bilateral initiatives to date and the cumulative results of close to 30 years of the PALM process. On top of this, I was able to confirm our shared values and principles.

I realized that it is important for Japan and Pacific Island countries, based on such relationships of trust, to strengthen our cooperative relationship, and respect and learn from each other, even into the future. I candidly conveyed such a view to each country.

For this reason, I believe it is important for Japan to engage together with Pacific Island countries on issues centered on climate change and in the maritime area. In addition, I feel that it is also extremely important to take initiatives in human resource development in wide-ranging areas.

Towards PALM10 this July, I intend to effectively make efforts on individual issues, while continually strengthening the cooperation with each Pacific Island country and the region as a whole. At that time, the incorporation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) perspective as an overarching item will lead to the realization of the 2050 Strategy for Blue Pacific Continent and strengthen the “kizuna” with Japan, so I will put such initiatives into practice.

There was also question on revisits, but first it is important to welcome everyone involved to Tokyo in July. In addition, we would like to make our best efforts to produce results, while exchanging information and cooperating during this period, based on the various opinions and needs gained through this visit to ensure the success of summit-level meetings.

Reporter: My question is about treated water. Please tell us whether you think you received understanding about the safety of treated water at the Ministerial Interim Meeting and the bilateral meetings. Could you please also share with us whether there was opposition or different opinions in the meetings? In addition, in the outcome documents, the Ministers concurred on maintaining the ALPS issue as a standing agenda item for PALM. Please tell us your views including how this will be addressed in future.

Minister Kamikawa: First, with regard to the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, I explained at the Ministerial Interim Meeting that a series of monitorings and the IAEA report on its review mission have shown clearly the safety of the activities. Furthermore, I also explained that Japan was committed to providing continuous explanations based on scientific evidence in highly transparent manners, working closely with the IAEA.

In addition, at individual meetings with each country, I also conveyed about how I myself had visited Fukushima last December and confirmed the safety of the discharge into the sea with my own eyes. I carefully explained the safety of the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, while providing explanations that we are seriously discussing and making efforts on the reconstruction based on the safety of Fukushima’s agriculture and fisheries, and the peace of mind of all local peoples.

Moreover, PIF members and I acknowledged the IAEA as an authority on nuclear safety and concurred on the importance of response based on scientific evidence.

I realized that each country’s understanding definitely progressed due to the explanations provided by the Government of Japan to date, through successive meetings. We will continue to monitor and provide explanations based on scientific evidence in highly transparent manners.

Reporter: My question is concerning assistance to island countries. Last year, Japan and Fiji, a major island country, agreed on the provision of the equivalent of approximately 400 million yen in patrol boats for monitoring and surveillance and rescue boats. Please share with us whether there was any mention of Official Security Assistance (OSA) needs at the Ministerial Interim Meeting or at individual meetings. Could you also tell us if there is any thought of Japan making an offer in the future. In addition, while island countries are calling for economic assistance, Japan has reduced its Official Development Assistance (ODA) in the initial budget for FY2024. Please explain what kind of cooperation with island countries is being aimed for through future economic assistance and whether the focus will be on security.

Minister Kamikawa: First, you mentioned OSA, butthe provision of patrol boats and other equipment to the Fiji Navy using OSA at the end of last year was for the purpose of maintaining and strengthening maritime security capacity building. This achieves one of the commitments at PALM9 of “Sustainable Oceans based on the Rule of Law,” and is also part of the initiatives towards strengthening the “rule of law” in the ocean that I referred to at the outset.

In addition, in regard to future ODA to Pacific Island countries, through the Ministerial Interim Meeting and individual meetings, I thoroughly listened to the views of each country on their future priorities and issues on which they would like to jointly engage with Japan, keeping PALM10 being held in July this year in mind.

For the future, in light of the changing situation surrounding Pacific Island countries and their geopolitical importance, I will further strengthen Japan’s cooperation with Pacific Island countries. For this purpose, I will make the best of OSA and ODA while standing firm with the needs of each country that we sought out at today’s meeting and through discussions.

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