Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko

Friday, June 21, 2024, 11:35 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Foreign Minister Kamikawa’s Visit to Italy (Attendance of Global Women Leaders Summit)

Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have four announcements.

First, the Global Women Leaders Summit, which brings together women leaders from around the world, will be held in the vicinity of Milan, Italy from June 24 to 26 next week.

I received an invitation from the organizer and have decided to attend this summit.

In view of the current international situation and global challenges, the summit is scheduled to discuss women’s participation and leadership in conflict, including Women, Peace and Security (WPS), among other topics.

As a country that is vigorously promoting WPS as one of its key foreign policies, Japan intends to leverage the discussions at the summit for our future foreign policy and further contribute to the peace and stability of the international community.

(2) Second Meeting of the Foreign Ministry’s Taskforce on WPS

Minister Kamikawa: Second, this afternoon, I will host the second meeting of the Taskforce on WPS. The meeting will be attended by not only officials from the divisions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), but also the Cabinet Office, the Reconstruction Agency, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA), and the Ministry of Defense (MOD).

The purpose of the meeting is twofold. The first is to share within and outside MOFA the progress of efforts on WPS since the first taskforce meeting held in January of this year. The second is to hear from officials of the Cabinet Office, the Reconstruction Agency, FDMA, and MOD about their respective WPS initiatives in the field of disaster prevention, response, and reconstruction and exchange views with a view to applying their experiences in the diplomatic activities.

Japan’s WPS efforts are characterized by an emphasis on integrating women’s leadership and gender perspectives not only in responding to conflicts driven by human factors, but also in responding to disasters caused by environmental factors. We intend to leverage the government-wide knowledge and experiences shared at today’s taskforce meeting to implement activities that promote WPS even more vigorously.

(3) Japan’s Mine Actions

Minister Kamikawa: Third, as Prime Minister Kishida expressed at the G7 Apulia Summit last week, Japan will host an international conference on Ukraine Mine Action next year. Furthermore, next year, Japan will serve as the President of the 22nd Meeting of States Parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention in Geneva.

In this connection, today, I would like to explain about Japan’s mine actions.

Anti-personnel mines have a significant impact on people even after a conflict has ended, and therefore, Japan is actively engaged in mine actions.

Specifically, we are implementing measures from various aspects bearing the WPS perspective in mind, including providing demining equipment and technical cooperation, supporting education and awareness raising to avoid mine risks, and extending support to mine victims.

In particular, in Cambodia, which has suffered from the effects of mines, Japan has been engaged in mine actions for many years in cooperation with local mine-related organizations. We have also cooperated on mine actions in Ukraine, such as inviting members of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine to Cambodia for training.

Furthermore, last month, when we received recommendations on “science and technology diplomacy and ODA” from the Advisory Board for Promoting Science and Technology Diplomacy, which outlined necessary efforts to promote science and technology diplomacy using ODA, I mentioned that we will first implement these recommendations in the field of mine actions.

In terms of mine actions, we aim to further develop this momentum based on the cooperation and trust Japan has built over the years and with the cooperation of various partners, including Cambodia. To this end, we are currently working on formulating a new policy package and hope to announce it soon.

(4) On Completing Three-quarters of the Year as Foreign Minister

Minister Kamikawa: Lastly, I would like to say a few words as the ordinary session of the Diet draws to a close shortly.

Since assuming the office of Foreign Minister last September, I have engaged in my duties as Foreign Minister without losing focus or diverting my attention.

As soon as I assumed office, I resolved to confront head-on urgent issues Japan is facing under the basic policies of: first, protecting Japan’s national interests, second, demonstrating Japan’s presence in the international community, and third, promoting diplomacy that is understood and supported by the people.

Nine months have passed since then. During this time, I believe I have established relationships and worked closely with my counterparts in our ally and like-minded countries.

At the same time, the environment surrounding Japan is becoming ever more tumultuous. When I think about Japan’s future, especially the faces of the young people who will lead it, I feel there is no time to take a rest.

In three months, it will have been one year since I assumed the office of Foreign Minister, and I intend to fulfill my daily responsibilities with a renewed determination.

That is all from me.

Russia-North Korea Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement

Hokkaido Shimbun, Imai: My question is related to Russia. Russian President Putin visited North Korea, and the two sides signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement. It has been described as a de facto military alliance. Could you tell us about how do you think this military rapprochement between the two countries is expected to impact Japan’s policy and diplomacy toward Russia, including sanctions against the country?

Minister Kamikawa: I am not in a position to answer about the agreement you mentioned.

That being said, first, North Korea described its relationship with Russia as an “alliance” and suggested extremely close military cooperation. Second, Russia has not ruled out military technical cooperation with North Korea, which could directly violate relevant United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions. Considering these points, the agreement may significantly undermine the regional security environment surrounding Japan, and the Government is deeply concerned.

The Government will continue to follow the progress of Russia-North Korea relations in the future with grave concern, including the impacts on Japan’s diplomacy with Russia.

Nikkei Shimbun, Miki: I have a follow-up question. As you stated, the impact on Japan’s surrounding security environment is a concern. How does Japan intend to address it, for example, through U.S. extended deterrence or multilateral security cooperation?

Minister Kamikawa: The Government has been following the outcomes of the recent Russia-North Korea Summit Meeting, amid the regional security environment surrounding Japan becoming ever more severe, including the enhanced military collaboration and cooperation between Russia and North Korea.

On the agreement you are referring to, I am not in a position to answer about the agreement you mentioned. That being said, first, North Korea described its relationship with Russia as an “alliance” and suggested extremely close military cooperation. Second, Russia has not ruled out military technical cooperation with North Korea, which could directly violate relevant United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions. Considering these points, the agreement may significantly undermine the regional security environment surrounding Japan, and the Government is deeply concerned.

Giving the attention to the ever-changing security environment, we will strengthen Japan’s security capabilities and role, further enhance the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, and work closely with countries including the Republic of Korea and other like-minded countries.

Situation in the Gaza Strip (Intentional Attacks on Civilians by Israeli Military)

Anadolu Agency, Mercan: Anadolu news, my name is Furkan. Thank you for the opportunity to direct a question. Today I prefer to ask question in English.

This week, in the report by a United Nations-backed independent commission called Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said that The Israeli military’s “deliberate” use of heavy weapons in the Gaza Strip has been an “intentional and direct attack on the civilian population.” The chairperson of the commission, Navi Pillay, said this week that Israel has committed crimes against humanity, forced starvation, extermination, murder, and inhuman and cruel treatment of Palestinians. So, I would like to know what’s the foreign ministry of Japan’s comment on this matter. What is the Japanese government's stance on this issue? Thanks.

Minister Kamikawa: The report you are referring to by an independent international commission of inquiry established by a resolution of a special session of the UN Human Rights Council in May 2021 was issued on June 12 of this year. We are aware that the report articulates the independent opinions of the commission on violations of international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and possible war crimes committed by all parties to the conflict since last October.

Japan is seriously concerned about the critical humanitarian situation in Gaza and about the numerous civilian casualties due to airstrikes and other attacks.

Japan has called on Israel on numerous occasions to implement measures, including my telephone talk with Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Katz three times since April. We have been also repeatedly urging Israel to take actions, such as abiding by international law, including international humanitarian law, realizing a sustainable ceasefire, and improving the humanitarian situation. We will continue to make these persistent and active efforts.

Foreign Minister Kamikawa’s Visit to Okinawa

Kyodo News, Nishiyama: I would like to ask about Memorial Day to Commemorate the Fallen During the Battle of Okinawa. You plan to attend the Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen on the 79th Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Okinawa on June 23. Please tell us about the meaning behind your attendance. In addition, regarding sharing the impact of the bases in Okinawa, it appears that the Government’s specific plan for returning facilities and areas south of the U.S. forces’ Kadena base is not progressing as intended. May I ask for your thoughts on this?

Minister Kamikawa: On June 23, if circumstances permit, I plan to visit Okinawa Prefecture and attend the Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen. This ceremony is an important occasion to remember the souls of those who perished on the battlefields as well as those who died suffering the ravages of war during the Battle of Okinawa, and as Foreign Minister, I wish to express my mourning.

Even now, as we approach the 80th anniversary of the end of the war next year, the people of Okinawa continue to bear a significant impact of the bases. Approximately 70% of the facilities and areas of the U.S. forces in Japan are still concentrated in Okinawa Prefecture. Mitigating impact of the bases in Okinawa is a top priority for the administration. MOFA is working with the U.S. and relevant ministries and agencies and proceeding with the measures one at a time.

Japan and the U.S. have communicated in the bilateral Joint Leaders’ Statement issued on the occasion of the Prime Minister’s official visit to the U.S. in April and on various other occasions at different levels, including the leader and ministerial levels. Specifically, the two sides have confirmed that we will steadily advance the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, including Okinawa Consolidation Plan, with the aim of mitigating impact on local communities, including Okinawa, while maintaining and strengthening the deterrence of the Japan-U.S. Alliance.

MOFA will continue to work on mitigating impact of the bases on local communities in cooperation with the U.S.

Discrimination against an Israeli Tourist to Japan

Yomiuri Shimbun, Oyabu: I would like to ask about the situation in Israel. Israeli media outlets and others reported that an Israeli tourist was refused accommodation at a hotel in Kyoto because it “does not wish to be complicit in Israel’s war crimes.” People in Israel are already voicing concerns that they cannot travel safely in Japan. Japan will be welcoming visitors from many countries next year for the Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan. It seems it should be made clear that Japan does not tolerate discrimination, regardless of nationality or political beliefs. What are your views on this issue?

Minister Kamikawa: Refusing accommodation based on nationality cannot be tolerated.

On the issue, we are aware that Kyoto City investigated this issue and instructed the hotel in accordance with the Hotel Business Act. MOFA wishes all visitors to feel safe in conducting various activities in Japan, and we will take measures to ensure this point especially in the lead-up to next year’s Expo that you just mentioned.

Thoughts on the 213th Ordinary Session of the Diet

Shizuoka Shimbun, Nakamura: You spoke earlier about the Diet session drawing to a close. One of the main themes of the session was political reform sparked by the issue of the slush funds of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP). Please share any thoughts you have on this as one of the ministers supporting the Kishida administration.

Minister Kamikawa: During this Diet session, the conclusion of 11 conventions submitted by MOFA were approved and two bills submitted by MOFA were passed into law.

When this Diet session opened this January, I mentioned that one of the priorities of Japanese diplomacy is to maintain and strengthen Japan’s advocacy of a free and open international order based on the rule of law, and to pursue diplomacy to realize a safe and secure world where “human dignity” is protected. I believe that both the conventions approved for conclusion and the laws enacted in this session are crucial for promoting such diplomacy.

While the Diet session will close shortly, I will continue to engage in my duties as Foreign Minister without losing focus.

Asahi Shimbun, Matsuyama: I would like to ask about domestic affairs. Regarding the LDP’s political funds issue, the LDP’s approval rating fell to 19% according to Asahi Shimbun’s recent public opinion poll. This was the first time the rating fell below 20% since we began conducting the polls in the current format in April 2001. Please share your comment on this. Additionally, once the Diet session closes, the party’s presidential election will come into greater prominence. Do you have any intention to run in the presidential election to lead the LDP? Or if you are not running, then what is your plan? Please share your intentions with us.

Minister Kamikawa: First of all, the public’s critique of politics must be taken seriously.

As Foreign Minister, I have seen firsthand that diplomacy based on trust, above all, is what leads to concrete outcomes.

It is difficult to separate domestic affairs and diplomacy. I will continue to take the same approach to domestic affairs and diplomacy in order to conduct diplomacy that is understood and supported by the people.

As I stated earlier, since assuming the office of Foreign Minister last September, I have engaged in my duties as Foreign Minister without losing focus or diverting my attention. Various expectations have been expressed for me, and I am grateful for them. As a politician, I have been committed and remain committed to doing the work expected of me.

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