Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary KOBAYASHI Maki

Wednesday, May 15, 2024, 3:54 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Prison Sentence in China of a Hokkaido University of Education Professor

Hokkaido Shimbun, Imai: It has come to light that former Professor Yuan Keqin of Hokkaido University of Education, detained in China in 2019, has been sentenced to six years in prison for allegedly violating the Anti-Espionage Law. Please tell us about any information the Ministry of Foreign Affairs presently knows and its response going forward. His family and colleagues have sought for his early release. Please tell us about what actions the Government of Japan will be urging China to take.

Ms. KOBAYASHI Maki, Press Secretary: We are well aware of this matter.

Professor Yuan held a faculty position at a Japanese university, and we are closely following this issue.

However, due to the nature of the issue, I will refrain from commenting on the details.

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken’s Visit to Ukraine

Mainichi Shimbun, Odanaka: I would like to ask a question related to Ukraine. Secretary Blinken of the U.S. visited Kyiv without notice. While this is a matter concerning other countries, could you please share the Government of Japan’s reaction, if any, to the reaffirmation of the U.S.’s unwavering support for Ukraine following the passage of its budget bill?

Press Secretary Kobayashi: First, we are aware that Secretary of State Blinken of the U.S. visited Kyiv yesterday, May 14, and reaffirmed the U.S.’s unwavering support for Ukraine as you mentioned.

The U.S. demonstrated that it stands with Ukraine in the form of a visit to Ukraine by a U.S. government official. We believe this is closely aligned with Japan’s consistent position that the international community needs to unite together and support Ukraine amid the extremely challenging circumstances it faces.

Japan will continue to work with the like-minded countries, including the U.S., in order to achieve a just and lasting peace in Ukraine as soon as possible.

Mainichi Shimbun, Odanaka: I would like to ask a follow-up question. In a speech delivered at a university, I believe, in Kyiv, Secretary Blinken spoke about the intention to sign a bilateral security agreement with Ukraine. This agreement was decided in the Joint Declaration that was issued at a meeting between the G7 and Ukraine that was held on the margins of the NATO Summit Meeting in Lithuania last year. I believe Japan is also continuing negotiations with Ukraine. What is the current status of the negotiations?

A NATO Summit Meeting will be held again in Washington, D.C. this July. Will this date be one of the dates you will be aiming for? In addition, will the agreement which Japan refers to as a “bilateral document” be a treaty, a legally binding document, or a political agreement document? What is the current status of the document?

Press Secretary Kobayashi: We are continuing earnest negotiations on the preparation of the bilateral document between Japan and Ukraine, based on the “Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine” issued by the G7 and Ukraine on the occasion of the NATO Summit Meeting last July, which you just mentioned.

Regarding details such as the timing of the agreement or the content and format of the document, these are currently being negotiated with Ukraine, and I will refrain from answering about them at this point in time.

U.S.-China Dialogue on AI

Kyodo News, Hayashi: The U.S. and Chinese governments held an intergovernmental dialogue on AI in Switzerland today. Can you once again share your thoughts on this? Please share with us your opinion on the steps Japan should take toward the creation of international norms for AI.

Press Secretary Kobayashi: We are aware of the relevant announcements. As they are basically talks between other countries, I will refrain from commenting at this time. That being said, developments between the U.S. and China, including in the economic sector, are vital for the international community, and therefore, the Government of Japan is closely following such developments.

Regarding the Government of Japan’s policy on AI rulemaking, Japan has been leading efforts on international AI governance through the Hiroshima AI Process and other initiatives. We will continue to make efforts to achieve safe, secure, and trustworthy AI.

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