Press Conference by the Prime Minister regarding the Japan-Viet Nam Summit Meeting and Other Matters
May 1, 2022
(On the Japan-Viet Nam summit meeting and related matters)
Following upon last night’s banquet, I had my third meeting with Prime Minister Chinh. We had in-depth discussions about a wide range of topics that included the situation in Ukraine, cooperation towards the realization of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, and bilateral cooperation. As for the situation in Ukraine, Prime Minister Chinh and I were in full agreement that independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity must be upheld, and we also agreed on the importance of an immediate cease-fire and humanitarian assistance. In addition, I commend Viet Nam’s announcement of humanitarian assistance for Ukraine for the first time on the occasion of my visit as a positive step. Moreover, we shared the same stance that, in working towards the realization of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, we will further promote cooperation for infrastructure development, for assistance towards capacity building for the Vietnamese armed forces in cyber fields, and for improvements in the capacity of the Vietnam Coast Guard. In terms of our bilateral relations, we were of the same mind that in the areas of supply chain diversification, digital transformation, and technological innovation, we will build more robust economic relations through the involvement of both Japanese and Vietnamese companies. We also discussed the "Asia Zero Emissions Community" vision and will engage in consultations regarding ODA loans of approximately 19 billion yen to enhance capacity for disaster prevention through the launch of an earth observation satellite. Viet Nam is an extensive strategic partner that shares strategic interests with Japan. I feel that this visit became a highly meaningful one because we further strengthened our bilateral relations as we head towards next year’s anniversary year marking 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Viet Nam and also the 50th Year of Japan-ASEAN Friendship and Cooperation.
(On relations with Russia)
There are quite a few countries that are not taking the same response as the G7 for various reasons, including because of their relations with Russia. It is essential to work to gain understanding and cooperation from such countries to the greatest possible extent. As Viet Nam pointed out, it is in a delicate situation because of its historical ties with Russia, and I understand that. With that as backdrop, Prime Minister Chinh and I agreed that independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity must be defended; we also see eye to eye on the importance of an immediate cease-fire and humanitarian assistance. Moreover, Viet Nam took the opportunity of my visit to announce humanitarian assistance to Ukraine for the first time. I commend this as a positive step. In any case, there are countries taking a variety of positions. I consider it crucial to pursue mutual understanding with such countries to the greatest possible extent, and in particular to forge good communication with the countries of Asia and of ASEAN.
(On relations with China)
First of all, we did also have an exchange regarding China; I said that Japan vehemently opposes any attempts to unilaterally change the status quo in the South China Sea as well as economic coercion. Prime Minister Chinh and I were in full agreement that we will continue to act in cooperation under this shared understanding. Also, within the context of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP11 Agreement) as well, I conveyed to Prime Minister Chinh the importance of having candid discussions based on strategic viewpoints and upholding the spirit and the principles of the TPP, namely not to permit economic coercion or unfair trade practices. I feel that our success in confirming in this way our solid cooperation about the areas where we should collaborate with Viet Nam with regard to relations with China makes our discussions highly significant.
(On the outcomes of this meeting)
Viet Nam has, since the time of its independence, had various relations with Russia. It has deep relations with Russia in the importation of defense equipment and other areas, and because it is such a country, I feel that it is a major step forward to have had a frank exchange of views with Viet Nam, including regarding the situation in Ukraine, and to have seen eye to eye on, at least, the situation in Ukraine violating international law, or that attempts to change the status quo by force are unforgivable not just in Europe but rather in any area, including Asia. I also explained the point that it is crucial to respond resolutely to violations of international law and to changes in the status quo by force to avoid sending the wrong message to the international community. While pursuing mutual communication with Viet Nam, we will continue to place value on and confirm the posture of working to foster the peace and stability of the international community. I regard this as critical amid future changes in the situation as well. As I said at the beginning, countries take a wide range of stances. Some countries have a variety of reasons for not being able to take the same actions as the G7. But even for countries in that group, I consider it essential for Japan, focusing on Asia in particular, to aspire to find agreement or to reconcile our positions with regard to the fundamental thinking I just mentioned.
(On the thinking that Asian countries should take a position at least somewhat close to that of the G7)
I have been saying I do think it is important. I’m not saying that it is sufficient; I’m saying it is important. In fact this time, Viet Nam made it known during our exchange, taking the opportunity of our summit meeting, that it will provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine for the first time. I think that is one example of an area in which our posture or thinking in this regard garnered sympathy, and in the future, as various discussions take place in the international arena, in the background we find changes in the situation in Ukraine. As changes take place, I regard it as pivotal to increase the number of countries with which we are better able to share our thinking.
(On whether or not Viet Nam’s position towards Russia is rooted in being dependent on Russia for equipment)
That is part of it. And then there is the connection they enjoy as a result of their long history. Many among the current leaders of Viet Nam are from a group that studied in the former Soviet Union. I am aware of such relations.
(On whether or not Japan desires to export equipment to Viet Nam)
Japan already has a defense equipment agreement with Viet Nam. Today too Prime Minister Chinh made a forward-looking statement, proposing we advance our discussions with a view to bringing concrete shape to our cooperation, based on this agreement. The agreement is already in place, so I think the critical point here is to consider what Japan can do, grounded in that agreement. Consequently, I regard security as also being a key area in our cooperation with Viet Nam.
(Regarding Prime Minister Chinh announcing aid for Ukraine, on whether or not there had been urging from the Japanese side for Viet Nam to provide humanitarian assistance)
We already had good communication at a variety of levels regarding the situation in Ukraine. During this summit meeting as well, I explained Japan’s response, including our sanctions, with Japan’s stance being that responding resolutely is important to avoid imparting an incorrect message to the international community. Together with that, I also explained we are providing humanitarian assistance. In the course of this discussion, alongside his thoughts I mentioned earlier that sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence must be defended and also that we must uphold international law, Prime Minister Chinh explained in concrete terms what Viet Nam will do with regard to humanitarian assistance. That is how our discussion went. I regard it as a step forward that the Prime Minister indicated concrete actions in the course of our exchange.