Press Conference by the Prime Minister regarding the Japan-Thailand Summit Meeting and Other Matters
May 2, 2022
[Provisional translation](On the Japan-Thailand summit meeting and other matters)
Today I had a meeting with Prime Minister Prayut of Thailand, where I had the opportunity to discuss with him the situation in Ukraine, a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, and the overall direction of future Japan-Thailand relations. With regard to the situation in Ukraine, Prime Minister Prayut and I agreed that, no matter in what region it should occur, impinging upon a nation’s sovereignty or territorial integrity and unilateral changes to the status quo by force are unacceptable. We also shared our opposition to the use of weapons of mass destruction and threats to use them. I highly commended Thailand’s decision to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and its neighboring countries. In response, Prime Minister Prayut stated that Thailand will continue to provide additional humanitarian assistance. In this area too we agreed to cooperate into the future. Regarding a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, as was already announced, today we signed a defense equipment and technology transfer agreement. I regard this as a major step towards expanding Japan-Thailand cooperation in the area of security. Also, concerning our bilateral relations, Thailand is the largest base for Japanese companies in the region. Mr. Prayut and I agreed to cooperate regarding a wide range of issues, such as security, including making the supply chain more resilient; digital fields including 5G; energy transfer from Thailand; and further COVID-19 countermeasures. We also discussed the Asia Zero Emissions Community vision. This year we mark 135 years of Japan-Thailand diplomatic ties. Through this visit to Thailand, which chairs APEC this year and is also the ASEAN Country Coordinator for Japan, I had a meaningful exchange of views with Prime Minister Prayut. I consider this to have been highly significant indeed.
(On having visited three Southeast Asian countries)
First, with Japan being the sole Asian member of the G7, I aimed to garner as much understanding and cooperation as possible regarding responses to the Ukrainian situation through the summit meetings I had in the three Southeast Asian countries I visited. These three countries each have experienced different historical circumstances and other factors to date. Yet despite that, I feel the effect has been one of confirming our shared understanding about our fundamental thinking, that under international law, a country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected and that unilateral changes to the status quo by force cannot be tolerated. Regarding China, in each country I stated that we must strongly oppose unilateral changes to the status quo with force in the background, and furthermore economic coercion, in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. With each country I also confirmed our cooperation. And, what I felt once again after visiting three countries was that through meeting with the leader of each face to face, I was able to understand at a deep level the position each country is in as well as its way of thinking, and that, meeting both in small groups and also one on one, we were able to discuss various issues without holding anything back. These visits made me feel keenly once more the importance of face-to-face diplomacy. I very much wish to tie in the outcomes of these visits to three Southeast Asian nations to my visit to Europe that begins tomorrow. Appreciating in this way the effects of face-to-face diplomacy, I want to report on these outcomes thoroughly within my consultations with the other G7 members, including during the upcoming European leg of my trip, and connect the outcomes in with them.
(On what requests Prime Minister Kishida made of other countries regarding the situation in Ukraine)
I overviewed Japan’s thinking regarding our various sanctions. By explaining Japan’s thinking in that way, there were clearly some positives responses to it, such as clarifying humanitarian assistance and other kinds of concrete support for the first time, as a result of meeting with me. Accumulating the results of various efforts like these is, in my view, crucial as we work towards cultivating a mood among the international community as a whole.
(On where there are points in common between the harsh stance taken by the G7 and the views of Southeast Asian countries)
Although not “points in common” per se, given the fact that differences exist between the strict stance of the G7 and the stances of Southeast Asian or Asian nations, we must ask for coordination and cooperation with as many countries as possible against the backdrop of such differences. I think one important thing is to thoroughly convey how difficult it is and the importance of carefully-tailored efforts. Asian countries have deep historical ties with Russia. This could take the form of procuring various kinds of equipment, or for some countries, many among their leaders went to the Soviet Union to study during their university days. These are the kinds of long-standing historical ties they have. Yet, even with this situation, I would like these countries to agree with us to the extent possible and send a clear message to Russia. We must encourage these kinds of efforts. I myself also feel that well-designed efforts are essential to deal with such matters, including various delicate ways of urging such actions being necessary. While getting the G7 member countries to understand these points, Japan will thoroughly explain the importance of having them create an atmosphere in which together as much as possible we take action to materialize peace and stability in Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indo-Pacific region as well. This is the responsibility and the position in which Japan, the sole G7 member in Asia, finds itself. During this trip, while I felt the dialogues I had with in fact many nations having an effect, I also felt, conversely, the importance of these kinds of well-designed efforts. Even as we continue our efforts, it is important for Japan to continue to work to gain understanding from Western nations, including the G7, about the actual state of affairs in Asia and the Indo-Pacific region. I believe it is Japan’s duty to dependably pass on such information.