Press Conference by the Prime Minister regarding His Visit to Italy and the Vatican and Other Matters

May 4, 2022
[Provisional translation]

(On Prime Minister Kishida’s audience with the Pope)

Today I met with Pope Francis. With regard to the situation in Ukraine, he and I shared our determination to bring the inhumane aggression to an end and restore peace. Also, as for the idea of aiming for a world free of nuclear weapons, Pope Francis shared with me his memories of, during his 2019 trip to Japan, his visits to the sites where the atomic bombs were dropped and moreover spoke of his strong resolve to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons. Beyond that, we had an exchange in which I, a prime minister from Hiroshima, where an atomic bomb was dropped, confirmed that Japan will work in cooperation with the Vatican towards a world free of nuclear weapons.

(On the Japan-Italy summit meeting)

Today I met with Prime Minister Draghi of Italy, and we had an exchange of views about not only our bilateral relations but also international affairs, including the situation in Ukraine. I confirmed with Prime Minister Draghi that, in order to defend the peaceful world order, we will respond with resolute determination, working in close cooperation and good alignment as the G7, and reliably carry out the two planks of powerful sanctions against Russia and assistance for Ukraine. Alongside this, we saw eye to eye in recognizing Europe and the Indo-Pacific as being inseparable in terms of security, and in unilateral changes to the status quo by force being unacceptable no matter where they occur worldwide.

In our meeting, I explained to Prime Minister Draghi that Japan, as the sole Asian member of the G7, has been working to urge Asian countries along through this trip that took me to three Southeast Asian countries before I arrived in Italy and also my March visits to India and Cambodia. Mr. Draghi responded by commending Japan’s efforts in this area. He and I shared the same view that it is critical to continue working to get Asian, and also African, countries more receptive to our position.

In addition to the situation in Ukraine, one issue that I added in particular and underscored was the North Korea situation. I informed Mr. Draghi that today North Korea again launched a missile towards the Sea of Japan and outlined North Korea’s nuclear, missile, and abductions issues. We confirmed it is essential for the international community to cooperate closely in working towards the resolution of these issues. Moreover, we confirmed that today’s missile launch is violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and strongly condemned it. That is the overview of the discussions I had with Prime Minister Draghi.

(On how Prime Minister Kishida regards the measure banning certain Japanese nationals’ entry to Russia being implemented by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Japan’s response to it going forward)

Russian aggression against Ukraine constitutes a blatant violation of international law and the killing of numerous innocent civilians is a grave violation of international humanitarian law and a war crime. This is absolutely intolerable. Japan is unable to accept in any way the Russian side making such a pronouncement in spite of the facts that it was the Russian side that resorted to military means and created the current situation and that responsibility for driving Japan-Russia relations to their current condition lies entirely with Russia. As for further additional sanctions, I intend for us to continue to respond appropriately, acting in coordination with the G7 and the international community as a whole.

On how Prime Minister Kishida regards the European Union’s (EU’s) announcement of proposed additional sanctions against Russia and Japan’s response to it going forward)

First of all, the Government of Japan is already strongly committed to reducing our degree of energy dependence on Russia. Beyond that, as for the state of consideration by the EU, it is still too early to say for sure since an official announcement has not taken place, but at this point, we are not yet at a stage where I can say about it. Right now, I think we are in a situation in which we need to wait for an official announcement and then make a formal comment on it. But however that turns out, we have been working in close cooperation with the G7 as a whole regarding the content of sanctions on Russia and I intend for us to continue to respond in a way that is well-aligned with the G7. And as I have said on several occasions thus far, we will examine concrete responses while taking into consideration the fact that crude oil sourced from strategic interests held by Japan contributes to a long-term and inexpensive stable supply of energy. That is what I can say at this stage.

(On what Prime Minister Draghi said when commending Japan for its efforts to get Asian countries to be more receptive)

I will refrain from saying anything specific about this because, naturally, discussing diplomatic exchanges -- in this case, for me to explain the reaction of my counterpart -- is simply unheard of. So, we had an exchange in which we said that working to shape the views of Asian countries is important, and also that, because of European countries’ historically deep relations with Africa, working to persuade African countries is also critical. In this way, in our discussions we said it is essential to work to urge along African and Asian countries, acting in collaboration as the G7. It is fine for me to say that much. But as I stated a moment ago, forgive me, but I must refrain from making any statements about the specifics of our exchanges, in particular what exactly my counterpart said, as this is a matter of standard diplomatic practice.

(On responding to differences in the stances among international meetings regarding participation by Russia)

I myself have also heard reports of the joint press release by Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand. However, if you listen to the coverage, there is mention of them approving participation by Russia and whatnot, but when you actually look at the joint press release, you find that the word “Russia” is nowhere to be found. This is something I’d like you to confirm for yourselves. The press release itself says, “we are determined to work with all our partners and stakeholders.”

Once you confirm for yourselves that there are no references to specific countries, I think it is important to contemplate how to regard or interpret this joint press release. In any event, with regard to the way to treat Russia, as I have been saying until now, the international community cannot have relations with Russia in the same way we have had until now. That being so, exactly as I stated in the doorstep interviews I gave in Indonesia and elsewhere, there is still time until these various international meetings take place, such as the G20 summit. Consequently, our fundamental stance going forward is one of considering responses while enjoying good communication with the countries chairing each of the international meetings while also keeping a careful watch for future changes in the situation and other factors. I have met face to face with the highest-ranking leaders of Indonesia, which holds the presidency of the G20, Thailand, the chair country of APEC, and Cambodia, chair of ASEAN and therefore also the East Asia Summit. Japan has thoroughly reported on this and underlined the critical nature of considering in the future our relations with these countries.

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