Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Tuesday, February 20, 2018, 8:38 a.m.   Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

The Meeting of the Advisory Panel on Climate Change

Reporter: Yesterday, you received recommendations from the Advisory Panel on Climate Change. They included content saying that Japan, which engages in diplomacy for renewable energy, should take the lead. Please tell us what kind of diplomacy you will improve in response to this.

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: We asked the experts to make recommendations taking into account the latest international trends and based on a wide range of data, and these very busy people gathered together once every week and compiled recommendations about energy at quite a fast pace.

A variety of discussions will be held within the government departments from now on, but I intend to use the recommendations for reference. And climate change has become a major issue that is truly being addressed in a variety of situations internationally. I also intend to incorporate this perspective in Japan’s diplomacy in a firm manner.

I am told that in April we will receive the recommendations about all aspects of climate change in April, so I am looking forward to that as well.

Foreign Minister’s visit to foreign countries

Reporter: You often say the number of countries visited by the foreign ministers of Japan and China is overwhelmingly different. Please tell us to what extent the fact that you are forced to be present in the Diet of Japan for long periods of time has a negative effect on the diplomacy of Japan.

Minister Kono: What I often say is that while my predecessor Foreign Minister Kishida and I have visited 110 countries over the past five years, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has visited approximately 270 countries, and I think leaving this gap is undesirable. However, Japan and China have different political systems, so we should not fully compare them as if they were the same. I intend to consider a variety of effective and efficient ways to conduct visits to foreign countries.

Reporter: If there have been any cases in which the Diet actually had an effect on your overseas visits, could you tell us about them?

Minister Kono: It is also important to properly explain Japan’s diplomacy in the Diet, so I intend to carry out the diplomacy thoroughly while also explaining about it in the Diet and moving Japan’s diplomacy forward.

Reporter: Are you thinking that you will lobby the Diet and the Diet Affairs Committee?

Minister Kono: Japan’s diplomacy, unlike previously, is not number one in the world in ODA, and I think that in the context that China’s economic strength is growing and the economies of a variety of emerging countries are getting larger, we will be probably be pressed to adopt an approach to diplomacy that is a little different to before. In this context, as the person in charge at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I want to think carefully about how we can conduct Japan’s diplomacy effectively and efficiently.

Reporter: Regarding the fact that there is quite a difference in the number of visits compared to China, what do you think are the specific obstacles, or perhaps I should say barriers?

Minister Kono: I think that in meetings such as ASEAN and APEC, when compiling chairman’s statements or joint declarations of course the differences of a variety of effects emerge. I also think the reality is that the foreign ministers’ meeting with Greece recently was the first for more than 20 years, and naturally if there has been no foreign ministers’ meeting for 20 years, the relations between the two countries will not become stronger. In that sense I intend to work hard to ensure that I can respond thoroughly.

U.S. Army helicopter exercises off the coast of Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture

Reporter: Yesterday, off the coast of Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture, U.S. Army helicopters conducted exercises such as low-altitude flying and the local government demanded an explanation from the Government of Japan. Have you heard anything about this?

Minister Kono: Yes, there is nothing wrong.

Reporter: If there are any protests from the local government, will the Government of Japan provide an explanation about what happened?

Minister Kono: I think that should go without saying.

Munich Security Conference

Reporter: In Munich, you said in a session about the nuclear development of North Korea that the North’s motivation for the nuclear development is to achieve its ambition of reunifying North and South Korea. Is it acceptable to conclude that this is the view of the Government of Japan regarding the motivation for nuclear development of North Korea? I ask because it is often said that their motivation is to preserve their political system.

Minister Kono: I have been saying that it is to protect their regime, but North Korea has mentioned the reunification of North and South Korea in a variety of situations, so naturally I think it is carrying out the nuclear development with that ambition.

Reporter: Commander Harris of the U.S. Forces also expressed a similar view last week, so can we conclude that this is a point of view that has been coordinated by Japan and the United States?

Minister Kono: I think that looking at the nature of the statements by North Korea and the media reports, it is natural to reach this kind of conclusion.

Advisory Panel on Climate Change

Reporter: Returning to the first topic of climate change, some parts of the recommendations are a little different from the policy of the government, for example the statement that the approach of using nuclear power base load power source is an approach of the past, or that nuclear power is not competitive because it is high-risk. How do you respond to this?

Minister Kono: The experts are freely holding discussions taking into account current international trends and a wide range of data, so I think it is perfectly natural that their views are the not the same as those of the government in every detail.

Reporter: Will you ensure that the recommendations of the experts are utilized, including even the parts that are different from the government?

Minister Kono: I intend to use the recommendations as a reference for the discussions within the government.