Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Friday, March 2, 2018, 8:39 a.m.   Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) Summit Telephone Talk

Reporter: President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea (ROK) has talked with President Trump of the United States and told him that the ROK would dispatch a special envoy to North Korea. It seems that President Moon is in a hurry to engage in dialogue as the April joint military exercises are getting near. What do you think?

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: The United States has told Minister Onodera that the joint military exercises will be conducted as planned, so I think they will be conducted as planned. Regarding the matter of the special envoy, firstly I would like to thoroughly share information with the ROK and the United States.

Statement by President Trump about imports of steel and aluminum

Reporter: President Trump of the United States has declared that he will place tariffs on steel and aluminum, sanctions that are based on Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act. What is the response of the Government of Japan to this? Also, going forward the EU and others are planning to take aggressive measures. How do you reply to this?

Minister Kono: The Government of United States has not made any official decision yet. I do not think that imports of steel from its ally Japan will hinder the security of the United States and I think the imports are consistent with the WTO, but no official decision has been made yet, so I will not say anything more about this in particular.

Annual address to the Federal Assembly by President Putin

Reporter: Yesterday in Russia President Putin gave an address to the Federal Assembly and extensively discussed the strengthening of Russia’s military, and as a part of that discussion he made a statement to the effect that Japan’s Aegis Ashore deployment, and the MD of the United States which is also seen to include Aegis Ashore, are now useless. Going beyond North Korea, the United States announced its NPR just the other day, and Russia also signaled the same kind of moves. At a time when the major countries are consistently signaled these kinds of move regarding their nuclear forces, what kind of position do you think Japan should take?

Minister Kono: The reality is that despite the fact that after the Cold War the United States has consistently reduced its nuclear weapons, Russia and China have increased their nuclear weapons. In response to that the United States announced in the NPR that it had to modernize its nuclear weapons somewhat but of course I would like the countries that have had nuclear disarmament obligations imposed on them under the NPT to act in accordance with the spirit of the NPT in a firm manner.

Questions related to the Northern Territories

Reporter: One more point regarding relations between Japan and Russia, I think that yesterday there was a meeting of representatives in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk that decided an annual plan for travel to the Northern Territories without a visa. It was only decided for the period until early July. Normally an annual plan should be decided. Why was it decided this way? Furthermore, could you please tell me about your response going forward? How will the visits sought by Japan be carried out?

Minister Kono: I have not received the details or a report yet, so I would like to refrain from commenting here.