Japan-Russia Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultation
(“2+2” Ministerial Meeting)
On July 31, Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Itsunori Onodera, Minister of Defense, held a Japan-Russia Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultation (“2+2” Ministerial Meeting) with Mr. Lavrov, Sergey Viktorovich, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, and Mr. Shoygu, Sergey Kuzhugetovich Minister for Defense of the Russian Federation. The overview of the meeting is as follows. (for approximately two hours and 30 minutes including a working dinner). The two sides agreed to continue to hold “2+2” Ministerial Meetings in the future. The next “2+2” Ministerial Meeting will take place in Russia. (The “2+2” was held in Moscow for the first time).
Additionally, this was the first visit to Russia made by a Minister of Defense of Japan, (and the first visit by senior defense authorities in 12 years (since the visit to Russia in 2006 by Mr. Fukushiro Nukaga, Minister of State for Defense, Japan Defense Agency)).
1. Confidence-building between Japan and Russia in the field of security
(1) Communication of Japan’s stance
- Both Japanese ministers stated that the military build-up in the Northern Territories is inconsistent with Japan’s stance and regrettable. Minister Onodera called for a calm response with regard to growing activities by Russian military aircraft around Japan.
- Both Japanese ministers explained that Japan’s missile defense system is one operated by Japan. They also explained that it is purely defensive and is the minimum necessary means to protect the lives and property of Japan’s people, and that it does not pose any threat to Russia. In response, the Russian side reiterated Russia’s existing stance.
(2) Defense exchanges
- The ministers welcomed the visits to Japan by Colonel General Salyukov, Oleg Leonidovich, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Land Forces, and General Gerasimov, Valery Vasilyevich, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, last year, and shared the view that they will continue to pursue defense exchanges. In particular, they agreed to continue to arrange a visit to Russia by Mr. Katsutoshi Kawano, Chief of Joint Staff, Japan Self-Defense Force, by the end of this year, and a port call in Hakodate Port by the Russian Pacific Fleet on this October.
(3) Security in the Asia-Pacific
- The ministers confirmed the importance of the “2+2” and security discussion frameworks in light of the increasingly severe security environment in the Asia-Pacific region. They shared the view that a vice-ministerial-level Japan-Russia security discussion is to be held regularly once a year, as preparatory meetings for “2+2” Ministerial Meetings.
2. Regional affairs
(1) North Korea
- The ministers emphasized that North Korea’s nuclear and missile issues continue to be grave threats to the international community, including Japan.
- The ministers appreciated the outcomes of the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting, and shared the view that they will continue to cooperate on achieving the denuclearization of North Korea, which is a common goal of Japan and Russia.
- Both Japanese ministers called for Russia’s support and cooperation with promptly resolving the abductions issue, and obtained the Russia’s understanding.
- The ministers shared the view that Japan and Russia will hold a discussion on humanitarian aid in Syria, as cooperation in the international arena. (It is envisaged that this discussion will be held within the framework of the 2018-2019 Japan-Russia Inter-Foreign Ministry Consultation Plan that was signed on the occasion of the Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in March).