Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Friday, March 30, 2018, 8:43 a.m. Prime Minister’s Office

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

Opening Remarks

Administrative Streamlining at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: As part of administrative reform at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we are streamlining the visa process using an app for smartphones and other devices at our embassy in China.

The visa application form, which previously required handwritten entry of information by the applicant, can now be handled with a QR-code smartphone app that automatically inputs the applicant’s name and passport number just by taking a picture. This is easier for the applicant and also reduces processing time for the embassy to one-fifth of the previous level. We are starting test usage at our embassy in China, which processes particularly large volumes of applications.

We have also integrated the consular system, which was previously comprised of three separate systems, namely passport issuance management, visa administration assistance, and residence reports and other management, into a single system. This means it is running on a single platform and can be operated from a single terminal.

By linking resident reports and the “Tabiregi” system, whenever any kind of incident occurs, we can automatically send e-mails to the Japanese nationals living in the affected regions. We expect to improve the efficiency of our activities for the protection of Japanese nationals and reduce annual maintenance costs by 700 million yen. We will continue to thoroughly advance administrative streamlining reforms.

Administrative Streamlining at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Reporter: I have a related question. Are there plans to roll out the smartphone initiative to other countries, such as the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and the countries in Europe?

Minister Kono: We will first implement this initiative in China. If this goes well, we plan to roll out the same system to other countries.

ROK-North Korea Summit Meeting

Reporter: Yesterday, it was decided that the ROK-North Korea Summit Meeting will be held on April 27. Please explain again what Japan is anticipating from this meeting and whether it will make any suggestions.

Minister Kono: Japan hopes to see firm efforts to address the nuclear, missile, and abductions issues. We are coordinating closely with the ROK and intend to make even more thorough efforts ahead of the meeting.

China-North Korea Summit Meeting

Reporter: I have a question about China-North Korea relations. Differences have been observed in announcements from China, the ROK, and North Korea about what will be discussed and what was discussed. Please explain the Japanese Government’s view of the relationship and the type of input that Japan plans to make toward the upcoming U.S.-North Korea and ROK-North Korea Summit Meetings.

Minister Kono: The media has reported a number of things, such as that there was no mention of denuclearization in North Korea’s announcement. It is therefore vital to confirm North Korea’s intent and seriousness regarding denuclearization. Japan intends to work even more closely with the international community ahead of the upcoming U.S.-North Korea and ROK-North Korea Summit Meetings.

Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency to Visit Japan

Reporter: Director-General Amin of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will visit Japan next week. Could you please share Japan’s expectations for the meeting and how Japan will introduce renewable energy measures?

Minister Kono: Beyond the meeting itself, I hope that this visit by the Director-General of IRENA will send a strong message broadly throughout Japanese society about the state of renewable energy worldwide. The Government will take thorough steps to ensure that Japan does not fall behind global trends or that Japan is left out.

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