Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 10:51 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Dissolution of the House of Representatives
Reporter: Prime Minister Abe stated yesterday that he intends to dissolve the House of Representatives at the start of the Extraordinary session being convened in two days to seek a mandate from the people regarding revisions to the use of consumption tax revenue, the response to North Korea, and other matters. Can you please share your comments?
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: From a Foreign Minister’s perspective, the dissolution is likely to seek a mandate regarding security arrangements based on the Japan-U.S. Alliance that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) or the LDP-Komeito government has established in the postwar period.
Our situation analysis of the North Korean crisis currently involves the sharing of intelligence that corresponds to specially designated secrets from various countries, and judging the situation by comparing it and the intelligence we have obtained ourselves. This intelligence includes content that would not have been shared with Japan unless it passed the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets. Opposition parties took stands against the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets during its discussion process. If Japan did not have the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets right now, we could have been looking at the situation with one eye closed when it is visible with both eyes. Furthermore, if the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States were not allies at this point, North Korea could have been dictating various matters to the ROK backed by its nuclear and missile capabilities.
In this context, we have built the security arrangements based on the Japan-U.S. Alliance while placing the impact on and asking for the understanding of the people in Okinawa and other areas with military bases. I think a question being raised in this election is whether to continue Japan’s defense and security measures under these arrangements or maintain security in a manner envisioned by the opposition parties that have opposed the Legislation for Peace and Security and Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets.
I intend to fully protect Japan’s future under the security arrangements based on the Japan-U.S. Alliance amid the North Korean crisis.
Reporter: I have a related question. Amid the tense conditions surrounding North Korea, coming up next month is the anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the Chinese Communist Party’s Congress. Given that the election period may overlap with these events, what are your thoughts about crisis management readiness? Also, has the Prime Minister given any specific instructions?
Minister Kono: The Government is always making steady preparations to manage a crisis. Last week, Prime Minister Abe attended the United National General Assembly session, as did I. This did not weaken our crisis management readiness.
Inability to accomplish things because of conditions in North Korea would be buckling to the North Korea threat. Japan is a democratic nation and should not be prevented from holding a general election, the most central component of democracy, because of the North Korean threat. Japan intends to proceed with the election while fully sustaining the same level of crisis management readiness as usual.
Reporter: Regarding the election campaign, I imagine that you are likely to receive requests to provide support from around the country. How do you plan to approach the campaign while also fulfilling your role in crisis management readiness?
Minister Kono: The Chief Cabinet Secretary, Minister of Defense, and State Ministers and Parliamentary Vice-Ministers for Foreign Affairs will stay in Tokyo to handle crisis management. I intend to be actively involved in election support.
Reporter: Prime Minister Abe used the expression “national crisis” to describe the North Korean situation at yesterday’s press conference. Do you have the same view?
Minister Kono: Given this crisis, we will be seeking a mandate from the people regarding the security arrangements based on the Japan-U.S. Alliance as noted earlier.
Japan-U.S. Nuclear Energy Agreement
Reporter: The Japan-U.S. Nuclear Energy Agreement will expire in July 2018. Some media reports are suggesting that the Government intends to extend the agreement. Please explain the facts.
Minister Kono: The Government has not reached any decision yet. Japan and the United States will work together closely on this matter.
Reporter: I think it automatically renews unless both parties make requests. Do you see a need to stop and reassess the discussion?
Minister Kono: The two countries will work together in various ways.