Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Monday, August 13, 2018, 2:25 p.m. Quito, Ecuador

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

Opening Remarks

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I am visiting Ecuador for the first time as the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, or more precisely as a Japanese minister, during this important year which is the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Japan-Ecuador diplomatic relations. After holding a foreign ministers’ meeting with H.E. Mr. José Samuel Valencia Amores, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of the Republic of Ecuador, I held a signing ceremony for the Exchange of Notes and a joint press conference. I also attended a breakfast meeting with the Ecuador-Japan Friendship Parliamentarian's Group with grilled steak in the morning, a luncheon meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility Valencia, as well as a presentation for a special stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Japan-Ecuador diplomatic relations. At the foreign ministers’ meeting, we exchanged views on cooperation in politics, economics, and other various areas between our two countries, as well as people-to-people exchange. Following this, I had a luncheon meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility Valencia. As the new Moreno administration is conducting significant political and economic reforms, I stated that Japan would like to firmly support this. I also confirmed that we would like to further develop the favorable trade relations that have been built up between our two countries.

In order to promote energy composition conversion in Ecuador aiming at sustainable development in the country, we confirmed continued cooperation towards implementing financing for the first time in about 20 years. A significant number of countries in South America have adopted Japanese terrestrial digital broadcasting, and we also confirmed steadily advancing public-private cooperative relations in the fields of telecommunications and digital terrestrial television in Ecuador.

In addition, in order to provide disaster prevention equipment to the Government of Ecuador, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility Valencia and I signed an Exchange of Notes. I also expressed congratulations that Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés was selected to be President of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, and said that I hoped for cooperation with Ecuador in various international fora including the United Nations. In addition to this, I held an exchange of views on the situations in Venezuela and North Korea, as well as nuclear disarmament and United Nations Security Council reform. I believe the discussions and luncheon meeting were very meaningful.

After this, I am going to pay a courtesy call to H.E. Mr. Lenín Moreno Garcés, President of the Republic of Ecuador, attend the reception for the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Japan-Ecuador diplomatic relations, and would like to speak with representatives of the Japanese residents in Ecuador. My stay is a short one of under 24 hours, but I believe it is great visiting Ecuador taking this opportunity. I hope to be able to increase ministerial-level talks a little more in the future. That is all.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: This is your first visit to Ecuador. What are your impressions and thoughts on Ecuador?

Minister Kono: I feel that the air is thin up here. An oxygen machine was placed in my room. This morning I had a little time, so I tried breathing in the oxygen and I became quite comfortable, which made me realize that it is quite intense.

Reporter: At the foreign ministers’ meeting, you agreed on further strengthening cooperation with Ecuador going forward. Can you please explain again the importance and significance for Japan of strengthening relations with Ecuador?

Minister Kono: Ecuador is now working hard to join the Pacific Alliance, and Japan would like to strengthen relations with Central and South America through the Pacific Alliance. As Ecuador is creating a very open economic system, I would like to promote its close economic relations. In particular, there is prosperous advancement of Japanese companies in Central and South America, and amidst this, I believe Ecuador will occupy an important position. In addition, Ecuador exports important products such as bananas, frozen broccoli, and crude oil to Japan, and going forward I believe it will increase its exports to Japan of high quality cocoa beans. In that context, I attach importance to Ecuador for trade investment relations.

Reporter: I would like to ask a question on a different topic regarding North Korea, which is the subject of growing interest in Japan. There are reports that a Japanese man is being held in North Korea, so if possible can you please tell us the facts of the matter and the recognition of the Government of Japan?

Minister Kono: Due to the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from answering.

Reporter: Are you refraining from answering whether the Government of Japan recognizes this or not?

Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from answering.

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