Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Wednesday, September 5, 2018, 5:05 p.m. Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan

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

Opening Statement

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: This is my final country to visit during my trip to three countries in the Caucasus region. This is the first visit to Azerbaijan by a Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs in 19 years. I finished a series of events in Azerbaijan.
I believe the independent development of the Caucasus region, which is, so to speak, the junction between Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, is indispensable for the peace and security of the entire international community.
The three Caucasus countries I visited have different characteristics and generalizing about the entire region is difficult. I announced the Caucasus Initiative, Japan’s support for the independent development of the region, and conveyed the Initiative’s policies to each country.
I would like this visit to be a milestone for strengthening relations between Japan and these three Caucasus countries. In Azerbaijan today, I held respective meetings with President Aliyev, Prime Minister Mammadov, and Foreign Minister Mammadyarov, and I believe this was a significant first step toward further development of our future bilateral relations, including the decision to begin formal negotiations on an investment treaty.
Using this visit as an opportunity, I would like to strengthen efforts in accordance with the Caucasus Initiative for further development of the relationship between Japan and the Caucasus region.
Tomorrow, I am going to visit Germany, pay a courtesy call on Chancellor Merkel, and then hold a talk with Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Maas. In addition, I am planning to attend a meeting of the CDU/CSU parties to state Japan’s position on the situation in East Asia and other matters, and hold discussions for developing the bilateral relations between Japan and Germany.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: I would like to ask first about the meetings with Azerbaijan today. You referred to energy security. Can you please explain again if there is significance to deepening relations with oil-producing countries outside the Middle East as insecurity increases with talk about the United States’ sanctions against Iran?

Minister Kono: There are Japanese companies that have a partial interest in Azerbaijan, and it has been decided to extend this interest. In addition, Azerbaijan is supplying energy to Europe, and whether the energy is being precisely supplied greatly affects the global stable energy supply. One more factor is that countries surrounding the Caspian Sea have reached an agreement. If construction of the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline crossing Turkmenistan and other countries advances going forward, it will contribute to a more stable supply of energy to the entire world. Thus, Azerbaijan’s location will be crucial for the entire world.

Reporter: Regarding the energy issue, the period for the sanctions against Iran in November is approaching, so how will the Government of Japan respond to the request by the Government of the United States?

Minister Kono: We will hold close discussion with the United States so that the negative impact on Japanese companies is prevented from expanding as much as possible.

Reporter: Regarding a different matter, continuing on from the questions yesterday, it has been reported that the content of the talk between the special envoy of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea will be discussed at a press conference tomorrow. Can we expect any results from this meeting?

Minister Kono: I would like to expect that these movements by the ROK and North Korea will lead to firm actions toward denuclearization by North Korea, as agreed at the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting. Japan will firmly receive information from the ROK side and consider our response going forward.

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