Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Thursday, September 6, 2018, 2:11 p.m. Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Today, I am making my first visit to Germany in about half a year. This is my second visit to Germany as Minister for Foreign Affairs, while my first visit to Berlin.
Under the free and open international order in the postwar period after World War II, Japan and Germany have developed as peace-loving nations. Amidst the recent wavering of this international order, we reaffirmed that it is necessary for us to closely cooperate to maintain and reinforce this rule-based international order.
Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Maas and I agreed on this idea during his visit to Japan, which I believe was in July. Together with agreeing on this recognition with Chancellor Merkel during my courtesy call to her this time, Chancellor Merkel also stated that she would like to enhance cooperation with Japan.
Germany will become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council from 2019. I stated regarding the North Korean issue that it is essential that all countries completely implement the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions, and confirmed continued Japan-Germany close cooperation on the North Korean issue.
In addition, regarding the international situation including Asia, I held a considerably extensive exchange of views with Chancellor Merkel. As for the G20 Osaka Summit to be held next year, I would like to have Japan-Germany cooperation and step up various exchanges.
Following this, I am going to deliver Japan’s foreign policy and the prospect of the Japan-Germany relations with party leaders at a meeting of the CDU/CSU parties, which are Germany’s largest parties. I would like to have a frank discussion on the East Asia situation including North Korea.
In addition, at the end I am planning to hold a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Maas. It is natural that Japan and Germany, which have developed as peace-loving nations under the free and open international order in the post-war period after World War II, increase their cooperation to maintain and strengthen this international order. 2021 will be the milestone 160th anniversary of the Japan-Germany exchange, so without considering our current bilateral friendly relations to be inevitable, I would like to exert efforts to deepen our cooperative relations even further.
Reporter: I would like to ask about the content of your discussion with Chancellor Merkel. In relation to maintaining the free and open international order, friction has been heating up between the United States and China, and it is also being said that the United States might impose new sanctions on China. What kind of exchange did you have with Chancellor Merkel on this situation and what points of agreement did you have?
Minister Kono: Regarding trade at least, because there is currently a multilateral, diversified trade regime centered on the World Trade Organization (WTO), I believe it is fine to say that we shared an agreement on precisely maintaining and reinforcing this internationally. The United States and China are the world’s largest and second largest economic powers, so these actions that are inconsistent with the current trade regime could lead to causing major economic disruption, so I would like this to be firmly shared with both countries.
Reporter: I have two questions on a separate matter. The Republic of Korea (ROK)-North Korea Summit Meeting will be held for the third time on September 18 in Pyongyang. At the press conference, the ROK’s special envoy stated that Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea indicated his intention to denuclearize by the end of President Trump’s first term. What expectations do you have for progress through this upcoming summit meeting?
Minister Kono:I have received various explanations from the ROK side, but I hope that through this ROK-North Korea Summit Meeting, we will see development leading to specific progress in denuclearization as agreed upon during the United States-North Korea Summit Meeting.
Reporter: Did you receive an explanation from the ROK side regarding the schedule and other matters?
Minister Kono: We have held various exchanges of opinions with the ROK side until now, and received a precise explanation this time as well.
Reporter: I have a related question. Chairman Kim Jong-un has stated that he is dissatisfied that he has not gained the understanding in international public opinion despite progress in abandoning nuclear test sites and nuclear facilities. Does Japan analyze that North Korea is currently advancing its movements toward denuclearization?
Minister Kono: We recognize that North Korea is closing its nuclear test sites and dismantled its missile engine test sites. These movements must be irreversible, and I must say that even further concrete steps toward denuclearization are needed. I have expectations for a return to the previous system so that North Korea reports its nuclear facilities as quickly as possible and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is able to conduct precise inspections.
Reporter: I have a question on a different matter. There was a large earthquake in Hokkaido, so can you please explain if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to proposals of support from foreign countries?
Minister Kono: We have received proposals of support from certain countries and regions. We have also received condolence messages from President Moon of the ROK and Prime Minister Morrison, the new prime minister of Australia. I believe there are proposals of support that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will accept for necessary areas. We will firmly make requests as necessary.
Reporter: Was there anything from Chancellor Merkel about the earthquake?
Minister Kono: Chancellor Merkel also touched upon the earthquake and typhoon damage.
Reporter: Was there any discussion today of Chancellor Merkel separately visiting Japan ahead of the G20 Osaka Summit?
Minister Kono: I certainly requested her to visit Japan. Chancellor Merkel said that there should be a summit meeting if possible at this year’s G20 summit, so we will conduct coordination for this in a firm manner.
Reporter: During your meeting with Chancellor Merkel today, was there any discussion on Japan-Germany cooperation in the Caucasus region?
Minister Kono: Chancellor Merkel has also visited the Caucasus so we discussed our recognition of the region, but our discussion focused on economics and the East Asia situation.
Reporter: The schedule for the ROK-North Korea Summit Meeting has been decided, so did Chancellor Merkel make any reference to this?
Minister Kono: I explained various aspects of Japan’s recognition of the North Korea situation in relation to East Asia. We shared recognition of the need to firmly maintain the UNSC Resolutions for this.