Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Monday, October 8, 2018, 8:30 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: From about 8:00 p.m. for just under approximately 15 minutes, I held a telephone talk with the Honorable Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State of the United States. I asked about the results of Secretary Pompeo’s visits to Pyongyang, Seoul, and Beijing, and held an exchange of views. Japan and the United States have firmly cooperated regarding the North Korea situation thus far, and we agreed to work on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula while firmly strengthening our cooperation going forward.
It was reported in the electronic media today, “Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho of North Korea, who met with Foreign Minister Kono at the end of September in New York, conveyed again that he is not thinking of quickly holding a Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting.” However, as I believe I stated before, this is completely incorrect so I would like to request you to reliably report accurate information.
Reporter: Did you have a specific exchange with Secretary Pompeo today about the procedure of denuclearization?
Minister Kono: I held an exchange of views as before with Secretary Pompeo regarding the same approach to this issue between Japan and the United States.
Reporter: Did you receive the impression that there has been progress?
Minister Kono: We discussed U.S. inspectors visiting the test sites, which U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Biegun stated externally. I believe that can be called one form of progress.
Reporter: In Seoul, Secretary Pompeo stated that he had raised the abductions issue. What was your exchange regarding this point?
Minister Kono: Secretary Pompeo raised the issue with Chairman Kim Jong-un when discussing Japan-North Korea relations.
Reporter: Did you have an exchange regarding how Japan will engage in denuclearization?
Minister Kono: We have had that until now, so there was no particular change.
Reporter:The North Korean side is seeking a so-called declaration of the end of the Korean War. Did you discuss or receive information about that?
Minister Kono: As I have stated recently, a declaration of the end of the Korean War is not a particularly major theme.
Reporter: Did you and Secretary Pompeo agree on the recognition that reporting on nuclear weapons and nuclear facilities is important?
Minister Kono: We already finished discussing that a while ago.
Reporter: Did you not reaffirm that today?
Minister Kono: That was already finished a while ago.
Reporter: Secretary Pompeo raised the abductions issue. Did he discuss the reaction of Chairman Kim Jong-un?
Minister Kono: Secretary Pompeo raised the issue with Chairman Kim Jong-un with regard to Japan-North Korea relations.
Reporter: Did you discuss Chairman Kim Jong-un’s reaction?
Minister Kono: I cannot say anything in particular.
Reporter: Secretary Pompeo visited Seoul and Beijing this time. What was your exchange regarding cooperation with the Republic of Korea (ROK) and China?
Minister Kono: That is a matter of relations between other countries besides Japan, so I cannot comment on it publicly.
Reporter: It seems that North Korea spoke this time about allowing inspectors to enter the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. How do you evaluate this?
Minister Kono: I believe it is one form of progress. I do not think this was a step backwards.
Reporter: Secretary Pompeo raised issues between Japan and North Korea. President Moon Jae-in announced that a possibility has opened up for a summit meeting soon, so did Secretary Pompeo say anything about it?
Minister Kono: I only want to state that he raised issues between Japan and North Korea.
Reporter: Is it correct to understand that that included a summit meeting?
Minister Kono: It is as I stated.
Reporter: Your stance has been that a declaration of the end of the Korean War would be premature. Is it correct to understand that there is no change to the agreement on this between Japan and the United States?
Minister Kono: There is no change to anything between Japan and the United States.
Reporter: You said that a declaration is not a major theme this time, but did the topic come up during your telephone conversation with Secretary Pompeo?
Minister Kono: It is not a major theme.
Reporter: Did you discuss the location of the second U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting?
Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from commenting.
Reporter: There are some reports that ROK Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang announced that the foundation established based on the agreement between Japan and the ROK would be dissolved within the year.
Minister Kono: There were none.
Reporter: Are those reports incorrect?
Minister Kono: There were none.