Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Friday, October 6, 2017, 10:25 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

The Trump Administration in the United States

Reporter: I have a question regarding the Trump Administration in the United States. Over the past few days, there has been a large number of news media sources pointing out rifts within the Trump Administration. There are also reports emerging that Secretary of State Tillerson intends to resign. How do you view this situation, and what impact do you think it will have on Japan's diplomacy, including with regard to dealing with the North Korean issue?  

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I do not believe that I should make specific comments about the domestic affairs of the United States, but at the very least Secretary Tillerson has stated that he will not resign, and President Trump also recently stated that he trusts the Secretary of State wholeheartedly. Consequently I do not believe there will be any particular impact on the Japan-U.S. relations or issues including North Korea.

House of Representatives Election

Reporter: My question concerns the general election. The Party of Hope announced its campaign pledges a while ago, and with regard to diplomacy and security, they state that the Party will do away with unproductive standoffs between the ruling and opposition parties over the security legislation. Up to now you had been stating that diplomacy and security policies would be one point at issue in the election, so how do you feel about the fact that a campaign pledge like this has emerged?

Minister Kono: If an individual who up until the end of September was saying they were absolutely opposed to the security legislation and will reject the bill then switches to supporting the legislation because they have been told to by their boss, it raises the concern that they may go back to opposing the legislation again if the boss' feelings change, or that, if the boss does not run for parliament and so someone else acts as boss, the individual concerned would change to supporting or opposing the bill again depending on what that boss says. That would be problematic. Other countries would also find this highly problematic, I believe, and would wonder whether or not it is possible to really trust someone who switches from opposing something to supporting it overnight.  

Reporter: As you also briefly mentioned, the election will be held without the Party of Hope's representative running for parliament and without being able to determine who the party's candidate for Prime Minister is. What are your feelings about this?

Minister Kono: I question the decision of the Party of Hope to fight an election in a situation where it is unknown whether, if the Party secures a majority, Mr. Masaru Wakasa will be nominated as Prime Minister or it will be someone else. I think it would be more considerate for the Party to make things clearer to citizens from the outset, for example if it is the case that it does not intend to challenge for a majority.   

Reporter: The announced election date is also the same as North Korea's anniversary, and it has been pointed out that there is a possibility of another provocation of some sort. Could you once again explain what crisis management considerations will be made from here on when composing the schedule around the announced date of the election? 

Minister Kono: Where the government is concerned the Chief Cabinet Secretary and the Defense Minister will be in Tokyo, and where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is concerned there are always the State Ministers and the Parliamentary Vice-Ministers for Foreign Affairs in Tokyo, so there are no problems in terms of crisis management, I believe.

Reporter: Will your own schedule be affected in any way?

Minister Kono: I think that will also depend on whether or not we conclude that something will happen, but at the very least the Defense Minister, the Chief Cabinet Secretary and the State Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Parliamentary Vice-Ministers for Foreign Affairs are carrying out crisis management properly every day, I believe.
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