Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, February 14, 2017, 8:34 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Attendance at the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bonn
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I plan to visit Bonn, Germany to attend the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting being held on February 16 and 17.
At the meeting, I will actively communicate the direction that the G20 should be taking amid a growing tendency toward protectionism and inward-looking sentiment worldwide.
I also plan to utilize this opportunity to hold Foreign Ministers’ meetings with Italy, Russia, and other countries, and exchange views with Ms. Cecilia Malmstrom, European Commissioner for Trade. We are currently still in the process of making arrangements for other foreign ministers’ meetings.
G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
Reporter: This is related to the G20 meeting. On the bilateral front, North Korea’s missile launch is a topic for discussion with China and the Republic of Korea (ROK), and there is also the comfort women issue with the ROK. Could you provide an update on Japan’s meeting coordination with China and the ROK and your own thoughts on the matter?
Minister Kishida: We have received inquiries about foreign ministers’ meetings from many countries, besides the ones I mentioned just now, on the occasion of the G20 meeting. We are still making arrangements and nothing specific has been finalized yet. We intend to continue work on coordinating the schedule. I think it is still too early to make comments at this point because these foreign ministers’ meetings have not been decided yet.
Ballistic Missile Launch by North Korea
Reporter: Regarding the missile launch by North Korea, earlier the United Nations Security Council concluded its emergency meeting and approved a statement condemning the launch. What is Japan’s view of the response? Also, there is a view in the international community that the United States might take a tougher approach to North Korea. What type of collaboration will Japan pursue? While Japan is already applying its own sanctions, some government sources have spoken about strengthening these measures. What are your thoughts on this point as well?
Minister Kishida: First, regarding the actions of the Security Council, closed discussions took place at 7 a.m. on February 14 (Japan time). I received a report at just after 8 a.m. Japan time that the Security Council had issued a press statement that strongly condemns the ballistic missile launch on February 12 and reaffirms that North Korea must return to full compliance with its international obligations and refrain from further violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions. Japan welcomes the swift issuance of this message.
Regarding future responses, I expect continued discussions among relevant countries regarding the Security Council’s response. I believe we must make thorough efforts to ensure the thorough implementation and efficacy of the successive resolutions that have already been issued, including United Nations Security Council Resolution 2321. I believe discussions should be held on this basis.
As to Japan’s own measures, I believe it is important to first continue to steadily implement existing measures and also continue to review what further actions to take, from the standpoint of what will be most effective, while monitoring North Korea’s response. Japan intends to move forward with this policy.
G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
Reporter: In regard to the G20 meeting, you mentioned the issue of protectionism. Many countries have elections this year, and concern about the Trump administration is growing in EU countries. What do you plan to convey to EU countries about these concerns as the Foreign Minister of Japan, which has established friendly relations with President Trump? Also, you have a meeting scheduled with Italy’s Foreign Minister. What will be your focus looking ahead to future G7 meetings?
Minister Kishida: I have repeatedly stated that it is important to work together with countries with whom Japan shares fundamental values in light of the prevailing uncertainty. Japan intends to emphasize collaboration with many countries, especially those with whom Japan shares fundamental values.
Italy is the G7 chair country this year as you noted. The meeting, if it takes place, will be my first foreign ministers’ meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano who took office in December 2016. I think it is very important to thoroughly confirm G7-related cooperation between Japan, as last year’s chair country, and Italy, as this year’s chair country. The G7 is truly a framework of countries that share fundamental values, and I believe the G7’s importance continues to grow. Japan places great importance on cooperation with Italy as this year’s chair country.
Reporter: On the same subject of bilateral meetings on the occasion of the G20 meeting, I would imagine that joint economic activities will be a topic of discussion with Russia. In addition, I expect the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to be the theme of the meeting with the European Commissioner for Trade. Please explain the outcomes that you expect from these meetings.
Minister Kishida: With regard to Russia, in light of the positive momentum resulting from the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting held in December 2016, I hope to of course discuss bilateral relations, including the peace treaty issue, and also a broad range of pressing international situations.
Regarding the meeting with European Commissioner for Trade Malmstrom, the Commissioner recently proposed discussions on a Japan-EU EPA, and I decided to hold a meeting with the Commissioner during my trip to Europe to attend the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in light of this proposal. Japan will continue to strive to swiftly realize an agreement in principle regarding a Japan-EU EPA.
Reporter: Do you expect to reach an agreement in principle at this meeting?
Minister Kishida: I would like to refrain from making speculative comments about the meeting content. In any case, we have agreed on the overall direction. We will hold discussions in this context, and I hope to advance the discussion as much as possible.
Negotiation of a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons
Reporter: A preparatory meeting toward negotiations on concluding a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons takes place this week in New York. Will anyone be attending from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?
Minister Kishida: I have not heard of anything being decided.