Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Saturday, July 29, 2017, 11:20 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Today, commencing at 11:00 a.m. for approximately 20 minutes, I held a telephone neeting with Ms. Kang Kyung-wha, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (ROK). I stated to Minister Kang that it is meaningless to have dialogue with North Korea for the sake of dialogue and that now it is necessary to apply pressure on North Korea, as was affirmed at the Japan-US-ROK Trilateral Summit meeting on July 6. With regard to the response to the issues of North Korea, Minister Kang and I confirmed that it is critically important for the neighboring countries, Japan and the ROK, to cooperate on the response. In addition, I explained Japan's independent measures against North Korea announced on July 28, which Minister Kang appreciated. Furthermore, we shared the view that Japan, the United States, and the ROK will continue to work closely to adopt a new United Nations Security Council resolution, including strict measures. We also confirmed that Japan-ROK as well as Japan-US-ROK cooperative relations will be advanced in a range of areas including security.
Reporter: You held telephone talks with the US and ROK foreign ministers in succession. Do you perceive that the talks have deepened understanding among the three countries in the sense of promoting trilateral cooperation?
Foreign Minister Kishida: I believe it is critically important that Japan, the United States, and the ROK work together to apply pressure on North Korea, to take steps in the Security Council, and to call on China and Russia to play a role. In this context, I held telephone talks with the foreign ministers of the ROK and the United States today, in which we affirmed that the three countries will work together and make forward-looking efforts. This is significant. As was mentioned in my discussions with the foreign ministers, a telephone talk was also held between the US and ROK foreign ministers. It is vital that communication is maintained among the three countries, and so we will continue to hold discussions at a variety of levels.
Reporter: I understand you stated to Minister Kang that dialogue with North Korea for the sake of dialogue is meaningless. What was the Minister’s reaction? Is my understanding correct that both of you agreed on this point?
Foreign Minister Kishida: The Japan-US-ROK Trilateral Summit meeting on July 6 comfirned that dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless, and that it is necessary to apply pressure at this juncture. During our telephone talk today, we again shared the view that it is fundamentally important to apply pressure on North Korea.
Reporter: The ROK had already been calling for dialogue with North Korea regarding military aspects. Now that North Korea has launched its missile today, I would think that the ROK is no longer seeking dialogue. During the talk today did either of you bring up the matter of ROK-North Korea dialogue or the ROK’s stance on dialogue with North Korea?
Foreign Minister Kishida: The Minister explained the views of the ROK. As I noted earlier, Minister Kang and I again shared the view today that it is important to apply pressure on North Korea. I believe it is essential that the two countries confirm these fundamental views.
Reporter: You are now concurrently serving as Minister of Defense. Have you received any explanation from the Ministry of Defense (MOD) today? Did you give any instructions?
Foreign Minister Kishida: MOD also briefed me on the situation before I held the telephone talk with the ROK Foreign Minister. In addition, I have issued instructions. I will go to MOD this afternoon.
Reporter: You stated that the United States welcomed Japan’s independent measures, which the ROK appreciated. Meanwhile, yesterday China protested that Chinese companies were subject to Japan’s independent measures. How do you intend to call for China’s involvement?
Foreign Minister Kishida: With China, a Japan-China Summit meeting was held on the margins of the recent G20 Summit. At the Summit meeting, Japan called on China to fulfill a constructive role, including on the issues of North Korea. In my series of telephone talks today, the ministers and I affirmed that Japan-US-ROK cooperation is important also for call on China to fulfill its role. Japan will continue to work with the ROK and the United States to call onChina to fulfill its role.
Reporter: You said that you will be going to MOD this afternoon. As Minister of Defense will you be holding telephone talks with the leaders of relevant countries?
Foreign Minister Kishida: Consideration will be given to maintaining necessary communication with the relevant countries. I will do so as appropriate. Nothing specific has been scheduled yet at this point in time.
Reporter: You held telephone talks today in succession. Since you are concurrently serving as foreign and defense ministers, you must also find time to go to MOD. Can you please share your current thoughts on concurrently serving as two ministers, such as the difficulties of arranging your schedule and so on?
Foreign Minister Kishida: I am concurrently serving as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defense. Fundamentally I am taking steady steps to ensure that there is nothing missing or inadequate with regard to our response to North Korea’s provocations. Cooperation between the foreign and defense ministries is vital in dealing with issues such as ballistic missile launches. I believe concurrently holding these two positions also allows for smoother responses to the situation. The current crisis situation requires that I make efforts to ensure that the two ministries work together more smoothly. At the same time, I will undertake steady steps to ensure that there is nothing missing or inadequate with regard to our response.
Reporter: The heads of the US and ROK military forces held a telephone talk and discussed their options regarding military countermeasures, among other matters. Have any military discussions taken place between Japan and the United States or between Japan and the ROK, or could such discussions take place going forward?
Foreign Minister Kishida: At this point in time we are communicating at the foreign minister-level. I believe it will be important to fully maintain communication among the three countries, including on concrete issues. Telephone talks and other forms of communication will be conducted appropriately as necessary.