Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Friday, September 8, 2017, 10:49 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Opening Remarks

Visits to Five Middle Eastern Countries

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I will visit Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt from today through September 13.

In Egypt, the first Japan-Arab Political Dialogue will be held. I will serve as co-chairman of the dialogue with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and the Foreign Minister of Algeria, the chair country.

Before the meeting, I will visit Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. There I will deliver the same message as I will to the Foreign Ministers who will be participating in the political dialogue. Namely, given that some countries in the Middle East have close ties to North Korea and accept many North Korea workers, I will describe Japan’s position in relation to the current circumstances, and request some kind of response to the situation whereby these North Korean workers are sending foreign currency to North Korea. In addition, I also intend to engage in thorough exchanges of views regarding the situation in the Middle East.

Japan-Russia Summit Meeting

Reporter: I would like to ask about yesterday’s Japan-Russia Summit Meeting. While the two leaders agreed in their meeting to work together closely at the United Nations in addressing the North Korean situation, there still seems to be a difference in perception between President Putin and Prime Minister Abe regarding strict sanctions at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), and there are many aspects on which the two leaders are not in agreement. However, Russia’s cooperation is vital in order to build an international network for encircling North Korea. What type of approach is the Government of Japan considering?

Minister Kono: Both countries share the view that denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is the goal, and have agreed to work together at the United Nations and other fora. Regarding a UNSC resolution, while each country is dealing with various circumstances of its own, our views do not differ greatly on the need, ultimately, for the international community to send a strong message to North Korea. Coordination is currently taking place at the United Nations toward the adoption of a UNSC resolution, and Japan will make thorough efforts to that end.

Three Non-Nuclear Principles

Reporter: Given the rising threat level from North Korea with its nuclear tests and other activities, former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba has called for the need to discuss the bringing of nuclear weapons into Japan. He suggests that it is necessary to discuss the bringing of nuclear weapons into Japan, even if they are not possessed or produced by Japan, otherwise there will not be any deterrence. What are your thoughts on this point?

Minister Kono: Since the start of this crisis, the United States has committed to providing Japan with deterrence, including extended deterrence, with President Trump, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and National Security Advisor Gen. McMaster repeating at every stage that the United States is with Japan 100%. I believe the deterrence ability of the United States, including extended deterrence, is currently working very effectively.

The Japanese Government has not revised the three non-nuclear principles up to now and has no plans to discuss revising them.

Joint Economic Activity

Reporter: I have a question related to the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting held yesterday. While the two sides reached agreement on five items related to joint economic activity, Deputy Prime Minister Trutnev commented that Russia will wait two months but accept investments in the special economic zone from third countries if there is no progress. What is your view on this comment? Also, how does Japan intend to proceed with economic activities and to link these efforts to advancing the peace treaty negotiations?

Minister Kono: I am not aware of the comment you mentioned. Japan and Russia agreed to dispatch a research team from the end of September and into October. In addition, we also plan to establish a working group to review various legal measures and frameworks. Furthermore, the two leaders agreed to hold a Japan-Russia intergovernmental committee in November or December. This shows that Japan and Russia have a shared recognition to steadily advance the five items.

Comments by Mr. Soichiro Tahara

Reporter: Mr. Soichiro Tahara has proposed that the Prime Minister should visit North Korea to resume the Six Party Talks. Do you have any information about this?

Minister Kono: I have not heard anything in particular from Prime Minister Abe.

North Korea’s Day of the Foundation of the Republic

Reporter: Tomorrow is North Korea’s Day of the Foundation of the Republic. What is your view of the possibility of a new provocation? Also, what should be the response of the international community in the case of further acts of provocation?

Minister Kono: Under the current circumstances, provocations could occur at any time. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense and the entire Government will work closely together to make the necessary preparations. If a further provocation were to occur, the international community must apply further pressure on and send an even stronger message to North Korea.

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