Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Friday, September 15, 2017, 12:20 p.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Attendance at the United Nations General Assembly

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I will visit New York from September 17 to 22 and attend the United Nations General Assembly.

We are currently making arrangements to hold a number of foreign ministers’ meetings on matters including the issue of North Korea. Furthermore, I am scheduled to hold a number of related meetings, including a Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the G4 countries on United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Reform and a Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative Ministerial Meeting.

(2) Special Grave Visit by Former Island Residents by Plane

Minister Kono: Based on the outcomes of the Japan-Russia Summit meeting in September, the two sides agreed to a special grave visit by former island residents by plane, in principle on September 23, if weather allows. This will be the first time to conduct a grave visit by former island residents by plane, and it is hoped that it will alleviate the burden on them.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kazuyuki Nakane and other officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cabinet Office will attend from the government side.

I hope that by steadily implementing such initiatives and producing various results in cooperative efforts related to the Four Northern Islands, we will increase understanding among citizens of both countries of the significance of concluding a peace treaty.

(3) Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk

Minister Kono: Today, commencing from 10:45 a.m. for approximately 15 minutes, I held a telephone talk with Ms. Kang Kyung-wha, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (ROK). Based on the recognition that now is the time to enhance pressure, we affirmed to promote close Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation in security and other areas, in order to exert pressure on North Korea.

North Korea

Reporter: North Korea is ceaselessly continuing to engage in acts of provocation. Do you believe that, even with the latest UNSC sanctions resolution, it will not be possible to stop such actions? Do you think that even stricter sanctions will be necessary?

Minister Kono: It is estimated that implementation of the recent UNSC resolution affects about 90% of North Korea’s foreign currency income. Now is an important time for the international community to fully and rigorously implement the UNSC resolution and continue putting pressure on North Korea.

Reporter: Do you expect discussion of new sanctions?

Minister Kono: An emergency meeting of the UNSC is scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. today (NY time). We will engage in a variety of coordination at this meeting.

Reporter: Experts suggest that in conducting this missile launch, North Korea is setting itself up for its next act of provocation. Do you think North Korea will continue its provocations?

Minister Kono: Japan is gathering a variety of information and currently analyzing it. Working as one with the international community, we intend to continue applying pressure on North Korea to ensure that it takes concrete steps toward denuclearization.

Reporter: When North Korea previously launched its missile in a northern direction, rather than toward Guam, your analysis was that North Korea was wavering somewhat in relation to the United States. The latest missile also followed a northern course. Is your analysis the same as previously?

Minister Kono: I do not know what North Korea intended with its missile launch. I am aware of various opinions on the matter. The Government is also conducting its own analysis.

Special Grave Visit by Former Island Residents by Plane

Reporter: I have a question regarding the special grave visit by plane that you mentioned in your opening remarks. The visit will take place on September 23, but does it include an overnight stay on the four islands?

Minister Kono: It will be a day trip.

Asset Disclosure for New Cabinet Members

Reporter: Today, the assets of new Cabinet members will be disclosed. Please explain your thoughts about your own assets and your view of the disclosure program.

Minister Kono: The Government hopes to help in ensuring trust in politics by steadily implementing the disclosure program. I do not have any particular comments on assets.

North Korea

Reporter: Regarding the issue of North Korea, previously, Deputy Director-General Hiroyuki Namazu lodged a protest with a North Korean high level official in Switzerland. Do you plan to make this type of direct statement in contact with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho or other high level officials at the United Nations, if the opportunity arises?

Minister Kono: My understanding is that Japan has repeatedly explained our stance to North Korea in Switzerland. I do not know if the North Korean side will be coming to New York and nothing specific has been decided at this point.

Attendance at the United Nations General Assembly

Reporter: You have held foreign ministers’ meetings with the ROK and the United States. Are you making any efforts to engage China and Russia?

Minister Kono: We are currently arranging telephone talks and bilateral meetings in New York.

Special Grave Visit by Former Island Residents by Plane

Reporter: Regarding the day trip by plane for the grave visit, there is apparently discussion of the former island residents staying overnight.

Minister Kono: There will not be any overnight stays.

Reporter: Is this because it has been rejected by the Russian side?

Minister Kono: No. There will not be any overnight stays.

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