Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Friday, October 27, 2017, 10:42 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Visit to Japan by the NATO Secretary General
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will pay a working visit (invitation by Minister for Foreign Affairs) to Japan from October 29 to November 1.
I am going to have a meeting and a lunch with Secretary General Stoltenberg on October 30. Secretary General Stoltenberg will also pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and also hold a meeting with Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera. Taking this opportunity, we would like to fully deepen the collaboration between Japan and NATO.
National Congress of the Communist Party of China
Reporter: I have a question about China. The National Congress of the Communist Party of China has ended, and General Secretary Xi Jinping is now in his second term. Today you will be meeting with a senior official from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs who is visiting Japan. What do you hope to discuss toward the realization of a Japan-China-Republic of Korea (ROK) trilateral summit?
Minister Kono: I would like to congratulate everyone who was selected to the new leadership. Today Mr. Gong Hyeon-U will arrive in Japan and will be paying a visit to me as well. Now that the Party Congress has ended, I hope we can begin coordinating the schedule for holding the Japan-China-ROK trilateral summit by the end of the year as much as possible.
Reporter: I have a question related to UNESCO. Some media have reported that UNESCO has decided not to make a decision regarding the inscription of documents related to the comfort women issue as requested by civic groups in the ROK and China. What does the Japanese Government know? Can you also explain your view?
Minister Kono: I understand that a committee of experts is holding discussions. As UNESCO has passed a resolution on the need to avoid heightening political tensions among member states, I believe the proposal made by the committee of experts should be respected by adhering to this spirit. I urge member states to act in this manner.
Initiative to Designate “Nanjing Massacre” Commemorative Day in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Reporter: The Legislative Assembly of Ontario in Canada passed a motion to designate the “Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day.” How is the Japanese Government responding?
Minister Kono: My understanding is that the proposal was originally submitted as a bill to the province’s Legislative Assembly. I have been informed that this motion has no legal binding power, and that motions are debated by a group of members with a very small quorum. Be that as it may, it is regrettable that the motion was debated and passed. However, my understanding is that it has no legal binding power.
Reporter: Will there be any response?
Minister Kono: This was originally submitted as a bill and then downgraded substantially to a motion. We will provide careful explanations on this issue.
Reporter: UNESCO’s International Advisory Committee (IAC) concluded that it should postpone the registration of the comfort women documents. UNESCO hence will not be reaching a conclusion until sometime later. This is what media sources are reporting. Have you confirmed the facts?
Minister Kono: It is being stated that the Committee is postponing a decision. My understanding is that as a formal process Director-General Irina Bokova of UNESCO will make various decisions in light of the Committee’s decision.
Reporter: So the Japanese Government has not confirmed the discussions by the IAC?
Minister Kono: We are collecting information.
Draft Resolution on Eliminating Nuclear Weapons
Reporter: The draft resolution on the eliminating nuclear weapons is submitted by Japan annually, and it was stated that it will be adopted as early as today. However, it has still not been adopted as of yesterday. While you issued a video message and have continued to actively seek support, non-nuclear-weapon states are still putting up strong resistance and media reports suggest that not many states are likely to give support this time. How do you intend to garner support given this situation?
Minister Kono: Many draft resolutions were submitted to the First Committee and I have heard that the adoption will be delayed by one day due to various agenda procedural matters. The biggest aim of the latest draft resolution is reestablishing common ground after the Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons deepened the divide between nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states and also created divisions among non-nuclear-weapon states. We also consider it important for nuclear-weapon states to once again fully commit to nuclear disarmament. Japan’s goals are establishment of common ground and obtaining commitments from nuclear-weapon states to nuclear disarmament. At this point in time I believe we are steadily headed in this direction.
Reporter: Does headed in this direction mean that you are expecting adoption?
Minister Kono: We are hoping for adoption. We hope that it will be adopted by the countries that have proposed this draft resolution with Japan and countries giving endorsement including countries that did not join the Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, countries that support the treaty, and nuclear-weapon states. Japan expects approval and co-sponsorship from countries in each of these groups.
North Korea Situation
Reporter: There are media reports that North Korea conducted a combustion test for a missile engine in around the first half of last week. Is there anything you are aware of?
Minister Kono: We are aware of various information, but I would like to refrain from disclosing them.