Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Wednesday, November 1, 2017, 9:26 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Truck Attack in Manhattan, New York

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I am aware that a terror attack occurred in New York that killed eight people. I would like to express my condolences to the victims and my sympathy to the injured. The Government of Japan stands in full solidarity with the United States to reaffirm that we will not condone terrorism.

So far we have not received any reports about Japanese nationals being affected.

(2) Holding of Director-General-Level Working Groups on Joint Economic Activities

Minister Kono: Regarding joint economic activities on the Four Northern Islands, based on the outcomes of the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting held in September this year, we will hold a co-chairs’ meeting of the director-general-level working group on project details on November 2 and a co-chairs’ meeting of the director-general-level working group on the movement of people on November 3 in Moscow.

Based on the outcomes of the field surveys that have been conducted until yesterday, October 31, on the Four Northern Islands, we intend to engage in concrete discussions on the five candidate projects to be undertaken promptly, and also advance discussions on a framework for the movement of people that is necessary for all projects.

(3) Adoption of the Draft Resolutions Submitted by Japan to the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (Resolution on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects & Resolution on the Arms Trade Treaty)

Minister Kono: The draft resolution on nuclear disarmament submitted by Japan to the United Nations was recently adopted. In the area of conventional arms as well, yesterday, October 31 (New York time), the draft resolutions submitted by Japan on illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects and on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) were also adopted.

Since 1995, Japan, Colombia and South Africa have consistently submitted draft resolutions on small arms and light weapons to the United Nations. This year as well, the draft resolution was unanimously adopted.

With regard to the ATT, which is the first treaty to regulate the international trade in conventional arms, Japan currently holds the ATT presidency and is advancing preparations for hosting the next Conference of States Parties in August 2018.

Japan will continue to play an active role in various areas related to disarmament, including weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms.


Reporter: UNESCO has postponed a decision on inscribing documents related to comfort women to its Memory of the World Register. However, the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) remains intent on working to realize their inscription. I believe Japan wishes to build a future-oriented relationship with the ROK. What is your view regarding this response of the ROK Government?

Minister Kono: Our understanding is that the ROK Government will take actions that respect the Japan-ROK Agreement.

Reporter: Will the Government be requesting this to the ROK Government?

Minister Kono: The ROK Government has stated that it will adhere to the Japan-ROK Agreement. Therefore, we believe the ROK Government will take actions that are in line with the Agreement.

Reporter: I have a question regarding this issue of the Memory of the World Register. The ROK Government will be taking actions to realize the inscription. Do you consider that these actions are in alignment with the Agreement?

Minister Kono: We view that the ROK Government will not take such actions.

Join Economic Activities

Reporter: In your opening remarks, you touched upon the joint economic activities. With a Japan-Russia Summit Meeting scheduled to take place at the upcoming APEC meetings, what outcomes will you be aiming to achieve in the director-general-level meetings, and by when do you intend to realize and implement the joint economic activities on the Four Northern Islands?

Minister Kono: Now that the field surveys have been completed, we must first hold thorough discussions among the co-chairs, and then hold various discussions in the working group, regarding how we should proceed.

We intend to move forward as swiftly as possible, but the timing will depend on the consultations between the co-chairs.

Adoption of the Draft Resolution on Nuclear Disarmament Submitted to the United Nations

Reporter: You recently issued a statement regarding the draft resolution on nuclear disarmament. However, I would like to ask for your thoughts on the fact that over 20 fewer countries approved the resolution this time. On a related note, Austria and a number of other countries submitted a draft resolution urging countries to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, to which Japan voted in opposition. From the perspective of acting as a bridge between the different sides, I believe one option would have been for Japan to abstain from the voting. Could you please explain the intention behind Japan opposing the draft resolution?

Minister Kono: With regard to Japan’s draft resolution on nuclear disarmament, it was not our aim to increase the number of countries that approved the resolution. Rather, our aim was to encourage as many nuclear-weapon states as possible to reaffirm their commitment to nuclear disarmament. The United States and the United Kingdom co-sponsored the draft resolution, and France approved the resolution. Furthermore, the United Kingdom and France abstained from the voting last year. In light of this, and given the fact that three nuclear-weapon states approved the draft resolution, two of which co-sponsored it, this outcome is very much in line with our originally-stated aim.

In addition, a number of countries that approved the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons also co-sponsored this draft resolution. The fact that a significant number of countries voted to approve the resolution is an extremely positive result.

A variety of resolutions on nuclear disarmament have been submitted to the current session of the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly and adopted. However, Japan’s resolution was approved by 144 countries, the most of any of the adopted resolutions. I believe this draft resolution by Japan continues to receive the support of the largest number of countries, across a variety of positions, since it was first submitted over 20 years ago.

Regarding the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, I recognize that it plays a role in spreading awareness for nuclear disarmament and promoting its ideals. However, I believe that there are of course also other approaches for achieving nuclear disarmament. Like two wheels on a cart, I believe we can have both an approach of moving forward practically, one step at a time, and an approach that is more idealistic.

Reporter: Did Japan oppose the other resolution because it could not approve the approach?

Minister Kono: It is because we have a different approach.


Reporter: My question is about UNESCO. Since it has decided to postpone the decision on the documents related to comfort women, will Japan now be leaning towards paying its assessed contribution to UNESCO? Is that the correct understanding?

Minister Kono: We are currently undertaking various activities to arrive at a comprehensive decision regarding Japan’s assessed contributions and voluntary contributions to all international organizations. UNESCO is no exception.

Reporter: Are you saying that the entire Government is set on reaching a comprehensive decision regarding Japan’s assessed contributions to all international organizations?

Minister Kono: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is conducting a comprehensive review of assessed and voluntary contributions. UNESCO is included in this review.

Reporter: So this is being done not under the instruction of the Prime Minister but based on a decision by MOFA?

Minister Kono: I instructed this.

China-ROK Efforts Related to the Deployment of THAAD

Reporter: I have a question regarding an issue between two countries not involving Japan. China and the ROK, which were at odds over the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in the ROK, are now seeking to resolve their disagreement. What is your reaction to this development amid the deteriorating situation in North Korea?

Minister Kono: This is a very welcome development given that the two countries need to cooperate as members of East Asia, especially the Six-Party Talks, against the backdrop of North Korea’s recent acts.

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