Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Tuesday, November 14, 2017, 10:19 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Reporter: I have a question about the Japan-China relations. Yesterday, Prime Minister Abe met with Mr. Li Keqiang, Premier of China. This meant that during the recent series of meetings there has been an unusual level of meetings and diplomacy with the top Chinese leaders. Please explain your view of the meetings, as well as your outlook relating to the Japan-China relations for a trilateral Japan-China-Republic of Korea (ROK) summit meeting and a visit to China as upcoming activities.
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: At the Japan-China summit meeting, the two sides agreed to make steady progress in the Japan-China relations and pursue denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula by applying firm pressure on North Korea.
Japan hopes to host a Japan-China-ROK summit meeting as soon as possible and then arrange mutual visits by the top leaders.
Reporter: You had previously spoken about aiming for a Japan-China-ROK summit meeting within the year. Is that still your outlook?
Minister Kono: Japan hopes to conduct the meeting as soon as possible.
High School Student Peace Ambassadors at the UN Conference on Disarmament
Reporter: I have a question regarding the suspension of the speeches by the high school student peace ambassadors at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament in Geneva this summer. This morning, our paper reported on the specific content of official telegrams of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding this situation between the Ambassador of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament and an Ambassador from another country. The other country’s Disarmament Ambassador used fairly strong language to push for a suspension with a comment that “it is possible to request that the high school student leave the floor.” Please explain your reaction again. Also, please indicate whether the Government intends to pursue a policy that seeks to obtain understanding for resumption of the speeches from next year or whether it intends to realize communication of the high school student’s views in a separate way, such as the method used this year.
Minister Kono: The conference in Geneva is a forum that decides the program by consensus. Without a consensus for allowing the speech, the program unfortunately must change.
Previously, a high school student representing all the others entered the floor and gave a one-way speech. This time, all of the dispatched students were able to be involved and engage in interactive exchanges with representatives of countries with a variety of standpoints, including nuclear-weapon states, non-nuclear-weapon states, and also countries that agreed or did not agree with the legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons. The opportunity provided more perspectives to the dispatched high school students than in the past. Japan will consider various ways of providing the high school students with similar opportunities from next year.
Reporter: Will Japan request resumption of the speech at the conference and pursue understanding of this?
Minister Kono: The conference program is decided by consensus so we will be looking at whether a consensus can be obtained. We will also consider various options because there are some people who suggest that interactive participation in discussions by everyone is more valuable than just having one person deliver a one-way speech.
Reporter: Mr. Lee Byung-kee, the former Ambassador to Japan from the Republic of Korea, was arrested. He was involved in the Japan-ROK Agreement. What is your view of the potential impact of this arrest on the Japan–ROK relations?
Minister Kono: I am aware of the media reports on his arrest. However, this is a domestic matter for the ROK and I do not expect any particular impact on the Japan–ROK relations.
Reporter: Regarding ASEAN, there have been calls for the rule of law in response to China’s aggressive maritime expansion before. While it might be related to improvement in relations with China, the message on the rule of law seems somewhat weak this time. What is your view of the necessity of a stronger message and the future of the issue?
Minister Kono: The wording is currently being coordinated.
Reporter: Is there no change to calling for the rule of law?
Minister Kono: It is currently being coordinated.