Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 8:49 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
Q&A Format for Press Conferences
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: In doorstep interview-style press conferences, while I have tried to explain carefully, when there is not a lot of time, such as when there is a committee meeting right afterwards, please submit a formal request for an interview for matters that require a lengthy explanation, as much as possible, so that I can provide a thorough response. Furthermore, I would like to point out that other reporters are inconvenienced as well when questions cover matters that cannot be answered in a short amount of time, while knowing that there is not much time available.
(1) Adoption of Draft Resolution on Nuclear Disarmament Submitted by Japan to the United Nations General Assembly
Minister Kono: A short while ago, on December 4, local time, the draft resolution on nuclear disarmament submitted by Japan to the Plenary Meeting of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York was adopted with the support of 156 countries.
We are very pleased that the resolution obtained support from a wide range of countries, including the nuclear-weapon states of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, together with other 95 countries that supported the adoption of a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.
I am encouraged that the total number of countries reached 156 with an increase of 12 countries from the 144 countries that supported the adoption in the First Committee.
(2) Election of International Criminal Court Judge
Minister Kono: An election of the judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) took place today, in the afternoon of December 4 New York time, and candidate Tomoko Akane (Ambassador for International Judicial Cooperation and Public Prosecutor of Supreme Public Prosecutors Office of Japan) was elected with the most number of votes, garnering 88 votes.
I understand that two people, including Ambassador Akane, were elected in the first vote. The result was not decided for the other 10 candidates in the first vote.
I believe that Ambassador Akane as well as Japan’s stance of active involvement in advancing international criminal law and humanitarian law through the ICC are highly regarded. This is a significant outcome.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Feltman’s Visit to North Korea
Reporter: It has been announced that UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffery Feltman will visit North Korea. Please explain your thoughts on this visit.
Minister Kono: Japan has extensively exchanged views regarding the issue of North Korea with the UN Secretariat. I believe Mr. Feltman will go to North Korea and fully advocate to the North Korean regime about the need to change its current policy. That is our expectation.
Reporter: The North Korean side requested political dialogue amid the strengthening of sanctions against the country. What is your view of this North Korean conduct?
Minister Kono: I believe sanctions are starting to have a considerable impact. We hope North Korea recognizes that it does not have a bright future if it continues along this course and, change its policy.
Meeting on North Korea Co-organized by the United States and Canada
Reporter: I have a question about the call for a meeting of nations that contribute military forces to the UN Command related to the situation in North Korea from the United States and Canada. Some media have reported that the Japanese Government was asked about a meeting in December, but rejected it. Please clarify the related facts.
Minister Kono: It is true that the Canadian Government communicated us that they would like to hold consultations regarding North Korea. However, Japan explained that the meeting might not come together because of the close timing to the UN Security Council meeting and the likelihood that many of the countries invited to the meeting are attending the Security Council meeting, and the Canadian Government told us that they will change the timing.
I see here and there that the meeting is referred to as a meeting of nations that contribute military forces to the UN Command, but this was not the initial intention at all. I suspect someone started using this term at some stage, but countries that contribute military forces to the UN Command include countries that are not particularly related to the current situation in North Korea. Or, it might be misleading to say not related. They include countries that are somewhat far away in terms of both distance and geography. Japan thus communicated at the time that the participating countries should be narrowed down a little further. In any case, a variety of discussions continue to take place regarding this issue.
Draft Resolution on Nuclear Disarmament
Reporter: Going back to the UN draft resolution, fewer countries supported the adoption compared to last year’s draft resolution. Some have cited pullback in the content, expressions, and other aspects. Atomic bomb survivors and others have also noted a decline in Japan’s influence as the government of a country that has suffered atomic bombings. What are your thoughts on this point?
Minister Kono: Ninety-five of the countries that agreed with a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons supported the adoption of the draft resolution. Furthermore, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France supported the adoption, in particular, the United States and the United Kingdom were co-sponsors. Japan’s draft resolution received the most support among the draft resolutions regarding nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation submitted to the current UN session. We perceive that our draft resolution is supported by a variety of countries and countries with various perspectives.
Japan-China High-Level Consultation on Maritime Affairs
Reporter: The Japan-China High-Level Consultation on Maritime Affairs will be starting. Please share with us your expectations for a Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism and outlook.
Minister Kono: I believe it will be taking place in Shanghai. I hope there will be a wide range of exchanges of views and discussions.