Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 8:35 a.m.   Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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Japanese

North Korea Issue (Comments by U.S. Vice President Pence)

Reporter: Media outlets in the United States are reporting that Vice President Pence suggested the possibility of dialogue between the United States and North Korea without any preconditions. Please explain the views and the response of the Government of Japan.

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to refrain from commenting on individual media reports. Secretary of State Tillerson appears to be saying something different. Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) are collaborating on the basis that it is vital to continue working very closely with each other to apply maximum pressure on North Korea. This policy has not changed in any way.

Establishment of Office for UN Sanctions (tentative)

Reporter: It is reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will establish Office for UN Sanctions (tentative) as early as this April. Please clarify related facts and the aim.

Minister Kono: The Ministry is requesting the establishment of Office for UN Sanctions (tentative) in the budget for the next fiscal year. This budget request is being made with the hope that effective coordination will be conducted across the Ministry in light of various activities related to United Nations Security Council resolutions, including the North Korea issue.

North Korea Issue (Comments by U.S. Vice President Pence)

Reporter: Vice President Pence mentioned “talk” rather than “dialogue.” Do dialogue and talk have different meanings in the shared understanding between Japan and the United States?

Minister Kono: I think what you are referring was reported by the Washington Post and others. I would like to refrain from commenting on individual media reports.

Northern Territories Issue (Comments by Foreign Minister Lavrov)

Reporter: Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov commented recently in regard to the Northern Territories issue that this was the result of World War II and Japan must recognize this fact, and noted again that negotiations on concluding a peace treaty will be impaired as long as Japan does not explain about the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. With a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the visit by Prime Minister Abe to Russia scheduled to take place in succession this spring, please explain your view regarding these comments and how you intend to deal with the territories issue.

Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from commenting on individual statements made by people from other countries. I continue moving ahead with dialogue between Japan and Russia on the existing path, as we have done up to now.

Japan-ROK Summit Meeting

Reporter: At the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting held last week, in response to Prime Minister Abe’s comment that the U.S.-ROK joint military exercises should be conducted, President Moon Jae-in appears to have stated that this is an internal matter and not something that Japan should comment on. Please explain if you interpret this response as a signal amid the conciliatory mood of the dialogue between the ROK and North Korea, and also tell us once again what Japan, the U.S., and the ROK are thinking about this.

Minister Kono: Japan, the U.S., and the ROK are in full agreement on the importance of applying maximum pressure on North Korea with the aim of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. While some media outlets might be reporting a conciliatory mood between the ROK and North Korea, the reality is that pressure will continue to be steadily applied. Prime Minister Abe and President Moon agreed on this application of pressure at the meeting. I intend to take steady steps, looking ahead to after the Olympic and Paralympic Games.