Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Norio Maruyama
Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 4:33 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Japan-Finland Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
Mr. Norio Maruyama, Foreign Press Secretary: This evening, Foreign Minister Kono is holding a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting over dinner with Foreign Minister Soini of Finland.
Japan and Finland marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relationship next year. Prime Minster Abe visited Finland in July 2017 and agreed with President Niinistö on further deepening the strategic relationship between the two countries.
We hope that today’s Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, following the agreement between the two leaders, will further strengthen the positive bilateral relations between Japan and Finland, an important strategic partner that shares fundamental values such as the rule of law, and promote our cooperation at international fora.
(2) Informal Meeting on Further Actions Against Climate Change
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: The 16th Informal Meeting on Further Actions Against Climate Change will take place at Mita Kaigisho in Tokyo on February 22 and 23.
This meeting has taken place annually in Tokyo between February and March since 2002 with Japan and Brazil as co-chairs. Chief negotiators for climate change negotiations from major countries conduct candid discussions in an informal setting.
The negotiators from each country attach significant importance to this meeting as an opportunity to reflect on the outcomes from the previous year’s COP and discuss the direction of the negotiations until the COP in the year of the meeting. It has also been praised as the first meeting to start the discussions for the year’s climate change negotiations and meetings.
North Korea Situation (Contact Between the U.S. and North Korea, and Japan and North Korea at the PyeongChang Olympic Games)
Kyodo Press, Tanaka: It was reported this morning that a meeting between Vice President Pence and the North Korean side had been arranged to take place during the Vice President’s visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK) but that the North Korean side cancelled at the last minute. The U.S. Government has confirmed this too. What is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ assessment and view on this matter?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Prime Minister Abe and Vice President Pence closely coordinated the direction of measures during the visit to Japan by Vice President Pence and in PyeongChang. They also fully agreed on the policy stance of placing maximum pressure on North Korea for the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.
Japan continues to apply maximum pressure using all available means in cooperation with the U.S. and with the U.S. and the ROK, with the aim of getting North Korea to change its policies, and to create conditions so that North Korea requests dialogue.
NHK, Tsuji: Was the Japanese side informed ahead of time that the U.S. side was seeking to meet with North Korea?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: With regard to our relations with the U.S., I would like to refrain from answering questions about the specific discussions between Japan and the U.S. In the course of the series of opinion exchanges between Prime Minister Abe and Vice President Pence, Japan and the U.S. spent sufficient time closely coordinating responses to the North Korean delegation visiting the ROK, and they have shared with us the necessary information.
NHK, Tsuji: Prime Minister Abe interacted with Kim Yong-nam, while Vice President Pence interacted with Kim Yo-jong. It seems that the leaders had different counterparts. How should this be interpreted?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: As you mentioned, on the occasion of the PyeongChang Olympic Games, Prime Minister Abe raised the abductions, nuclear and missile issues and communicated Japan’s views to President Kim Yong-nam of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea at the reception hosted by President Moon Jae-in.
NHK, Tsuji: How should it be interpreted that the counterpart for contact with North Korea is different between Japan and the U.S.?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: I would like to refrain from commenting on what the U.S. side is thinking.