Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Tuesday, March 27, 2018, 9:26 a.m.   Prime Minister’s Office

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

North Korea Situation (Possible Visit by a Top North Korean Official to Beijing)

Reporter: It appears that China and North Korea held a high-level meeting yesterday. There is also speculation that Chairman Kim Jong-un attended from the North Korean side. Can you please tell us the facts and the view of the Government?

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: We are currently collecting and analyzing information. We hope to receive a thorough explanation from the Chinese side regarding the developments between China and North Korea.

Reporter: Do you have any concerns that contact between China and North Korea at this timing could impact the upcoming Republic of Korea (ROK)-North Korea and U.S.-North Korea summit meetings?

Minister Kono: We intend to gather information on this aspect as well.

Reporter: Was Japan aware ahead of time that a train would be traveling from North Korea to China?

Minister Kono: We are analyzing a variety of information. I would like to refrain from commenting on what information we received and when.

Reporter: Is Japan aware of who from the North Korean side went to China?

Minister Kono: We are currently collecting and analyzing information.

Reporter: Media sources are reporting that you asked the United States to abandon mid-range ballistic missiles as a prerequisite for a U.S.-North Korea summit meeting when you visited the United States.

Minister Kono: We are exchanging a variety of views regarding this North Korea issue and coordinating closely with the United States. I would like to refrain from discussing the content.

Second Meeting of the Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament

Reporter: I have a question about the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee of the 2020 NPT Review Conference. The Second Meeting of the Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament is currently taking place. Do you wish to attend the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee in late April?

Minister Kono: If various circumstances allow, I would like to attend and make sure to provide input regarding the Japanese Government’s position in the context of the recommendations received from the Second Meeting of the Group of Eminent Persons and so on.

Attack on a Former Russian Intelligence Officer in the United Kingdom

Reporter: European countries and the United States have successively announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats in response to the attack on a former Russian intelligence officer that occurred in the United Kingdom. What is Japan’s view of these events? The situation seems likely to complicate Japan’s position in view of the Japan-Russia relations. What are your thoughts?

Minister Kono: Japan’s view is that use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and parties using chemical weapons should be punished. Prime Minister Abe has explained this position to President Putin, while I have explained it to Foreign Minister Lavrov.

The British police and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are currently conducting an investigation, and Japan hopes to see clarification of the facts as early as possible.

Reporter: Does Japan intend to expel diplomats or take actions along the lines of the European Union and others?

Minister Kono: We consider that the first step is clarification of the facts. Prime Minister Abe has already explained this position to Prime Minister May. First Japan will be paying close attention to the progress of the investigation.

Reporter: There is a G7 meeting at the end of April. Do you expect any impact on the relations between Japan and Russia if European countries and the United States continue to take a hardline stance against Russia?

Minister Kono: Japan intends to carefully manage its relations with Russia. We consider that use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, and Japan has told the Russian side that we will be paying close attention to the investigation of the British police and OPCW currently taking place in the United Kingdom.