Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Sunday, April 15, 2018, 8:25 p.m. Iikura House
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Today, from 4:30 p.m. for just under four hours, I held a Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and working dinner with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
I believe that in an extremely positive overall atmosphere, we were able to have fruitful exchanges of views about the promotion of the Japan-China relations on the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China. In particular, we agreed to implement a wide range of practical cooperation and comprehensively improve the Japan-China relations through visits by leaders from both sides, with the visit to Japan of Premier Li Keqiang in conjunction with the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit as the first step.
Furthermore, we confirmed the importance of working together on a wide range of global issues based on the concept of a “Mutually Beneficial Relationship Based on Common Strategic Interests.”
Regarding the East China Sea, I emphasized that there will be no genuine improvement in the Japan-China relations without stability in the East China Sea, and we confirmed the importance of making the East China Sea a “Sea of Peace, Cooperation, and Friendship.”
As for the North Korea issue, we held candid and in-depth discussions based on the current situation. We confirmed that we would continue to fully implement the related Security Council resolutions and cooperate closely in order to ensure that North Korea abandons all nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, irreversible, and verifiable manner. Furthermore, I once again called for the understanding and cooperation of China toward resolving the abductions issue as quickly as possible.
We also held discussions about practical cooperation for the economy. Tomorrow we will hold the first Japan-China High-Level Economic Dialogue in eight years, and I and State Councilor Wang Yi will serve as the co-chairs. We will hold discussions about a wide range of Japan-China cooperation for the economy with the ministers from the related ministries and agencies. I intend to work hard to make it a fruitful meeting.
Reporter: Firstly I would like to ask about the mutual visits of the leaders. What kinds of exchanges were held about the visit of Prime Minister Abe to China and the visit of President Xi Jinping to Japan?
Minister: Firstly we have agreed to firmly proceed with high-level visits such as the visit to Japan of Premier Li Keqiang in conjunction with the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit, followed by the visit to China of Prime Minister Abe, and the visit to Japan of President Xi Jinping.
Reporter: There was a China-North Korea summit meeting recently. Have you heard anything about the exchanges that took place on that occasion?
Minister: We held a variety of in-depth exchanges in the context of the situation in North Korea. I will refrain from commenting on the content of the exchanges as a courtesy.
Reporter: Regarding the North Korea issue, on the issue of how to proceed with negotiations with North Korea Prime Minister Abe has made a statement to the effect that there is no point to negotiations for the sake of negotiations. I think an exchange of views was held regarding this point today as well. What do you think about negotiations going forward regarding the framework of the Six-Party Talks with North Korea after today’s discussions?
Minister: We did not discuss the Six-Party Talks today. I was able to confirm that the perceptions of Japan, the United States, the ROK, and China are in alignment regarding the present inter-Korean summit meeting with North Korea and the United States-North Korea summit meeting, and about the fact that the economic sanctions based on the Security Council resolutions to date must be implemented properly.
Reporter: Please tell us if the attack on Syria carried out yesterday by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France was discussed in today’s foreign ministers’ meeting and, if it was, what kinds of exchanges you had on this topic.
Minister: We did not discuss Syria today. Today, we mainly discussed the Japan-China relations and then global issues, and at the working dinner, the main topic was the North Korea issue.
Reporter: Was the schedule for the Japan-China-ROK summit meeting finalized in the present meeting?
Minister: I think that the participating countries, including the ROK, will work out the details thoroughly going forward.
Reporter: In your four-hour meeting, what proportion of the time did you spend on the North Korea issue?
Minister: We thoroughly discussed the North Korea issue at the working dinner.
Reporter: Do you mean that you spent most of the dinner on the North Korea issue?
Minister: That’s right. We talked about the relations between United States and China a little, but we mostly talked about the North Korea issue.
Reporter: Earlier you said that you called for the understanding and cooperation of China regarding the abductions issue. Was a positive response or attitude seen from China?
Minister: I take every opportunity to make a variety of statements to China with respect to this abductions issue. We also talked today about China’s view of the matter and other matters.
Reporter: You made the statement that this was the first step in further advancing relations with China. On the other hand, support for Prime Minister Abe is falling partly due to the domestic Moritomo issue and the story about the Kake Educational Institution, and the Abe administration is becoming unsteady on its feet domestically. Do you think this kind of situation will have an effect on advancing the Japan-China relations going forward?
Minister: We did not discuss that today in particular.
Reporter: What do you think about this point?
Minister: I intend to conduct diplomacy in a firm manner, without being caught up in such matters in particular.
Reporter: You said that you agreed to make the East China Sea a sea of friendship. Was anything specific decided?
Minister: I received the opportunity to present the issue as seen by Japan. I will refrain from commenting on the details of the exchanges, but our perceptions were in alignment regarding the fact that stabilizing the East China Sea is necessary for the development of Japan-China relations.
Reporter: Were there any discussions about the issue of the Senkaku islands in the meeting? Furthermore, was there an exchange of views about the maritime and aerial communication mechanism?
Minister: We intend to work as hard as we can to speed up the maritime and aerial communication mechanism.
Reporter: Regarding the earlier matter of the abductions issue, you said that China had a view of the matter. What specifically did China say about this?
Minister: I will refrain from commenting on the statements made by the other party.