Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Friday, April 27, 2018, 9:50 p.m. Narita Airport
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: President Moon Jae-in and Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Kim Jong-un have signed and issued the Panmunjeom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula. The Government of Japan welcomes the fact that President Moon and Chairman Kim earnestly discussed various issues including the denuclearization of North Korea, and that Chairman Kim’s intention for the denuclearization of North Korea was confirmed in the Declaration, as a positive development for the comprehensive resolution of outstanding issues of concern regarding North Korea. Japan wishes to once again express its respect for the efforts by the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) for the realization of this Summit. Based on the outcomes of this Inter-Korean Summit and through occasions such as the upcoming U.S.-North Korea Summit, the Government of Japan strongly hopes that North Korea takes concrete actions for the dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner. Japan will continue to gather and analyze information on, and closely monitor the moves of North Korea with grave interest. The Government of Japan will maintain close cooperation among Japan, the United States, and the ROK, including careful coordination with newly-appointed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, towards the comprehensive resolution of outstanding issues of concern, including the abductions, nuclear and missile issues.
Reporter: Both sides have stated that complete denuclearization is a shared goal. In your view, has any progress been made on the denuclearization of North Korea with the holding of this Inter-Korean Summit?
Foreign Minister Kono: I think it is safe to say that this step by North Korea, which has previously not made any such outward statements, represents significant progress. I believe more detailed discussions of North Korea’s denuclearization will be held during the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting. Nonetheless, this expression of intent by North Korea can be viewed as a step forward.
Reporter: The abductions issue was not mentioned in the Declaration. Could you please share your thoughts on this point?
Foreign Minister Kono: Japan has communicated its views on the abductions issue to North Korea in a variety of ways. There is no change to our basic policy of seeking to normalize relations with North Korea through the resolution of the abductions, nuclear and missile issues, in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration. I believe various further developments can be expected.
Reporter: Just now you mentioned the denuclearization of North Korea. However, today’s Declaration mentions denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. How do you perceive this difference, including how it relates to the U.S. forces stationed in the ROK?
Foreign Minister Kono: In the past, the ROK already said it does not possess nuclear weapons and the U.S. forces stationed in the ROK stated that it too does not possess any nuclear weapons. Therefore, the denuclearization of the North Korea will result in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Japan will closely monitor the situation to ensure that this is in fact the case.
Reporter: Is there any possibility of a change in the policy implemented to date of continuing to apply maximum pressure on North Korea?
Foreign Minister Kono: There is no change. It has been confirmed in various fora that, until North Korea takes concrete actions, the international community will firmly maintain economic sanctions and continue to apply maximum pressure on North Korea. Today’s developments do not alter this.
Reporter: Have you received any information regarding any interactions about the abductions issue?
Foreign Minister Kono: We hope to receive a variety of information from the ROK and to analyze it.
Reporter: In the ensuing press conference, Chairman Kim did not specifically touch upon denuclearization. How do you view this?
Foreign Minister Kono: There are various ways of viewing the situation. However, given that North Korea has not made any outward mention of this until now, this is a positive development. I understand that detailed discussions on denuclearization will take place during the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting.