Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 8:46 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Targeting 100% Renewable Energy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided to pursue RE100 approval that aims for 100% use of renewable energy at the Ministry. The Ministry consists of the main Ministry as well as overseas diplomatic establishments abroad. It will thoroughly consider how this could be done through the climate change task team with participation by the Financial Affairs Division. The Ministry intends to thoroughly consider how this target could be achieved.

Given that we are promoting diplomacy on climate change, getting started where we can is important. Additionally, our overseas diplomatic establishments will make their own efforts and seek to achieve 100% use of renewable energy at their facilities.

Also, while this still needs to be reviewed, it might be possible to offer benefits of some kind in official development assistance (ODA) for companies that have obtained approval for RE100 targeting 100% renewable energy. The Ministry will conduct a review, including this point. We would like embassies from various countries located in Tokyo to make efforts as well.

Despite tough budgetary constraints, the Ministry strongly hopes that taking initiative in this respect will lead to other ministries and agencies in Kasumigaseki, as well as local government entities showing interest in RE100 and following suit.

(2) Diplomatic Bluebook 2018

Minister Kono: A summary of the Diplomatic Bluebook 2018 was distributed at today’s Cabinet Meeting. Amid the increasingly severe security environment surrounding Japan, including North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, Japan is working closely with the United States and other countries, and actively addressing various issues confronting the international community. The latest Diplomatic Bluebook mainly presents developments during 2017 regarding these international situations and Japan’s diplomacy.

Move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Reporter: Clashes are occurring related to the move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. There have been deaths and injuries. Please explain once again the Japanese Government’s position on this situation.

Minister Kono: It is very regrettable. Japan hopes that related countries address this matter in a calm manner. A ceremony has taken place, but Japan did not attend, and the Japanese Government is not planning the relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem.

Reporter: You have repeatedly stated that the Government’s position is different from the U.S. position. I believe you have been constantly concerned about this issue. While it is a difficult issue, how will Japan be involved?

Minister Kono: We have heard that the U.S. Government intends to present a package on the peace process, and we are waiting to see this. Japan intends to actively give assistance to the Palestinians through the Jericho Agro-Industrial Park (JAIP) and other ways. In Jericho, we want to put efforts into ICT and logistics improvements as a second phase. Issues with water wells and exclusive roads were resolved at the recent four-party meeting, and we intend to proceed with implementation.

Possible “Ship-to-Ship Transfer” by a Republic of Korea Registered Tanker

Reporter: I have a question regarding “ship-to-ship transfer” countermeasures. There are media reports on possible involvement by a Republic of Korea (ROK) ship. Please explain the facts.

Minister Kono: The Japan Self-Defense Forces discovered an ROK-registered tanker coming close to ships of North Korea registry and reported the incident to the ROK. The ROK Government conducted a survey as the flag country and found that this was not ship-to-ship transfer. It has just informed this to us.

Reporter: Does this mean that Japan has certified that the ROK was not involved?

Minister Kono: We were informed by the ROK Government that it was not involved.

Reporter: Dialogue is currently increasing with North Korea. Will Japan continue its “ship-to-ship transfer” countermeasures?

Minister Kono: Measures against ship-to-ship transfer by friendly countries operating out of Kadena Air Base are proceeding smoothly. Additionally, ships from various countries have started providing assistance to ship-to-ship transfer countermeasures. The international community intends to take firm actions to address attempts to circumvent sanctions.

U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting

Reporter: Related to the U.S.-North Korea summit meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on a TV broadcast yesterday that the U.S. is willing to provide a regime guarantee and economic assistance if North Korea agrees to completely denuclearize. Is this in line with Japan’s stance?

Minister Kono: Former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson clearly stated in the “Four Nos” stance that the U.S. is willing to give a regime guarantee. This is no different than what the international community has done up to now.

Reporter: Do you think public statements on this matter indicate that there is an outlook for North Korea to agree to complete denuclearization at the U.S.-North Korea summit meeting?

Minister Kono: A variety of exchanges are taking place between Japan and the U.S. I would like to refrain from getting into details.

Terrorist Attack Incident in Surabaya, Indonesia

Reporter: Terrorist attacks have occurred in Indonesia in succession. I believe extremism in Southeast Asia is a matter of interest to you following your recent participation in a meeting related to the Aqaba Process in Jordan. Southeast Asia has more Muslims now than the Middle East. Please explain your thoughts once again about how Japan should be involved in addressing inroads made by IS in this region and counterterrorism.

Minister Kono: It is extremely disconcerting to see use of young children in suicide bombings. Concerns were expressed in the recent Aqaba Process about a large flow of fighters under the influence of ISIL into Southeast Asia. It is truly regrettable, particularly given our countermeasures against extremism in Southeast Asia and against the spread of extremism.

Japan intends to reinforce collaboration with countries such as Southeast Asian countries and Jordan, which led the recent Aqaba Process, and steadfastly implement countermeasures again extremism.

Minister Attendance at Diet Deliberations

Reporter: I have a question about internal affairs and the Diet. Yesterday morning you spent about four hours for just one question. What are your thoughts about the approach to the attendance of the Cabinet Ministers at Diet deliberations amid major developments in international affairs?

Minister Kono: While a Minister should obviously come to answer questions that are posed at the Diet, I hope the Diet could give a little more consideration to appearances as a formality because of the need as a Minister to handle various policy responses and manage the Ministry itself.

Reporter: Do you see some actual impact on foreign policy efforts?

Minister Kono: Yesterday, for example, I had many issues to address, including terrorist incidents in Indonesia just mentioned, the embassy move to Jerusalem, the deadline for political party registration in Cambodia’s general election, and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as well as a dinner event with Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister on the issue of Rakhine State Muslims. Unfortunately it was not possible to receive explanations of related information and make decisions on all of these matters during yesterday at the Ministry.

It is naturally important to carry out the duty of attending the Diet and responding to questions as a Minister, but I believe the ruling and opposition parties should consider a 21st-century style to Diet operations regarding the portion that is more of a formality.

Targeting 100% Renewable Energy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Reporter: Going back to the 100% renewable energy goal from your opening remarks, what are your plans for the power source and how large is the budget? Did you report thoughts about these aspects at today’s Cabinet Meeting?

Minister Kono: I explained the Diplomatic Bluebook at today’s Cabinet Meeting. Regarding RE100, there was not an explanation because we are at the point of deciding to pursue RE100 within the Ministry and still need to review the details. The way in which we achieve RE100, the target fiscal year, and interim targets must be addressed within the context of budget constraints. We will be giving serious consideration to these points through the task force that includes members from the Financial Affairs Division.

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