Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Norio Maruyama

Wednesday, May 23, 2018, 4:31 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

Foreign Minister Kono Visits Brazil, Argentina, and the United States

Mr. Norio Maruyama, Foreign Press Secretary: Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs, completed his visits to Brazil and Argentina, and is currently in the United States. He is scheduled to meet with Mr. Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State of the United States of America, tomorrow Japan time.

He visited Sao Paulo, Brazil on May 20 and visited the Japan House Sao Paulo. Foreign Minister Kono gave a speech on Japan’s foreign policy toward Latin America. Furthermore, Sao Paulo has the world’s largest community of Japanese immigrants and descendants (Nikkei), and Foreign Minister Kono met with Nikkei youth who are playing an active role in this region. He also attended a welcome ceremony hosted by a Nikkei organization and exchanged views on strengthening collaboration between Japan and the Nikkei community. Additionally, Foreign Minister Kono offered his congratulations on the 110th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Brazil.

At the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Buenos Aires on May 21, Foreign Minister Kono held a candid exchange of views with foreign ministers from participating countries. He also announced that next year’s G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture from November 22 to 23. Foreign Minister Kono also took the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Indonesia, South Africa and Australia.

Additionally, Foreign Minister Kono paid a courtesy call on President Macri of Argentine. In the Japan-Argentina Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, he voiced support for the economic policies and reform efforts of the Macri administration. Foreign Minister Kono also expressed his hope that the trade and investment environment between the two countries will be improved and that economic ties will be reinforced, and he conveyed that Japan has decided to adopt the One Village, One Product technical assistance project requested by the Argentine side.

U.S.-ROK Summit Meeting

NHK, Tsuji: A U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) Summit Meeting has been held and President Trump mentioned the possibility of postponing the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting. Please explain the Japanese Government’s position again.

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: I believe the U.S.-ROK Summit Meeting provided an opportunity to confirm cooperation ahead of the upcoming U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting.

It is very important to conduct bilateral policy coordination between each of our three countries in order to ensure close collaboration among Japan, the U.S., and the ROK. As I mentioned earlier, Foreign Minister Kono is visiting the United States on May 23 and he is scheduled to hold a Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and engage in other dialogues. We will engage in close information sharing and policy coordination, including the outcomes of the U.S.-ROK Summit Meeting, both bilaterally between Japan and the United States, and trilaterally among Japan, the United States and the ROK. Japan will fulfill its role through close Japan-U.S.-ROK trilateral cooperation, as well as cooperation with the international community, including China and Russia.

You also mentioned a possible postponement. I am aware that, at the press conference held following the U.S.-ROK Summit Meeting, President Trump mentioned the possibility of postponing the upcoming U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting or not holding it at all. In any case, at the upcoming U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting, what is important is not the holding of the meeting itself, but using this meeting as an opportunity to make progress towards resolving the nuclear, missile, and, most importantly, abductions issues.

Japan highly values the strong determination shown by President Trump in seeking to elicit concrete actions by North Korea. Japan will continue to firmly convey its views to the United States ahead of the upcoming U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting and advance preparations with the U.S. side.

Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

NHK, Tsuji: As you noted in your opening remarks, Foreign Minister Kono will be holding a Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Secretary Pompeo recently announced a new U.S. policy on Iran and called for cooperation for adopting a tough stance against Iran, even mentioning Japan specifically. Will this be a topic of discussion at the Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting? I also have a question about the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization (CVID). I believe the Japanese Government’s stance on the denuclearization of North Korea is to seek concrete actions for achieving CVID and to not lift sanctions until CVID is achieved. What is the Japanese Government’s stance and assessment regarding the much-discussed “Libya model”?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Regarding your first question, while I would like to refrain from speculating on what exactly might be discussed at this Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, if time allows, I believe there might be an explanation of Japan’s position on issues and conditions in the Middle East and an exchange of views on the latest situation and other aspects. Regarding your point about the United States’ Iran policy, Japan is obviously aware of the U.S. Government’s announcement. Our view at this point is that we should carefully review the content of the announcement. We will then continue to engage in close consultations with the United States and other related countries.

Regarding the kind of CVID being sought and whether it will be discussed in the upcoming Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, here too, I would like to refrain from speculating on the specific content of the discussions. Nonetheless, Japan intends to confirm with the United States that we will maintain pressure to elicit concrete actions from North Korea toward the dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner, and that the United States will raise the abductions issue and urge North Korea to resolve the issue as soon as possible at the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting.

NHK, Tsuji: Perhaps I did not phrase my question well. I believe it is impossible to predict how the two sides will discuss the topic of denuclearization at the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting and there are various approaches to achieving denuclearization. For example, there is action-for-action or the comprehensive Libya model. Within these options, what is the Japanese Government’s stance at this point on the Libya model, which was mentioned by the U.S. National Security Adviser? What is Japan’s assessment?

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Your question touches upon the specific format by which the denuclearization of North Korea will be sought, a subject that will be discussed at various upcoming meetings. I would like to refrain from giving detailed comments on Japan’s views in this forum as it would expose our position.

Japan-Russia Summit Meeting

Hokkaido Shimbun, Kataoka: I think the final arrangements for the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting are being made. Some media sources suggest that the two leaders are likely to reach an agreement on various activities, including sea urchin cultivation. Please explain the outlook for this meeting and the expected outcomes.

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: I am aware of the media reports you mentioned. While I would like to refrain from speculating on the possible outcomes of the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting, I would say that we are accelerating efforts to specify the details of five candidate projects for joint economic activities on the Four Northern Islands, based on the discussions at the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting in November 2017 and the subsequent Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

In the context of advancing Japan-Russia relations in a wide range of areas that contribute to national interests, Japan will continue to engage in persistent negotiations with the Russian side based on the basic policy of resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands and concluding a peace treaty. There is no change in this stance. I believe we will approach the upcoming Japan-Russia Summit Meeting based on this same policy.

ROK Media Reports on the Diplomatic Bluebook

Mainichi Shimbun, Tanabe: There was recently some commentary among the ROK media regarding Japan’s Diplomatic Bluebook that cited some changes in the wording as evidence of an effort to create some distance between Japan and the ROK and suggested that this was due to the ROK’s non-fulfillment of the agreement as a cause. Please explain your reaction to this view.

Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: First of all, I would like to refrain from commenting individually on each and every review or media report. Furthermore, the Diplomatic Bluebook is a record of diplomatic activities over the past year and explains Japan’s policy from this perspective. While a wide range of people offer a variety of comments, I would like to refrain from commenting individually on such reports or opinions.

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