Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Tuesday, May 29, 2018, 9:22 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

North Korea (U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting)

Reporter: I have a question about the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting. Last week, President Trump announced the cancellation of the summit meeting, which was initially planned for June 12. Since then there have been very active diplomatic activities between the two countries. How do you view this development?

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I do not think it is necessary to be swayed by each and every development that emerges. From the international community’s perspective, what is important is for the international community to continue to maintain its solidarity and apply pressure on North Korea. Therefore, regardless of whether or not the summit meeting is held, or even after the summit meeting is potentially held, it is important to firmly maintain pressure on North Korea until it achieves complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. It is necessary to reaffirm that this is not a matter that will be swayed by each and every development that emerges.

Reporter: In your press conference on the following day, May 24, you commented that the United States had made this decision based on its judgment that North Korea has not demonstrated a commitment to denuclearization. However, at the second recent Inter-Korean Summit, it was announced that North Korea will undergo complete denuclearization. In light of this, do you think progress has been made on securing North Korea’s commitment to denuclearization?

Minister Kono: If the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting is indeed held in Singapore, then I believe this will become somewhat clearer.

Reporter: I believe the Japanese government is closely monitoring developments related to the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting from the perspective of the comprehensive resolution of the abduction, nuclear and missile issues. What will be the Government’s involvement in the summit meeting? Would you dispatch a special delegation, for example? Could you please share your current thoughts?

Minister Kono: We will continue to monitor whether or not the summit meeting will actually be held, right until the very end, and respond firmly in whatever way necessary.

Reporter: I have a follow-up question on the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting. In the speech you gave yesterday, you pointed out that some political commentators have criticized Japan for the fact that there are no plans to hold a Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting, even though Inter-Korean Summits have been held, a China-North Korea Summit Meeting has been held, and a U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting is planned. You made a counter argument to the effect that there are no plans for Mexico or Sweden to hold such a meeting with North Korea either. However, there exists between Japan and North Korea the abductions issue, which is a matter of the utmost importance and one that was even raised as one of the reasons for the dissolution of the House of Representatives last year. In light of this, is it really appropriate to treat the lack of plans to hold a Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting in the same way as the situations in Mexico or Sweden?

Minister Kono: In essence, I was saying that the United States would meet with North Korea on behalf of the international community.

Visit to Takeshima by Members of the National Assembly of the ROK

Reporter: I have a question about Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) relations. Yesterday, members of the National Assembly of the ROK visited Takeshima. I understand that the Japanese government as issued a protest but could you please also share your views?

Minister Kono: This is completely incompatible with Japan’s position. We therefore issued a strong protest.

U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting

Reporter: Are arrangements being made for you to travel to Singapore, provided the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting is indeed held?

Minister Kono: I do not know.

Presidential Election in Venezuela

Reporter: My question concerns the presidential election in Venezuela please. You stated during your visit to Latin America that it must be said that the electoral process in Venezuela is problematic. However, you have taken a different stance on Cambodia, which faces a similar situation, with the main opposition party being dissolved and other such events. Japan’s commitment to and stake in Cambodia is different to that of Venezuela. Nevertheless, given the difference in Japan’s stance towards these two countries, both of which have held or may hold an election that cannot be said to be fair, do you not think Japan will be questioned for its lack of consistency? What is your position on this matter?

Minister Kono: Venezuela held its elections under the current circumstances, whereas Cambodia has not yet held its election. Japan continues to urge Cambodia to hold an election that fully reflects the will of the people.

North Korea (Statements by Minister Kono in a Press Conference)

Reporter: I also have a question about your press conference in Buenos Aires. You said something to the effect that, whenever anything happens, the media immediately refers to the abductions issue or North Korea. I believe North Korea and the abductions issue are at the very core of Japan’s diplomacy. Could you please explain once again your thoughts on what proportion of its attention the media devotes to North Korea and the abductions issue and what you think the right balance is?

Minister Kono: I was pointing out that even though I had given a speech on Japan’s policies in Latin America, the press reports only referred to North Korea.

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