Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Tuesday, June 12, 2018, 9:40 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Opening Remarks

Visit of Minister Kono to the Republic of Korea (ROK)

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Depending on the outcome of the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting being held in Singapore today, I intend to visit the ROK tomorrow and the day after tomorrow to coordinate a Japan-U.S., Japan-ROK, and Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

Questions related to the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting

Reporter: I think that the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting is just about to start, and it is said that the biggest concern is denuclearization. I think you have spoken about that denuclearization previously, but what kind of progress and commitment, commitment from North Korea are you hoping for or expecting?

Minister Kono: I think the focus will be on whether or not a clear commitment can be obtained from North Korea for complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, and ballistic missiles of all ranges.

Reporter: Regarding a so-called road map, do you think the discussions will go as far as to include the process?

Minister Kono: I will be cautious and avoid commenting at this time.

Reporter: Regarding the abductions issue, which is a concern, if it was taken up 100% in yesterday’s Japan-U.S. Summit Telephone Talk as well, given that, I think it will lead to direct negotiations between Japan and North Korea in the end. What are your expectations and thoughts about new progress regarding the abductions issue?

Minister Kono: It has been agreed that President Trump will raise the abductions issue, but I think that in the end this is an issue that must be discussed between Japan and North Korea, so I intend to closely monitor the developments at today’s summit meeting.

Reporter: Do you mean that there may be progress in direct negotiations between Japan and North Korea depending on the developments at the summit meeting?

Minister Kono: I do not know how the summit meeting will turn out, so now I will cautiously avoid making comments about anything.

Reporter: Once again, what kind of information gathering system does the Government of Japan intend to adopt regarding the present U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting?

Minister Kono: We have dispatched Secretary-General Yachi, Director-General/Assistant Minister Kanasugi and other staff, so we are already engaging in quite close exchanges of information.

Demand from the United States regarding plutonium reduction, etc.

Reporter: It has been pointed out that the Government of the United States has asked for a reduction in the plutonium held by Japan due to the fact that there has been no progress in restarting the nuclear power stations. Can you comment on whether the United States has asked for this and on how Japan will respond?

Minister Kono: There is a major principle that the international community as a whole should not hold plutonium for which there is no purpose of use, and naturally Japan fully complies with that policy, so I think regardless of whether the United States did or did not ask for this, Japan must not possess plutonium for which there is no purpose of use.

Questions related to the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting

Reporter: This question relates to the U.S. and North Korea. Handling of the North Korean issue in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an organization in which China and Russia are participating, in particular involvement with phased denuclearization advocated by China and Russia in mind, were mentioned in the last Leaders’ Declaration. Now the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting has been held so one major obstacle has been surmounted. Could you please tell us your thoughts again regarding that kind of involvement with the related countries such as China and Russia, and how Japan, the U.S., and ROK intend to respond to it?

Minister Kono: I think that after CVID by North Korea has made progress, the peacebuilding in Northeast Asia, including the Korean Peninsula will probably entail the involvement of places such as China and Russia. China is also a signatory to the Korean Armistice Agreement, so I think that when discussions are held about the Korean War, naturally China will also be involved as one of the parties.

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