Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Tuesday, June 19, 2018, 8:44 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Suspension of the U.S.-ROK joint military exercises

Reporter: The Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Korea (ROK) announced earlier that the U.S.-ROK joint military exercises that were planned for August have been suspended. What is the reaction of the Government of Japan to this, and are there any impacts or concerns, etc. pertaining to the security of East Asia?

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I understand that this is in response to the statement by President Trump that he would refrain from implementing the joint exercises as long as North Korea was negotiating in good faith. My understanding is that if we arrive at a situation in which North Korea is not negotiating in good faith, then the joint exercises will be resumed. Also, this decision has no impact on other exercises, in particular the Japan-U.S. joint exercises.

Comfort Women Issue (Statement by Kang Kyung-wha, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ROK)

Reporter: Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha from the ROK stated yesterday that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the ROK would shortly announce a plan to ensure that the comfort women issue would be positioned as a serious human rights issue in the international community. If you have any reaction to this please tell us.

Minister Kono: I interpret it to be contrary to the spirit of the Japan-ROK agreement, and I’m bit confused what is happening since we only recently had conversations, in the Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and in a courtesy call on President Moon Jae-in in Seoul, about how the Japan-ROK relations will move forward in a future-oriented manner as this year is the 20th anniversary of the Japan-Republic of Korea Joint Declaration.
I think that the ROK side must also understand that if things continue like this, it will become difficult for the two countries to positively celebrate the year of the hard-won 20th anniversary of the Japan-Republic of Korea Joint Declaration and build the future-oriented relations. I intend to carefully make sure the ROK’s true intentions regarding this matter.

Reporter: The minister said she would announce a plan shortly. How do you intend to respond going forward?

Minister Kono: Firstly, I intend to carefully make sure the true intentions of them.

North Korea situation (the potential visit of Chairman Kim Jong-un to China)

Reporter: There are some media reports that North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-un is arranging a third visit to China which may take place even today. If this actually happens then it will be the third such visit in a short period of time. I think this is quite unusual development. How does the Government of Japan analyze this?

Minister Kono: We are analyzing a variety of information about the moves being made by the leaders of North Korea. This is an area we have quite a strong interest.

Suspension of the U.S.-ROK joint military exercises

Reporter: I think part of the background to the U.S.-ROK joint military exercises was that they were carried out to date as a part of the pressure on North Korea. Do you not have any concerns that the pressure on North Korea will weaken due to the cancellation of the exercises?

Minister Kono: It has been said that exercises will be suspended as long as North Korea engages in negotiations in good faith, so my understanding is that the exercises will be resumed immediately if North Korea proves unable to negotiate in good faith.

Reporter: So, you mean that you have no concerns.

Minister Kono: I believe that there is no change to the situation in particular.

Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit

Reporter: There have been media reports that a Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit will be held before the end of the year. How are the arrangements for this summit progressing?

Minister Kono: I have not heard anything.

Reporter: Do you think it would be desirable to hold the summit before the end of the year?

Minister Kono: This time China will host the summit, so firstly I intend to consult about the progress of the preparations by China and about other matters.

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