Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Monday, June 25, 2018, 1:43 p.m. Jakarta, Republic of Indonesia

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

Opening remarks

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: This is my first visit to Indonesia since my appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs. It was very auspicious that I was able to make the visit in the milestone year of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations. I believe that it was a good opportunity to strengthen the bilateral Strategic Partnership. I also offered my congratulations for Indonesia’s election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC). I began by paying my first courtesy visit to H.E. Mr. Joko Widodo, the President of the Republic of Indonesia where we exchanged views on bilateral cooperation and regional affairs. I had my third foreign ministers’ meeting with Ms. Retno Marsudi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia. I feel that the meeting was a very good one that strengthened the Strategic Partnership between Japan and Indonesia, as we agreed to deepen cooperation in various areas. First, regarding bilateral cooperation, since we are both maritime nations, we confirmed that we would strengthen cooperation in the maritime field. In this connection, we concluded an exchange of notes concerning grant aid for the Program for the Development of Fisheries Sector in Outer Islands. We will also continue our support in the area of counterterrorism in the form of support for measures against violent radicalism and for the construction of a moderate society. In addition to moving forward with developing infrastructure and improving the investment environment, we agreed to achieve a bidirectional total of 1,000,000 people — it is probably 800,000 to 900,000 bidirectionally now — achieve a bidirectional exchange of 1,000,000 people through tourism. Japan’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” and Indonesia’s “Global Maritime Axis (GMA)” vision are concepts that are oriented in very similar directions. It was decided that we would connect these two and pursue synergy. Concerning North Korea, we agreed on the policy to continue the strict enforcement of UNSC resolutions and seek the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges. We also exchanged views on the situation in the South China Sea, Middle East issues including the Palestinian situation, and other issues of the international community. Regarding the Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development (CEAPAD) in particular, after the first conference was held in Japan, Indonesia hosted the second and is also hosting the Senior Officials Meeting this time. Therefore, I hope to be able to participate in the CEAPAD meeting in Bangkok the day after tomorrow together with Foreign Minister Retno to firmly go forward with support for Palestine. Later, he hosted a working lunch, a lunch for me, where the durian fruit, which I like, was served for desert, which made me very happy. After this, I will have a meeting with H.E. Mr. Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, then make an observation tour of the MRT in Jakarta. Tomorrow, after making an offering of a flower wreath at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery, I will have a meeting with Mr. Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN, then depart for Thailand to participate in CEPAD. I believe that Minister Retno will also be leaving for Bangkok tomorrow. That is all that I have to say.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: I would like to begin with Indonesia, which is a regional power and, like Japan, a maritime nation. Regarding this collaboration, law enforcement capability, how does Japan, as a nation that emphasizes the rule of law, specifically intend to collaborate?

Minister Kono: As a maritime nation, we intend to strengthen cooperation on law enforcement capability, help enhance capacity while simultaneously providing Japanese cooperation for the development of the outer islands. We are also about to hold the 2 plus 2 in Japan this year. It was supposed to be held in Indonesia, but it was determined that it would be better to do so in Japan all things considered, so we will arrange the timing with Japan as the venue. Also, it takes 11 hours between Jakarta and Surabaya currently, and we intend to be forthcoming in support for reducing this by speeding up the railway, and for constructing the Patimban Port and developing the roads on Sumatra, for these things as well. We believe that they will lead to the promotion of investment in Indonesia not only from Japan but also from all over the world. They also want to work firmly together with Japan on measures against terrorism, and measures against violent radicalism, so it is the intent of the Government of Japan to continue to provide support in various forms.

Reporter: The Japan-Indonesia 2 plus 2 that you just referred to, am I correct in assuming that arrangements are being made with a view of holding it in Japan by the end of the year?

Minister Kono: We intend to begin making arrangements to hold it in Japan by the end of the year.

Reporter: Regarding the North Korean situation, the Prime Minister and you have expressed the intent to have Japan bear the cost of IAEA inspection expenses towards the denuclearization of North Korea. Do you intend to make other contributions through such as personnel and participation by experts?

Minister Kono: If North Korea actually, earnestly, positively takes a step forward to denuclearize, a significant number of experts will surely become necessary, so it is our intent to act in areas where we have an edge, including through contributions through personnel. Many countries will be able to escape from the current, critical situation, and it is my belief that it is normal for a country that will receive such benefits to contribute in various ways.

Reporter: What, specifically, are contributions through personnel? What kind of contributions do you envisage?

Minister Kono: Discussions with North Korea on how to move forward on denuclearization will take place with Secretary of State Pompeo at the center from here on, so matters are not at a stage where I can give details. We do intend to consider matters positively in areas where Japan can contribute.

Reporter: Prime Minister Abe has referred to the possibility of establishing an international framework for sharing costs regarding such matters as contributing funds and sharing IAEA expenses. Could you tell us specifically how you intend to move forward, such as holding summit meetings?

Minister Kono: Nothing has been decided yet. First, negotiations with North Korea on denuclearization, missiles, and other issues will now begin to go forward with Secretary of State Pompeo at the center, so nothing has been decided as of now. However, I believe that it is quite natural for the countries that will benefit from the easing of tension to put forward various arguments going forward.

Reporter: It is my understanding that you will be meeting the ASEAN Secretary-General tomorrow, so I would like to ask you about relations with ASEAN. Particularly with regard to China, a divergence in positions has been emerging within ASEAN itself around the South China Sea and economic cooperation. Could you please tell us how Japan should handle relations with ASEAN against this background?

Minister Kono: It is my belief that the role of ASEAN as a partner in Asia, while firmly focusing on ASEAN unity and connectivity, is becoming very large. I also believe that there is great affinity between the vision concerning the Indo-Pacific that ASEAN is about to advocate with Indonesia at the center and Japan’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy,” that they are oriented in the same direction. In this sense, I believe that there are many areas where we will be able to firmly cooperate. In addition, given the regional nature of ASEAN, there is much to share in common with Japan on this free and open ocean, the freedom of navigation under the rule of law, such fundamental values. Thus, it is my intent to jointly project them to the rest of the world as universal values.

Reporter: One more point, do you plan to talk about RCEP?

Minister Kono: I intend to have a wide-ranging exchange of views with the Secretary-General tomorrow. I would like to begin wrapping up negotiations on an agreement on technological cooperation between Japan and ASEAN by and by, not to mention RCEP. In addition, TPP, which Japan is attempting to ratify, is also being given positive consideration among the ASEAN member countries. Furthermore, there are countries that are giving it positive consideration in addition to the original TPP 11 parties. It is my intent to discuss these matters as well.

Reporter: Did TPP 11 come up as a topic in the meetings today with the President and others?

Minister Kono: Today, we talked about an EPA between Japan and Indonesia and RCEP, and I also brought up TPP.

Reporter: How did your talks with the President and the Foreign Minister go on the current state of China’s maritime advance? In addition, the location where support will be provided for the private sector this time in a place where tension is relatively high, as Indonesia has been capturing and blowing up vessels there as a warning. What was discussed about the current state of affairs, and what are your views?

Minister Kono: Free and open seas, the rule of law with maritime law at the core: It is my belief that these internationally accepted standards should be promoted jointly by Japan and ASEAN. As for the negotiations on a code of conduct for the South China Sea, it is the intent of the Government of Japan to firmly support ASEAN.

Reporter: Going forward, I assume that strengthening the capacity of the coast guard is also a matter of concern. May I ask what kind of plans on offshore support are there in details this time?

Minister Kono: Unfortunately, it is becoming evident that the current state of affairs is such that requires counterpiracy measures which have become necessary for pirates in Southeast Asia as well. Strengthening law enforcement capability is important in this respect as well, and it is my belief that it is also being sought in the context of measures against terrorism.

Reporter: It is my understanding that Indonesia has a very deep relationship with North Korea historically. Did you explain the Japanese policy regarding the abductions issue at your meeting with the (Indonesian) President and others and secure their understanding? Was there anything specific to the effect that the Indonesians would exert influence on the North Koreans?

Minister Kono: I explained the abductions issue in detail and it is my belief that I secured their understanding. I would like to refrain from talking openly in detail about this.

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