Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Thursday, July 5, 2018, 2:38 p.m. Vienna, Republic of Austria
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: During my second visit to Vienna, I met with Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary, Provisional Technical Secretariat, Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO); Mr. Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); and H.E. Dr. Karin Kneissl, Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria. I confirmed efforts towards the CTBT's early entry into force with Executive Secretary Zerbo. I introduced that I myself have been directly appealing to countries such as the United States, India, Pakistan, and Bhutan to ratify the CTBT, and conveyed that I would co-chair the Ministerial Meeting of the Friends of the CTBT in September with The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia. In addition, we agreed that we absolutely must ascertain North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons and seek to have North Korea sign and ratify the CTBT.
I held a very in-depth discussion with Director General Amano on the situations of North Korea and Iran, including progress following the U.S.-North Korean summit meeting and the holding of a ministerial meeting on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Vienna. Regarding North Korea in particular, we discussed the proper system for how to tackle verification of denuclearization. I stated that there is a need for the IAEA to firmly conduct independent activities from the background of its expertise and experience, and received a detailed explanation from Director General Amano on the coordination situation with the U.S. side around the summit meeting in Singapore. There is now talk that there are preparations for various countries, not only Japan, to pay the initial costs of the IAEA according to their means, and the IAEA is appealing to receive the necessary resources for it to firmly work around the world. I also held various exchanges of views with Director General Amano on the situation following the withdrawal of the U.S. from the JCPOA. As Austria holds the Chair of the Council of the EU from July, and next year marks the 150th year of bilateral relations between Japan and Austria, I held exchanges of views regarding bilateral relations and various international and regional situations. As the Chair of the EU, regarding the North Korea issue, Austria agreed that all countries must firmly implement the United Nations Security Council resolutions. In addition, I stated that Japan supports a strong and unified Europe, and it was agreed to mutually cooperate toward the early entrance into force of the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement as well as the Japan-EU Strategic Partnership Agreement, and for various Austria-Japan cooperation regarding the west Balkan region.
Regarding the 150th anniversary of friendly relations with Austria, bilateral relations have been strengthened in diverse areas of government, economics, and culture, and a working holiday system was introduced. However, although the working holiday framework allows a maximum of 200 people from Japan in Austria, currently there are only 21 people using this scheme. I hope that Japanese young people will actively utilize this system. I also raised issues that are obstruction factors for the economic progress of both our countries. Regarding the import system for Japanese agricultural products, I would like the import regulations to be abolished on a scientific basis. In addition, Japanese businessmen cannot easily receive permission for long stays. I also held exchanges of views on the situation of Iran and the Middle, the situation of Asia including North Korea and the East and South China Sea, as well as trade and WTO issues.
Reporter: Regarding the North Korea issue, this was your first exchange of views with IAEA Director General Amano following the U.S.-North Korea summit meeting, but you still could not concretely predict the results of the meeting between the U.S. and North Korea. Amidst that, how did you work out how Japan can contribute towards the denuclearization of North Korea? Also, the second Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held on July 8, so what expectations and results are you thinking of toward this, including what I discussed?
Minister Kono: We had an exchange of views on what kind of system the IAEA would have to go to North Korea when North Korea was preparing to accept verification. Also, since various coordination is being conducted between the U.S. and the IAEA, we also exchanged views on that. Firm preparation will be conducted. The nuclear weapons will be dealt with by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (P5), so the U.S. will be the center. But for the nuclear facilities, I would like the IAEA to arrange a system that can firmly conduct activities. Currently, various countries are announcing that they are ready to support the activities of the IAEA. The IAEA should announce to the international community its prediction for the amount of resources it needs, and then the international community can firmly divide up their shares. I stated that that is the preparation I would like first.
Reporter: Including that, what results do you expect toward the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting?
Minister Kono: Secretary of State Pompeo will conduct various negotiations in North Korea, so I would like to discuss ideas on our future response based on that in a firm manner.
Reporter: Regarding denuclearization, did you discuss Japan’s stance towards contributing this time?
Minister Kono: I would like to firmly discuss ideas with Secretary Pompeo when I hear the situation of the negotiations during his visit to Japan.
Reporter: I believe that previously you discussed possible specialist and personnel support from Japan for the North Korea issue with Director General Amano. During your meeting with Director General Amano today, did you discuss various considerations for not only funding but also personnel support from Japan?
Minister Kono: As this is an issue that the international community should deal with, I stated that I would like the IAEA to appeal to the international community and all countries for the amount of resources it needs.
Reporter: Did you not touch on personnel support from Japan in particular?
Minister Kono: We are not just talking about Japan, but about the support of countries around the world. So it was not about Japan’s support, but rather that the IAEA should first precisely measure the amount of resources it needs and then needs to appeal to countries around the world.
Reporter: When Secretary Pompeo visits on July 8, what will the explanation of Japan’s stance on the JCPOA be? Also, the U.S. is requesting the termination of crude oil imports from Iran, so how will you explain Japan’s stance on this?
Minister Kono: Firstly, I would like to begin by hearing the negotiations that took place in North Korea and carefully discussing ideas for our future response, and then exchange various views on bilateral relations besides that.
Reporter: Regarding the U.S.-North Korea meeting which is about to start now, what is your simple reaction to it? In other words, it has been about one month since the U.S.-North Korea summit meeting on June 12, so what is your reaction to this?
Minister Kono: The military exercises have been temporarily suspended as long as North Korea engages in negotiations with good faith, so I believe Secretary Pompeo will ascertain whether that is happening or not. I would like to have a firm exchange of views on that.
Reporter: You discussed the system that would be used if the IAEA restarts its inspections. This time, did you share the kinds of issues for coordination with the U.S. and within the IAEA?
Minister Kono: We exchanged various views.
Reporter: In particular, I imagine that you discussed, for example, the number of people and perhaps funding. Specifically, what did you discuss?
Minister Kono: I have nothing to say.