Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Saturday, July 14, 2018, 1:16 p.m. Paris, France

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

Opening Remarks

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I watched the Bastille Day ceremonial parade a short while ago, and a visit to Giverny (in the suburbs of Paris) is now the only item remaining in my three-day itinerary in France.

P>I attended the parade on behalf of Prime Minister Abe who stayed in Tokyo to take command of the responses to the recent disaster caused by torrential rains in western Japan. I received a warm welcome from President Macron, Foreign Minister Le Drian, and Armed Forces Minister Parly. I had an opportunity to speak with President Macron at yesterday’s reception hosted by the Armed Forces Minister and also before and after today’s parade, during which I received words of sympathy and warm encouragement from the President in the wake of the heavy rain disaster. The Foreign Minister and the Armed Forces Minister conveyed similar messages. Mrs. Macron also extended warm words of encouragement. I would like to express once again my gratitude to the people of France.

On July 12, I attended the opening ceremony of Japonismes 2018, a festival of Japanese culture. I expect that it will become a commemorable event that will establish culture as a new pillar of Japanese diplomacy. We will not only strengthen the Japan-France bilateral relations, but also fully transmit Japanese culture from Paris to the world.

Armed Forces Minister Parly and I signed the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) between Japan and France yesterday. I expect that the Japan-France relations will be further deepened also in the areas of security and defense. Our two countries will work together for the peace and security of the international community.

I had a breakfast meeting with Foreign Minister Le Drian at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France ahead of the parade this morning. I believe this was my fourth meeting with Foreign Minister Le Drian. We have also held telephone talks, but I believe this was our fourth face-to-face meeting. We talked about bilateral issues and had a range of other strategic discussions. We also covered Russia, Iran, North Korea, and the recent trade situation. In addition, we agreed that Japan and France would work together closely as next year’s G20 and G7 chairs, respectively. During the parade, I saw the gallant emergence of the Self-Defense Force (SDF) personnel, feeling deeply moved thinking how their participation could open a new page in Japan-France cooperation in a variety of areas. At the reception hosted by the Armed Forces Minister yesterday, President Macron, Mrs. Macron, and Armed Forces Minister Parly conveyed warm words of encouragement directly to the SDF personnel who took part in today’s parade. Armed Forces Minister Parly and Mrs. Macron stated that they would be watching them closely. President Macron also exchanged some words with the SDF personnel and then had a commemorative photo taken with them. Japan and France have worked together closely a number of times as “exceptional partners,” and I hope to further strengthen this partnership. I received warm words in relation to the heavy rain disaster from the people of France during my three-day stay, and I would like to once again express my gratitude to them. Let me now take your questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: I have a question regarding Japonismes 2018. During your meeting with Foreign Minister Le Drian today, the Foreign Minister stated that France hopes to hold a French cultural event in Japan. At the opening ceremony, the Culture Minister, too, expressed France’s wish to hold an event in 2021. Could you please share with us your views or comments regarding this intention of France?

Minister Kono: The summer Olympic games will be held in Japan and then in France. Furthermore, we will be chairing the G7 and G20 next year. Against this background, the two countries are developing an especially close relations, and I already anticipate that Japonismes 2018 will be extremely successful. In this context, I understand that France strongly wishes to transmit French culture in Japan, and the two countries will work together closely wherever possible towards the deepening of our multilayered relations.

Reporter: At the foreign ministers’ meeting, you agreed to establish a comprehensive maritime dialogue with France. Can you tell us what exactly will be discussed with France at the comprehensive maritime dialogue, what outcomes you expect to achieve, and what goals you hope to accomplish?

Minister Kono: Both Japan and France are maritime nations. France mentioned that it was a Pacific nation. Under these circumstances, Japan and France have agreed on a shared concept and sense of value that free and open seas based on the rule of law are the cornerstone of peace and prosperity not only for Japan and France but also for the rest of the world. We therefore will hold a maritime seminar in Tokyo in December and then establish an intergovernmental policy dialogue on maritime policy. The two countries will be coordinating closely in this endeavor.

Reporter: You signed ACSA yesterday. What do you consider as the objectives and significance of strengthening the Japan-France partnership in the area of security?

Minister Kono: There are many areas in which the two countries can engage in cooperation, especially the maritime field. Japan and France can cooperate for the peace and security of the international community in a variety of areas, including peace, security, disaster risk reduction, and counter-terrorism measures, and I expect that having ACSA will facilitate smoother cooperation between the two countries.

Reporter: Prime Minister Abe unfortunately were not able to visit here. During your stay, did you request President Macron to visit Japan for their next meeting?

Minister Kono: President Macron conveyed warm words that it is very regrettable that Prime Minister Abe were not able to visit and that he very well understands the need to respond to the heavy rain disaster, sending his well wishes to the Japanese people for their recovery from the disaster. The President stated that he hopes to see Prime Minister Abe at the earliest possible date. If possible, I believe it would be best if the Prime Minister visits France this autumn, when Japonismes 2018 reaches its climax, so that he can actually see the potential of this exhibition. Of course I also hope President Macron visits Japan as early as possible. Regardless of whether it will be in Paris or Tokyo, I expect that their summit meeting will take place at an early date.

Reporter: Can you please elaborate?

Minister Kono: We still need to consult France regarding the date.

Reporter: You just stated that an intergovernmental policy dialogue would be held after a maritime seminar. Do you have in mind a dialogue framework that is separate from the foreign and defense ministers’ meeting (2+2 meeting)?

Minister Kono: As this is a maritime dialogue, I expect that the Minister of State for Ocean Policy will be attending from Japan. The 2+2 meeting was held in Tokyo this year, and we hope to hold the next meeting in France. We believe it would be good to have another forum aside from the 2+2 meeting for discussing cooperation and policy coordination on various maritime matters.

Reporter: Will the Foreign Minister be the minister in charge from Japan?

Minister Kono: As we have a Minister of State for Ocean Policy, I expect it will be Minister Fukui.

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