Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Tuesday, July 31, 2018, 8:56 p.m. Moscow, Russia

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

Reporter: The Japan-Russia Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultation (“2+2” Ministerial Meeting) was held today ahead of the Japan-Russia summit meeting in September. Can you first share with us your candid views regarding the consultation?

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Minister Lavrov and I met for the third time this year, and we have various communications on a day-to-day basis. I met Minister for Defense Shoygu for the first time today. We were able to carry out frank discussions. High-level exchanges are steadily conducted between Japan and Russia, including the likely summit meeting in Vladivostok in September. Japan will work to ensure that these exchanges contribute to resolving the issue of concluding a peace treaty, including joint economic activities on the Four Northern Islands.

Reporter: I have a question regarding North Korean issues. I understand that the two sides agreed to continue to seek and collaborate towards the denuclearization of North Korea. With regard to sanctions specifically, what did Japan seek and what was the response from Russia?

Minister Kono: Japan mentioned the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and stated that continuing the sanctions based on relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions was important. While I would like to refrain from disclosing the comments of the Russian side, w the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a common goal of Japan and Russia and that the two countries would work closely together towards this goal.

Reporter: Is Russia disinclined to continue the sanctions and requesting the easing of the sanctions?

Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from disclosing the comments of Russia. There is absolutely no disagreement between the two sides that both countries would work together to ensure denuclearization.

Reporter: A Japan-Russia summit meeting is scheduled for September in Vladivostok. Attention is on whether Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea will visit Russia or not. At today’s Japan-Russia foreign ministers’ meeting, did Russia explain whether or not Chairman Kim would be visiting?

Minister Kono: Neither did we ask nor did they give an explanation.

Reporter: During today’s press conference, Minister Lavrov stated that Russia once again expressed concerns over the Aegis Ashore system to Japan. Can you tell us what discussions actually took place and what was the response from Japan?

Minister Kono: We explained that Aegis Ashore is a complete defense system that we will be introducing for protecting the lives and properties of the people of Japan. We stated that there is no basis for Russia’s concerns and that if necessary we would have experts provide an explanation.

Reporter: Specifically what concerns did Russia express?

Minister Kono: The same concerns as what we heard before.

Reporter: At the joint press announcement earlier, you stated that there were issues on which the two sides have differing positions and items Japan could not accept. What exactly did you have in mind when you made this comment?

Minister Kono: While there are a variety of issues on which Japan and Russia have different positions, we will make efforts to overcome them to conclude a bilateral peace treaty.

Reporter: What are you referring to by a variety of issues?

Minister Kono: A variety of issues. They are as you imagine them to be.

Reporter: Today, some media outlets reported that North Korea might have resumed the development of nuclear weapons and missiles. Did this matter come up in today’s discussion? If yes, what did the two sides discuss?

Minister Kono: It was not discussed.

Reporter: It was not raised in particular?

Minister Kono: No it was not.

Reporter: I have a question regarding the foreign ministers’ meeting. It was explained that agreement was reached on the schedule of the local surveys related to the joint economic activities. Does the agreement cover the details of the schedule, such as what concrete activities would be conducted? Also, during the press conference, you welcomed and expressed gratitude for the recent special grave visit by airplane. Satellite mobile phones were confiscated during the special grave visit. In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia has expressed concerns over the revision of the Act on Special Measures concerning Advancement of Resolution of Northern Territories Issues, etc. Could you tell us if these three items were discussed?

Minister Kono: A business mission will be dispatched from August 16 to 20. The mission will be participated by interested businesses from Japan and I expect similar forward-looking businesses from Russia. A vice-ministerial-level consultation will be held before the summit meeting taking into account the outcomes of this business mission, and they will be reported to the summit meeting. This is the general schedule. During the foreign ministers’ meeting, Japan conveyed to Russia the points we wished to make.

Reporter: At the press conference a short while ago, Minister of Defense Onodera clearly stated Japan’s concerns over Russia’s military exercises and military deployments on the Four Northern Islands. Given how you have phrased your comment just now, am I to understand that you are intentionally refraining from commenting on these matters?

Minister Kono: There are many items so I will not list them all. Japan made clear the points we should raise.

Reporter: Did the two issues I mentioned in my question earlier, that is, the revision of the Act on Special Measures concerning Advancement of Resolution of Northern Territories Issues, etc. and the confiscation of mobile phones, come up in your discussion?

Minister Kono: Yes they did.

Reporter: Japan explained what its position is?

Minister Kono: Yes we did.

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