Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Thursday, August 16, 2018, 11:25 a.m. Bogota, Colombia
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: My visit to Colombia is the first visit by a Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs since the visit 10 years ago by then-Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone. The new Duque administration was recently inaugurated on August 7. I held various exchanges of views with the President, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and two or three ministers, and I believe it was extremely significant that I was able to confirm the direction of the new administration.
While this year marks the 110th anniversary of the establishment of Japan-Colombia diplomatic relations, and the new administration was just inaugurated with some Ministers who are able to speak Japanese in any way, we agreed to enhance the Japan-Colombia relations going forward.
I raised the TPP11, and the Colombia side stated that they would first like to work on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Japan that is already being negotiated. Along with strengthening economic relations between our two countries in various ways, I would like to work on reinforcing bilateral relations in wide-ranging areas.
I stated my expectations for President Duque’s leadership toward establishing peace in Colombia, in expectation that it would lead to regional stability and continuous economic growth in the country. I also stated that Japan would like to continuously support the peace process in Colombia.
In addition to bilateral relations, I also held exchanges of views on Security Council reform, issues in the international arena such as nuclear disarmament, as well as the situation of Venezuela including supporting refugees.
Colombia shares fundamental values with Japan, including freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. I would like to further strengthen our bilateral relations.
Reporter: I believe that the previous administration in Colombia expressed positive intentions regarding the TPP. This time, did the new administration not make any special references to this point?
Minister Kono: They indicated their expectations for firstly an EPA with Japan, for which negotiations have already begun. In particular, as Colombia begins to diversify its economy in several areas such as agriculture, they stated they would like to strengthen economic relations with Japan.
Reporter: Did you convey that you would like Colombia to participate in the TPP?
Minister Kono: The previous administration indicated its intention toward participating in the TPP, so I stated that Japan would like to continue this and engage in negotiations.
Reporter: The TPP is a specific item, but to a slightly wider extent, were you able to reach agreement with the new administration on the point of the promotion of free trade?
Minister Kono: I held various exchanges of views on free trade as well. In that context, I felt very large expectations for the EPA with Japan.
Reporter: Regarding peace in Colombia, the current administration claimed during the election that a portion of the peace agreement concluded by the previous administration would be revised. Can you tell us if there was an explanation from the Colombia side or if the Japan side conveyed any requests?
Minister Kono: The Colombia side explained that the peace agreement would be maintained but there was the need for a revision to a portion of it. I stated that for Japan, the establishment of domestic peace in Colombia is extremely important for strengthening Japan-Colombia economic relations and promoting Japanese investment in the country, and that Japan is prepared to provide support for the assistance needed.
Reporter: Regarding peace in Colombia, I believe that specifically Japan is providing support such as land mine demolition and job training for former combatants. Did you again convey that Japan would continue this support?
Minister Kono: I stated that Japan has already provided support on a scale of 1 billion yen for land mine demolition, and that we will firmly support rural development and other areas.