Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Monday, September 24, 2018, 4:58 p.m. New York, United States of America
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: The United Nations (UN) High-Level Week commenced today. A variety of meetings have been going on since this morning. First, the 6th GUAM-Japan Ministerial Meeting was held—GUAM being Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova. We noted the importance of universal values, such as democracy and the rule of law. We also expressed our commitment to cooperation between the four GUAM member states and Japan in order to ensure rule of law in the international community.
At the Japan-CARICOM Ministerial-Level Conference held a while ago, it was confirmed that Japan-CARICOM relations would be further strengthened, including supports for CARICOM based on the three pillars of Japan’s CARICOM policies, and that we would continue to cooperate in the international arena.
At lunchtime, there was a ministerial-level working lunch on the situation in Rakhine State co-hosted by the United Kingdom and France. I stated that in addressing the situation in Rakhine State, first of all, the international community needs to steadily take measures to alleviate the burden on the Government of Bangladesh, including financial support, in order to maintain or improve the living conditions at camps for displaced persons. The international community also needs to fully support the efforts of the Government of Myanmar for developing an environment to enable the repatriation and resettlement of the Muslim people of Rakhine State. I stated that the international community must closely work together in this endeavor. Since the Government of Myanmar has established an Independent Commission of Enquiry, the international community ought to provide supports through experts or another manner. Another key point is that democratization has just begun to take shape in Myanmar. The military government that had long been in power ended with the previous election, and the democratic government that is still toddling has just been established under State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. I stated that the international community should fully support the Aung San Suu Kyi administration to ensure that Myanmar’s democratic process does not suffer any setbacks.
In addition, I attended the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit at the UN General Assembly Hall. I touched upon the deep bonds between Mr. Mandela and Japan and expressed Japan’s determination to continue to engage proactively in next year’s Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7), Japan’s development assistance, and peace building.
Furthermore, a meeting on “Emerging Challenges and Shifting Paradigms: New Perspectives on International Co-operation for Development” was held. I referred to the need for innovative funding procurement, including international solidarity levy, or at least a discussion of this issue and noted that Japan will contribute to the promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), state building, and human resources development.
The Chair expressed strong interest in international solidarity levy in which financing would be provided directly to where it is needed, rather than through official development assistance (ODA) support via governments.
First thing this morning, I also attended the High-Level Event on the Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem hosted by President Trump. In addition, I held a foreign ministers’ meeting with Turkey and briefly exchanged views regarding the situation in Turkey and the region. I will now take your questions.
Reporter: I would like to ask two questions concerning the meeting on Myanmar. First, Japan has been implementing a policy of tolerance towards Myanmar amid mounting criticisms, including a UN report denouncing Myanmar’s military of committing genocide. What differences in stance were evident at the meeting you attended today? Secondly, it was announced that Ambassador Nikki Haley of the United States unveiled new humanitarian assistance. Could you please share your comments?
Minister Kono: The Government of Myanmar has established an Independent Commission of Enquiry, which includes a Japanese member. It will conduct a careful investigation into what happened and make proposals. If requested by the Independent Commission of Enquiry, Japan will fully support its activities, including specialized supports. Japan expects that the Independent Commission of Enquiry will submit an investigation report that is highly transparent and credible.
As there seems to be mutual sense of distrust between the majority of Buddhist people in Myanmar and the UN, Japan advocated that it is important to eliminate the mutual sense of distrust and at the same time provide supports to ensure the repatriation and resettlement of the Muslim people of Rakhine State.
Another point is that, as I mentioned earlier, Myanmar’s democratization process has just begun, and we must make sure that it does not suffer setbacks.
From the view of Japan, it is necessary to ensure that the investigation being conducted by the Commission of Enquiry established by the Government of Myanmar moves forward, that the international community supports the repatriation and resettlement of the Muslim people of Rakhine State, and that the international community fills in the financing gap also in the sense of showing appreciation to the Government of Bangladesh which has accepted nearly one million displaced persons.
Ambassador to the UN Haley discussed the assistance you mentioned during the lunch meeting that was held earlier. I consider this assistance to be an extremely positive development. The international community will fully support the Governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Reporter: A short while ago, Donald Trump, the President of the United States announced during his meeting with Moon Jae-in, the President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) that an announcement would be made in the near future about a second U.S.-North Korea summit meeting. What are your views and expectations if any?
Minister Kono: It is important that the denuclearization process proceeds steadily. Secretary of State Pompeo and I hold talks frequently. Japan hopes that if a second U.S.-North Korea summit meeting were held, it would lead to the advancement of the denuclearization process and to the steady execution of UN Security Council resolutions.
Reporter: I have a question related to North Korea. Yesterday, Prime Minister Abe expressed a sense of hope to the press that there would be progress on Japan-North Korea talks for the resolution of the abductions issue. I understand that Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho of North Korea is expected to attend the UN General Assembly session. What is Japan’s intention with regard to the actions it will take or what it will advocate to move the talks forward during the High-Level Week of the General Assembly, including contact between the Japanese and North Korean foreign ministers?
Minister Kono: There are contacts with many foreign ministers at the UN General Assembly session. Today alone, Retno, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia and I had contact about five times. In that sense, there may be contact between the Japanese and North Korean foreign ministers. At this stage, however, nothing has been decided with regard to a meeting or any other matter.