Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Tuesday, September 25, 2018, 7:28 p.m. New York, United States of America
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Today, I attended the G4 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the High-Level Meeting on Action for Peacekeeping (A4P). I explained Japan’s contributions in the areas of United Nations (UN) Security Council Reform and Peacekeeping Operations (PKO). I also held bilateral meetings with the foreign ministers of six countries, taking maximum advantage of this occasion of the UN General Assembly session that brings together delegates of various countries. The foreign ministers and I shared the view that we would further deepen the cooperative relations between Japan and the respective countries and exchanged views regarding international affairs.
At the G4 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, in order to adapt the UN Security Council to reflect the realities of the international community of the 21st century, we reaffirmed the need for an early reform of the UN Security Council including the expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members to enhance its legitimacy, effectiveness, and representativeness. We shared the view that we would further strengthen the efforts of the G4 in order to initiate text-based negotiations during this session of the UN General Assembly.
At the A4P High-Level Meeting, I underscored Japan’s efforts in the area of PKO, namely, improving the capabilities of enablers such as engineering units, medical and signals personnel, as well as Japan’s expansion of support for gender-related issues. In particular, I announced that in November this year, through the UN Triangular Partnership, Japan will provide training for the operation of heavy engineering equipment for engineering personnel from Asia and the neighboring regions, with Self-Defense Force (SDF) personnel as instructors.
With regard to bilateral meetings, the Foreign Minister of Morocco and I agreed on the importance of cooperating towards a successful Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) Ministerial Meeting.
At my meeting with the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, I explained that Japan will fully support the efforts of Bangladesh to realize steady repatriation of a large number of displaced Muslim people of Rakhine State who have flowed into Bangladesh.
I also held my first meeting with the new Foreign Minister of Italy. We welcomed that wide-ranging dialogue and exchanges have taken place between our two countries and confirmed that Japan would continue to work closely with Italy, a member of the G7.
In addition, I held my first meeting with the new Foreign Minister of Pakistan. We exchanged views regarding expanding bilateral exchanges, regional affairs, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and other nuclear issues. I expressed Japan’s hopes for Pakistan’s commitment to economic reform.
In the afternoon, I held a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Cote d’Ivoire. We exchanged views regarding the efforts for TICAD and agreed that the two countries would continue to cooperate with each other.
Furthermore, I held a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Jordan a short while ago. It might have been our fifth meeting this year. Jordan plays a significant role in the peace and stability of the region. We exchanged views concerning regional affairs, including the issues of Palestine, Syria, and Iraq. Japan and Jordan will co-chair the Ministerial Meeting on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and confirmed that we would work together towards the resolution of these issues.
Later today, I will attend the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Working Dinner. I will now take your questions.
Reporter: I have a question in connection with the G4 meeting. Japan has called for UN Security Council Reform but little progress has been made. How do you intend to advocate for the UN Security Council Reform? Could you once again explain what UN Security Council Reforms you consider are necessary?
Minister Kono: In recent years, a variety of issues including Syria and Venezuela have developed into international issues and have had significant impacts on neighboring countries. Regrettably, it cannot be said that the UN Security Council has engaged in immediately effective efforts towards the resolution of these issues. The UN Security Council needs to be reformed, including its decision-making mechanisms and its membership. Various countries have formed different groups on UN Security Council Reform. Leaving aside the end result, the respective groups have a shared view that at least negotiations should be initiated and steps should be taken towards reform. A broad platform needs to be created that integrates these countries. In particular, Africa consists of many countries, and it was agreed at the G4 meeting that the G4 member states would strive to increase compatibility between the G4 and African countries and once again initiate text-based negotiations.
Reporter: You talked briefly with Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia during the A4P meeting earlier. What did you two discuss?
Minister Kono: We discussed different matters. As I wrote on Twitter earlier, we also had a trivial conversation. The Minister asked me why I did not go to Vladivostok. I responded that I was in Hanoi. He then asked me how long I would be in New York. I wrote what could be disclosed on Twitter.
Reporter: President Putin noted on the peace treaty negotiations related to the Four Northern Islands. Was this discussed between you and Foreign Minister Lavrov?
Minister Kono: That matter itself was not specifically mentioned in our conversation.
Reporter: I would like to ask a question concerning the Japan-Italy Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. I understand that the two ministers shared the view on working together towards the early entry into force of the agreement concerning the transfer of defense equipment and technology and materializing cooperation. What type of cooperation are you specifically referring to?
Minister Kono: Italy is in the process of having the agreement approved by its parliament. We expect that Japan and Italy would be able to carry out various activities in the security area in accordance with this agreement.
Reporter: Are you saying that today’s meeting did not go into the details?
Minister Kono: Japan welcomed that Italy would be moving forward with the process.
Reporter: You stated that you will be having a working dinner with the G7 foreign ministers. What do you intend to discuss? What do you expect will be discussed at this meeting?
Minister Kono: I believe the G7 foreign ministers will exchange views over dinner regarding international affairs. In Toronto, we also discussed a range of issues over dinner. I hope to have candid exchanges of views.
Reporter: A Japan-ROK Summit Meeting has been held. According to the Republic of Korea (ROK), President Moon Jae-in stated that he passed on Prime Minister Abe’s message to Kim Jong-un and Kim Jong-un responded that he stands ready to hold talks with Japan at an appropriate time and explore the improvement of relations between Japan and North Korea. Could you please share your comments? Can you once again explain how Japan will be approaching the Japan-North Korea consultations?
Minister Kono: I expect that Japan-North Korea consultations will be initiated naturally when the time is appropriate. It will become necessary to carefully manage the variety of issues between Japan and North Korea.
Reporter: “Appropriate time” could be interpreted as not right now. What is your view on this point?
Minister Kono: I believe appropriate time is exactly that. I am not aware of the term in Korean. In Japan, appropriate time means when the time is proper. That could be tomorrow or a few years from now. I gather that North Korea has the will to hold consultations when the time is appropriate.