Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 9:14 p.m. New York, United States of America
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: We have now passed the halfway point of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly High-Level Week. Today, I attended the Japan-Iran and Japan-U.S. summit meetings and also held a Japan-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting, a meeting with the Vice Prime Minister of Romania, and the Japan-Pacific Alliance Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. In addition, Japan co-hosted the “Seminar on Promoting Quality Infrastructure” with the European Union (EU) and the UN. I also attended a meeting on the Syrian issue and Middle East peace. I made comments proactively to the effect that Japan has taken initiative in addressing the various issues facing the international community.
At the foreign ministers’ meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha of the Republic of Korea (ROK), with regard to North Korean issues, we confirmed that Japan and the ROK as well as Japan, the United States, and the ROK would work closely together towards the realization of complete denuclearization. Additionally, we shared the view that a forum would be established to exchange views among the members of the Japanese and ROK expert panels based on the recommendations that will be presented by the Advisory Panel of Experts on Promotion of Japan-ROK Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges in early October. Furthermore, we shared the view that we would manage the various issues between our two countries appropriately and build a future-oriented bilateral relationship.
At the meeting with Ms. Birchall, Vice Prime Minister for Romania’s Strategic Partnerships’ Implementation, following up on Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Romania in January of this year, exchanges of views took place regarding steadily deepening our cooperative relations towards the establishment of a strategic partnership between our two countries.
At the Japan-Pacific Alliance Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I stated that Japan seeks to strengthen policy dialogue with the Pacific Alliance at a variety of levels in order to promote free trade, including the early entry into force of the TPP11 Agreement, and resolve regional and global issues, including North Korean issues.
In addition, following on from last year, Japan co-hosted the “Seminar on Promoting Quality Infrastructure.” I explained the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” and stated that Japan holds the G20 presidency next year and Japan is committed to consolidate the quality infrastructure concept as an international standard.
At the High Level Meeting on Syria, I stressed that lasting peace and stability in Syria can only be achieved through the political process in Geneva and national reconciliation, and introduced Japan’s principle of assistance to Syria to deliver humanitarian assistance to all Syrians facing difficulties.
At the high-level meeting on a two-state solution, I clarified Japan’s continued support for a two-state solution in which Israel and Palestine live side by side peacefully, and stated that we would extend Japanese-style assistance that would promote the building of trust between the parties and enable the people of Palestine to have hope for state-building.
Furthermore, this afternoon, I held a meeting with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho of North Korea for approximately 20 minutes at the UN Headquarters. I will not go into any further details. I will now take your questions.
Reporter: Did your meeting with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho take place in the form of informal talks?
Minister Kono: No, it was a meeting.
Reporter: It was a sit-down meeting?
Minister Kono: Yes.
Reporter: You stated that you would not go into the content. Could you tell us if you conveyed Japan’s basic position?
Minister Kono: I will not go into any details.
Reporter: Was today’s meeting planned in advance?
Minister Kono: I will not make any further comment on the content or any other detail.
Reporter: What is the reason that you cannot comment?
Minister Kono: I cannot say.
Reporter: Do you view that today’s meeting will lead to a Japan-North Korea summit meeting towards the resolution of the abductions issue?
Minister Kono: I will not go into any details.
Reporter: I would like to ask a question regarding today’s Japan-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting. I understand the two sides discussed their future intentions. I believe Japan and the ROK have different positions regarding the end-of-war declaration. Could you elaborate on this point?
Minister Kono: We share the view that it is important to steadily advance denuclearization, and in that regard, I would not say there is a “gap” between us.
Reporter: I have a question concerning the Japan-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting. It has been reported that at the Japan-ROK summit meeting, President Moon Jae-in suggested the de facto dissolution of the foundation based on the Japan-ROK agreement. Did the ROK offer any explanation regarding the foundation?
Minister Kono: I conveyed that Japan would like the ROK to fully implement the Japan-ROK agreement.
Reporter: You attended the Japan-U.S. summit meeting today. It was agreed that the two countries would enter into new negotiations. You have previously stated that even if the relationship between the two leaders is good, that and the issues of the economy and trade are different matters. How do you expect the Japan-U.S. relationship to change going forward?
Minister Kono: President Trump also stated that although there are things he would like to say to Japan, he wanted to go ahead with the agreement also taking into consideration his friendship with “Shinzo.” It is anticipated that there will be various discussions between Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer. Based on such relationship of trust between the Japanese and U.S. leaders, I expect that a stable relationship can be established between the two countries.