Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Monday, October 22, 2018, 6:20 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Joint Declaration on “A New Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Partnership towards the Twenty-first Century” concluded by Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and President Kim Dae Jung. Japan and the ROK are both taking a wide range of actions to build the future-oriented bilateral relations, and making various efforts such as establishing meetings with both countries’ experts and task forces. However, unfortunately various affairs that cannot be thought of as future-oriented have occurred, including the recent issue of the flag of the Maritime Self Defense Forces and the disembarkation of members of the National Assembly of the ROK on Takeshima today. Regarding the disembarkation today, I lodged a protest and strongly requested prevention of recurrence. It is very regrettable that these affairs that are far off from the spirit of future-oriented actions are occurring, and I cannot help but state that it has become a situation in which the Government of japan must consider how to respond. The proposals by the experts’ meeting of Japan this time included that exchanges among citizens of both countries is important at a time when the governments of both countries are facing various issues, and that various cultural exchanges and exchanges between local governments should not be affected, and I agree with this. I hope that exchanges among the citizens of both countries should continue as usual or even at a higher level, and that cultural and local government exchanges should be firmly continued. As I believe that it is truly necessary for politicians who are brave like Prime Minister Obuchi and President Kim were to firmly once again build a bridge between our two countries, the incident today was very regrettable.
Reporter: One of the members of the National Assembly of the ROK who disembarked on Takeshima uploaded photographs on Facebook, claimed that the purpose of the visit was to blame Japan and to spread the correct recognition of history. . How do you perceive this claim?
Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from commenting on the individual actions of members of the National Assembly on behalf of the Government of Japan. However, at the very least we have been mutually saying for months that we would make efforts to build the future-oriented relations taking the opportunity of the 20th anniversary of the Joint Declaration on the Japan-ROK Partnership by Prime Minister Obuchi and President Kim, but unfortunately I cannot help but state that it is very regrettable that the spirit is not being upheld.
Reporter: You stated earlier that the Government of Japan must consider what response to take. Specifically, what response do you assume could be taken?
Minister Kono: The response is now being considered.
Reporter: The Japanese experts are planned to be dispatched to Seoul at the end of this month. Will the dispatch of the task force be suspended?
Minister Kono: No.
Reporter: Do you plan to directly convey a protest to Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha, or have you already done so?
Minister Kono: I have already lodged a protest regarding the event that took place today. I would like to consider what needs to be done for the response.