Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Tuesday, November 13, 2018, 4:20 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Foreign Minister Taro Kono’s Attendance at the APEC Ministerial Meeting in Papua New Guinea
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I will attend the APEC Ministerial Meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea from November 14 to16.
There will be early entry into force of the TPP11, and I would like to actively convey the message that Japan will firmly lead free trade in the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, coordination is being conducted to hold bilateral meetings with the participating countries, including with the Hon. Rimbink Pato, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Chair of the meeting.
(2) 3rd Meeting of the Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament
Minister Kono: On November 14 to 15, the 3rd meeting of the Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament will be held in Nagasaki. Through the spirit of my predecessor, Foreign Minister Kishida, this meeting was established to build a bridge between nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States. Mr. Kiyoto Tsuji, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, will attend the meeting’s opening session to represent me.
At the meeting, based on the recommendations of the Group of Eminent Persons received in March, I would like discussions to be held from a long-term perspective regarding difficult issues related to disarmament and security to resolve a path toward abolition of nuclear weapons.
In particular, I would like the Group to specify the true issues that must be overcome for realizing a world free of nuclear weapons, and beforehand nuclear weapons reduction, nuclear disarmament, and abolition of nuclear weapons, and for the Group to discuss policies and measures to resolve this.
In addition, I would like the members of the Group of Eminent Persons to participate in the program that includes a visit to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum.
Vice President of the United States to Visit Japan
Asahi Shimbun, Kiyomiya: You attended the meeting between Vice President Pence of the United States and Prime Minister Abe today. China was a topic of discussion, and I believe that the leaders shared concerns regarding intellectual property rights infringements, expansion of the military, etc. between Japan and China. Can you please confirm again what points were shared regarding China between Japan and the United States?
Minister Kono: There were various exchanges regarding China, but I would like to refrain from speaking publicly about the discussions. I believe the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary gave a briefing on the details, so please refer to that.
Asahi Shimbun, Kiyomiya: It is all right if your answer is separate from today’s discussions. Vice President Pence gave a quite comprehensive speech regarding China. What points does Japan share with the United States?
Minister Kono: This has somehow become a discussion like today’s committee meeting, but Vice President Pence made quite firm statements regarding fears in the United States concerning China. President Trump always talks about being “results-oriented,” and I believe that this indicates the intention to participate in constructive relations between the United States and China that produce results.
As for Japan, China must also follow international rules regarding matters such as various trade issues, seeking forced technology transfers, and data handling. These issues were raised at the summit meeting and other opportunities during Prime Minister Abe’s recent visit to China. We would like China to firmly respond to this.
China’s Movements Regarding Pacific Island Countries
Yomiuri Shimbun, Yanada: In conjunction with the series of APEC meetings in Papua New Guinea that you will also attend, which will be the first APEC to be held in a Pacific island country, there are reports that President Xi Jinping of China will hold a meeting that gathers the leaders of Pacific island countries. China has held such summit meetings with island leaders in the past. However, during their meeting today Vice President Pence and Prime Minister Abe discussed a framework for new investment in the Indo-Pacific region, which would deepen Japan-U.S. participation in the region, with Australia also participating. Can you please tell us if there are grounds for concern regarding China’s movements, and what kind of participation and objectives will be planned?
Minister Kono: Speaking generally, I believe that it is highly significant in an international sense for China to be linked to various support and cooperative relations in line with international rules amidst the liberal international order. However, on the other hand, there are some Pacific island countries that are trapped in the situation of being in debt, so to speak. For infrastructure investment, for example, whether it is international loans or cooperation, it should be firmly conducted in line with standards for openness, transparency, life cycle financial soundness, and financial soundness of the receiving country.
While the vulnerabilities of island countries are in focus, in particular typhoons and heavy rain due to the influence of climate change, I believe that Japan, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and others should join together to firmly enhance prevention, restoration, and resilience for the vulnerabilities of island countries. Amidst this, support must be continued for necessary areas without suddenly cutting off ODA even for middle-income countries that are off the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list. Japan will firmly cooperate with countries that have this same direction.
Situation in Ukraine
Mainichi Shimbun, Akiyama: On November 11, in the region in eastern Ukraine that is under effective control by armed insurgents, an election was forced to be held, and there are criticisms of this from the international community. What is Japan’s position on these movements, as well as on Russia, which can be thought to be behind this?
Minister Kono: Japan has firmly made its position on the Ukraine issue clear and has implemented sanctions. Regarding the issue of eastern Ukraine, I believe it must be resolved peacefully based on the Minsk agreements, so I would like the people concerned from both sides to respond.
Japan-Russia Summit Meeting
Sankei Shimbun, Rikitake: The Japan-Russia Summit Meeting is scheduled from this evening. In response to Japan’s positions regarding concluding a peace treaty within the year without preconditions, and resolving the issue of attribution of the Four Northern Islands and then concluding a peace treaty, President Putin stated that with such positions he could see no end in sight. I believe that if we look at those areas, there is still a discrepancy between the assertions of Japan and Russia. What specific results do you expect toward resolving the attributions issue at tomorrow’s summit meeting?
Minister Kono: I believe this is not a situation in which I should speculate about the content of the summit meeting and other matters, but we believe that President Putin is being very proactive for concluding a peace treaty. Japan of course has the position of wanting to resolve the attribution of the Four Northern Islands and then concluding a peace treaty, and President Putin understands that well. I understand that at the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting, the discussions will naturally extend to bilateral relations including this issue, the regional situation including North Korea, and the international situation.