Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Sunday, December 23, 2018, 1:30 p.m. Boarding Gate at Haneda Airport International Terminal
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign AffairsUnder the leadership of Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, the Republic of Korea (ROK) is considering response measures to the recent Supreme Court decisions regarding former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula. The Government of Japan expects that the ROK will fully address the situation under the leadership of Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon. In the midst of dealing with these difficult issues, there has been a succession of incidents, including the recent landing of National Assembly members of the ROK on Takeshima, defense exercises near Takeshima, and the latest incident on the Sea of Japan. The Government of Japan will urge the Government of the ROK to take consistent responses while addressing the difficult issues. Director-General Kanasugi of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs left for the ROK today. A director-general level meeting will be held tomorrow. During the meeting, Japan will ask the ROK to make full efforts to manage the Japan-ROK relationship, and I would like Director-General Kanasugi to conduct a thorough exchange of views.
Reporter: Is it correct to understand that Director-General Kanasugi will lodge a protest over the radar incident directly with the ROK?
Minister Kono: We have already lodged a protest. I have instructed Director-General Kanasugi to conduct a thorough exchange of views, including on this issue.
Reporter: There are discrepancies between the explanations of Japan and the ROK concerning the radar incident. Could you please comment on this point?
Minister Kono: I believe the Ministry of Defense (MOD) is fully addressing this matter.
Reporter: The ROK has explained that the radar was used to search for a North Korean ship. Do you find this explanation convincing?
Minister Kono: I believe MOD is fully addressing such technical matters.
Reporter: There have been multiple acts that could undermine trust between the two countries. What is your view regarding this situation?
Minister Kono: First, the ROK is currently conducting extensive consultations under the leadership of Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon regarding its responses to the extremely difficult issue of the Supreme Court decisions. We would like to ask the Government of the ROK to take a united response to advance the Japan-ROK relationship in a forward-looking manner.
Reporter: There is disagreement between Japan and the ROK as to whether the latter’s radar lock-in was intentional. Does Japan view that the lock-in was intentional?
Minister KonoI believe MOD is fully addressing technical matters.
Reporter: Either way, do you perceive that this incident could further deteriorate the Japan-ROK relationship?
Minister Kono: Various incidents have occurred just as the Government of the ROK is about to address the issues of the Supreme Court decisions and the Japan-ROK agreement. Therefore, we would like to ask the Government of the ROK to take a united response.