Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Monday, January 7, 2019, 8:56 p.m. Official Residence of the Japanese Ambassador to India

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I am visiting India for the first time as Foreign Minister. After holding the Japan-India Strategic Dialogue—the 10th one I believe—with Minister of External Affairs Swaraj, I paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Modi. As Japan is hosting the G20 this year, I believe Prime Minister Modi will visit Japan for the Summit and Minister of External Affairs Swaraj for the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in November. In addition, as this year is Prime Minister Abe’s turn to visit India as part of the reciprocal visits by the prime ministers, Minister of External Affairs Swaraj and I kicked off the preparations for this visit. The two countries shared the view on holding at the earliest possible time this year, a 2+2 Ministerial Meeting which we agreed upon when Prime Minister Modi visited Japan last year. Furthermore, we agreed to hold cyber consultations and a dialogue on outer space as early as possible. It has been decided that the India-Japan Friendship Forum would be launched, comprised of experts and members of the business community from India. Through this Forum, we hope to deepen a variety of exchanges, including people-to-people exchanges between Japan and India. In addition, views were exchanged regarding the situation in the Indo-Pacific region, the content of the G20, United Nations Security Council reform, disarmament and non-proliferation, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Views were also exchanged regarding bilateral cooperation in India’s northeastern region and third countries. We also exchanged views regarding security and defense cooperation. My courtesy call on Prime Minister Modi was the first since his visit to Japan last October. Prime Minister Modi stated that he looked forward to visiting Japan for the G20 and to Prime Minister Abe’s visit to India. We exchanged views regarding regional situations while time was limited. I will now take your questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: I understand that the Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept was also discussed. Could you tell us what exactly was discussed with Minister of External Affairs Swaraj and Prime Minister Modi, respectively?

Minister Kono: The two countries already have a shared vision that maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific would contribute significantly to the economic development of not only Japan and India but also this region. Therefore, we exchanged views regarding cooperation for realizing this vision.

Reporter: You mentioned dialogues on cyber and outer space. U.S.-China confrontations over cyber are intensifying. Did this issue come up in your discussion?

Minister Kono: We did not discuss in particular recent situations between the United States and China. In view of the increasing importance of cooperation in areas such as cyber and outer space, we shared the view that Japan and India would ensure the launch and implementation of such bilateral dialogues.

Reporter: Is there anything more specific you can tell us with regard to the dialogue on outer space?

Minister Kono: While India has a general election coming up and there are various other circumstances, we hope to hold the dialogue as early as possible.

Reporter: Before the general election?

Minister Kono: The timing will be arranged going forward.

Reporter: Going back to cyber, according to local reports, the Government of India does not intend to exclude China’s Huawei products. Was there any discussion concerning Chinese products?

Minister Kono: That was not discussed in particular on this occasion.

Reporter: I would like to change the subject to the Republic of Korea (ROK). With regard to the plaintiffs’ application to the court to seize the assets of a Japanese company, Prime Minister Abe stated on the TV program Nichiyo Toron (Sunday Debate) that he instructed relevant ministries and agencies to take concrete countermeasures in accordance with international law. Will the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) be taking any concrete countermeasures?

Minister Kono: We are working closely with the relevant ministries and agencies. Various preparations are being made to ensure that unjustifiable damages and costs are not inflicted on the Japanese company. At this time, the ROK is fully considering its responses to this matter under the leadership of Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon. We would like the ROK to first implement these response measures as quickly as possible. If any unjustifiable damages and costs are to be inflicted on the Japanese company, then we would need to take the necessary measures immediately. If it becomes clear that asset seizure was actually petitioned, then we intend to take response measures at that point in time.

Reporter: I have one more question concerning the ROK. This morning, the Ministry of National Defense of the ROK indicated that it would disclose a video of the radar lock-on translated into eight languages. Could you share with us your comments regarding this or what responses Japan will be taking?

Minister Kono: The Ministry of Defense (MOD) of Japan and the Ministry of National Defense of the ROK are to hold working-level consultations to discuss this matter, including the facts, and we will first closely follow the progress of these consultations. MOD is fully responding to this matter, and MOFA will provide backup to MOD while following the status of the consultations.

Reporter: I have a related question. I understand that Japan’s stance is to see how the ROK will act in response to the asset seizure case. What is the rough timespan that Japan envisions for this? What is the approximate cutoff date?

Minister Kono: As I stated earlier, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon is considering response measures. Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon is fully addressing this matter amidst extremely difficult circumstances. Japan considers it important that unjustifiable damages and costs are not inflicted on the Japanese company and would like the ROK to take responses to ensure this does not happen.

Reporter: I have one more question in relation to the Korean Peninsula. It is speculated that a North Korean dignitary visited China and that this dignitary was Kim Jong-un. Is the Government of Japan aware of such information?

Minister Kono: We expect that China or North Korea will make an official announcement eventually.

Reporter: I would like to ask one last question. It is about RCEP. Did India make anything clear today as to whether it would give positive consideration to joining RCEP?

Minister Kono: RCEP was discussed. We hope to conclude the RCEP negotiations by the end of 2019. I stated this to India, and India explained its response to RCEP. There is no change to our intention of aiming to conclude the negotiations on RCEP by the end of this year, with the 16 countries fully united.

Reporter: Does India also hope to conclude the negotiations by the end of the year?

Minister Kono: India also recognizes the importance of RCEP. It may be difficult to make major progress in the first half of the year as quite a number of RCEP member countries have upcoming national elections. Nevertheless, Japan still hopes to bring the negotiations to a conclusion by the end of the year.

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