Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Thursday, February 21, 2019, 10:54 p.m. Central Entrance Hall, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I held a telephone talk with Secretary of State Pompeo of the United States, taking into account the latest status of the U.S.-North Korea negotiations and yesterday’s telephone talk between Prime Minister Abe and President Trump. We aligned our policies regarding the abductions issue and the nuclear and missile issues ahead of the second summit meeting between the United States and North Korea. With regard to the abductions issue, we aligned our policies based on yesterday’s summit telephone talk.

We decided that, following the summit meeting on February 27 and 28, we would swiftly hold another telephone talk, and if possible, a Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting to discuss various future efforts. That is all from me.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: Regarding denuclearization of North Korea, what did you state to Secretary Pompeo and what did he state to you?

Minister Kono: The issue of denuclearization or missiles has been discussed continuously between Prime Minister Abe and President Trump, between me and Secretary Pompeo, and between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of State at various levels. Japan and the United States have consistently worked together towards the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, as well as dismantlement of missiles of all ranges, and the two countries are thus completely in alignment with each other regarding the future direction.

Reporter: Could I confirm whether you meant that a Japan-U.S. foreign ministers’ telephone talk would be swiftly held after the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting, or that the two foreign ministers would also meet in person?

Minister Kono: I expect that a summit telephone talk would be held immediately after the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting. We decided that the two foreign ministers would also swiftly hold a telephone talk, and based on the outcome in Hanoi, a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting would be held if necessary.

Reporter: Do the United States and Japan have a shared view regarding the easing of sanctions sought by North Korea?

Minister Kono: There is no difference between our views.

Reporter: I have a question regarding the abductions issue. It was announced that, during yesterday’s talk between Prime Minister Abe and President Trump, extensive discussion took place on the abductions issue. During your talk with Secretary Pompeo, were you able to obtain the Secretary’s word that the United States would raise this issue at the summit meeting?

Minister Kono: The two foreign ministers discussed our initiatives based on yesterday’s summit telephone talk.

Reporter: What did you two discuss with regard to the trilateral cooperation including the Republic of Korea (ROK)?

Minister Kono: Today, we discussed mainly Japan-U.S. cooperation as time was limited. We discussed the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting in Hanoi and a few other topics, but it was mainly about Japan-U.S. cooperation.

Reporter: You stated that, if possible, the Japanese and U.S. foreign ministers would meet in person after the Summit Meeting. Is there any discussion about the ROK participating in this meeting?

Minister Kono: For now the discussion envisioned a Japan-U.S. meeting.

Reporter:What is your view regarding the need for a Japan-U.S.-ROK meeting?

Minister Kono: We have held trilateral meetings repeatedly. I believe the three foreign ministers, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha, share the view that a Japan-U.S.-ROK meeting would be held if necessary. Therefore, it is very well possible for a Japan-U.S. meeting to be held in the context of a Japan-U.S.-ROK meeting. I believe it is the shared view of the three foreign ministers that a Japan-U.S.-ROK meeting would be held if necessary.

Reporter: The Japanese, U.S., and ROK foreign ministers met immediately after the first U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting. Are the circumstances different between then and this time?

Minister Kono: In the case of Japan, there is the issue of the budget deliberations. This is something I perhaps need to speak briefly about with the Diet Affairs Committee. As for the ROK, I have heard that the Minister is unable to travel due to the anniversary of the March 1st Movement. Therefore, the three ministers cannot meet somewhere immediately after the Summit Meeting due to the circumstances of Japan and the ROK, respectively.

Reporter: Did Secretary Pompeo tell you today whether he would attend the Summit Meeting?

Minister Kono: That was not discussed.

Reporter: Could I confirm whether the two countries share the view that no compromises would be made for North Korea, including any easing of sanctions, as long as there is no CVID?

Minister Kono: It is as I stated earlier.

Reporter:: What did you state regarding the easing of sanctions?

Minister Kono:: This issue is discussed every time at a variety of levels, and I did not state anything that was particularly different today. We confirmed our policies to date.

Reporter: How long did the telephone talk last?

Minister Kono: I believe it was under 20 minutes but over 15 minutes. Sorry, please ask later.

Reporter: Is it correct to understand that the ongoing working-level consultations between Mr. Stephen Biegun and Mr. Kim Hyok-chol are proceeding steadily?

Minister Kono: Japan, which is not a party to the consultations, should refrain from making any comments regarding the content of the consultations.

Reporter: You stated that the two countries share the view regarding the overall direction, namely, CVID. Do the two countries also share the view regarding its process? Or are there any slight differences regarding the corresponding measures sought by North Korea?

Minister Kono: You can consider that Japan and the United States have a shared view regarding this point.

Reporter: Did the United States or Secretary Pompeo mention anything about the opening of a liaison office or an end-of-war declaration?

Minister Kono: It is not appropriate for Japan, which is not party to the consultations, to comment on what is being discussed between the United States and North Korea.

Reporter: President Trump has stated that the second Summit Meeting would not be the last. How do the Japanese and U.S. foreign ministers position the Summit Meeting on February 27 and 28? What is the view of the two foreign ministers, including outlook on whether the Summit Meeting would be continued?

Minister Kono: I have heard that President Trump made such a statement. The process will not end here. In other words, everything will not be completed in Hanoi on February 27 and 28. The process takes time, whether it is dismantlement of nuclear weapons or missiles, so it is impossible for everything to be completed in two days. I expect as a matter of course that the process would be continued after the Summit Meeting.

Reporter: So there would be a third Summit Meeting if it becomes necessary in this process?

Minister Kono: While I should refrain from commenting based on speculation, I can at least state that this process between the United States and North Korea will continue and Japan will provide its full support, as Prime Minister Abe told President Trump yesterday.

Reporter: Did Secretary Pompeo make any reference to the Japan-ROK relationship during today’s telephone talk?

Minister Kono: It was not mentioned at all.

Reporter: Did the topic of President Trump’s visit to Japan come up today?

Minister Kono: Yes it did.

Reporter: Could you please share if you are able to?

Minister Kono: I am unable to, so I shall refrain from elaborating any further.

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