Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Tuesday, April 9, 2019, 3:38 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Cooperation Grant Assistance for Japanese NGOs (Increase for General Administrative Expenses)

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Based on the proposals of the Advisory Board for ODA from November 2018, budget negotiations for the FY2019 Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) budget were conducted on increasing the percentage of general administrative expenses for Japanese international NGO funding cooperation from the current 5% to a maximum of 15%. Discussions with finance authorities were arranged and it would not be the case that it would be increased to a maximum of 15% for everything. Through taking this measure, it is expected that the organizational foundation of NGOs will be strengthened.

As a result of this, it is expected that NGOs will expand their own sources of funds in the mid-term and that the introduction of funds from the Government of Japan will fall lower than now in the mid-term, and that NGOs will be able to further increase their own funding through the expansion of their foundation. It is also expected that NGOs will be able to conduct activities more vigorously both in Japan and abroad and raise their degree of recognition.

(2) Extension of Measures on North Korea (Ban on Entry into Japanese Ports and Ban on Imports and Exports)

Minister Kono: Japan takes comprehensive consideration of the various conditions concerning North Korea, and has decided on a two-year extension of the time period for the ban on entry into Japanese ports as well as the ban on imports and exports implemented as measures on North Korea from the viewpoint of ensuring implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions. I believe that the international community agreeing to precisely implement the Security Council Resolutions will lead to comprehensive resolution of various nuclear and missile issues going forward, and would like to have firm cooperation in the international community.

Extension of Measures on North Korea (Ban on Entry into Japanese Ports and Ban on Imports and Exports)

Kyodo News, Hara: I would like to ask about the sanctions on North Korea you just mentioned. The Government of Japan has been continuing its independent sanctions in addition to the sanctions based on the Security Council resolutions against North Korea until now. What is your recognition of the effects obtained through now through this chain of sanctions pressure and what effects do you anticipate?

On the other hand, the Government of Japan decided to jointly present with the EU the Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in North Korea this year despite no improvement being seen on the human rights situation in North Korea, so what are your thoughts on the difference in these responses?

Minister Kono: In regard to the resolution on human rights, I stated that this was a comprehensive decision at press conferences as well. I believe it is extremely important for resolving the North Korea situation to firmly implement the Security Council Resolutions as a member of the international community, so I will firmly continue responding to this going forward.

Cooperation Grant Assistance for Japanese NGOs (Increase for General Administrative Expenses)

Asahi Shimbun, Kiyomiya: I would like to ask in relation to NGOs and ODAs from your opening remarks. There will not be a uniform increase, but you also stated in your diplomacy address that the effects of ODA would be clearly shown, so how will judgments be conducted on quality and other matters? As another question, as you have stated previously, besides funding assistance, what is the status of specific considerations on a structure soliciting participation for NGOs to be implementers of ODA?

Minister Kono: It was pointed out that with the current 5% for general administrative expenses, deficits would be incurred through conducting projects, so at the very least I would like this not to happen. In addition, I would like NGOs that have cleared various requirements to have general administration expenses of up to 15% and use this for strengthening their foundation.

Until now it has been the case that various things have automatically been done by JICA, but going forward I would like to firmly look at whether they should be done by JICA or NGOs. JICA tends to have high costs no matter what, so to not have that I would like there to be competitiveness in necessary areas going forward.

Deployment of a Surveillance Drone by the Russian Ministry of Defense to the Northern Territories

NHK, Okuzumi: There are reports that the Russian military deployed a new type of drone to the Northern Territories. Please tell us Japan’s grasp of the facts of the matter and whether a protest has been lodged. Also, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently indicated its policy of not accepting protests from the Government of Japan by telephone. If consideration has been conducted regarding the protest method, please include that in your answer.

Minister Kono: I would like you to ask official level staff later regarding the detailed situation. To resolve such a problem, I believe resolving the attribution issue of the Northern Territories and conclude a peace treaty is important. I would like to continue Japan-Russia negotiations going forward in a firm manner.

Holding of the Japan-Russia Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultation (2+2 Ministerial Meeting)

Rossiya Segodnya, Zakharchenko: In regard to the next Japan-Russia Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultation (2+2 Ministerial Meeting) scheduled to be held, I would like to ask if anything has been decided. Also, what are your thoughts on the significance of continuing the 2+2 Ministerial Meeting?

Minister Kono: It has been agreed to hold a 2+2 Ministerial Meeting, but nothing has been decided yet on the details. The Japan-Russia 2+2 Ministerial Meeting is extremely helpful for confidence building between Japan and Russia, and I expect that it will be possible to advance exchanges of views regarding the regional situation through various discussions that combine foreign affairs and defense authorities from Japan and Russia.

Extension of Measures on North Korea (Ban on Entry into Japanese Ports and Ban on Imports and Exports)

Asahi Shimbun, Kihara: There was also a question at the beginning, and I would also like to ask about North Korea. I feel that the question has still not quite been answered. I understand the importance of continuing the sanctions, but there are always discussions that the sanctions have been continued for many years but are not effective. So regarding this point and including the decision to extend the sanctions, what effects are expected to be obtained through sanctions on North Korea? Also, what is the aim of the Government of Japan as the response of the Human Rights Council and the extension of sanctions this time are mismatched? Can you please answer about those two points?

Minister Kono: As I stated earlier, the response of the Human Rights Council was decided as a result of comprehensive consideration of the situation.

I believe there is probably no discussion internationally that the sanctions are not effective. At the recent G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, it was discussed that sanctions are firmly effective and that precisely because of this there must be firm responses on ship-to-ship transfers, repatriation of North Korean workers, and usurping cryptocurrencies. So I have not heard discussions that sanctions are not effective.

Classification by the Government of the United States of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Group, Situation in Algeria and Libya

Mainichi Shimbun, Akiyama: I would like to ask several questions about the Middle East. My first question is that the Government of the United States announced it would classify Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group. Some people have pointed out that this could be unnecessarily raising tensions, so what is your reaction? Also, the President of Algeria in Northern Africa will resign, the fighting in the neighboring countries of Libya and Sudan is becoming extremely severe, and anti-establishment demonstrations are intensifying, so what are your views on this series of events?

Minister Kono: In regard to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, it is my recognition that it has been subject to U.S. sanctions through now, and I believe it would be a major characteristic if such an organization would be tied to terrorist support. Japan does not intend to follow such a movement. I believe it is necessary for regional stability that Iran firmly exhibit self-restraint in its various missile and regional activities, and we would like to hold exchanges of views with Iran.

Also, the President of Algeria will resign in the middle of his term, and I believe it is important for the people of Algeria to select a new president through the democratic process. However, it is my recognition that there is no connection between this and the movements such as those now in Libya. I believe that we need to cautiously observe the militaristic movements developing in the areas where there were confrontations in the east and west of Libya until now. I have firm expectations for the leadership of the United Nations.

Funding Cooperation for Infrastructure

Yomiuri Shimbun, Yanada: In relation to the general election in the Maldives, with the background of the current ruling party’s major victory, it has been pointed out that the dependence on China advanced by the previous administration and China’s considerable investment that produced an overbearing debt burden invited a backlash from the people. What is your view of this? Also, when looking at the entire Indo-Pacific region, interest is considerably rising not only from Japan but also the United States as well as countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and France in Europe, so what cooperation do you think will be necessary with such countries going forward?

Minister Kono: We understand well that there are funding needs for infrastructure in developing countries including the Maldives, but we have always stated that these infrastructure projects need to be high quality projects. I believe it is important for there to be transparency, economic rationality in terms of lifecycle, and above all the sound debt of the receiver. Amidst the free and open Indo-Pacific concept advocated by Japan, we have always identified this high-quality infrastructure. I believe it is a delightful thing that there is firm recognition on high-quality infrastructure in developing countries as well and that discussions are being conducted.

On the other hand, I believe there must be consideration on how countries such as Japan and the United States can respond to funding needs for infrastructure. I would like to have exchanges of views at various occasions regarding not only high-quality infrastructure and assertions but also the funding situations to realize this, and to firmly do what we can.

Classification by the Government of the United States of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Group, Situation in Algeria and Libya

Kyodo News, Fukuda: You just stated that there is no intention to follow the response of the United States that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is connected with terrorist support. Does the fact that there is no intention to follow the United States mean that it was judged that the U.S. response is going too far?

Minister Kono: Japan has maintained its traditional relations with Iran until now, so I believe we must say what needs to be said to Iran. Looking from the nuclear and missile perspective, there is a clear differences between the North Korea and Iran, including its framework and systems. Japan will continue to make contributions to resolving this issue through exchanges of views and discussions with Iran.

Back to Press Conferences