Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Sunday, April 14, 2019, 9:38 p.m. Beijing, People’s Republic of China
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Earlier, the Japan-China High-Level Economic Dialogue was held at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. I served as the Chair from the Japanese side, and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi served as the Chair from the Chinese side, as well as several economics-related ministers also attended from both sides. For about three hours and 40 minutes, which was slightly over the planned time schedule, exchanges of views were conducted regarding bilateral matters such as the trade investment field as well as the G20, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and global-scale multilateral matters. At the beginning, I stated that both China and Japan, which have the second and third highest GDPs in the world, have a major obligation for the peace and prosperity of the region as well as the world, and pointed out that there needs to be cooperation on contributing to the prosperity of the region and world by developing free and fair trade investment. Following this, during discussions held on matters including promoting trade investment in accordance with international rules and practices, the importance of improving business environments, and cooperation in the innovation field, I firmly conveyed Japan’s concerns and awareness of structural issues including coercive technology transfers, protection of intellectual property rights, data handling, and industry subsidies. In addition, in regard to expanding exports of Japanese food products, I strongly requested on behalf of Japan the relaxation and repeal of regulations, and welcomed that an agreement in principle was reached regarding the animal health and quarantine agreement, an important step toward lifting the ban on exports to China of animal products such as Japanese beef, and confirmed cooperation toward its swift conclusion. Furthermore, there was recognition at the ministerial level regarding further strengthening of financing and stock market cooperation, cooperation toward the early entry into force of the Japan-China Agreement on Social Security, strengthening of cooperation in the energy conservation environment field, promotion of tourism exchange, and appropriate follow-up on market cooperation between Japan, China, and third party countries and the Japan-China Innovation and Cooperation Dialogue. In addition, we agreed on recognition of cooperating toward the G20 Osaka Summit and global matters. It was agreed that the next sixth meeting will be held in Japan.
In addition, prior to the High-Level Economic Dialogue, in the morning I observed Hema, a supermarket where cashless transactions are possible at registers without staff, as well as Haidilao, a hot pot restaurant that has had considerable introduction of automated technology such as robots, and was able to experience myself how innovative technologies are affecting the lives of Chinese people.
In addition, in fall last year, both Japan and China established this year as the Japan-China Youth Exchange Promotion Year and agreed to concentrate on implementing related exchange activities. This afternoon, I attended the inauguration ceremony with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and held an exchange with university students. Mutual understanding by the young generation is indispensable for making the Japan-China relations stable over the long term, and the Government will continue to exert efforts for strengthening these youth exchanges.
Yesterday, I also held exchanges with university students studying Japanese at Beijing Foreign Studies University as well as young people who will come to Japan from all over China to work at Japanese municipalities on the Jet Programme. I hope that such people will become bridges between the two countries.
Furthermore, I attended the opening ceremony for the Japan Film Week being held in Beijing this afternoon. The Film Co-production Agreement between Japan and China went into effect last year, and as the government of Japan, we would like to support exchanges through such a framework in a firm manner.
That is all from me/P>
Reporter: You referenced this in your opening remarks. Intellectual property and technology transfer were issues in the trade friction between the United States and China. You stated that you conveyed Japan’s concerns and awareness of the issues, but specifically what concerns and issues did you convey, and what was the reaction of the Chinese side?
Minister Kono: Amidst advancing various private investment, economic cooperation, and more, I raised the issue that forcing technology transfers and not protecting intellectual property is tied to the hesitation of various companies. There were various explanations from the Chinese side in response to this. I believe there must be firm coordination between Japan and China going forward for whether all of these concerns can be cleaned up.
Reporter: I would like to ask about the import restrictions on Japanese beef. In regard to the agreement in principle toward lifting the import ban, was a goal specifically set regarding the time of the conclusion and when the ban will be lifted?
Minister Kono: The agreement on animal health and quarantine will not directly lead to lifting the ban, but it will absolutely be an important step toward lifting the ban. An agreement in principle was reached, so I would like to have this lead toward lifting the export ban on animal products going forward.
Reporter: Would it be concluded within the year?
Minister Kono: I believe it would be as quickly as possible.
Reporter: Could you tell us if China made any remarks regarding the 5G issue during the High-Level Economic Dialogue, and if so, what was Japan’s response?
Minister Kono: China expressed interest in Japan’s 5G. In response, we stated that nothing is in the works with particular companies in mind. As this new 5G technology must not entail cyber risk, we explained about general guidelines.
Reporter: With regard to this 5G issue, you mentioned that China expressed interest. How did China express interest exactly?
Minister Kono: China, in connection with Huawei, expressed interest in the activities of Japanese companies. This is a matter concerning private companies, and the Government of Japan will not meddle in matters of their procurement. That said, as there are cyber risk concerns in the respective countries, general guidelines or rules will be decided as a matter of course. We explained that these general guidelines or rules do not have any particular companies in mind.
Reporter: The issue of import restrictions came up earlier. You stated that Japan requested the abolition of import restrictions. Did China respond in any way to Japan’s request?
Minister Kono: Japan and China reached an agreement in principle regarding an agreement on animal health and quarantine. Japan stated that it would like to work with China for the agreement’s entry into force as quickly as possible, and requested the swift abolition of import restrictions on agricultural produce. The two Governments will continue to fully follow up on this matter.
Reporter: Was China’s response to the effect that it will still take time until the import restrictions are abolished?
Minister Kono: The two sides will finalize various details going forward.
Reporter: In your opening remarks at the High-Level Economic Dialogue, you mentioned something like looking ahead to President Xi Jinping’s visit to Japan for the G20 Osaka Summit. Was this discussed in more detail?
Minister Kono: I expect that we will exchange views on such matters again at tomorrow’s foreign ministers’ meeting.
Reporter: I also have a question related to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Italy is reportedly among the European countries participating in the BRI. Did China bring up the issue of the BRI or did Japan take any actions in response to the BRI issue raised by China?
Minister Kono: China explained its initiatives related to the BRI. Japan stated that implementation of such projects in line with common concepts shared by the international community, such as openness, transparency, economic efficiency in view of life-cycle cost, and debt soundness of recipient countries, will contribute to the world economy.
Reporter: I believe there was a banquet today. Could you tell us what was discussed at the banquet to the extent that you can share with us?
Minister Kono: The banquet was a completely social event.
Reporter: I have a question regarding the U.S.-China trade friction. Was any concern expressed or was any explanation provided to Japan with regard to the U.S.-China friction?
Minister Kono: Japan stated that this trade matter between the United States and China should be resolved within the WTO framework and that we are closely monitoring the ongoing negotiations. In addition, Japan requested China to make steady efforts to dispel concerns over China’s various subsidies, forced technology transfer, and protection of intellectual property rights.
Reporter: A foreign ministers’ meeting will be held tomorrow. The economy was the main theme of today’s dialogue. What do you hope to discuss at or how do you intend to engage in tomorrow’s foreign ministers’ meeting?
Minister Kono: Tomorrow, I hope to exchange views regarding issues such as multilateral matters, regional and international affairs, and security.
Reporter: You mentioned multilateral matters. This will be a bilateral meeting. Do you intend to communicate Japan’s concerns over bilateral issues such as gas and oil fields?
Minister Kono: It is inevitable that the East China Sea issue is touched upon. I hope to fully exchange views with Mr. Wang Yi regarding various regional and international affairs.
Reporter: I have a question regarding the overall atmosphere. You have attended various events since yesterday, including the High-Level Economic Dialogue. Does the current atmosphere in China suggest that the bilateral relationship will improve even further?
Minister Kono: I believe it can be said that the Japan-China relations have normalized.