Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Friday, April 19, 2019, 3:53 p.m. Washington, D.C., United States of America
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: At today’s Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (SCC) (Japan-U.S. “2+2”), we confirmed in detail the future ideal form of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and the direction towards enhancing deterrence and response capabilities. I believe the meeting produced meaningful outcomes for a successful visit to the United States by Prime Minister Abe and state visit to Japan by President Trump.
Specifically, first, we shared the view that the Japan-U.S. Alliance serves as the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, and that both Japan and the United States will work to realize a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Secondly, we shared the view that the two countries will reinforce cooperation for cross-domain operations, including capacity enhancement in new areas such as outer space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum.
Thirdly, regarding North Korea, we reconfirmed close cooperation between Japan and the United States on realizing the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges, and on countering ship-to-ship transfers for the full implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions to this end. We also reaffirmed that U.S. force posture in the region would remain robust.
In addition, we affirmed the steady implementation of the realignment of U.S. forces, including relocation of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma to Henoko. At the same time, with regard to the recent murder of a Japanese national by a U.S. forces personnel in Okinawa, Japan once again urged the United States to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
Also, this morning, a Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held prior to the “2+2.” I also just exchanged views with National Security Advisor Bolton. These meetings were very meaningful.
In particular, we aligned our future North Korean policies based on the situation following the second U.S.-North Korea Summit. We also exchanged views regarding regional issues based on my recent visit to China. I will now take your questions.
Reporter: Could you tell us what items were primarily discussed during the foreign ministers’ meeting?
Minister Kono: We first discussed the issues of North Korea, China, and other various regional issues. We then exchanged views regarding the President’s visit to Japan.
Reporter: At the foreign ministers’ meeting, was there discussion on extending the application of economic sanctions on Iranian crude oil?
Minister Kono: We also discussed the Middle East. As the content is sensitive, I would like to refrain from commenting on it publicly at this point in time.
Reporter: Was Minister Iwaya present at the discussion with National Security Advisor Bolton?
Minister Kono: Minister Iwaya was with me.
Reporter: What was most...
Minister Kono: We exchanged views regarding North Korea, China, and briefly about Venezuela with National Security Advisor Bolton.
Reporter: It seems that the “2+2” Joint Statement contains wording that significantly criticizes China in light of its attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas, such as challenges to a free and open Indo-Pacific. What is your view in this regard?
Minister Kono:: We urge China’s peaceful development in a manner that respects international order. The world and regional economies will benefit considerably if China promotes economic development in accordance with international rules. Therefore, it will be important that China steadily takes actions based on international order.
Reporter:: The outcome document contains the wording, “need for greater supply chain security.” Could you please elaborate as to whether there was any discussion during the series of meetings regarding China’s 5G standards or Huawei?
Minister Kono: 5G is a technology that serves as the basis of Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous driving. We share the view that we must avoid incorporating devices that would pose as cyber risks. The Government of Japan has issued guidelines to ensure that the supply chain does not incur such risks. We would like relevant companies to steadily procure devices in accordance with these guidelines.
Reporter: I have a question in connection with China. Summit diplomacy has commenced, and Japan-China relations are improving. On the other hand, serious threats remain in the security domain. How do you intend to achieve a balance between security and summit diplomacy?
Minister Kono: During my recent visit to China, I sensed first hand that the Japan-China relations have improved considerably. Furthermore, this year, we will welcome President Xi Jinping to Osaka for the G20 Summit. High-level exchanges have continued in a very favorable manner. During my visit to China, the two sides were able to share the view that Japan-China relations are normalizing. Meanwhile, Japan has no intention at all to compromise on principles, such as attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas. To further improve the Japan-China relations, we will urge China to take actions in accordance with international rules in the context of the international order.
Reporter: I have a question concerning North Korea. As of March, it was announced that the combined exercise of the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) will be terminated. Under such circumstances, what significance do you attach to the Joint Statement’s inclusion of the wording, “U.S. force posture in the region would remain robust”?
Minister Kono: While the U.S.-ROK exercise has been suspended, it was explained that alternative exercises and trainings will continue to be conducted and that the U.S. force readiness posture and readiness capabilities will not be undermined. In addition, the U.S. Forces in Japan (USFJ) has become the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in a broader region. We share the view that the U.S. force readiness posture and readiness capabilities in the Far East region must not be undermined.
Reporter: My question is related to North Korea. Cooperation among Japan, the United States, and the ROK was included in the Joint Statement. Meanwhile, recent developments suggest that Japan-U.S. and the ROK are not in agreement or have differences in view over especially how sanctions should be imposed. What is your present view on this point and how do you intend to move forward?
Minister Kono: While there may be some of that to a slight degree, Japan, the United States, and the ROK are steadily cooperating and have steadily cooperated on security at the very least. In this sense, there are no particular concerns with regard to security.
Reporter: You stated that President Trump’s visit to Japan was discussed. What did the two sides discuss?
Minister Kono: While the dates have been officially announced, we are not yet at a stage in which the details can be made public. Therefore, I would like to refrain from disclosing the content of our discussion regarding the details. We expect it will be an excellent visit to Japan. It will be the first state visit under the new Emperor. We expect the visit will be extremely significant both for strengthening the Japan-U.S. Alliance and deepening Japan-U.S. relations.
Reporter: Prime Minister Abe will visit the United States next week. How will your meetings contribute to this visit? Could you please tell us if there are any items that were just confirmed between diplomatic authorities which you would like confirmed again at the summit meeting?
Minister Kono: As a matter of course, I expect that the matters confirmed at today’s “2+2” will also be confirmed between the two leaders.
Reporter: With regard to the issue of abductions of Japanese nationals, Secretary of State Pompeo stated his impression that Chairman Kim Jong-un recognizes the abductions issue. Based on the Secretary’s comments, what is your analysis as to why Japan-North Korea relations have not made any major progress to date?
Minister Kono: As a matter of course, Japan considers that it must deal with this issue with North Korea. As to how to address the nuclear and missile issues and how to address the abductions issue, the ball is currently on the North Korean side. We expect that North Korea is conducting various reviews or developing an approach following the summit in Hanoi, and it may take some time.