Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Friday, May 17, 2019, 2:55 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Foreign Minister Kono’s Visit to Tajikistan

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: From tonight to May 20, I am going to visit Tajikistan to attend the Seventh Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue. At the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I would like to hold discussions based on the regional situation regarding promotion of important regional cooperation for the stability and development of Central Asia.

I recognize that Central Asia is an extremely important region for the stability of the international community from a geopolitical perspective as well as from the perspective of energy security and countermeasures against terrorism and narcotics. In addition to bilateral cooperation, Japan started the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue framework from 2004, and has supported the region’s open, stable and autonomous development as a catalyst for promoting regional cooperation.

Dynamism is being created for promoting regional cooperation between the countries of Central Asia, including holding the 1st Central Asian leaders Summit in March 2018. Through the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I would like to further boost opportunities for regional cooperation, and to have a meeting that contributes not only to Japan’s relations with the respective countries as well as relations with the Central Asia region, but also contributes to the stability of the international community.

In addition to the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I would like to hold exchanges of views regarding strengthening bilateral relations by holding bilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meetings with the foreign ministers of Central Asian countries as well as the foreign minister of Afghanistan, as he will partially participate.

I would also like to have discussions at the bilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meetings regarding various forms of practical cooperation with Central Asian countries.

In addition, a Twitter account has been opened in connection with the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue. The division in charge requested that people search for “pleasant friends of Central Asia” and follow it.

(2) Extension of the Dispatch Time Period of Headquarters Personnel to the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS)

Minister Kono: At the Cabinet meeting today, it was decided to extend by one year the dispatch time period of headquarters personnel to UNMISS.

This month, I made the first visit to South Sudan as Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan. During my visit, I restated Japan’s commitment to the peace and stability of South Sudan at a meeting with President Kiir and Special Representative of the Secretary General for UNMISS Shearer, and they expressed gratitude for this. I also met with Japanese personnel working at UNMISS including four Japan Self-Defense Force personnel dispatched as headquarters personnel at the ambassador’s residence, and encouraged them.

The dispatch of headquarters personnel to UNMISS not only contributes to the peace and stability of South Sudan, East Africa, and the region known as the “Horn of Africa,” but is also extremely important for fulfilling Japan’s role as a responsible member of the international community. I would like to continue this firm cooperation going forward.

Visit to Japan by Member of the Central Politburo of the Communist Party of China Yang Jiechi

Shanghai East Television, Song: You have a meeting with Member of the Central Politburo of the Communist Party of China Yang Jiechi later. Can you tell us what you expect for the content? Also, how many meetings will you have had with Dr. Yang?

Minister Kono: I met him when I visited Beijing last year. That day was a Sunday, and I believe the meeting began when I said, “Sorry for bothering you on Sunday.”

Normalization of the Japan-China relations is going on, so I would like to hold a exchange of views regarding various matters in a firm manner.

Asahi Shimbun, Kihara: Do you plan to discuss the North Korea issue during your meeting with Dr. Yang this time? Prime Minister Abe has indicated that he will aim to hold a Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting without preconditions, so will there be an explanation of that? Also, there was a question before about what you expect, so can you please explain again the significance of just continuing this series of high-level mutual visits?

Minister Kono: Compared to the time when high-level mutual visits between Japan and China were stopped for a while, I believe that firmly continuing high-level mutual visits, such as that of Premier of the State Council of China Li Keqiang, Prime Minister Abe’s visit to China, and President Xi Jinping’s attendance at the G20 Summit, are highly desirable for strengthening bilateral relations. In that sense, I would like to welcome the visit to Japan by Dr. Yang, who is very knowledgeable about Japan. I would like to hold an exchange of views with him regarding various regional conditions.

The United States’ Response to a Major Chinese Telecommunications Company

Kyodo News, Saito: I would like to ask a question in relation to China. As has been shown, the Trump administration in the United States has made a bold start of supply regulation measures in relation to the major Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, and many have pointed out the effect on the supply chain. Although this is about a third-party country, what is your view of the Trump administration of the United States’ response to Huawei? Also, can you please explain if there are issues that need to be responded to by China, and how Japan will handle this?

Minister Kono: Japan has a government arrangement so I believe we will firmly probe the situation, including the implementation conditions of this, and make a decision. 5G can be called the foundation technology that will greatly change the IoT, automated driving, and this society, and thus I recognize that the system security of 5G is extremely important. Japan will firmly ascertain what is needed for protecting the cybersecurity of 5G, and will observe the actual implementation by the United States and more.

There is a security perspective, but because the international supply chain now involves various products, it goes without saying that it is desirable that various trade measures be in accordance with World Trade Organization rules. However, as there is a security perspective, I believe this point must be firmly taken care of.

Various trade issues have been pointed out in regard to China, so I would like China to firmly correct what needs to be corrected, and for the United States and China to advance discussions among themselves in accordance with rules for the promotion of the global economy.

Situation in Iran

Mainichi Shimbun, Akiyama: You met with Foreign Minister Zarif yesterday. The United States has withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and later strengthened sanctions on Iran and requested Japan and other countries to impose measures restricting oil imports. Furthermore, recently there has been a strengthening militaristic movement. Some have pointed out that the United States’ policy towards Iran with such a series of measures is extremely unilateral, but what is your view on this point? Going forward, how do you intend to appeal to the United States toward easing tensions?

Minister Kono: The Government of Japan believes that the continuation of the JCPOA is extremely important. On the other hand, it has been pointed out that the region is becoming slightly unstable and that there are missile issues, so I would like Iran and the United States to firmly exhibit self-control so there will absolutely be no occurrence of accidental conflict.

In particular, it is my understanding that the Houthis have named themselves as responsible for the various incidents that have occurred in the Strait of Hormuz as well as the attack on the pipeline in Saudi Arabia. This region’s oil and gas are extremely important not only for Japan’s economy, but also for the global economy. I believe that the occurrence of a military conflict in this region must be absolutely avoided in an international sense. Japan has traditional friendly relations with Iran. While continue dialogue with Iran in a firm manner, we will also hold discussions with our ally the United States.

Foreign Minister Kono’s Visit to Tajikistan

Minister Kono: Please take a look at the Twitter account I mentioned earlier. Thank you very much.

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