Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Sunday, May 19, 2019, 3:38 p.m. Dushanbe, Republic of Tajikistan
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Today I held a meeting with H.E. Mr. Sirodjidin Muhriddin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan. I reiterated my appreciation to Minister Muhriddin for his efforts in acting as the chair of the Seventh Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue and we confirmed that we will continue to work together to promote regional cooperation in the future. We also exchanged opinions on bilateral relations in a broad range of areas, and also signed and exchanged notes concerning grant aid for snowplows and development and improvement of ambulances.
Later today I am going to make a floral tribute to the memorial plaque at the local office of the United Nations Development Programme, honoring Mr. Yutaka Akino, Former Civil Affairs Officer of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT), who lost his life in Tajikistan. Following the independence from the Soviet Union, Tajikistan lapsed into civil war, facing a very difficult situation, and I would like to express condolences and pay my respect to UNMOT Political Officer Akino, who died a martyr to his duty while devoting himself to realizing peace in Tajikistan. I will also carry forward Mr. Akino’s work and follow his wishes to cooperate in the further development of Tajikistan.
This is my first visit to Central Asia and to Tajikistan, and through the Seventh Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue, I renewed my recognition on the importance of this Central Asia region and of regional cooperation. Looking ahead, in addition to engaging itself in cooperation in a variety of areas and further strengthening relations with the countries in Central Asia, Japan will redouble its efforts towards the success of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue next year, where Japan will serve as the chair. That is all from me.
Reporter: I would like to ask about the significance for Japan of strengthening relations with Tajikistan. Also, although this is what I already asked yesterday, China is advancing, or economically speaking, has been actively and concertedly investing into Tajikistan, so could I also ask for a comment on this point?
Minister Kono: As I noted yesterday, as China shares a border with Tajikistan, it is only natural that the two countries should have the deep relations. However, a series of meetings including those with Foreign Ministers have renewed my recognition that Tajikistan in extremely friendly towards Japan. For 27 years since its independence, Japan has consistently been supporting Tajikistan’s nation building and human resources development, and in 2004 we established this “Central Asia plus Japan” framework, making Japan what you could call a “catalyst” for regional cooperation in Central Asia. I believe that it is for these efforts that we have been appreciated. As well as continuing to play the role of “catalyst” to ensure advancements in regional cooperation among Central Asia countries, we will also continue to provide active support for human resources development and nation building in Tajikistan.
Reporter: The five countries of Central Asia with which you held these meetings all have diplomatic relations, and are believed to have close relations, with North Korea. The deadline, as stipulated in the United Nations Security Council resolution concerning the repatriation of North Korean overseas workers who are earning foreign currency in other countries, is approaching towards the end of this year. So could you tell us how Japan requested cooperation from the Central Asian countries, given that Japan is calling for the full and complete implementation of UN resolutions?
Minister Kono: There is no change to Japan’s stance of working together with the international community to achieve the full implementation of UNSC resolutions, and as this point is also noted in the Joint Statement that has been issued following today’s meeting, you can appreciate that there are no differences whatsoever between the stances of Japan and that of the Central Asian countries.
Reporter: According to the results of the opinion poll announced by our company today, 61.2% of respondents appreciated Prime Minister Abe’s stance of seeking to hold a Japan-North Korea summit meeting without conditions. Could I ask your own thoughts on the results of this opinion poll, and also ask how you will work towards the realization of Japan-North Korea summit meeting as the head of Japan’s diplomatic relations?
Minister Kono: As diplomacy is not dictated by opinion polls, I would like to refrain from making any specific comment. However, what I would say is that as the families of the abduction victims are becoming increasingly elderly, the Government will continue to firmly advance its policy of grasping every possible opportunity to resolve the abduction issue without further delay.