Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Tuesday, May 28, 2019, 4:42 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Special Lecture Regarding ODA at Keio University
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I am going to deliver a special lecture regarding ODA at the Mita Campus of Keio University on June 3 at 6:20 p.m. I would like this to be an opportunity to give a clear explanation of my ideas as Minister for Foreign Affairs regarding the future of Japan’s ODA and what we consider when we decide the direction for this.
There are also initiatives such as the International Cooperation Bureau’s ODA-man. I would like to convey information on ODA in various ways to increase understanding and support for ODA.
(2) Japan-Russia Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultation (“2+2” Ministerial Meeting), Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
Minister Kono: Based on the results of the Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held on May 10, we will welcome Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov and Minister of Defense Shoigu of Russia to Japan and hold a “2+2” Ministerial Meeting on May 30. In addition, we plan to hold Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on May 31.
At the “2+2” Ministerial Meeting, we will have discussions on a variety of topics, including pressing international situations such as the North Korea issue and bilateral defense exchange, to further promote of confidence building between the two countries in the security field.
At the Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, keeping in mind the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting and other events in June, I would like to hold frank discussions regarding topics including the issue of concluding a peace treaty, various aspects of the bilateral relationship, and pressing international situations.
Stabbing Incident in Kawasaki City
NHK, Okuzumi: I apologize for asking a question on unconfirmed information, but there are reports that the man killed in the incident that occurred in Kawasaki City this morning was a staff member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). What is MOFA’s understanding of the incident?
Minister Kono: I heard that two people were stabbed to death and that there are several seriously injured people in Kawasaki. This is a truly heartbreaking incident, and it brings a feeling of strong resentment. I pray that those who died rest in peace, and would like to express condolences to the bereaved families. I would also like to express my prayers for the swift recovery of those who were seriously injured. I cannot say anything more at this point.
Japan-North Korea Relations (Five Years since the Stockholm Agreement)
Asahi Shimbun, Kiyomiya: I would like to ask about North Korea. Tomorrow will mark five years since the announcement of the Stockholm Agreement. I believe the policy thus far was to seek the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement and resolve the abductions issue. May I ask if there is no change to the policy to place the Stockholm Agreement as the basis for Japan-North Korea negotiations?
Minister Kono: Japan considers the Stockholm Agreement to be valid, and will continue to request North Korea to implement the Agreement.
Asahi Shimbun, Kiyomiya: I believe you previously stated with regards to the Agreement that it was highly significant that North Korea showed the intention to resolve the issue. However, North Korea unilaterally dissolved the Special Investigation Committee and it is still under suspension. May I ask your view of the current situation?
Minister Kono: Japan cannot accept the dissolution of the Committee. Japan considers the Agreement to be valid and will request its full implementation.
President Trump’s Visit to Japan
Yomiuri Shimbun, Yanada: President Trump visited Japan, and there were scenes of him and Prime Minister Abe enjoying golf and sumo wrestling. There was a considerably large amount of coverage of such scenes. President Trump’s visit was the first visit by a State Guest in the Reiwa period, so how do you feel this contributed to the friendly relations between Japan and the United States including at the grassroots level?
Minister Kono: President Trump visited Japan as the first State Guest of the Reiwa period, and quite a large number of events were held. I believe the strong Japan-U.S. Alliance, as well as the close relationship between the two leaders that embody this, were shown to the world. In addition, I believe that President Trump’s personality was conveyed to the people of Japan through his viewing of sumo wrestling matches and his meeting with the family members of the victims abducted by North Korea, as the scenes were widely covered in the news.
Yomiuri Shimbun, Yanada: I would like to ask an additional question. Do you feel that conveying President Trump’s personality worked to improve Japan’s impression on the United States?
Minister Kono: I believe that the current Japan-U.S. relations is based on the relationship on various levels, including of course the close personal relationship between the leaders. . In this context, I believe it was good that many people learned what kind of person the U.S. President is through the extensive media coverage.
European Parliament Elections
Yomiuri Shimbun, Yanada: With regards to the European Parliament elections, although those who promote EU unity, the so-called pro-EU parties, secured certain seats, it is reported that those with quite skeptical views accounted for up to 30% of the seats. I believe that the cooperation with the EU, particularly with major countries, will be an issue for Japan at the G20 Summit and the G7 Summit. What are your current thoughts on how the present situation will affect cooperation between Europe and Japan as well as cooperation at the G7 Summit?
Minister Kono: Japan supports a strong and unified Europe. In that sense, I believe the results of the current parliamentary elections were a little tricky. There are various thresholds within the European Parliament, so I believe we need to look at the current results in more detail.
I believe we must thoroughly analyze the reasons why the parties with skeptical views of the EU received such support. From the standpoint of supporting a strong and unified Europe, we need to work on what Japan can do and what message we should convey through various dialogues with Europe, including the upcoming Summit Meetings and Foreign Ministers’ Meetings.
In addition, I feel that the Brexit issue in the United Kingdom is somewhat reaching its climax. There is no change to Japan’s view that we would like a “no-deal Brexit” to be avoided. T believe the election to choose the next party leader after Prime Minister May will be held going forward, so we will watch closely the result together with the results of the Parliamentary elections.
Visit to Japan by Prime Minister Hasina of Bangladesh
Prothom Alo, Huq: I have two questions. The first one is about Japan’s position on the Rohingya refugees. Tomorrow, there will be a Summit between Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister Hashina of Bangladesh, who will visit Japan. Until now, Japan has provided funding to Bangladesh and Myanmar for refugee settlement, but almost two years have passed and there is no progress in the returning of refugees. Will Japan indicate that it is going to, not put pressure, but strongly persuade Myanmar to accept the return of refugees at the meeting tomorrow? The second question concerns the travel warning on Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s economic progress is attracting Japanese investors, and some investors are thinking twice because of the warning. When will Japan lower the level of danger? Will there be any indication made tomorrow to the Bangladeshi side? Thank you very much.
Minister Kono: Thank you. The second question first, the travel warning reflects the reality on the ground, so whenever we believe the condition is better, we will change the travel warning. With regards to the first question, we are very grateful for the Bangladeshi government for taking care of almost one million displaced people from the State of Rakhine, Myanmar. We will continue to support the Bangladeshi government and the host community for hosting those displaced people. We strongly believe that once the situation gets better, those displaced people need to return to where they came from safely and voluntarily. We will continue to encourage dialogue between the Bangladeshi government and the Myanmar government, and we will provide any necessary assistance to both governments and communities for those purposes. Thank you.