Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Friday, June 21, 2019, 12:17 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

Minister Kono’s Visit to Okinawa

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I will visit Okinawa Prefecture from tomorrow, June 22, to June 23. I will attend the Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen on the 74th Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Okinawa, and also exchange views with Governor Tamaki of Okinawa Prefecture and other municipal officials.

In addition, to contribute to the internationalization of Okinawa, I look forward to exchanging views with people from the business community in Okinawa and the youth that took part in the TOFU (Think of Okinawa’s Future in the United States) program conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

China-North Korea Summit Meeting

Yomiuri Shimbun, Yanada: I would like to ask about the visit to North Korea by President Xi Jinping of China for the China-North Korea Summit being conducted at this moment. There are reports that President Xi stated that he looks forward to the advancement in the discussions between the United States and North Korea. With regards to the influence that the meeting being conducted at this moment will have on the future negotiations between the United States and North Korea on the denuclearization of North Korea, do you have any feelings of expectation, worries, or concerns, and if so, can you please tell us about them?

Minister Kono: I would like to hear the details from the Chinese side. However, I strongly hope that this meeting will push forward the U.S.-North Korea process.

Airspace Violation by Russian Military Aircraft

Sankei Shimbun, Rikitake: Yesterday, a Russian bomber violated Japanese airspace. I believe that Japan has lodged a protest with the Russian side, but amidst the current negotiations for a peace treaty between Japan and Russia, how do you see Russia’s intention of taking such an action on the day of the Vice-Ministerial-Level Consultation between Senior Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Mori and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Morgulov yesterday?

Minister Kono: I am not in the position to comment on the intention of the Russian side.

Jiji Press, Echigo: Please tell us what action the Government of Japan has taken so far against Russia in response to this airspace violation.

Minister Kono: Please ask the officials about what kind of protest was made.

Jiji Press, Echigo: Although you are telling us to ask the officials, I believe that Senior Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Mori directly and orally lodged a protest with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Morgulov yesterday. What else has been done?

Minister Kono: Please ask the officials.

Situation in Iran (Shooting Down of an American Drone)

NHK, Okuzumi: I would like to change the subject and ask about Iran. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps announced that it shot down a U.S. surveillance drone. The United States criticized the action, and the situation where both sides are criticizing the other is going on. You recently visited Iran to encourage the easing of tensions, so based on that, what is your reaction to the situation developing now?

Minister Kono: I believe that the countries concerned, including the United States and Iran, need to take restrained responses to ensure such inadvertent incidents do not develop into a war. Japan will firmly proceed with analysis while sharing information with the countries concerned on what actually happened, and will encourage countries in the region as well as the countries concerned including the United States, to take measured responses via our embassy and others.

In particular, the majority of crude oil that passes through the Strait of Hormuz is destined for countries in Asia, including India, China, Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan, so this risks leading to concerns for impacts on the Asian economy. Thus, Japan will work towards the easing of tensions to prevent such a situation.

Writing Other Names alongside in Parentheses on Passports

Asahi Shimbun, Takeshita: I would like to ask a question with regards to writing maiden names on passports. Today, you posted on your blog that a clear explanation will be published on the MOFA website, so when is it planned to be published? Also, it is written on your blog that it will not be necessary to submit documents to confirm actual activities under one’s maiden name in foreign countries when it is possible to confirm the name through one’s family register. I believe that writing one’s maiden name has been an exceptional measure, so is this a change in the policy to change or expand the measures?

Minister Kono: Maiden names are currently written in parentheses but are not in the IC chip or the machine-readable part. Also, the meaning of maiden names written in parentheses is not well understood, so there are cases of some sort of trouble where travelers had difficulties giving explanations during immigration procedures in their destination countries. Until now, writing a maiden name or other name was treated as exceptional cases and it was the person’s own responsibility to handle such situations. If you look it up, such cases account for 0.7% or around that number. MOFA will thus provide a passport-sized piece of paper that can be inserted in passports, where explanation are written such as “names between parentheses are maiden names or other names” or “this information is not in the IC chip and the machine-readable part, ” while the precise wordings are to be elaborated by the Consular Affairs Bureau. Together with providing a document with passports that explains the meaning of names between parentheses for the immigration authorities in foreign states, I would like to have precise explanations written on the MOFA website in English and Japanese. Preparation is already going on, so this will be effective once the work will have been completed.

Also, until now, in the case of using one’s maiden name, we requested documents to be submitted showing that the person is working abroad using their maiden name, or that the person is working in a company under their maiden name, so that he or she has to travel abroad using their maiden name. However, within the current fiscal year, I would like to establish a policy to approve requests to indicate one’s maiden name alongside if it can be confirmed on a family register or by other methods. I would like this to be done within this fiscal year.

I believe this was already proposed in the meeting on women’s empowerment at the Prime Minister’s Office, which I think took place yesterday.

Attack Incident on Japan-Related Ships Near the Strait of Hormuz

Kyodo News, Fukuda: I would like to return to the subject of Iran. Chancellor Merkel of Germany stated that there is “strong evidence” of Iran’s participation in the recent attack on the tankers. What is the Government of Japan’s current analysis of the attack on the tankers?

Minister Kono: We are conducting information-sharing with the countries concerned and analyses. We are not yet at the stage where I can say anything based on definite facts.

Kyodo News, Fukuda: Is it correct to understand that a conclusion will be issued?

Minister Kono: We are currently conducting analyses, so I am not yet in a situation to say anything.

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