Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Tuesday, June 25, 2019, 4:45 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Minister Kono’s Attendance at the G20 Osaka Summit
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: From June 27-30, I will attend events related to the G20 Summit held in Osaka. At the G20 Osaka Summit, Japan would like to show the vision where the international community unite in tackling issues through promoting free trade, driving growth of the global economy by innovation, contributing to rectifying disparities, as well as to environmental and global issues.
In Osaka, Prime Minister Abe will hold a dinner banquet for the leaders of participating countries, and I plan to hold a dinner banquet for the foreign ministers who are accompanying the leaders.
Japan-U.S. Security Treaty
NHK, Okuzumi: I would like to ask a question about Japan’s relation with the United States. It is reported that in a private discussion, President Trump mentioned withdrawing from the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty because he thinks it is unfair. What is your reaction to this? Also, are there any points in the Treaty that you think are unfair, or points that could be amended while the whole treaty does not have to be abrogated?
Minister Kono: I received the information from the White House in response to such reports that there are absolutely no ideas of withdrawing from or reviewing the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which would be completely incompatible with the position of the Government of the United States; this way they refuted the reports.
Visit to Japan by President Xi Jinping of China (Statement by Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou)
Jiji Press, Echigo: Ambassador Kong Xuanyou of China disclosed in a recent press conference that coordination is being conducted between Japan and China aiming for President Xi Jinping’s visit to Japan as a State Guest in spring 2020. What are the facts of the matter? Would you also tell us if the specific schedule for the visit to Japan by President Xi Jinping will be a topic in the upcoming Japan-China Summit Meeting?
Minister Kono: I am aware of such reports, but nothing has been decided about a visit to Japan. President Xi will visit Japan for the G20, so I believe that there will be more substantive discussions at the Summit meeting rather than about a visit to Japan.
Situation in Iran (Tweets by President Trump)
Asahi Shimbun, Kiyomiya: With regards to the United States and Iran, President Trump mentioned Japan and other countries by name on Twitter and stated that they should protect their own tanker operations in the Strait of Hormuz and that there is no need for the United States to be there. Can you tell us your reaction, whether this has been confirmed with the Government of the United States, and if Japan will consider its future response?
Minister Kono: We do not verify President Trump’s tweets one by one, and I believe there is no need to comment on them. However the reality is that the Strait of Hormuz is vital for energy transportation and distribution not only for Japan but also for the international community and the global economy, and therefore the Government of Japan is monitoring developments of the situation. The Government of Japan will firmly do everything it can so that the people concerned take restrained actions in order for tensions to be eased in this region.
Asahi Shimbun, Kiyomiya: In relation to this, the United States has been demanding, including at the United Nations Security Council meeting, that countries agree with the conclusion that the recent attacks on two ships, including a Japanese tanker, were perpetrated by Iran. What is your reaction to this, and will Japan aim to investigate this and identify the main perpetrator?
Minister Kono: Japan is currently sharing information with various related countries.
Japan-U.S. Security Treaty
Kyodo News, Fukuda: In relation to the first question, you stated that MOFA received information from the White House, but can you tell us if that information came as a response to the Japanese side’s inquiry about the veracity of the reports? Also, can you tell us if the information was communicated from the White House to the Embassy of Japan in the United States?
Minister Kono: I apologize that I am not aware of the details of the exchange, but I received such report.
Treatment of the Situation in Hong Kong During the G20 Summit
Yomiuri Shimbun, Yanada: I would like to ask a question about Hong Kong. Amidst the continuing effects of the demonstrations, the Government of China stated that it will not accept the situation in Hong Kong be discussed at the G20 Summit. How do you think this issue should be handled at the G20 Summit? Also, I suppose you will coordinate your schedule to meet with the foreign ministers and others of the attending countries at the margin of G20, so how will you address this theme if it will be brought up?
Minister Kono: I believe that my bilateral meetings will probably center on bilateral relations with the countries that my interlocutors will represent. Selection of lead speakers for various sessions at the G20 Summit and more is currently under way, and I am not aware of what the respective speakers will speak about.
Tweets by President Trump
Kyodo News, Saito: I would like a verification in relation to President Trump’s tweets. As you have been reiterating so far, you are taking the stance of not commenting on behalf of the Government one by one on President Trump’s tweet statements. What is the reason for this?
Is it because you do not interpret statements appeared on Twitter as being necessarily official? Or is it because you take into consideration President Trump’s personal character, although that might be difficult to say here? I would like to confirm your recognition.
Minister Kono: It is fine for you to understand that we do not interpret these tweets as official statements.