Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Sunday, June 30, 2019, 8:27 p.m. Central Entrance Hall, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I received a sudden request for a telephone talk from Secretary of State Pompeo of the United States.
Secretary Pompeo provided me a detailed explanation of today’s meeting between President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un.
We undertook policy coordination from this point forward.
I believe the U.S.-North Korea process will resume between the new North Korean team and that of the United States in the next two to three weeks. I expect today’s meeting will significantly boost the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
That is all from me.
Reporter: After having heard Secretary Pompeo’s detailed explanation, do you think progress will be made in the denuclearization process?
Minister Kono: I believe the process had come to a halt due to various reasons after the Summit meeting in Hanoi. It appears that agreement was reached between the two leaders today to resume the process by launching teams on both sides. The President also mentioned the time frame of two to three weeks. I expect that the process will fully resume.
Reporter: Did Secretary Pompeo say anything about bringing up the abduction issue?
Minister Kono: I received a detailed briefing regarding the content of the meeting. However, we would like to refrain from disclosing the content externally at this moment from the Japanese side.
Reporter: President Trump stated after the de facto meeting, in response to a question regarding the easing of sanctions, that “at some point during the negotiations, things can happen.” He seemed to be hinting at the easing of sanctions. Could you tell us your thoughts on this and how Japan will approach the United States?
Minister Kono: The U.S. policy has not changed in any way. If denuclearization will take place, I believe the sanctions will be lifted. There is no change to this.
Reporter: Until the complete denuclearization?
Minister Kono: There is no change to the policy up to now.
Reporter: May I clarify if you mean that at this point the United States has no intention of even gradually easing the sanctions?
Minister Kono: There is no change.
Reporter: Are you saying that you confirmed with Secretary Pompeo today that there will be no change in the U.S. sanctions policy?
Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from disclosing the content of our discussion, but Japan and the United States are in alignment on future policies.
Reporter: What was your impression when you saw the footage of the U.S.-North Korea meeting?
Minister Kono: President Trump’s Twitter post led to today’s event, and I believe some trigger was needed to resume the U.S.-North Korea process.Today’s meeting will probably serve as a significant trigger for this to happen. Secretary Pompeo and I shared some laughs saying that politicians from now on must use Twitter.
Reporter: Was there discussion today over who exactly will be the members of the teams taking charge of U.S.-North Korea process which is to start in two to three weeks?
Minister Kono: I heard that the U.S. team will consist of Secretary of State Pompeo and Special Representative for North Korea Biegun. It seems there is no change in particular.
Reporter: What about the North Korean side?
Minister Kono: It seems the names of the North Korean team members have not been announced yet.
Reporter: Does the Government of Japan intend to ask the United States to raise the abduction issue, including towards Chairman Kim Jong-un?
Minister Kono: I believe it remains unchanged that President Trump and Secretary Pompeo have an extremely strong interest in the abductions issue.
Reporter: While the content remains to be seen, at this point does Japan support or welcome the meeting between the U.S. and North Korean leaders in this manner?
Minister Kono: We believe it provided a significant trigger to resuming the U.S.-North Korea process, and therefore, we welcome and support it.
Reporter: Aside from this U.S.-North Korea topic, were there other matters that came up during your telephone talk, including the issue of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty mentioned by President Trump?
Minister Kono: Today, I heard a detailed explanation of the meeting, and we confirmed our future policies. We did not discuss anything else.
Reporter: What impacts do you anticipate from the resumption of the U.S.-North Korea process on the Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting or Japan-North Korea consultations?
Minister Kono: I believe it will provide a significant boost.
Reporter: What will be the reason?
Minister Kono: If the denuclearization process moves forward, this will also lead to progress in other processes concerning North Korea.
Reporter: At today’s meeting, did President Trump convey to Chairman Kim Jong-un that Prime Minister Abe intends to meet with Chairman Kim without preconditions?
Minister Kono: We would like to refrain from disclosing the details of the meeting externally from the Japanese side.