Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Tuesday, August 27, 2019, 10:40 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Start of TICAD7

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: From tomorrow, August 28, to August 30, the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) will be held in Yokohama. It is planned that I will serve as the chairperson of the Ministerial Preparatory Meeting in Yokohama today. Then, from August 28 to 30, in addition to serving as the chairperson of the TICAD7 thematic session on the blue economy, I would like to hold meetings with the foreign ministers and others visiting Japan. In addition, I will attend meetings that will be held in conjunction with TICAD on the topics including the Horn of Africa, the Sahel region, and the Western Indian Ocean.

A very large number of African leaders will attend the Conference. I also expect that a very large number of people will attend the Conference from African regional organizations, international organizations, partner countries, Asian countries, companies, civil society, and various other fields. We would like to focus on the growth in Africa, and have discussions more focused on private investments rather than aids.

Under the theme of TICAD7, “Advancing Africa's Development through People, Technology and Innovation,” Japan would like to support the development of Africa, which is said to be the largest frontier of the 21st century, under their ownership, with public and private sectors together, or rather under the main leadership of the private sector. In addition, I plan to attend the awarding ceremony of the Third Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize that will be held on August 30 in Tokyo, as well as the memorial banquet.

(2) ABE Initiative Publicity Video (ODA-man)

Minister Kono: A new anime video was released on August 13 starring ODA-man, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) ODA character I appointed. The video introduces youth coming to Japan from Africa in order to study within the framework of the ABE Initiative or to do internships. The video was made so that the Japanese people can feel the connection between Japan and Africa more closely before TICAD. The video is available on the MOFA YouTube channel, and I hope many people will watch it.

Situation in Iran (Visit to Japan by Foreign Minister Zarif)

Kyodo News, Niwa: MOFA has just announced that you will meet with Foreign Minister Zarif of Iran today. What specifically are you thinking of discussing?

Minister Kono: Foreign Minister Zarif has visited Japan some time ago, and I would like to firmly continue our exchange of views regarding the easing of tensions in the Middle East.

Jiji Press, Echigo: Iran is suggesting that it will possibly further enrich uranium in early September. Are you considering once again to convey Japan’s position on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) this time?

Minister Kono: Japan has conveyed to Iran that we are consistently supporting the JCPOA. Prime Minister Abe and I visited Tehran recently, and Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Rouhani affirmed that Iran has no intention of developing nuclear weapons. If the enrichment is for peaceful uses, then there is naturally a limit on the quantity and the percentage of uranium enrichment, so I would like Iran to immediately return to the framework established by the JCPOA.

Adoption of the Summary Document at the G7 Summit

Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: At the G7 Summit that ended yesterday, President Macron indicated that a leaders’ declaration would not be adopted, but ultimately a document was compiled regarding five items. Does the Government of Japan perceive this document to be the leaders’ declaration?

Minister Kono: I believe it is being introduced as a leaders’ declaration. Please verify the details with MOFA officials.

South China Sea Issue

Vietnam News Agency, Dao: Recently, many countries have voiced serious concerns over the escalated tension in the South China Sea due to a series of unilateral activities by China that seriously violate international law, sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction, and hinders legitimate long-standing oil and gas rigging activities conducted in the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam and other claimants in the South China Sea. What are your comments on this issue?

Minister Kono: The South China Sea is an important sea lane for Japan and many other countries. It directly relates to the peace and stability of the region, so the international community including Japan pays close attention to the situation in the South China Sea. Japan is opposed to any actions by any entity to increase tension in the South China Sea. At the East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held recently in Bangkok, I raised serious concern over the severe situation in the South China Sea and the unilateral attempt to change the status quo, and I stated that any coercive actions by any country should be opposed by the international community. I called upon all the parties concerned to demilitarize facilities in the South China Sea, and to resolve dispute according to international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). We have opposed to any serious attempts to increase tension in the area, and we have supported dispute settlement according to international law. I think we need to continue to emphasize the necessity to uphold the rule of law in the South China Sea and anywhere else.

Termination of the Japan-ROK General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) (Statement by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea (ROK))

Sankei Shimbun, Rikitake: Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon of the ROK indicated yesterday that they would rethink about the termination of the GSOMIA if Japan’s review of export control returned to the operation before. A ministerial order will be executed tomorrow on August 28 concerning the export control, so can you please tell me if the Government of Japan’s consideration has not changed over the execution of the ministerial order?

Minister Kono: I would like to request that you inquire with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry about the export control.

G7 Summit (Readmission of Russia)

Jiji Press, Echigo: The readmission of Russia was discussed at the G7 Summit this time. The annexation of the Crimean Peninsula was at the background of Russia’s removal from the G8. What is Japan’s current position regarding this?

Minister Kono: Japan’s position is that we shall not recognize the annexation of Crimea, and there is no change to that.

Jiji Press, Echigo: What is Japan’s position regarding readmitting Russia to the G7?

Minister Kono: There was a framework of G8 meetings, so I believe it is not unimaginable that there would be a G8 again with the return of Russia, if various conditions were met. However, I do not know how much time would be needed for these conditions to be met. I stated at a past G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that a G8 including Russia could be considered sometime in the future if various conditions were met.

Termination of the GSOMIA (Statement by the Prime Minister of the ROK)

Dong-a Ilbo, Kim: With regards to Japan-ROK relations, yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon stated concerning not only export control but also the GSOMIA, that there is a possibility for reconsidering the termination of the GSOMIA if Japan’s export control measures will be reversed to how they were before. What is your reaction to this?

Minister Kono: I have stated that the GSOMIA and the export control are matters of completely different dimensions. Based on our consistent position regarding various issues, Japan would like the ROK to make all efforts for its responses.

Situation in Iran (Visit to Japan by Foreign Minister Zarif)

NHK, Takano: I would like to return to the meeting with Foreign Minister Zarif of Iran. What are you thinking of discussing with him today, including on whether Japan will participate in a coalition of the willing?

Minister Kono: Nothing has been decided yet on what will be discussed.

Japan-ROK Relations

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Welter: I would like to ask about Japan-ROK relations. When you talk to ROK’s government officials or officials of Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the ROK, they always mention that Japan does not have sufficient understanding of its history, and that seems to be the fundamental point for the Korean side on the conflict over the GSOMIA and export control. What is your answer to the reproach by the Korean side towards Japan?

Minister Kono: The most important issue right now between Japan and the ROK is about the 1965 Agreement. If the ROK wants to rewrite history, they need to know that it cannot be done.

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