Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Tuesday, August 20, 2019, 6:00 p.m. Gubei Water Town, People's Republic of China

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

Opening Remarks

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have come to China to attend the Ninth Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meeting between Japan, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) that will be held tomorrow. It is very beneficial that this Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held, following last year’s Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting. This year is a milestone year that marks exactly 20 years since the first Japan-China-ROK Summit Meeting was held based on the proposal of then Prime Minister Obuchi in 1999. Over these last 20 years, Japan, China and the ROK have engaged in such series of dialogues and cooperation. It is with this recognition that I would like to attend tomorrow’s meeting. I have just held a Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with State Councilor Wang Yi, following our recent meeting in Bangkok. In light of the outcomes of the summit meeting between Prime Minister Abe and President Xi Jinping on the margins of the G20 Osaka Summit, we reaffirmed that Japan and China will make full efforts to ensure a successful state visit to Japan by President Xi scheduled for next spring. Building on this, the two sides exchanged concrete views regarding the deepening of our cooperative relations in the economic sector, which has a tremendous potential, and promotion of youth exchanges, including school trips. In addition, we had exchanges regarding people-to-people, cultural, and sports exchanges. At the same time, with regards to matters of concern for Japan including the issue of the East China Sea, I stated that a substantial resolution of the issue or progress in the issue is vital for deepening Japan-China relations. Regarding the recent situation in Hong Kong, I stated that Japan is deeply concerned and strongly hopes the situation will calm down as quickly as possible through peaceful dialogues, and that it is essential for Hong Kong to prosper in a free and open manner under “one country, two systems.” Today’s meeting was extremely meaningful at this juncture when Japan and China are about to carve out a new era. That is all from me.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: You just mentioned the East China Sea issue. Specifically, were you referring to the issues of the Senkaku Islands and the joint development of oil and gas fields? Could you please elaborate on what was specifically discussed?

Minister Kono: As you stated. With regards to the content of the discussion, I would like to refrain from disclosing it, but it was about the Senkaku Islands and resource development.

Reporter: You stated that you raised the topic of Hong Kong. I understand from what you have just stated that you expressed Japan’s position in detail at this timing. What is the significance of conveying Japan’s position directly to Foreign Minister Wang Yi at this timing? Also, while the international community including the United States is closely following the situation, could you tell us once again your view of the current situation?

Minister Kono: Over 25,000 Japanese nationals are constantly in Hong Kong, and the Government of Japan has repeatedly conveyed to Hong Kong authorities about the need for fully ensuring the safety of these people. It is essential that this situation fully calms down through dialogue. Under “one country, two systems,” investments in Hong Kong not only by Japan but also by a number of other countries serves as a basis of Hong Kong’s system. In this sense, I fully conveyed my view to China that it is necessary that this issue be resolved through peaceful dialogue.

Reporter: Did you feel that your view got across to Foreign Minister Wang Yi?

Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from disclosing my counterpart’s remarks. However, I believe our position regarding this issue has been fully conveyed to China and Hong Kong authorities.

Reporter: China has expressed concerns over the United States’ deployment of medium-range missiles to Japan, in connection with the expiration of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). What discussion took place at today’s meeting?

Minister Kono: We exchanged opinions regarding the strategy and affairs of East Asia. I would like to refrain from making further comments.

Reporter: What kind of discussion took place regarding North Korea?

Minister Kono: With regards to North Korea, we intend to hold discussions among Japan, China, and the ROK. Foreign Minister Wang Yi and I share the same basic view.

Reporter: In relation to North Korea, did you discuss anything regarding ship-to-ship transfers?

Minister Kono: Regarding North Korea, we intend to hold discussions among the three countries.

Reporter: What about import restrictions on Japanese food products?

Minister Kono: I raised the issue of import restrictions. We have heard China’s explanation that the health of its people is important. Japan has provided explanations founded on scientific evidences, and some imports have been approved. We hope to see progress on this issue.

Reporter: Regarding the protests in Hong Kong, there are news reports that China has assembled its People’s Armed Police in Shenzhen. Did you comment on this?

Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from disclosing our discussion.

Reporter: Did the two sides confirm the importance of continuing reciprocal visits by the leaders? Could you also tell us whether any remarks were made regarding the visit to Japan by Foreign Minister Wang Yi or President Xi Jinping for the Ceremony of the Enthronement of His Majesty the Emperor in October?

Minister Kono: We shared the view and confirmed that it is important to carry out high-level reciprocal visits at a steady pace. With regards to the Ceremony of the Enthronement, the two sides share an understanding that a very high-level official will participate from China.

Reporter: Could you give us the names?

Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from disclosing them.

Reporter: Did you make any comments regarding the confrontation between the United States and China?

Minister Kono: Today, we held extensive discussions regarding Japan-China bilateral matters.

Reporter: Did the worsening of Japan-ROK relations come up as the agenda of today’s meeting?

Minister Kono: It did not come up at all.

Reporter: Not even an explanation?

Minister Kono: It did not come up at all.

Reporter: Not even a question?

Minister Kono: No.

Reporter: How do you intend to embark on the Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting tomorrow?

Minister Kono: I hope to fully confirm Japan-ROK cooperation regarding the issue of North Korea. I would also like to exchange views which the ROK will be able to fully address the issue of former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula.

Reporter: Do you expect that the meeting will offer a path to improving Japan-ROK relations?

Minister Kono: This is a matter that must be addressed by the ROK, so please ask the ROK side.

Reporter: Regarding economic cooperation, what did you discuss specifically?

Minister Kono: The economic sector has a significant potential, and we expect considerable progress to be made forward unless something, including in various political sectors, stops it. We thus discussed cooperating between Japan and China to ensure that the potential can be unleashed to the fullest.

Reporter: I have a question regarding Hong Kong. Without going into details, could you tell us if today’s discussion has given you hopes for a peaceful resolution? Or did it leave concerns over the intervention of the Government of China, including its use of force?

Minister Kono: I believe we share the view that the situation of Hong Kong must be calmed down through dialogue.

Reporter: I understand that Foreign Minister Wang Yi mentioned the four government documents at the beginning of the meeting. During the meeting, was there any discussion on the need for new documents or something of such kind?

Minister Kono: There was not.

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