Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu

Friday, September 20, 2019, 11:20 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

Minister Motegi to Attend the United Nations General Assembly

Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I will visit New York from Sunday, September 22 to Friday, September 27 and attend various international meetings including the G4 Ministerial Meeting on UN Security Council Reform, the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting, and the Meeting of the Leading Group on Innovative Financing for Development.

I will actively convey Japan’s views on global issues faced by the international community, based on the results from the G20 Osaka Summit and TICAD 7.

In addition, I will take this opportunity to actively meet with the foreign ministers, firmly build relationships of trust, and have in-depth exchange of views regarding the issues faced by the international community including the North Korea issue and the situation in the Middle East.

Schedule of Foreign Ministers’ Meetings During the United Nations General Assembly

Mainichi Shimbun, Akiyama: I have a question in relation to what you have just stated. Can you please tell us if there are currently any countries with whose foreign minister you plan to hold meetings? What would you like to discuss?

Minister Motegi: Everything in overall is currently being coordinated between several countries including the United States, Russia, Iran, and India. Naturally, in relation to the United States, there will be discussion on deepening the Japan-U.S. Alliance. With Russia, I would develop on future Japan-Russia relations and issues such as advancing joint projects. With Iran, I will of course discuss the situation in the Middle East. With India, I would probably discuss the issues of the G4 Ministerial Meeting on UN Security Council Reform and other issues.

First Meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov

Sankei Shimbun, Rikitake: As you have just said, I believe that the Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that is being coordinated will be your first meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov. Amidst the current significant gap concerning the basic stances of both sides regarding a peace treaty, what are your thoughts on how to close this gap?

Minister Motegi: In any event, this will be our first meeting. I believe it will be an opportunity for frank, open exchange of views regarding the stances of both sides. Candidly speaking, since it will be our first meeting, I do not know what will be its contents and outcomes.

Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Director-General Level Talk

NHK, Watanabe: Today, from this morning, a meeting between Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Takizaki and Director-General for Asian and Pacific Affairs of the ROK is being held. It seems that the morning meeting has ended, so have you received any reports regarding the content? If you have not received any reports, can you please tell us your expectations for such a meeting?

Minister Motegi: I have not yet received reports. I believe it will end in the afternoon and I will hear something then. There are currently issues between Japan and the ROK, and Japan will continue to strongly urge the ROK to swiftly remedy its breach of international law. In any event, the foreign ministers and diplomatic authorities of our countries will continue communications. The Director-General Level Talk is being held today as part of this effort.

NHK, Watanabe: In relation to this, what are your expectations for this discussion between the Directors-General in charge? Including the question of whether a Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting at the United Nations General Assembly in New York is being coordinated, how will you take these opportunities to conduct Japan-ROK relations?

Minister Motegi: Your question is a very difficult one. In terms of the results I expect for a Director-General level talk, it is quite rare for the Director-General and myself to have a thorough meeting before the talk and agree on the results to be achieved. Therefore, it would be best to ask the Director-General himself for the results that are expected from the talk, rather than asking it to me.

Furthermore, nothing has been decided at present regarding a meeting with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.

The Decision by the ROK to Terminate the Japan-ROK General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)

Kyodo News, Fukuda: I would like to ask in relation to the ROK. The United States has expressed disappointment about the decision to terminate the GSOMIA. Do you believe there is a possibility that the decision to terminate the GSOMIA will be discussed at the meeting between Japan and the United States in New York?

Minister Motegi: I do not know, but during my recent telephone talk with Secretary of State Pompeo, we perfectly agreed on the recognition that information-sharing regarding security should not be hindered now when Japan-U.S.-ROK coordination is important, amidst issues including the North Korea situation.

Kyodo News, Fukuda: Is it possible that you will reconfirm that this time?

Minister Motegi: There are various themes to discuss during the meeting depending on how much time there will be, as well as the question of what issue will be discussed and in what order they will be treated. I expect a Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held, but the schedule is currently being coordinated. The themes will be determined based on the slots available, so I would not know how far we can go until we will actually start.

Attacks on Saudi Crude Oil Facilities / Agreement on the Settlement of Problems concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation between Japan and the ROK

Independent Web Journal, Hamamoto: I would like to ask two questions. With regard to the attacks on the Saudi crude oil facilities, the United States and Saudi Arabia are claiming without showing evidence that it was perpetrated by Iran. Saudi Arabia is Japan’s largest oil imports supplier, but Japan is building unique diplomatic relations with Iran. If the United States’ hostility towards Iran grows, what position will Japan take?

I have one more question. The Abe administration is taking the position that the 1965 Agreement on the Settlement of Problems concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation resolved the issue in response to ROK’s ruling about the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula. However, when answering in the Diet in 1991, Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated based on the International Covenants on Human Rights that individual claim rights themselves have not been extinguished. Has the interpretation changed during the Abe administration? In that case, domestic law would go against the International Covenants on Human Rights that prevail over it. What are your thoughts on this?

Minister Motegi: Firstly, in terms of your second question, the answer in the Diet in 1999 is the first half of the answer itself, and it was clearly answered that even if that is so, those claims cannot be given relief to. I believe this clear reply was given, and thus your point is incorrect.

Regarding the issue of the Middle East, peace and stability in the Middle East are extremely important for the peace and stability of the entire international community. The Government of Japan strongly condemns the attacks on the Saudi crude oil facilities. I quickly issued a foreign minister’s statement. Japan continues to closely monitor the situation in the Middle East, including the movements concerning this case. While cooperating with the countries concerned, Japan will continue to make diplomatic efforts toward easing tensions in the Middle East and stabilizing the situation. You should carefully read the replies in the Diet.

Plan for a Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting during the United Nations General Assembly

Dong-a Ilbo, Kim: You stated earlier that there has not been a decision about a meeting with Foreign Minister Kang of the ROK. Is a meeting currently being coordinated, or is it not expected to hold one?

Minister Motegi: It has not been decided.

Japan-Iran Foreign Ministers’ Meeting during the United Nations General Assembly

Kyodo News, Niwa: You mentioned earlier that you would meet with Foreign Minister Zarif during the United Nations General Assembly. What specifically will you discuss, and what message would you like to convey on behalf of Japan amidst the aggravating confrontation between the United States and Iran?

Minister Motegi: With regard to the Middle East and the situation of rising regional tensions, I will have a discussion toward easing tensions and stabilizing the situation. But since these are diplomatic negotiations, it will depend on the counterpart as well. In terms of what will be discussed, there is a possibility that there will be developments in the situation between this week and next week. The meeting will be based on these elements. After the meeting, I will provide an explanation about its content.

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