Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Tuesday, September 3, 2019, 11:00 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Foreign Minister Kono’s Attendance at the Eastern Economic Forum
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: From tomorrow, September 4, to September 6, I plan to visit Vladivostok, Russia, accompanying Prime Minister Abe to attend the Eastern Economic Forum.
Response Concerning the Strait of Hormuz
NHK, Takashima: I suppose that various plans are being considered regarding the Government of Japan’s response concerning the Strait of Hormuz. What are your thoughts regarding the views that the final decision will be made after taking into account the judgments made by other countries at the United Nations General Assembly this month?
Minister Kono: The Strait of Hormuz is an extremely important location for the energy security of Japan, and Japan is considering what necessary responses it should take, while ascertaining the situation. I would like to refrain from commenting based on speculation regarding the timing and other matters.
Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Relations
Jiji Press, Echigo: I would like to ask about Japan-ROK relations. Currently, suspicions involving the family of Mr. Cho Kuk, a close advisor of President Moon Jae-in, are emerging one after another, and ROK citizens are expressing stronger opposition against his appointment as Minister of Justice. There is a view that anti-Japanese measures would be further reinforced in order to divert attention from this situation. How do you see the influence of the domestic political situation of the ROK on Japan-ROK relations?
Minister Kono: I do not believe the Government of the ROK would act in the way you described.
Writing Names of Japanese People Using the English Alphabet
Yomiuri Shimbun, Morifuji: I would like to ask a question about writing names of Japanese people using the English alphabet. At one of your press conferences in May, you expressed your intention to request major news media around the world to use the order of surname first and then given name when writing names of Japanese people. What is the status of considerations from then onward?
Minister Kono: Currently, considerations are being made within the Government including what actions should be taken.
Minister Kono’s Foreign Policy Outlook
Mainichi Shimbun, Akiyama: I apologize for asking an abstract question. I believe you have already visited 122 countries since you became Foreign Minister, and for some countries you were the first or the first in a long time to visit as the Foreign Minister of Japan. What would you like to focus on based on these visits in your foreign policy going forward?
Minister Kono: Bilateral relations are of course important. At the same time, if we look at the international arena, for example with regards to the United Nations Security Council reform, all member countries are able to take part in the decision-making. Notably, Africa is an extremely large block comprised of 54 countries, so I believe it is very important to achieve mutual understanding with Africa regarding the international arena.
In addition, there is a large number of countries that Japanese Foreign Ministers including me have not yet been able to visit for budgetary reasons, such as the Pacific Island countries as well as Caribbean countries. Even so, considering the future of the international arena, I believe we should pay more attention.
Furthermore, if we think about climate change diplomacy, these island countries will be the first to be affected. I believe it will become more important for Japan, which has focused on disaster prevention and climate change, to firmly achieve mutual understanding with such countries.
I believe it is not only important to visit these countries for the first time ever or for the first time in a long time, but also to work constantly on mutual understanding through mutual visits that are frequent, for example with ASEAN countries. Also, as I discussed with India about holding a “2+2” Ministerial Meeting, the fact is that the number of countries with which we conduct bilateral meetings through the “2+2” framework has also gradually increased.
In this context, when considering Japanese diplomacy going forward, I believe it has become even more important than before for a Japanese Foreign Minister to visit other countries or to attend various international conferences to speak up Japan’s positions.
Unfortunately, a minister’s plane could not be included in the budget request for the next fiscal year. However, I requested to slightly increase the hours of charter plane flights. I believe the Government of Japan must think about efficient business trips by Foreign Ministers going forward. In addition, based on my experience thus far, I also believe more considerations should be made on the burden-easing of diplomatic missions abroad that receive Foreign Ministers. If a Foreign Minister of Japan is to travel abroad on missions more frequently, thoughts have to be made on a structure to enable the Foreign Minister to do so without placing heavy burdens on the receiving diplomatic missions.
NHK, Watanabe: You stated in your opening remarks that you will visit Vladivostok. You and Foreign Minister Lavrov are in charge of negotiations on the peace treaty, representing Japan and Russia respectively. What is your view of the current status of negotiations on the peace treaty, how is the current situation compared to November 2018? I believe there will not be a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in conjunction with the Summit Meeting this time, although in terms of Japan-Russia relations going forward, I believe this is meaningful because Mr. Ichiro Kono played a considerably major role in 1956. What are your thoughts as to the concrete ways to achieve progress? It seems that preparation for the joint economic activities is gradually starting, so in view of that, can you also tell us what results regarding Japan-Russia relations going forward you would like to achieve during your visit to Vladivostok this time?
Minister Kono: The leaders of Japan and Russia agreed to accelerate the peace treaty negotiations, so I would like to firmly advance negotiations in accordance with that agreement.
Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Kanasugi Assumes Office of Senior Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs
Asahi Shimbun, Narazaki: Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Kanasugi was promoted to Senior Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs. What is the aim of this?
Minister Kono: The Personnel Division of the Minister of Foreign Affairs appoints the right people for the right jobs. I would like him to continue to work hard in his new position.