Foreign Minister Taro Kono stated during a BS11 TV program on Jan. 11 that “there will naturally be an opportunity” to meet with ROK Minister Kang Kyung-hwa on the sidelines of the multilateral foreign ministerial on the North Korea issues taking place in Vancouver, Canada on Jan. 16. It is believed that the two ministers will exchange views on the ROK’s new policy on the bilateral agreement on the comfort women issue and the recent North-South ministerial talks.
Kono said during the program that North Korea is “currently in a fix on account of the sanctions.” He commented on North Korea’s announcement of its participation in the PyeongChang Olympics in February, pointing out , “It is trying to find a way out somehow, so it offered its participation in the Olympics as a present for the ROK, which is easiest for it to talk to.” He also said that “[Japan’s] policy of continuing to apply pressure through sanctions remains unchanged.”
Regarding the 30-year-old Japan-U.S. Atomic Energy Agreement expiring in July, Kono expressed concern that while the automatic extension of the agreement will make it valid indefinitely, there is also the risk of the U.S. serving prior notice and terminating the accord unilaterally. “I wonder if it’s good to create such an unstable situation,” he said.
In connection with the Japanese government’s decision to decommission the Monju fast breeder reactor that is supposed to produce more plutonium than it consumes, he said: “We have a responsibility to create a situation that will enable Japan to explain its use of plutonium with confidence to the international community.”