The first session of the “Yomiuri Business Forum 2019” lecture program was held in a Sapporo hotel on May 11. Minster of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono delivered an address entitled “Japan’s future diplomacy” before an audience of about 120.
Kono discussed DPRK’s resumption of provocations, including a launch of short-range ballistic missiles, and stressed the need for a three-way partnership between Japan, the U.S. and South Korea. With regard to the deterioration of Japan-South Korea relations, he expressed willingness to improve the situation by saying, “I want to improve Japan-South Korea ties on the political front.”
But on the issue of former requisitioned workers, a source of the deterioration of the bilateral ties, he argued that “this is a matter that the ROK must handle responsibly.”
He flew into Hokkaido directly from Moscow, where he met with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov on May 10 for peace treaty negotiations. He made no mention of the specifics of the Japan-Russia talks, but noted, “We want to make efforts to finalize the talks as soon as possible because the former residents of the four islands are also growing old,” stressing that the government is aiming to do its best to realize an early conclusion of the talks.