Mutsumi Tatsubo (Jiji Press Foreign News Dept. chief): Japan has mapped out a measure to tighten control on exports of a semiconductor manufacturing material to South Korea, which has triggered a backlash from Seoul. How do you view the current Japan-South Korea relationship?
Kenichiro Sasae: It’s unclear to what degree the South Korean government and people understand the sense of unfairness Japan feels. On the other hand, I understand [the export control] indicates [Japan’s] frustration over South Korea. Japan wants South Korea to come up with efforts that are convincing to the Japanese government and people.
Ambassador Hagerty: Successful security in the region is built on the trilateral cooperation between Japan, the U.S., and South Korea. So I hope this situation will be brought to a good conclusion in order for us to tackle regional security issues.
Tatsubo: During a summit [with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe] in May, President Trump touched on an “achievement in August” regarding Japan-U.S. trade talks. So we can expect a Japan-U.S. summit to be held around September. What is your thinking in this regard?
Hagerty: The President told me “yesterday,” not “August.” So “at the earliest possible time” is the President’s intention.
Tatsubo: Former Defense Secretary Mattis said, “Japan’s sympathy budget is a model for other states to emulate.” How does the Ambassador evaluate his remark? Also, what’s your take on the issue of amending Article 9 of the Constitution?
Hagerty: The security relationship between Japan and the U.S. is unshakable. The President is interested in seeing how we can further strengthen the relationship. To achieve that goal, we’re doing all we can and want this [relationship] to be improved further.
Sasae: As for my opinion about constitutional amendment, I don’t think the Constitution is a code of laws that will remain in effect forever. I think that what the majority of the public think should be revised should be amended. But how and when this should be done is a political issue and needs to be judged by the entire public.