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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, May 27, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The press conference by Co-leader of the Japan Restoration Party Hashimoto concerning comfort women issues
  • The Senkaku Islands
  • Japan-India summit meeting


REPORTER: Co-leader of the Japan Restoration Party, Toru Hashimoto, has today given a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, where he spoke about his series of comments concerning "comfort women," offering his own explanation and clarification. With regard to elections he stated that it is the responsibility of politicians to seek a mandate from the people. He then stated that if the public say "No" to the Japan Restoration Party, then it is likely to suffer a significant defeat in the upcoming election for the House of Councillors. Do you have any comment concerning these remarks by Mr. Hashimoto?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Mr. Hashimoto is the leader of another political party, and it is the case that at the time of an election, any political party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) included, considers their own policies to be the best and necessary for the public and it is on that basis that all parties engage in election campaigns. I therefore think that what Mr. Hashimoto stated was only natural.

REPORTER: On a related note, last week and then again today, Mr. Hashimoto has stated that with regard to the "comfort women" issue in the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea, the views of the supreme court of the Republic of Korea are different from the views of Japan. He has proposed therefore that the matter should be taken to the International Court of Justice. What are your views on this proposal?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Whatever the case, the stance of the Government on this issue is clear and is the same as I have stated on frequent occasions.

REPORTER: So, are you saying that this proposal is not really worth responding to?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes. The Government's view on this issue is already clear.

REPORTER: With regard to the "comfort women" issue, today Mr. Hashimoto stated that the Kono Statement is vague and unclear about the essential points of issue. He has also stated that based on the Cabinet decision of 2007 the facts of the issue should be made clear and opinions sought from experts. Does the Government intend to respond to such opinions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As Chief Cabinet Secretary I have stated the Government's stance on this issue on frequent occasions and therefore I do not think there is any need to comment on individual opinions or proposals.

REPORTER: In an interview immediately following your appointment as Chief Cabinet Secretary you stated that personally you would like to seek the opinions of historians and experts with regard to the Kono Statement. Does your opinion remain unchanged?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like you to recall what I actually said at that time. During the course of history there have been many wars that have violated the human rights of women. It is of the utmost importance to ensure that the 21st century is one in which there are no more violations of human rights and Japan seeks to make every effort to that end. With regard to the "comfort women" issue, when we think of the women who experienced immeasurable pain and suffering we are deeply pained. I have frequently stated the Government's view that the Abe Cabinet shares the same recognition as that of previous cabinets and that we should not turn this issue into a political or diplomatic issue. That is the basic view with regard to the Kono Statement.

What I actually stated myself was that based on the fact that a Cabinet decision had been made with regard to this issue, various scholars of history and experts in Japan and overseas are engaged in research on various themes and that it would be a good idea for further consideration to be given from an academic perspective.

REPORTER: So you are not proposing to create a forum for hearing the opinions of experts directly?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, what I was saying was not that I would seek to hear opinions myself, but rather that research is currently being undertaken on this issue. I also stated that in my private capacity there could be times when I seek to hear opinions.

REPORTER: You have just reiterated what you stated approximately five months ago that you may seek to hear opinions in a private capacity. Is that something that you are continuing to do or is it something you are going to do from now on?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is something I will consider the timing of myself. What I stated was that the Cabinet decision of 2007 will continue to be respected.

REPORTER: I have a question about the statements of Premier Li Keqiang of China, which is something that also came up in this morning's press conference. With regard to the issue of the Senkaku Islands China is strengthening its attempts to appeal to international opinion, by linking the Senkaku issue with historical issues such as the Second World War. How does the Government perceive this stance by China and what response will be made?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have said on frequent occasions there is no doubt that the Senkaku Islands are clearly an inherent territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law. Therefore, whatever statements may be made by China, they will have absolutely no influence on the Government's stance with regard to the Senkaku Islands.

REPORTER: Going back to the point you made about respecting the Cabinet decision, were you referring to the Cabinet decision on the Kono Statement made at the time of the first Abe Cabinet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I was referring to that Cabinet decision of 2007.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Japan-India summit meeting. Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India has arrived in Japan today and a Japan-India summit meeting is scheduled to take place the day after tomorrow. What outcomes are you expecting from the summit meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Relations between Japan and India are of the utmost importance. India is a major power in South Asia, which shares the same basic values of freedom, democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law with Japan. In recent years interest in the Asia-Pacific region has been growing rapidly and given India's location on the sea lanes from the Middle East to East Asia, it is a country of tremendous strategic importance for Japan.

Given this importance, in the summit meeting that will take place the day after tomorrow, the Government seeks to engage in a wide-ranging exchange of opinions on various issues, including political and security issues, such as maritime security cooperation, as well as economic issues, such as infrastructure development in India, and also cooperation in the field of nuclear power generation. It is hoped that one of the outcomes of the summit meeting will be to further expand the scope of the Japan-India Global Strategic Partnership, which was first agreed on by Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister Singh seven years ago.

REPORTER: China is one of the countries that share a border with India, so is it likely that issues relating to China will also be brought up in the meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The summit meeting will focus primarily on the topics I have just mentioned.


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