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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, December 19, 2011 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: My question concerns the Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) summit meeting that took place in Kyoto this past weekend. At the meeting, President Lee Myung-bak took up the issue of "comfort women" quite extensively. On this, a major newspaper of the ROK, too, reported that it is unprecedented for the President to press this issue to such extent. What are your thoughts on the Japan-ROK summit meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: In the morning of December 18, Prime Minister Noda held a Japan-ROK summit meeting with President Lee Myung-bak of the ROK, who was visiting Japan from Saturday to Sunday, in Kyoto. During the meeting, Prime Minister Noda explained our basic posture, saying that, he wanted to cooperate from a broader point of view so that the difficult problems between the two countries, including those pointed out by the Japanese side, would not negatively affect the bilateral relationship as a whole. The President, too, expressed his hope to hold dialogues based on their personal relationship despite the various issues, and agreed to hold frequent shuttle diplomacy. Of course, as reports have indicated, quite a bit of time was allotted for the exchanges on the "comfort women" issue at the summit meeting. Regarding this matter, Prime Minister Noda stated, based on the legal position of the Japanese Government which has been consistently made clear, that the Japanese position was the same as those that have been explained to the ROK. Prime Minister Noda then stated that Japan has made humanitarian efforts on this issue and would also try to explore ideas from a humanitarian point of view. In addition, during the exchanges, Prime Minister Noda expressed his regret to President Lee Myung-bak over the construction of the statue and requested its early removal. I believe both leaders stated the necessary points on this and other matters.


REPORTER: Regarding the Japan-ROK summit meeting, I understand that the Prime Minister said that he would like to explore ideas from a humanitarian point of view. What exactly is this pointing at? Did the Prime Minister make this statement also with a view to establishing a new fund which will replace the Asian Women's Fund?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Taking the Prime Minister's words at face value, no specifics were recalled or are being envisioned. However, as you just mentioned, humanitarian initiatives to date have included efforts at the private-sector level.


REPORTER: Again, regarding Japan and the ROK, did the Government of Japan anticipate the ROK to make requests to Japan to this extent on the so-called issue of "comfort women"?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: It was anticipated from prior negotiations and so on that this issue would be raised. Based on this, the Prime Minister was intent on firmly stating Japan's position.


REPORTER: I have a question related to the Japan-ROK summit meeting. You have the China visit coming up, and with the spotlight on the issues of "comfort women" and history, what effect does the Government think this will have on Japan-China-ROK economic partnerships?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The joint study of the Joint Study Committee for an FTA among China, Japan and Korea (CJKFTA) concluded last week on December 16. Bearing in mind the conclusion of the joint study, as Prime Minister Noda stated at the Japan-China-ROK summit meeting held in November of this year, Japan will strive to reach a high-level agreement on the commencement of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations based also on the recommendations of the joint study. Naturally, this would be early next year. This posture of Japan remains unchanged.


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