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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, March 24, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: In relation to efforts to ascertain the background of the compilation of the Kono Statement, Special Advisor to the President of the Liberal Democratic Party Hagiuda said on a TV program over the weekend that if new facts surface during the process of ascertainment, the Government may announce a new statement. Prime Minister Abe does not deny this possibility. Could you share with us how the Government views these comments and could you also tell us if the Government has any intention of announcing a new statement after ascertaining the background of the Kono Statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of such media reports, but the Prime Minister confirmed during a Diet session that he will not revise the Kono Statement. As such, the Government will ascertain the background of the compilation of the statement, but this will not lead to a revision of the statement.

REPORTER: Mr. Hagiuda's comments seem to suggest that the Government may announce a whole new statement rather than revise the Kono Statement. Is this option a possibility?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, this will not happen. I have never heard the Prime Minister talk about anything like that.

REPORTER: Am I then right to understand that Mr. Hagiuda's view is only a personal opinion?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that Mr. Hagiuda prefaced his comments by saying it was a personal view.

REPORTER: While it may have been a personal opinion, now that a Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) trilateral summit meeting has been arranged, such comments made at this time by someone so close to the Prime Minister would appear to be undesirable. What are your thoughts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The views of the Prime Minister and the Abe Cabinet are nothing more or less than what Prime Minister Abe laid out during the Diet session. I have also stated this view on numerous occasions.

REPORTER: I would like to ask another question on the same topic. The Government may not issue a new statement but if the review or ascertainment reveals new facts, is there any chance that the Government would express some kind of view that would effectively amount to revising the Kono Statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As we have said in the Diet and at these press conferences, former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Ishihara, who was responsible at the working level at the time the Kono Statement was issued, gave a public testimony at the Diet. In his testimony he speculated that there may have been consultations between Japan and the ROK. Furthermore, Mr. Ishihara stated that when the Kono Statement was issued, Japan-ROK relations temporarily stabilized. However, he also expressed extreme regret over the current state of affairs and the fact that Japan’s good intentions at the time have been disregarded. As such, I have always said that the Government will ascertain the process by which the Kono Statement was compiled and Japan-ROK relations at the time.

REPORTER: I would like to ask another question on the same topic. I understand that the Kono Statement acknowledges that overall there was coercion. However, the Abe administration has thus far denied so-called forcible recruitment, while acknowledging that there was coercion. I would like you to clarify whether or not there is any change to the position of the Abe administration.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have said many times that the Abe administration will ascertain the background of the compilation of the Kono Statement and the Prime Minister says that he will not revise the statement. This is our position.

REPORTER: With next year marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, I believe that Prime Minister Abe is considering issuing a new statement on that occasion. Does the Government have any intention of reflecting or drawing from the results of the efforts you are leading to ascertain the back ground of the compilation of the Kono Statement ascertainment that you are leading?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, we do not. Upon the 50th anniversary of the end of the war the Japanese Government issued the Murayama Statement. For the 60th anniversary it issued the Koizumi Statement. As I have always said, we would like to create a future-oriented statement for the 70th anniversary. We have maintained this intention since the beginning of our administration.

REPORTER: If I may change the topic, a China-ROK summit meeting was held in the Netherlands. During the meeting President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping explained to ROK President Park Geun-hye that China built a memorial hall in honor of Ahn Jung-geun. President Park Geun-hye expressed her appreciation for this. This means that the leaders of China and the ROK shared are working together with regard to the understanding of history. Could you tell us your thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as a representative of the Japanese Government, I must refrain from discussing a summit meeting between two third-party countries. However, I can say that Japan's stance on Ahn Jung-geun completely differs from that of the ROK. I have no option but to say that the ROK and China's decision to work together to communicate their views to the international community based on a one-sided analysis of an incident from the previous century does not contribute to the development of peace and cooperation within the region. The stance of the Japanese Government is as we have communicated to the ROK and China.


REPORTER: Returning to the topic of the China-ROK summit, during the meeting President Xi Jinping said that a monument to commemorate the Korean military unit that resisted Japanese colonization would soon be completed in Xian where the unit was based. President Park Geun-hye responded by saying that she found this very meaningful. When President Xi Jinping held a meeting with President Putin in Sochi, he mentioned that next year will be the 70th anniversary of victory in the war against Japan. He also suggested to President Putin that China and Russia hold a joint event, which I believe is China's attempt to fuel international discussion and form an anti-Japan network. How does the Japanese Government intend to respond?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan has made efforts to effectively communicate its stance on numerous occasions. Utilizing diplomatic channels and other means as well, we will continue to firmly emphasize the fact that for 70 years after the war, or rather 69 years this year, Japan created a free, democratic and peaceful country, and consistently walked the path of peace. We will also firmly emphasize Japan's determination for peace.


REPORTER: If I may return to the topic of comfort women, there was an ROK media report on the weekend that said Japan-ROK director-general-level intergovernmental consultations are being arranged. The report in media also said that Japan is ready to hold such consultations in good faith. Could you please share the facts with us?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that such arrangements are being made. Japan and the ROK have been in communication over various issues, including the issue of comfort women, via various routes. In light of this, I believe that arrangements are being made as part of these communications. However, nothing is yet finalized.



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