Home >  News >  Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary >  March 2014 >  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The issues related to the annual spring labor offensive
  • The issues related to Japan-Russia relations
  • The issues related to the editorial published by the New York
  • The issues related to comfort women
  • The issues relate to the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft

REPORTER: Today is one of the days on which many major companies announce their responses one after another to requests for wage increases in the annual spring labor offensive. Many of these responses included rises in base wages. What are your thoughts on the responses being provided by companies?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: (Abridged) According to the responses the unions announced today, it seems many companies will raise base wages. In addition, many companies will raise bonuses to employees year-on-year. This is what I know currently. Speaking openly, we have not seen wage increases like this in recent years so I would like to welcome the fact that such increases are now being realized. (Abridged)
With regard to the companies which will provide responses  from now on, given this good start, the Government hopes that sincere discussions between labor and management will continue to be held. Furthermore we hope that other companies, including small and medium companies and also small-scale businesses, will realize greater wage increases.


REPORTER: Today Secretary General of the National Security Secretariat Shotaro Yachi departed for Russia. There are reports in media that he will be meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov. Could you tell us what meetings Mr. Yachi is currently scheduled to attend? Could you also explain once again what the expectations are of this visit to Russia?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, immediately after Mr. Yachi was appointed, the Prime Minister instructed him to visit relevant countries, including the United States, to develop mutual relations. Since then Mr. Yachi has been engaging in a series of foreign visits to date. The current visit to Russia is a part of this. In Russia he will engage in consultations with Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev and other officials on the Russian side regarding the security issues facing our two countries. We will seek to further develop strong relations. Mr. Yachi’s visit also comes at a time of great concern with regard to the situation in Ukraine. The Prime Minister has given him instructions to explain Japan’s position on this situation. The scheduled meetings will provide a timely opportunity in terms of diplomatic efforts to stabilize the situation in Ukraine and Mr. Yachi will engage in frank consultations with his Russian counterparts, including on this issue.

REPORTER: On a related note, is Mr. Yachi scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Lavrov?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are currently in the process of arranging meetings with officials  in addition to the meeting with the Secretary of the Russian Security Council.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning an editorial published by The New York Times concerning the Abe administration’s understanding of history. This is an issue that has been raised in previous press conferences. The New York Times has announced that they have corrected the editorial they published online and deleted the part referring to the Kono Statement. However, the newspaper has not changed the section that claims Prime Minister Abe denied the Nanjing massacre. Please tell us the Government’s response to this matter.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I think that it is only natural that The New York Times published a correction saying the editorial incorrectly stated that the Japanese Government may rescind its apology to Korean women and deleted that part of the editorial. Furthermore, with regard to the Nanjing incident, the Prime Minister has never to this day denied that the incident took place. The position of the Government is that it cannot be denied that following the entrance of the Japanese Army into Nanjing in 1937, the killing of a large number of noncombatants, looting and other acts occurred. Prime Minister Abe has succeeded this position and the Government has therefore issued a protest to The New York Times and requested a correction. We have not yet received a response from the newspaper.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In a previous press conference you emphasized that the Abe administration intends to succeed the Kono Statement. However, you also stated that the Government will engage in thorough efforts to ascertain the background of its compilation. Are we to understand that regardless of the outcome of these efforts to ascertain the background, there is no change to the Government’s policy of succeeding the Kono Statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is the case, yes. At the same time, there is absolutely no change to the Government’s policy of ascertaining the background of the compilation of the Kono Statement. This has been a consistent stance since the time of the first Abe Cabinet, and was incorporated into the Government’s written answer to questions from the Diet members. Based on this understanding, I recently made several points in response to a question from Japan Restoration Party member Mr. Hiroshi Yamada during discussions on this issue in the Diet. The testimonies of former comfort women were provided on the condition of confidentiality. This was a promise between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK). It has become apparent that background research was not conducted at the time. However the testimonies were provided based on the promise that their confidentiality would be maintained, and therefore the Government of Japan will properly uphold that promise. I previously stated that this is something that is only natural. Since then former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Ishihara, the person responsible at the working level at the time the Kono Statement was issued, mentioned the possibility that Japan and the ROK may have engaged in consultations during the compilation of the statement. Mr. Ishihara also said that as a result of the Kono Statement Japan-ROK relations at the time were favorable. However, Mr. Ishihara also noted that it was regrettable that, following the passage of time, the Kono Statement, which was created with good intentions, is being used against Japan. He said that when the Kono Statement was issued, Japan-ROK relations were at one point settled. However, recently the ROK Government has raised past issues between our two countries again and Mr. Ishihara found it extremely regrettable that Japan’s good intentions at the time have been disregarded. Therefore, my response in the Diet on this matter was that we should ascertain whether consultations took place between Japan and the ROK.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the work to ascertain the facts behind the Kono Statement. If the Government does not plan to revise the statement itself, what is the purpose of engaging in such efforts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Ishihara stated that the issues between Japan and the ROK relating to the past were at one point settled following the announcement of the Kono Statement. However, he noted that recently the Government of the ROK has raised these issues once again. Furthermore he stated that it is extremely regrettable that Japan’s good intentions have been disregarded. At the same time, he also actually suggested that there may have been consultations between Japan and the ROK on this issue. Given that Mr. Ishihara made such a testimony, I stated that while ensuring to maintain the confidentiality, it  is necessary to ascertain the background at the time of the compilation of the statement as the Government should naturally be accountable to the people of Japan. Nevertheless, as the testimonies of the former comfort women were provided on the condition of confidentiality, we will make fully sure to maintain their confidentiality.

REPORTER: I am not quite following the explanation you just provided. I believe there are a number of separate issues involved. The first point is whether or not consultations took place between the two Governments in finalizing the statement. The second point is what to do with the issue of confidentiality. The third point is whether or not the facts stand up, that is, whether or not women were coerced. What  is the meaning of  placing the focus on the exchanges between the two governments?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Mr. Hiroshi Yamada, member of the House of Representatives and the Japan Restoration Party, stated that the background of the compilation of the Kono Statement should be ascertained because of the statement that Mr. Ishihara made during his testimony. When the testimonies of the former comfort women were provided, the Government promised that the information they shared would remain confidential. Therefore, we will be ascertaining the background of the compilation while maintaining confidentiality. Mr. Ishihara suggested that consultations may have taken place between the two Governments. He also said that although past issues between Japan and the ROK were at one point settled, recently the ROK Government raised the issues again. Furthermore, he stated that it is extremely regrettable that Japan’s good intentions at the time have been disregarded. I was asked how the Japanese Government would address this matter, so I responded that we would ascertain the background.

REPORTER: I have a follow-up question. Is my understanding correct that in ascertaining the facts, the Government will be focusing only on ascertaining how the ROK Government’s commited in compiling the Kono Statement? So am I right to understand that the Government will not be examining facts such as the process by which comfort women were actually taken to comfort stations or whether there was forcible recruitment?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The first Abe Cabinet previously explained that there was no coercion in its written answer in response to a letter of questions by Diet members.

REPORTER: You are referring to forcible recruitment, right?   


REPORTER: As in taking them forcibly?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, forcible recruitment. It is stated clearly in the written answer of the first Abe administration that no facts were found confirming military involvement in this. At the Diet, I was asked about the issue of comfort women. Therefore, in my response, I stated that the testimonies of the comfort women were provided on the condition of confidentiality. I said the Japanese Government will fully address this matter while maintaining the confidentiality of the testimonies, as Japan is a country that upholds its promises. As Mr. Ishihara suggested that consultations may have taken place between the Japanese and ROK Governments, I said that we would ascertain those facts. 

REPORTER: But the ROK’s reaction is this. While the ROK Government was also somewhat satisfied with the Kono Statement, other issues later came up. For example, there is last year’s ruling of the ROK Supreme Court. This stated that it was problematic that the ROK Government did not make efforts to settle the comfort women issue. In addition, ROK citizens are urging that rather than intergovernmental talks, comfort women must be provided humanitarian assistance and a more open apology is necessary. In other words, this issue is further heating up because of a backlash of public opinion among civilians, not the Government, and because of the Supreme Court ruling. In that sense, I cannot imagine that this issue will be resolved even if the Japanese Government ascertains the understanding of the Government at the time of the Kono Statement. The focus seems to be a little off track.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Please understand that I was responding to the question I was asked at the Diet, not about the issue as a whole. Mr. Ishihara elucidated on the Kono Statement. I was asked about Mr. Ishihara’s testimony, so I responded as such.

REPORTER: Then to confirm, is my understanding correct that the Government will not be ascertaining the facts behind the situation of comfort women at the time or about the nature of coercion? Am I right to understand that the Government will only be ascertaining the facts related to the intergovernmental negotiations, that is, what exchanges took place between the Japanese and ROK Governments and what understanding was behind the compilation of the Kono Statement?



REPORTER: I recall that during the press conference yesterday afternoon, you stated that the National Security Council (NSC) would discuss Japan’s cooperation with regard to the search for the Malaysia Airlines aircraft. Could you please explain what you discussed at the meeting of the NSC and what instructions the Prime Minister gave?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the content, there are things I can and cannot answer. First of all, the Malaysian Government requested the cooperation of the Japanese Government. The Japanese Government stands ready to cooperate as much as possible. Furthermore, the advance team of the Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) Team departed yesterday evening and arrived in Kuala Lumpur this morning. Moreover we are making arrangements for the deployment of the main unit. As soon as the preparations are complete, the JDR Team will collaborate for the search and rescue activities by sequentially deploying the air assets provided by the Japan Self-Defense Forces and Japan Coast Guard.



Page Top

Related Link