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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, March 14, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The issues related to the Kono Statement


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning the Kono Statement. You said that the Government will not ascertain the background behind the testimonies of the 16 former comfort women. However, public opinion polling indicates that approximately 60% of the public believe that the background should be ascertained. Given these circumstances, where a majority of the nation believes that the background of the testimonies should be ascertained, how do you intend to remain accountable to the people?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to make this very clear. The testimonies from former comfort women were provided on the condition of confidentiality. Japan promised this to the Republic of Korea (ROK) at that time. At the same time, no background research was conducted on the testimonies.

Japan is a country that upholds its promises and therefore we will maintain confidentiality as we naturally seek to ascertain the facts behind the testimonies.

Moreover, former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Ishihara, the person responsible at the working level at the time the Kono Statement was issued, attended a recent meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives. During the meeting, he speculated that there may have been consultations between Japan and the ROK during the process of compiling the Kono Statement. In addition, Mr. Ishihara said that following the announcement of the Kono Statement Japan-ROK relations were at one point settled. However, Mr. Ishihara also stated that the ROK Government recently raised past issues again, and he found it extremely regrettable that Japan’s good intentions at the time have been disregarded. Given that Mr. Ishihara made such comments, the Government will of course ascertain the background behind the testimonies.

REPORTER: As part of the efforts to ascertain the facts behind the testimonies, do you intend to hear from Mr. Sakutaro Tanino and Mr. Yohei Kono, who were involved in compiling the statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I said during the Budget Committee meeting, we will maintain confidentiality and have experts complete the efforts to ascertain the background of the compilation of the Statement. However, I must refrain from mentioning the specific ways these efforts will take. 

REPORTER: During this morning's Budget Committee meeting, the Prime Minister declared that the Japanese Government will not revise the Kono Statement. In terms of the background to this,  I understand that before the Prime Minister assumed his current position, he expressed a desire to revise the statement. What is the significance of the Prime Minister declaring that he does not plan to revise the Kono Statement at this particular time, one year and three months after his inauguration?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA:  As in the written answers in response to a letter of questions by a Diet member at the time of the first Abe Administration, which is the Cabinet decision,  the Abe administration would succeed the statements of past Cabinets, or statements by past Chief Cabinet Secretaries. I believe that the Prime Minister never said that he would revise this statement nor did he say that he :would not succeed it.

REPORTER Does this change have anything to do with the fact that he made some statements as a member of the opposition and other statements while in office?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, I do not believe so. I believe that the Prime Minister has been consistent.

REPORTER: The U.S., the ROK and other countries have expressed concern over the Japanese Government's position on the Kono Statement. However, with the Prime Minister declaring his intention not to revise the Kono Statement today, do you believe that friction or misunderstanding with neighboring countries and the U.S. will be eased?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have said on numerous occasions, the Abe Government has never said that it would revise the Kono Statement even once. We have always said that we will succeed the Kono Statement.

We also believe this issue should never be turned into a diplomatic issue or a political issue. In light of this, this issue has been studied from various aspects by historians, both in Japan and overseas, as well as by experts. As such, we have always maintained that this issue needs further discussion from an academic perspective.

The Prime Minister also said today that we must face history with humbleness and it is my opinion that he has been consistent with this series of issues.


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