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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The compilation of the Kono Statement
  • The discussions concerning the right of collective self-defense

REPORTER: In the recent House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting, you stated that the team to ascertain the background of the compilation of the Kono Statement is now engaged in its work. Could you tell us when the first meeting of the team was held?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: To give an immediate response, I believe that the first meeting was held approximately two weeks ago. I will issue a correction if I am mistaken; but I believe that it was about two weeks ago.

REPORTER: How often does the team meet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The team wishes to engage in its work quietly and in a calm environment. However, I have requested that the team makes its report during the current session of the Diet. I would imagine that the team will meet as often as the work requires them to do so.

REPORTER: I understand that of the five people on the team, three are women; and the team includes a person with detailed knowledge of the legal system and a representative from the mass media. Out of those five, are those with detailed knowledge of the legal system and the mass media among the three women?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: They are among the five people, rather.

REPORTER: What is the significance and also the aim of compiling results from this ascertainment of the facts behind the Kono Statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I noted in the Budget Committee, former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Ishihara, who was responsible at the working level at the time the Kono Statement was issued, presented new facts that there may have been consultations between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Furthermore, Mr. Ishihara stated that when the Kono Statement was issued, this issue was resolved in the context of Japan-ROK relations. However, in his testimony, he also expressed extreme regret over the current state of affairs, with regard to the fact that years later, Japan’s expression of good intentions at the time has been complicated in this way. This was the first testimony concerning the facts on this matter. The Government will therefore seek to ascertain these facts through the team’s work.

REPORTER: Does the Government therefore seek to explain once again that at the time the statement was compiled, the intention was to express Japan’s good intentions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Given that a person who was responsible for the compilation of the Kono Statement has provided new facts in testimony to the Diet concerning the sort of background in which the Kono Statement was issued, I would consider it the Government’s responsibility to clarify these facts.

REPORTER: This is a question that has been asked before, but depending on the results of the ascertainment, is it the Government’s intention at the current time to revise the Kono Statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Let me state clearly that the Kono Statement will not be revised. The reason for this is because there were various interactions between Japan and the ROK over the Kono Statement, which resulted in its compilation and issuance in its current form. That is the recognition of the Government.

A significant source of information in the compilation of the Kono Statement was the testimony of 16 former comfort women. At the time, no background research was conducted on the testimonies to confirm the facts. The Kono Statement was therefore issued without any background research having been conducted.

As 21 years have passed since 1993, when the statement was issued many of the people who were involved at that time have passed away, and therefore it is practically impossible to thoroughly investigate the facts relating to the testimonies. In view of this, it would be impossible for the Government to seek to revise the statement. That is what led the Government to determine that no revision would be made.

REPORTER: In your response, you expressed the recognition that there were various interactions between Japan and the ROK, which resulted in the Kono Statement being compiled. Is it your recognition, therefore, that there was some degree of consultation, either large or small, between the two countries?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: My recognition is based foremost on the assumption that there were interactions between the two countries in the process leading up to the issuance of the Kono Statement.

With regard to the content of these interactions, as one of the working-level persons who had a responsible at the time has given testimony to the Diet, I believe it is therefore the Government’s responsibility to make the facts clear to the public concerning the background that led to the issuance of the statement. That is why the ascertainment team has been requested to engage in their work.

REPORTER: So you are saying that one of the matters being examined by the team is the nature of the interactions leading to the issuance of the statement, and whether there were consultations concerning the content of the statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is one of the matters currently being examined. It is also the case that the testimonies of the former comfort women were provided on condition of anonymity. Furthermore, as there was no background research conducted at the time, it is now practically impossible more than 20 years later to ascertain the facts in view of the new testimony that was given to the Diet, due to the fact that many of the former comfort women have since passed away. The Kono Statement was issued at the time against such a background, and therefore it cannot be revised now.


REPORTER: I have a question concerning the right of collective self-defense. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito are engaged in discussions concerning 15 case examples. It goes without saying that these discussions are necessary, but if the case examples under consideration were to be made public, there is a possibility that if there is an enemy country it could use this information in a time of contingency to advance in areas that are not envisaged by these case examples. It could give potential opponents a sense of security that it is alright to take extreme measures. What are your opinions concerning this matter from the perspective of risk management?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Prime Minister’s understanding of the issue is that Japan faces an extremely severe security environment. Given that we are in an era of globalization in which 1.5 million Japanese nationals currently reside overseas and 18 million travel abroad annually, it is necessary to compile legislation that is capable of responding seamlessly to all situations, in order to secure the lives and property of Japanese nationals and ensure the safety of the nation. The Prime Minister has expressed the concept to the ruling parties whereby limited exercise of the right of collective self-defense is permissible in limited situations which have the potential to significantly affect the security of Japan. He has requested the parties to engage in further research on this issue, and this is why the 15 case examples have been compiled as specific examples.

As Japan is an open, law-abiding country, in my opinion it is natural for there to be discussion of this issue in front of a public .

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