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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

May 31, 2016 (PM)

Press Conference by the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

1. Opening Statement by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seko

2. Q&As

REPORTER: The preparation committee for a foundation to assist former comfort women being established by the Republic of Korea (RoK) Government, in accordance with the agreement between Japan and the RoK, has been formed and held its first meeting in Seoul today. Initiatives to finally resolve the comfort women issue are moving forward. What is the Government’s view of this activity?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SEKO: I am aware of the first meeting of the preparatory committee for establishment of a foundation in the RoK. The RoK Government indicated that it would create a foundation to give assistance to former comfort women in the agreement regarding the comfort women issue between Japan and the RoK at the end of last year, and my understanding is that the foundation preparatory committee you mentioned is part of the preparations for establishing the foundation. It is important for Japan and the RoK to respectively implement the agreement with responsibility as confirmed by the leaders of the two countries, and Japan plans to continue collaborating with the RoK Government to carry out the agreement.


REPORTER: I’d like to go back to the previous topic regarding the agreement between Japan and the RoK. The foundation will be created by the end of June. Please provide an update on whether Japan will contribute one billion yen promptly after formation of the foundation and what type of opinions have been discussed between the two countries regarding the foundation’s activities.

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SEKO: The agreement from the end of last year called for the establishment of a foundation with the aim of assisting former comfort women by the RoK Government, a lump-sum contribution of funds by the Japanese Government, cooperation between the two Governments to restore the dignity and respect of all of the former comfort women and conduct activities that help them heal. While it is difficult to give a specific answer regarding the timing of Japan’s contribution because details related to the foundation, including the establishment timing, have not been confirmed yet, Japan intends to collaborate closely with the RoK side on full implementation of the agreement’s content as I just explained.

REPORTER: This is a related question. The head of the preparation committee commented today that a private-sector foundation installed the statue of a girl and it is unrelated to the provision of one billion yen. Please indicate whether the Japanese Government intends to contribute one billion yen even if the statute is not removed.

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SEKO: I think comments by Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, and Mr. Yun Byung-se, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the RoK, at the joint press announcement sufficiently explain the agreement from the end of last year. Japan believes that it is important for both countries to respectively take responsibility in implementing the content.

REPORTER: A public-private liaison meeting to promote interaction between Japan and Russia was held this morning. What was discussed ahead of the visit by Prime Minister Abe to Vladivostok in September? Also, please explain how the Government plans to proceed with discussion of economic cooperation while dealing with territorial negotiations.

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SEKO: At today’s meeting, the Government provided an overview of the recent Japan-Russia Summit Meeting and explained activities related to Japan-Russia relations this year and the upcoming schedule. It also presented a strong resolve to deepen collaboration aimed at a dramatic advance in Japan-Russia relations through integrated efforts by politicians, bureaucrats, and the private sector. Additionally, representatives from the private sector and others in various areas related to Japan-Russia relations introduced recent activities and initiatives in Japan-Russia relations for respective areas.


REPORTER: The National Diet Session ends tomorrow. Does Prime Minister Abe plan to officially announce a postponement of the consumption tax hike at tomorrow’s session-end press conference? 

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SEKO: First, it has not yet been decided to hold a press conference tomorrow, and I will provide an update later regarding whether an event will be held tomorrow once the decision is made. Regarding whether to raise the consumption tax rate or not, Prime Minister Abe plans to clarify this decision prior to the Upper House election this summer as he indicated at the press conference after the G7 Ise-Shima Summit. I expect Prime Minister Abe to make a suitable decision, including the timing, and response.

REPORTER: This is a related question. I think the Government was aiming for Cabinet decisions at the end of May on the Basic Policies and the Plan to Realize the Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens. Does the Cabinet plan to make decisions after official announcement of the postponement of the consumption tax hike?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SEKO: I expect Cabinet approval of the Basic Policies and other items following adjustments to content in light of agreed points from the G7 Ise-Shima Summit.


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