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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 1, 2018 (AM)

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Simultaneous interpretation services for this video are provided by a third party.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

REPORTER: I have a question about the Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) agreement on the comfort women issue. President Moon Jae-in of the ROK has just made a speech and stated that the comfort women issue is not closed. The President appears to be breaking the commitments made in the Japan-ROK agreement. How will the Government of Japan respond to this development?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, President Moon did refer to the comfort women issue despite the fact that the Japan-ROK agreement of 2015 confirmed that this issue is finally and irreversibly resolved. Such a statement goes against the agreement and is therefore completely unacceptable and extremely regrettable. The Government of Japan immediately conveyed our position and lodged a strong protest to the ROK through diplomatic channels.
REPORTER: I have a related question. Listening to President Moon’s speech, it seems that there was a difference in tone compared to the comments he has made to foreign leaders. What is the Government’s view on his political posture?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: From the perspective of the Government, the leaders of the two countries reached an agreement, and this agreement was highly praised overseas, including the United States. Even the Secretary-General of the United Nations went as far as to issue a statement welcoming the agreement. Since the two countries confirmed the final and irreversible resolution to this issue and the Government of Japan implemented everything that it had committed in the agreement, all that remains is for the ROK to fully implement its own commitments. We will continue to strongly call on the ROK to do so.
REPORTER: I would like to return to the topic of President Moon’s speech. Japan-ROK and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation are needed in response to North Korean issues. Could the comments and actions being taken by the ROK concerning the comfort women issue hinder such cooperation?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, currently, the most pressing challenge is to deal with the North Korean issues, and close trilateral cooperation among Japan, the United States and the ROK is of the utmost importance. We will continue to work closely together on measures against North Korea.
REPORTER: You have just stated that the Government has issued a protest about President Moon’s comments. Could you tell us on what level it was made and share with us the details of the protest?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have stated, his statement is absolutely unacceptable since the Japan-ROK agreement has resolved the comfort women issue finally and irreversibly. This protest has been made by the Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Deputy Chief of Mission/Ministerof the Embassy of the ROK in Tokyo, and in Seoul by the Ambassador of Japan to the ROK to the 1st Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ROK and also by the Minister of the Embassy of Japan to the Director-General of the Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the ROK.

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