(* This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only. The original text is in Japanese.)

Press Conference by Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba

Date: Friday, August 24, 2012, 7:45 p.m.
Place: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  1. Opening Remarks
    • (1) Japan-ROK relations
  2. Japan-ROK relations

1. Opening Remarks

(1) Japan-ROK relations

Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba: The official letter from Prime Minister Noda dated August 17 has been returned by mail from the ROK Embassy in Tokyo today. Therefore, I have summoned Mr. Shin Kak-soo, the Korean Ambassador to Japan. I have told Mr. Shin of the five issues.
First, while it was very regrettable that the ROK side made remarks which should not have been made according to diplomatic tradition, the returning of an official letter between the leaders of the nations, which should never occur according to diplomatic tradition, is seriously regrettable and therefore we lodge a strong protest against that.
Second, we believe that it is an ordinary reaction to state the assertions of the ROK side if there is any content that the ROK side cannot accept in the official letter. However, just because the letter includes the word “Takeshima,” the ROK side returned the official letter between the leaders of the nations. Such an act is unacceptable. The Government of Japan will openly and squarely assert the territorial rights of Takeshima Island in the international circle.

2. Japan-ROK relations

Yamaguchi, TV Tokyo: You said you’d told Mr. Shin Kak-soo, the ROK Ambassador to Japan, of five issues. Did the Ambassador give any specific reactions to these issues?

Minister Gemba: Speaking of specific reactions, of course the Ambassador made some statements based on the assertion of the ROK. However, I do not think I need to tell you about its details. We shared views that we should not close the door on a dialogue and finally, when I suggested taking a calm approach, the Ambassador said he shared this view with us.

Yamaguchi, TV Tokyo: Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda expressed his unwavering resolve concerning the territorial issues including Takeshima Island today. Did you directly tell Ambassador Shin of the determination of Prime Minister Noda? The Prime Minister held an ad hoc press conference concerning the territorial issues. The details of his ideas were, needless to say, expressed by the Prime Minister through the press conference, but did you directly tell the Ambassador of the ideas and thoughts of the Prime Minister?

Minister Gemba: As I have told you, I told the Ambassador of the five issues. Therefore, I believe these issues were received by the Ambassador. I told the Ambassador of the ROK of the five issues concerning Takeshima Island that I have mentioned before. We will make our assertion openly and squarely in the international forum and I think both sides should do so. That is exactly what the unwavering resolute means. We must have good determination before we bring the case before the International Court of Justice. We must be prepared to accept a decision once the decision is made by the court. Today, the Prime Minister held a press conference not only for the issue of Takeshima but for various issues, and I think the Prime Minister stated his ideas clearly on each issue.

Nishida, Mainichi Shimbun: While the Japanese side has been taking calm approaches from a comprehensive perspective, the ROK side has made reactions. Do you think that the ROK side’s reactions exceed your expectation of their reactions?

Minister Gemba: Since the ROK side took actions which should not have been made according to the diplomatic practice this time again, such actions are seriously regrettable. Yet, we still did not send the letter again because we think that such an act lacks character from the diplomatic and national points of view. Therefore, we must take a calm approach when necessary, while taking a firm stance when necessary. I think such an approach is important.

Hojo, Jiji Press: The ROK side is taking a strong opposition against your statement that the ROK is illegally occupying Takeshima Island. How did the Ambassador of the ROK mention that statement?

Minister Gemba: The Ambassador did mention that. I think you can guess, but I told the Ambassador that I could not accept such a statement or such a kind of protest, so to speak, toward me at all. This is because I spoke on the basis of the stance of Japan. I also said to the Ambassador we could make our assertions in the ICJ fairly and unequivocally.

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