November 16, 2007
Q: What is Prime Minister Fukuda planning to achieve in his upcoming trip to the U.S.?
A: Prime Minister Fukuda has decided to make a trip to the U.S. as his first official visit abroad as Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is scheduled to meet with President Bush on the 16th at the White House. Through his visit to the U.S., the Prime Minister is expected to achieve the following objectives;
- a) further strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance;
- b) explaining synergy effects between the Japan-U.S. alliance and the promotion of Japan's diplomacy towards Asia based on the alliance;
- c) enhancing the Japan-U.S. cooperation towards TICAD IV (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) and G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, and;
- d) strengthening human exchange between the two countries.
Q: The House of Representatives recently passed the new Replenishment Support Special Measures Law. What are the prospects for the resumption of refueling activities in the Indian Ocean? How will the Government of Japan successfully pass this bill through the House of Councillors, in which opposition parties hold the majority?
A: For Japan to play a responsible role in joint efforts by the international community to eradicate terrorism, continuation of the refueling activities is a must. The Government of Japan will do its utmost, including undertaking efforts to improve the transparency of refueling activities, to achieve the early enactment of the Replenishment Support Special Measures Law, so as to resume refueling activities as soon as possible with the understanding and support of the Japanese people.
Q: The Dutch House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a motion calling for the Government of Japan to apologize and compensate former "comfort women." What is Japan's position on this issue?
A: The Government of Japan has officially expressed at the highest level its sincere apologies and remorse to the former "comfort women." In 1993, then Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono released a statement and acknowledged in it that the act injured the honored dignity of many women, while expressing sincere apologies and remorse. These apologies were reiterated in the statements issued by Prime Minister Murayama in 1995 on the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II and by Prime Minister Koizumi in 2005 upon the 60th anniversary.
In addition, the Asian Women's Fund (AWF) was established on July 19, 1995 in order to extend atonement from Japanese citizens to the former "comfort women." The Government of Japan, with a view to fulfilling its moral responsibility, had been providing all possible assistance for the AWF, including bearing the total operational costs of the AWF, assisting its fund-raising and providing the necessary funds to implement its activities (approximately 4.9 billion yen from the AWF's founding through fiscal year 2006). When atonement money and medical and welfare support project were provided, the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Government, signed and sent a letter expressing apologies and remorse directly to each former "comfort woman." Having attained its goals, the AWF finished its activities in March 2007.
In consultation with the Dutch citizens concerned, the Government of Japan and the AWF had explored appropriate projects for potential implementation in the Netherlands, where no authorities identify former "comfort women," in order to convey atonement from the Japanese citizens. As a result, on July 16, 1998, the AWF concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Project Implementation Committee in the Netherlands (PICN) on a project concerning the issue known as "comfort women" aimed at helping to enhance the living conditions of those who suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds during World War II.
In accordance with the MOU, the AWF, making use of a fund disbursed by the Government of Japan, provided the PICN with financial support totaling up to 255 million yen (settled amount of assistance: 245 million yen) over 3 years and the PICN has implemented the project for 79 recipients. This project was successfully completed on July 14, 2001.
- Recent policy of the government of Japan on the issue known as "comfort women"
- Results of a study on the issue of "comfort women"
- Contents of the letter that then Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto sent to Netherlands Prime Minister Willem Kok on July 15, 1998
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