November 30, 2007
Q: What was discussed between Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and President Nguyen Minh Triet upon the President's state visit to Japan, and what did they accomplish?
A: This was the first visit by a Head of State of Vietnam as well as Japan's first state guest from Vietnam. On November 27, the two leaders held a summit meeting and signed a joint statement with an attachment titled "Agenda Toward a Strategic Partnership between Japan and Vietnam." It ranks among the widest-ranging joint statements, covering as many as 44 agenda items, including cooperation in policy dialogue, economy, science and technology, culture, and international issues.
At the summit meeting, the two leaders confirmed that the Japan-Vietnam relationship is experiencing its best period in history and that they will further advance this relationship to that of a strategic partnership. They reaffirmed that they will expedite negotiations for a Japan-Vietnam Economic Partnership Agreement (JVEPA) in order to conclude a mutually beneficial and high-level agreement at the earliest possible date.
The two also agreed to promote exchanges at high levels between the two countries, including Chairman of National Assembly Nguyen Phu Trong's visit to Japan early next year, and strengthen cooperation in the international arena, especially in the UN.
Q: The Canadian House of Commons adopted a motion regarding wartime "comfort women" on November 28 in Ottawa. What is Japan's position on this issue?
A: We are aware that the motion was adopted in the Canadian House of Commons on November 28. Japan hopes that the following facts will be widely shared in Canada.
Japan has squarely faced the comfort women issue by acknowledging that the actions referred to severely injured the honor and dignity of many women and by extending official apologies for those actions on a number of occasions at the highest level.
In 1993, then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono released a statement expressing sincere apologies and remorse. These apologies were reiterated in the statements issued by Prime Minister Tomiichi 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.
On July 19, 1995, the Asian Women's Fund (AWF) was established through joint efforts by both the Government of Japan and Japanese citizens for 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 projects 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.
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has also announced that he stands by these statements issued by the Government.
Japan firmly believes that the development on November 29 in the Canadian parliament will not undermine the good bilateral relationship to which the two countries have committed, grounded in the same values.
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