Diplomatic Bluebook 2017
Japan's Foreign Policy that Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map
(1) North Korea (including the abduction issue)
Under its policy of “dialogue and pressure” and “action for action,” the Government of Japan has been continuing various efforts to realize its basic policy of seeking to normalize its relations with North Korea, through comprehensively resolving outstanding issues of concern such as the abductions, nuclear and missile issues, as well as settlement of the unfortunate past in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration of September 2002, while working closely with relevant countries, including the U.S., the ROK, China and Russia.
A Domestic Affairs and Economy
(A) Domestic affairs
In North Korea, the power base of the regime centered on Kim Jong-Un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, has been enhanced. In May 2016, the seventh Party Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea was held for the first time in 36 years. During the Congress, the “byungjin policy,” under which North Korea simultaneously pursues economic construction and the build-up of nuclear armed forces, was positioned as a permanent strategic policy. At the same time, the National Five-Year Strategy for Economic Development (2016-2020) was announced. Furthermore, due to the revision of party constitution, the post of Chairman of the Party was newly established and, Kim Jong-Un, First Secretary of the Party, was appointed as the Chairman of the Party, establishing a new party structure centered on Chairman Kim Jong-Un. Moreover, in June the same year, the Fourth Session of the 13th Supreme People's Assembly was held. The National Defense Commission (NDC) was reorganized into the State Affairs Commission, and, Kim Jong-Un, First Chairman of the NDC, was appointed as Chairman of the State Affairs Commission.
North Korea is said to be undergoing severe economic hardship, and the rebuilding of its economy is regarded as an issue of importance. In his New Year's address in January 2017, Kim Jong-Un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, stated that North Korea would focus all of its energies on the execution of the National Five-Year Strategy for Economic Development and stressed the importance of science and technology.
North Korea's economic growth rate in 2015 was minus 1.1% (Bank of Korea estimate), recording negative growth for the first time in approximately five years. Despite positive growth in the construction industry, the stagnation of the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries, mining and manufacturing industry, and electricity, gas and water industries was the factor behind the negative growth. Furthermore, due to lack of rainfall and shortage of water for irrigation, the volume of cereal production in 2015 fell by 9% compared to the previous year (FAO estimate).
Trade with China continues to account for the largest share of North Korea's external trade. In 2015, the value of North Korea's trade with China was 6.25 billion US dollars (Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) estimate), accounting for almost 90% of North Korea's entire external trade excluding inter-Korean trade.
B Abduction Issue
(A) Basic stance
To date, the Government of Japan has identified 12 separate incidents, involving a total of 17 Japanese abductees, 12 of whom have not yet returned home. North Korea claims that eight of these 12 have died and that it is unable to confirm that the other four ever entered its territory, but as no convincing explanation of this claim has been provided, Japan continues to work toward the resolution of this issue on the assumption that all of the abductees whose whereabouts are unknown are still alive. As well as being a critical issue concerning the sovereignty of Japan and the lives and safety of Japanese citizens, abduction by North Korea constitutes a universal issue among the international community as a violation of basic human rights. Based on the basic recognition that the normalization of diplomatic relations with North Korea is impossible without resolving the abductions, Japan has positioned its resolution as the most important foreign policy issue. Accordingly, Japan has strongly urged North Korea to ensure the safety of all abductees and their immediate return to Japan, to provide a full account of all the abduction cases, and to hand over the perpetrators to Japan.
(B) Initiatives by Japan
Following the nuclear test by North Korea in January 2016 and the launch of a ballistic missile which North Korea purported to be a “satellite” in the following month, Japan announced its autonomous measures against North Korea in February 2016. In response to this, North Korea unilaterally announced that it would completely stop the investigations on all Japanese nationals and dissolve the Special Investigation Committee. Japan strongly lodged a serious protest to North Korea, conveyed its intention of not abandoning the Japan-North Korea Government level Consultations (the agreement in Stockholm) of May 2014, and demanded that North Korea implement the agreement and return all the abductees home at the earliest possible date. Furthermore, at the forum of the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue in June 2016, Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kenji Kanasugi had contact with Deputy Director-General of Department of US Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Korea Choe Son Hui, and strongly urged North Korea to return all the abductees to Japan at the earliest possible date in accordance with the agreement in Stockholm. Then in response to the nuclear test in September and repeated ballistic missile launches, Japan announced in December that it would implement new autonomous measures against North Korea toward the comprehensive resolution of outstanding issues of concern, such as nuclear and missile issues, as well as the abductions issue, which is the most important agenda for Japan.
(C) Cooperation with the international community toward resolution of the abductions issue
Japan has taken all possible diplomatic opportunities to raise the abductions issue and other issues concerning North Korea, including at summit meetings, foreign ministers' meetings, and international conferences, such as the G7 Ise-Shima Summit, the Japan-U.S.-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting and Foreign Ministers' Meeting, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-related Summit Meetings, and succeeded in gaining the understanding and support of other countries. For example, at the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting held in February 2017, the two leaders completely shared the importance of early resolution of the abductions issue, which was confirmed in writing between Japanese and U.S. leaders for the first time as a summit-level document. Japan will continue to reach out to the international community and to urge North Korea to take concrete actions.
In the UN, the Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in the DPRK co-tabled by Japan and the European Union (EU) was adopted at the Human Rights Council in March 2016 (The resolution has been adopted in the Human Rights Council for the ninth time in nine consecutive years and adopted at the Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly for the twelfth time in twelve consecutive years). Furthermore, the UN Security Council Resolution 2321 adopted in November demonstrated the strong concern of the international community, including the UN Security Council, about the issue of human rights in North Korea, including the abductions issue.
In the U.S., in a plenary session of the U.S. House of Representatives in September a resolution was adopted calling on the Government of the U.S. to cooperate with the Governments of Japan, China and the ROK to proceed with an investigation regarding an American who may have been abducted by North Korea. In March 2017, partly thanks to lobbying from Japan, including by members of the Diet, and a draft resolution with similar content was submitted to the U.S. Senate. Given the rising awareness about the abductions issue in the U.S., Japan will make its utmost efforts for an early resolution of the abductions issue in close coordination and cooperation with relevant countries concerned, including the U.S.
C North Korea Nuclear and Missile Issues
The nuclear and missile development by North Korea is a clear violation of a series of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and a grave challenge to the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and is totally unacceptable. In spite of the fact that the international community, including Japan, has repeatedly and strongly urged North Korea for its self-restraint, North Korea has continued its nuclear and missile development. Even in 2016, it went ahead with nuclear tests at an unprecedentedly short interval and launched more than 20 ballistic missiles. The enhancement of North Korea's nuclear and missile capacity poses a threat of a new level to Japan and the entire international community.
In January 2016, North Korea carried out its fourth nuclear test, and in the following month, it went ahead with the launch of a ballistic missile that it purported to be a “satellite.” In response to these events, in the same month, Japan decided to take autonomous measures against North Korea. Furthermore, in March, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2270, which significantly reinforces sanctions. However, even after these measures, North Korea went ahead with a series of ballistic missile launches, including Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM). The ballistic missile launched in June demonstrated that it fulfills its function as a ballistic missile to some extent. In addition, the ballistic missiles launched in August fell in Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In September, North Korea launched three ballistic missiles simultaneously, all of which fell in Japan's EEZ. Furthermore, in the same month, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test, just eight months after its previous one, at an unprecedentedly short interval, and it subsequently repeatedly launched ballistic missiles.
In response to such nuclear and missile development by North Korea, in November, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2321 which reinforces Resolution 2270 and further restricts the flow of people, goods, and funds, etc. to North Korea. As a member of the UN Security Council, Japan worked closely with countries concerned while leading the discussion in the UN Security Council. To ensure the effectiveness of these resolutions, Japan will closely cooperate with other UN Member States, including a proactive utilization of the Committee established pursuant to Resolution 1718.
Furthermore, taking into account the nuclear test in September and repeated ballistic missile launches as well as the fact that the abductions issue has not been resolved, in December, Japan announced that it would take additional autonomous measures against North Korea in order to realize the comprehensive resolution of the outstanding issues of concern, such as the abductions, nuclear and missile issues. The U.S. and the ROK also announced their autonomous measures against North Korea in close cooperation with Japan.
On the other hand, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Kim Jong-Un declared his intention to continue the nuclear and missile development in his New Year's address, delivered in January 2017, by emphasizing that North Korea is a “nuclear power” and a “military power,” stating that the country had entered the final stage of preparation for the test launch of an “intercontinental ballistic missile,” and claiming that North Korea had already developed a powerful military guarantee. In the following months, North Korea has continued its nuclear and missile development. In February of the same year, North Korea launched one ballistic missile and, in March, North Korea launched four ballistic missiles almost simultaneously three of which fell in Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Japan, in close coordination with relevant countries, including the U.S., the ROK, China, and Russia, will continue to strongly urge North Korea to refrain from any further provocation and to comply with the Joint Statements of the Six-Party Talks and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
D North Korea's External Relations, etc.
(A) U.S.-North Korea relations
North Korea called on the U.S. to hold a dialogue to change the armistice agreement into a peace treaty but the U.S. did not accept this and has enhanced its pressure on North Korea.
In February 2016, the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act entered into force in the U.S. In July, the U.S. designated eleven individuals, including Kim Jong-Un, the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and five organizations involved in human rights violations in North Korea as the targets subject to sanctions. In response to this, the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement in which it (1) demanded immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the sanctions, (2) warned that it would take extremely tough measures in response, and (3) it would cut off all diplomatic channels between the U.S. and North Korea if the U.S. did not meet its demands. Subsequently in December, in response to the nuclear test conducted in September and repeated ballistic missile launches, the U.S. announced its new autonomous measures against North Korea in cooperation with Japan and the ROK. Furthermore, in January 2017, the U.S. designated additional two organizations and seven individuals involved in human rights violations in North Korea as the targets subject to sanctions.
Furthermore, the U.S. has declared it will maintain its defense commitments to Japan and the ROK, including the provision of extended deterrence, and in July 2016 the governments of the U.S. and the ROK decided to deploy THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) in the ROK.
(B) North-South relations
In February 2016, the Government of the ROK announced to halt the Gaeseong Industrial Complex following the nuclear test by North Korea in January and its ballistic missile launch in February. In response to this, North Korea expelled the citizens of the ROK who were in the industrial complex, and declared the industrial complex as a military control zone. In May, North Korea proposed to the ROK a meeting between the North-South military authorities. However the Government of the ROK did not accept the proposal by North Korea, on the grounds that it is necessary for North Korea to take actions toward denuclearlization. Subsequently in December, in response to the September nuclear test and repeated ballistic missile launches, the ROK announced new autonomous measures against North Korea in cooperation with Japan and the U.S. In the New Year's address in January 2017, North Korea criticized President Park Geun-Hye of the ROK by name while showing a positive willingness toward North-South reunification with the ROK. However, the ROK continued to refuse to engage in dialogue.
(C) China-North Korea relations
To date, no summit meeting has been held between Kim Jong-Un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and President Xi Jinping of China. However, close economic relations are maintained. For example, trade between China and North Korea accounts for approximately 90% of North Korea's entire external trade excluding inter-Korean trade. UN Security Council Resolution 2321 adopted in November 2016 imposes on member states an upper limit of imports of coal from North Korea, which is a source of foreign currency earnings for North Korea. In this connection, the trend in the trade between China and North Korea has attracted attention.
(D) Other countries
In February 2017 a North Korean man was killed in Malaysia, and later the Government of Malaysia confirmed that said man was Mr. Kim Jong Nam. Furthermore, the Malaysian police also announced that VX, the production, use, etc. of which is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention, was detected from the body. As of March 2017, criminal justice proceedings are still under way in Malaysia and Japan is collaborating with the countries concerned to gather and analyze relevant information.
E Other Issues
Defectors who have fled from North Korea have to be kept in hiding to avoid being rounded up by the authorities in the countries where they are staying and forcibly repatriated to North Korea. The Government of Japan is addressing the protection and support of these North Korean defectors, in light of the purpose of the North Korean Human Rights Violation Act, taking into account a comprehensive range of factors, including humanitarian considerations, the safety of those concerned, and relations with the countries in which these defectors reside. Relevant Japanese ministries and agencies are working together closely to promote measures aimed at helping those defectors accepted by Japan to become settled.
(2) Republic of Korea (ROK)
A Situation in the ROK
(A) Domestic affairs
In 2016 President Park Geun-Hye, who was in her fourth year in office, gave a policy speech in which she set out the priority areas of employment creation and restoration of economic strength through creative economy and cultural flourishing, expansion of growth engines in preparation for the future, and construction of a sustainable foundation for growth.
The approval rating of the Park Geun-Hye administration fell to the 30-39% range after the ruling party was defeated in the 20th legislative elections in April 2016, and fell again to the 10-19% range due to the Choi Soon-Sil incident5.
Subsequently, on December 9 the same year the impeachment resolution against President Park Geun-Hye was passed in the ROK National Assembly and the powers and duties of President Park Geun-Hye were suspended. Subsequently Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-Ahn assumed the powers and duties of the presidency on an interim basis.
On March 10, 2017 the Constitutional Court pronounced the verdict that it upheld the impeachment of President Park Geun-Hye, removing President Park Geun-Hye from office. As a consequence, the 19th presidential election to be held on May 9.
- 5 It was found that President Park was giving official government documents including her speeches and documentation related to Blue House personnel management, etc. to Ms. Choi Soon-Sil, an old acquaintance, in advance. On October 25 the same year, President Park admitted that she was close to Ms. Choi and apologized to the ROK citizens. On December 3 the three opposition parties brought an impeachment motion against President Park.
(B) Foreign policy
In 2016, the ROK practiced diplomacy that treated the North Korean nuclear issue as the top priority issue. Regarding its relations with the U.S., in response to the ballistic missile launches by North Korea in February 2016 the commencement of official consultations regarding deployment of the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) System to the U.S. Forces in Korea was decided, and in July the Governments of the U.S. and the ROK announced that they had decided to deploy the THAAD system in Seongju (ROK).
In 2017 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the ROK, keeping in mind the upgrading of North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities and the realignment of power relations in Northeast Asia, and under the recognition that the current diplomatic and security environment is the severest since the end of the Cold War, announced the six core diplomatic issues of (1) omni-directional diplomacy for resolving the nuclear issues and others of North Korea, (2) diplomacy for surrounding countries to respond actively to the environment within the region, (3) global diplomacy to contribute to the resolution of the main international outstanding issues, (4) economic diplomacy to secure the future growth engines of the ROK's economy, (5) strengthening protection of the citizens of the ROK in an era in which terrorism occurs frequently, and (6) public diplomacy as a trusted medium-level country.
In 2016, the GDP growth rate of the Republic of Korea was 2.7%, an increase from 2.6% in the previous year. The total exports amounted to approximately 495.5 billion US, a 5.9% decrease from the previous year, and the total imports amounted to approximately 405.7 billion US dollars, a 7.1% decrease from the previous year. The trade surplus was approximately 89.8 billion US dollars (ROK Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy Statistics).
In terms of domestic economic policy, since the inauguration of the administration's economic reforms have been advanced mainly based on “economic democratization,” the “creative economy,” and “revitalization of domestic demand.” “Four Major Reforms” were raised after the “Three Year Plan for Economic Innovation” announced in February 2014, thereby promoting structural reforms in the public sector as well as the labor, education and financial sectors. In the field of international trade, the government has engaged in the FTA and RCEP negotiations and in addition, has promoted FTAs with several Central American Counties.
B Japan-ROK Relations
(A) Bilateral relations
The ROK is Japan's most important neighbor which shares strategic interests, and the partnership and cooperation of Japan-ROK are essential in ensuring peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. Furthermore, Japan and the ROK have worked in partnership on a variety of regional and global issues, including nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, peacebuilding, poverty and not to mention dealing with issues related to North Korea. The Government of Japan will continue to develop a good understanding at a variety of levels in all fields such as politics, economy and culture and move toward developing a new era of future-oriented Japan-ROK relations based on mutual trust.
At a time when the enhancement of nuclear and missile capabilities by North Korea constitutes a new level of threat to the entire international community including Japan, cooperation between Japan and the ROK, and among Japan, the U.S. and the ROK regarding the North Korea issues has become more important than ever before. In response to the nuclear tests by North Korea in January 6, 2016 and September 9 the same year, Japan and the ROK promptly held teleconferences between their top leaders and Foreign Ministers, in which they shared the view that they would explore resolute responses, and confirmed the close cooperation of Japan and the ROK. Furthermore, on November 23 Japan and the ROK concluded the Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Korea on the Protection of Classified Military Information, and due to this conclusion a variety of information necessary for handling various situations appropriately and effectively, including information related to the nuclear and missile programs of North Korea, can now be exchanged directly between Japan and the ROK.
Mutual understanding and exchange between the people of both Japan and the ROK are steadily deepening and broadening. The year 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-ROK relations, and a wide range of exchanges were conducted actively between the two countries. In Japan, K-POP and South Korean television dramas, etc. are widely accepted by people of all ages and in the ROK, Japanese culture has become popular, particularly the manga, anime, and novels of Japan.
Furthermore, the number of people traveling between the two countries each year has grown from around 10,000 people at the time that diplomatic relations were normalized to approximately 7.39 million people in 2016, the highest number ever recorded6.
The Nikkan Koryu Omatsuri (Japan-Korea Festival), an annual cultural exchange event in Japan and the ROK, respectively, took place in Tokyo on September 24 and 25 and in Seoul on October 2, with attendance of approximately 110,000 people in total.
Regarding youth exchange programs between Japan and Asia-Pacific countries and regions, Japan made efforts to promote mutual understanding and build a friendly and cooperative relationship for the future through the promotion of Japan's Friendship Ties Programs JENESYS 2016 which was expanded to include adults.
- 6 Number of visitors in 2016
Number of people from the ROK visiting Japan: 5,090,300 people (Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO))
Number of people from Japan visiting the ROK: 2,297,893 people (Korea Tourism Organization (KTO))
(C) Takeshima dispute
Regarding a dispute between Japan and the ROK concerning the territorial sovereignty over Takeshima, Japan has consistently held the position that Takeshima is indisputably an inherent part of the territory of Japan in light of historical facts and based on international law. Japan has been mobilizing various media to keep the rest of the world informed about Japan's position on the Takeshima dispute7, and has lodged repeated strong protests against the ROK over such matters as landing on the island by members of the ROK's National Assembly and others, the ROK's military exercises and the construction of buildings that such acts are never acceptable8. Japan will continue to make diplomatic efforts tenaciously to settle the Takeshima issue in a peaceful manner in accordance with international law9.
- 7 In February 2008, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs created a pamphlet entitled “Takeshima: 10 points to understand the Takeshima Dispute.” Currently, it is available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website in eleven languages: Japanese, English, Korean, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabian, Russian, Chinese, and Italian. Furthermore, since October 2013, videos and flyers about Takeshima have been available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website and currently they are available in the above 11 languages. In addition, Japan has taken initiatives such as distributing a smartphone app providing education about the Takeshima issue.
- 8 After Moon Jae-In, former Chairman of The Minjoo Party of Korea, landed on the island in July 2016 and a delegation of ten Republic of Korea parliamentarians led by Na Kyung-Won, a member of the National Assembly for the Saenuri Party, landed on the island in August 2016, followed by Kim Kwan-Yong, Governor of North Gyeongsang Province in the Republic of Korea, who landed in January 25, 2017. Following each of these instances, the Government of Japan immediately conveyed to the Government of the ROK that such an act was unacceptable and extremely regrettable in light of Japan's position on sovereignty over Takeshima, urged the Government of the ROK to ensure similar acts do not recur, and strongly protested against the act.
- 9 Japan has so far proposed three times (September 1954, March 1962 and August 2012) to the Republic of Korea that the Takeshima issue be referred to the International Court of Justice.
(D) The issue of comfort women
It was confirmed that the issue of comfort women, which has been a long-standing issue over many years between Japan and the ROK, is resolved finally and irreversibly with the agreement reached at the Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers' Meeting on December 28, 2015. During the subsequent Japan-ROK summit telephone call, the two leaders confirmed and appreciated the agreement10. Based on this agreement, on July 28, 2016, the “Reconciliation and Healing Foundation” was established in the ROK, and on August 31, Japan contributed one billion yen to the foundation11. However, on December 30, 2016, a civil group in the ROK installed a comfort woman statue12 on the sidewalk facing the Consulate-General of Japan in Busan13. This development is highly regrettable as it not only has an undesirable impact on Japan-ROK relations, but also is problematic in light of the the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The Japan-ROK agreement was highly appreciated by the international community, and Japan and the ROK respectively have a duty to the international community to implement the agreement. Japan will continue to tenaciously take every opportunity to ask the ROK to steadily implement the agreement. (See Announcement by Foreign Ministers of Japan and the ROK at the Joint Press Occasion)
- 10 The consistent position of the Government of Japan has been that issues relating to property, including the issue of comfort women, and claims between Japan and the ROK have already been settled completely and finally in legal terms by the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems Concerning Property and Claims and on the Economic Co-operation between Japan and the Republic of Korea of 1965 .
- 11 With this contribution of 1 billion yen, this foundation implemented projects for 29 former comfort women to recover their honor and dignity and to heal their psychological wounds (as of December 23, 2016).
- 12 For the sake of practical convenience, the statues in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul and the Consulate-General of Japan in Busan are referred to as “comfort woman statues.” However, the use of this term is not a reflection of the recognition that these statues correctly embody the reality of those women at that time.
- 13 In response to this, Japan decided to take interim measures including (1) postponing participation in Busan municipal events by diplomats at the Consulate-General of Japan in Busan, (2) temporary recall of Japanese Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Yasumasa Nagamine and Japanese Consul to Busan Yasuhiro Morimoto, (3) suspending Japan-ROK consultations about a currency swap agreement, and (4) postponing Japan-ROK high-level economic consultations.
(E) Other issues
With regard to matters arising from the judicial decisions in the ROK concerning “requisitioned civilians” from the Korean Peninsula14, Japan continued to hold the position that the property and claims between Japan and the ROK were settled completely and finally through the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems concerning Property and Claims and on the Economic Co-operation between Japan and the Republic of Korea, thus Japan will continue to deal appropriately with these issues based on this position.
Furthermore, Japan has made requests to the Government of the ROK through diplomatic channels to return cultural properties that were stolen and are currently in the ROK15 to Japan as soon as possible, and will continue to call upon the Government of the ROK for their prompt return.
Other than these issues, Japan has provided as much support as possible from a humanitarian perspective in a wide range of fields including the issue of remains of people originally from the Korean Peninsula16, support for ethnic Koreans in Sakhalin17, addressing the issue of atomic bomb survivors living in the ROK18 and helping Hansen's disease patients admitted to sanitariums in the ROK19.
Moreover, Japan and the ROK have engaged in several rounds of negotiations over the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
- 14 Some civilians of the ROK said to have been subjected to “forced requisition” by predecessor companies of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. during World War II, when the Korean Peninsula was under Japan's rule, brought claims for the payment of compensation and unpaid wages against the two companies. The Seoul High Court found in favor of the plaintiffs against Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation on July 10, and the Busan High Court ruled against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. on July 30, with both courts ordering the respective defendants to compensate the plaintiffs.
- 15 In April 2016, Buseoksa Temple in the ROK called for the Government of the ROK to return to Buseoksa Temple a Seated Kanzeon Bodhisattva statue, which had been stolen from Tsushima City in Nagasaki Prefecture and not returned to Japan, and filed a suit in the Daejeon District Court, and on January 26, 2017 the court issued the verdict in the first instance which awarded the statue to the plaintiff (Buseoksa Temple).
- 16 The issue of the return of the remains of people originally from the Korean Peninsula which were left in Japan after the end of World War II. Japan is steadily repatriating the remains whose return has been requested by the Government of the ROK and which are able to be returned.
- 17 For various reasons, before the end of World War II, the people from the Korean Peninsula traveled to what was then known as Minami Karafuto (South Sakhalin), but were compelled to remain there for a long time after the war ended under the de facto rule of the Soviet Union, without being given the opportunity to return to the ROK. The Government of Japan is providing such people with support to enable them to return home temporarily, and also to visit Sakhalin.
- 18 The issue of provision of support to those who were exposed to the atomic bombs while living in Hiroshima or Nagasaki during World War II, and subsequently went to live overseas. To date, Japan has provided support in the form of the Atomic Bomb Victim Health Handbook and allowances based on the Atomic Bombs Survivors' Assistance Act.
- 19 People who were admitted to Hansen's disease sanatoriums built overseas by Japan before the end of the war had demanded the payment of compensation in accordance with the Act on Payment of Compensation to Inmates of Hansen's Disease Sanatorium. The Act was revised in February 2006, allowing compensation to be paid to those formerly resident in sanatoriums overseas for the first time.
Announcement by Foreign Ministers of Japan and the Republic of Korea at the Joint Press Occasion
1. Foreign Minister Kishida
The Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) have intensively discussed the issue of comfort women between Japan and the ROK at bilateral meetings including the Director-General consultations. Based on the result of such discussions, I, on behalf of the Government of Japan, state the following:
(1) The issue of comfort women, with an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time, was a grave affront to the honor and dignity of large numbers of women, and the Government of Japan is painfully aware of responsibilities from this perspective.
As Prime Minister of Japan, Prime Minister Abe expresses anew his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.
(2) The Government of Japan has been sincerely dealing with this issue. Building on such experience, the Government of Japan will now take measures to heal psychological wounds of all former comfort women through its budget. To be more specific, it has been decided that the Government of the ROK establish a foundation for the purpose of providing support for the former comfort women, that its funds be contributed by the Government of Japan as a one-time contribution through its budget, and that projects for recovering the honor and dignity and healing the psychological wounds of all former comfort women be carried out under the cooperation between the Government of Japan and the Government of the ROK.
(3) While stating the above, the Government of Japan confirms that this issue is resolved finally and irreversibly with this announcement, on the premise that the Government will steadily implement the measures specified in (2) above.
In addition, together with the Government of the ROK, the Government of Japan will refrain from accusing or criticizing each other regarding this issue in the international community, including at the United Nations.
2. Foreign Minister Yun
The Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Government of Japan have intensively discussed the issue of comfort women between the ROK and Japan at bilateral meetings including the Director-General consultations. Based on the result of such discussions, I, on behalf of the Government of the ROK, state the following:
(1) The Government of the ROK values the GOJ's announcement and efforts made by the Government of Japan in the lead-up to the issuance of the announcement and confirms, together with the GOJ, that the issue is resolved finally and irreversibly with this announcement, on the premise that the Government of Japan will steadily implement the measures specified in 1. (2) above. The Government of the ROK will cooperate in the implementation of the Government of Japan's measures.
(2) The Government of the ROK acknowledges the fact that the Government of Japan is concerned about the statue built in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul from the viewpoint of preventing any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity, and will strive to solve this issue in an appropriate manner through taking measures such as consulting with related organizations about possible ways of addressing this issue.
(3) The Government of the ROK, together with the Government of Japan, will refrain from accusing or criticizing each other regarding this issue in the international community, including at the United Nations, on the premise that the Government of Japan will steadily implement the measures it announced.
C Japan-ROK Economic Relations
Japan and the ROK continue to maintain close economic relations. The total value of trade between Japan and the ROK in 2016 amounted to approximately 7.74 trillion yen. Japan is the ROK's third-largest trading partner and the ROK is Japan's third-largest trading partner. The ROK's trade deficit with Japan increased by approximately 10.5% compared with the previous year to about 2.3 trillion yen (Trade Statistics of Japan, Ministry of Finance). Japanese direct investment in the ROK totaled approximately 1,250 million U.S. dollars (down 25.2% from the previous year) (figures published by the ROK Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy), making Japan the ROK's fifth-largest source of foreign direct investment.
Thus, Japan and the ROK are important trade and investment partners for each other and progress is being made in forging new cooperative relationships between the two countries. As the integration of supply chains in the manufacturing sector has been achieved, new cooperative relationships between the two countries have been developed, including companies' joint expansion of business into third countries.
Japan believes that economic partnership between Japan and the ROK is vital in order to further strengthen these close economic relations between the two countries, as well as to ensure that both Japan and the ROK can play a leading role in regional economic integration in Asia. Based on this understanding, Japan and the ROK continue to strive to achieve progress in negotiations concerning the Japan-China-ROK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
In the area of the environment, the 18th Japan-ROK Joint Committee on Environmental Cooperation was held in July 2016. The two sides exchanged views on climate change, environmental cooperation, and marine environmental issues and confirmed that Japan and the ROK will closely cooperate on these subjects.
With respect to the issue of restrictions by the ROK on imports of Japanese marine products, a panel was established within the WTO in September 2015, in response to Japan's request, and the sub-committee is examining the issue. In this regard, Japan has been taking various opportunities to request the ROK to repeal the increased restriction measures promptly.