Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Tuesday, November 20, 2018, 5:52 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

Japan-Russia Relations

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I believe you may have heard the answers in the Diet. In regard to negotiations between Japan and Russia, I cannot state anything regarding the Government of Japan’s plan or approach, so I would like to refrain from commenting on this.

The Decisionby the Supreme Court of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Regarding Former Civilian Workers from the Korean Peninsula

NHK, Okuzumi: I would like to ask a question relating to relations with the ROK. On November 29, the appeal hearing judgment will be announced for the lawsuit brought by five former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula seeking restitution from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Depending on the judgment content, there are fears that Japan-ROK relations could grow even cooler. What are your thoughts on lodging a protest like last time depending on the judgment or requesting some sort of dialogue with the Government of the ROK before the judgment?

Minister Kono: Because the judgment has not yet been made, I will not do anything in particular based on speculation.

Japan-Russia Relations

Yomiuri Shimbun, Yanada: You made a statement in relation to a peace treaty between Japan and Russia in your opening remarks. Given that you stated that you would not comment on the Government’s plan, does this mean that plan has changed? In particular, the Tokyo Declaration by the Government of Japan in 1993 states the major plan of confirming attribution of the Four Northern Islands and then concluding a peace treaty, so is there a change to this?

Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from answering.

Jiji Press, Echigo: Although you cannot answer, it is written in the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration that the USSR would hand over the islands of Habomai and Shikotan. Is it your recognition that this should be a subject of the negotiations, including whether “hand over” means that sovereignty was transferred to Japan or sovereignty is held by one side?

Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from answering.

Japan’s Bid to Host the World Expo

Asahi Shimbun, Kiyomizu: I would like to ask a question regarding the World Expo. A decision will be made about the host of the World Expo by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) on November 23 in Paris. Can you please explain the efforts made by the Government of Japan, including you, for the bid for Osaka to host the World Expo, and your expectations regarding the significance and effects of Osaka bidding to be the host?

Minister Kono: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry have cooperated to appeal to each country. We have worked to receive some form of commitment from each country. And if the vote goes beyond the second round, we would certainly like to receive a vote from countries that were committed to another country in the first round. We also had other discussions. We will do everything we can before the vote on November 23.

Japan-Russia Relations

Kyodo News, Saito: I would like to return to the Northern Territories. You refrained from commenting when you were asked earlier about the meaning of “hand over.” On the other hand, on November 16 Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga stated in regard to this issue that after being handed over, naturally Japan’s sovereignty was confirmed. Are you aware of the Chief Cabinet Secretary’s statement and what is your reaction?

Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from answering.

The Comfort Women Issue

Mainichi Shimbun, Akiyama: In regard to the ROK, there are some ROK media reports that announce that the foundation established by the ROK regarding the comfort women issue would be dissolved this week. How does the Government of Japan plan to respond to discussion of the dissolution of the foundation, which is the core of the agreement between Japan and the ROK?

Minister Kono: I am aware of the reports, but that sort of action is not being taken by the Government of the ROK in particular, so I would like to refrain from commenting based on speculation. The Japanese side has made the utmost efforts to fulfill what it needed to do for the agreement between Japan and the ROK, so we would like the ROK side, which has said it will maintain the agreement, to also make utmost efforts for what it needs to do to maintain the agreement.

Nikkei Shimbun, Hayashi: Is it your recognition that the Japanese side would not be able to accept the dissolution of the comfort women foundation?

Minister Kono: The agreement between Japan and the ROK is an international agreement that has been highly evaluated around the world, so I believe it is natural that both sides should firmly do what they must, based on the agreement. The Japanese side has made utmost efforts to do what it had to until now, so we would like the ROK side to also firmly do what it must do.

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