Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Monday, March 6, 2023, 12:30 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Today, the Government of the Republic of Korea made an announcement regarding the issue of former Civilian Workers from the Korean Peninsula（CWKs）.
The Government of Japan is of the view that it is necessary to advance Japan-ROK relations further, based on the platform on which our friendly and cooperative bilateral relations have been built since the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1965, and that the issue of former civilian workers needs to be resolved to that end. Based on this recognition, the Government of Japan has been communicating closely with the ROK government since the inauguration of the YOON Suk Yeol administration. The Government of Japan values the measures announced today by the ROK government, as a move towards restoring Japan-ROK relations, which had been severely strained due to the ROK Supreme Court ruling in 2018, to a sound footing.
Japan and the ROK are important neighbors for one another and we should work together in dealing with various issues of the international community. Ever since the inauguration of the YOON administration, the two governments have been in close contact with each other, including at the leaders’ level. In light of the current strategic environment, the Government of Japan will enhance Japan-ROK and Japan-ROK-U.S. coordination, including in the area of security. Japan will also work in cooperation with the ROK in pursuit of a free and open Indo-Pacific.Taking this opportunity, the Government of Japan confirms that it upholds in its entirety the positions of the previous Cabinets on history, including the “Japan-ROK Joint Statement” issued in October 1998. The Government of Japan will continue to work closely with the ROK to further advance sound Japan-ROK relations, based on the platform on which the friendly and cooperative bilateral relations have been built since the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1965.
After today’s announcement, the Government of Japan hopes to see a robust expansion of political, economic and cultural exchanges between our two countries, together with the implementation of the announced measures.
Reporter: With regard to the lawsuit filed by the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula, the Government of Japan has consistently refused the demand from some of the plaintiffs from the Republic of Korea for the defendant companies to provide funding contributions. Please tell us your thoughts on this again.
In addition, the Government of the ROK is requesting “voluntary contributions” to the foundation that will pay the compensation. Please tell us if the Government of Japan will approve contributions to the foundation from willing companies.
Minister Hayashi:The measure announced recently by the Government of the ROK is not premised on contributions to the foundation by Japanese companies.
Generally speaking, the Government of Japan does not take particular positions on voluntary contributory actions by private citizens or companies in Japan or abroad. We do not have any particular position on this matter either.
Reporter:The Government of Japan has consistently taken the position that the issue of the CWKs was resolved through the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation between Japan and the ROK of 1965. Please tell us again about your understanding on this position, as well as your thoughts on the “irreversibility” of the solution.
In addition, the Government of the ROK is requesting the Japanese side to take sincere measures in presenting a solution. Does the Government of Japan intend to continue taking the same position in statements by the Prime Minister expressing remorse and apologies for the colonial rule and aggression?
Minister Hayashi:As I have repeatedly stated, there is no change to our consistent position based on the 1965 agreement.
In addition, the Government of Japan upholds in its entirety the positions of the previous Cabinets on history, including the “Japan-ROK Joint Statement” issued in October 1998.
Furthermore, as for your question on how to ensure “irreversibility,” the Government of the ROK is making its utmost efforts to gain understanding of the plaintiffs.
Going forward, the Government of Japan hopes to see a robust expansion of political, economic and cultural exchanges between our two countries, together with the implementation of the announced measures.
Reporter:In relation to the situation between Japan and the ROK, Japan has imposed stricter export controls on the ROK for three semiconductor-related items and excluded the ROK from its “white-listed countries.” The Government of the ROK has filed a case to the WTO. The Government of Japan’s position is that this discussion is separate from the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula. What are your thoughts on how the Government of Japan will address this matter? In addition, regarding the resumption of “shuttle diplomacy” between the leaders of Japan and the ROK, what kind of environment do you think could be set to enable the resumption?
Minister Hayashi:The review of export control operations for the ROK that Japan announced in July 2019 was conducted to ensure appropriate implementation of export control from the perspective of security, and is a separate discussion from the issue of CWKs.
If I were to say anything further, it would be that with regard to the export control issue, I understand that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is taking the lead in requesting the ROK side to take appropriate measures, including suspension of the WTO dispute settlement process that the ROK has initiated.
Furthermore, nothing has been decided regarding future diplomatic schedule between the leaders of Japan and the ROK.