Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, July 10, 2015, 8:32 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Inscription of Japan’s “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution” on the World Heritage List
Fujita, Fuji TV: My question concerns the World Heritage site listing. I understand that it was confirmed at the Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that the two countries would cooperate to inscribe both properties recommended on the World Heritage site list. What do you think is the main reason the negotiations ran into difficulties like this at this late stage?
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: As you mentioned, at the Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting the view was shared that we would cooperate. And the recommendations concerning the World Heritage included the recommendation that an explanation be provided, so that it allows an understanding of full history. In order to respond sincerely to that, it was decided that the Japanese side and the ROK side would each give statements. Coordination took place regarding those statements, and in order to make certain of the inscription, naturally there was coordination between Japan and the ROK; but the 19 member states other than Japan and the ROK also take part in. Careful explanations had to be provided to these countries too, and in order to ensure the inscription, work was carried out in a careful manner. It was an outcome of that, as I understand it.
Fujita, Fuji TV: As a result of the statement that Japan made to ensure this inscription as World Heritage, many reports are surfacing within the ROK suggesting that Japan has admitted there was forced labor; and this perception, this misunderstanding, even appears to be spreading. Does the Government of Japan believe it is acceptable to leave this situation as it is, or does it intend to respond in some way?
Minister Kishida: What I must say to begin with is that this statement by Japan articulated that, as a result of the National Requisition Ordinance at the time, workers were also requisitioned from the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, the statement did not include anything new.
With regard to the National Requisition Ordinance, there is the Convention Concerning Forced or Compulsory Labor; Forced labor is prohibited under that Convention; however, there is a provision stating that this does not include some situations, including requisitions during wartime.
Therefore, we consider that the text used in this statement by the Japanese side articulating Japan’s response based on the National Requisition Ordinance does not mean forced labor. This also relates to the Convention, but in any event there is no change whatsoever to the Government of Japan’s position that the issues relating to property and claims between Japan and the ROK, including the issue of requisitioned workers from the Korean Peninsula, were settled completely and finally by the Claims Settlement and Economic Co-operation Agreement of 1965, concluded between Japan and the ROK.
Furthermore, we conveyed this clearly to the ROK side, and through our diplomatic exchanges it is our understanding that the Government of the ROK has no intention to utilize the statement by the representative of the Government of Japan in the context of the issue of claims between Japan and ROK. We confirmed it through the high-level diplomatic exchanges. Regarding this, I intend to firmly explain this externally.
Case involving the possible detention of a Japanese journalist in Syria
Fujita, Fuji TV: At the moment, it is not possible to contact a freelance journalist, Junpei Yasuda, in Syria. Does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have any information about him?
Minister Kishida: At least, currently we have not received any information that a Japanese national has been detained. We make every effort to gather a variety of information, but we have not received any information such as what I just talked about.
Ukai, TV Tokyo: Has MOFA ascertained that Mr. Yasuda is in Syria at the moment?
Minister Kishida: I have not confirmed anything, including that.