Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Friday, February 23, 2018, 8:48 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Comments on the Comfort Women Issue by the ROK Delegate at the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Yesterday, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women considered the periodic report of the Republic of Korea (ROK) during the session in Geneva, and the term “sex slaves” that contradicts the facts was used.

Japan cannot accept the use of terms such as “sex slaves,” mentioned by the ROK delegation yesterday, notwithstanding the fact that this point had been confirmed between Japan and the ROK when we reached the Japan-ROK agreement. This is extremely regrettable.

As explained in the Statement by the Press Secretary issued early this morning, the Government of Japan will strongly urge the ROK to steadily implement the agreement as a “final and irreversible” agreement.

(2) ICJ Special Election (Nomination of University of Tokyo Professor Yuji Iwasawa as Candidate)

Minister Kono: Mr. Hisashi Owada, a judge at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), submitted his resignation on February 6. The United Nations will be holding a special election to fill the position, and Japan has decided to recommend Professor Yuji Iwasawa at the University of Tokyo as a candidate.

Professor Iwasawa is an expert on international law who is highly appreciated internationally. He also has extensive practical experience. Japan believes he is the best choice as a candidate for an ICJ judge.

Japan, which attaches importance to the rule of law in the international community, believes it is important for a Japanese judge to continue contributing to the ICJ. Japan intends to put its utmost efforts toward the election of Professor Iwasawa as an ICJ judge.

(3) Release of the 2017 White Paper on Development Cooperation

Minister Kono: I reported on the release of the 2017 White Paper on Development Cooperation at the Cabinet Meeting today.

This White Paper contains features on “international cooperation for peace, stability, and prosperity in the international community” and “efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

The Ministry hopes that this White Paper will help further deepen interest and understanding of Japan’s development cooperation among the Japanese people.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Reporter: Regarding the matter involving discrimination against women mentioned at the outset, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha of the ROK recently stated that the Japan-ROK agreement was a negotiation that forgot the true issue and is likely to make a similar statement at the next session of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. What are your thoughts about these developments, particularly such comments made at international fora, despite talking about the agreement being a promise made between the two countries?

Minister Kono: President Moon also commented on the agreement to Prime Minister Abe. Japan urges the ROK to fully recognize that this is a “final and irreversible” international promise and steadily implement it. Japan is implementing the agreement with sincerity and expects the ROK to do the same.

WTO Dispute Settlement Procedure

Reporter: Early this morning the World Trade Organization (WTO) reached a decision in Japan’s favor regarding the ROK’s restrictions on imports of Japanese fishery products. The ROK is dissatisfied and appealing this decision. Please explain your reaction to these developments.

Minister Kono: You need to ask the ROK Government about the ROK’s appeal. Japan, meanwhile, believes that its assertions were accepted and intends to request a prompt response by the ROK based on the decision.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Reporter: The ROK delegation stated that it intends to support activities for the establishment of a comfort woman statue during the session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. What is your view of this statement?

Minister Kono: Was this not a reference to a memorial? Let me check on it.

Reporter: What is your view of the memorial?

Minister Kono: Japan’s position is to urge the ROK to steadily implement the Japan-ROK agreement.

Contact Between the U.S. and North Korea at the PyeongChang Olympic Games

Reporter: There have been media reports about efforts to arrange contact between the U.S. and North Korea at the Olympic Games that fell through. Was the Japanese Government aware of this possibility ahead of time?

Minister Kono: There is absolutely no discord among Japan, the U.S, and the ROK in the response to North Korea.

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