Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Wednesday, June 20, 2018, 8:53 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Regarding the Republic of Korea (ROK)’s “Action with Women and Peace” initiative and the related advisory council, which were topics in the press conference after the Cabinet Meeting on Tuesday as well, I stated in the press conference that I intended to ask ROK what its true intentions are, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the ROK has given the explanation that this initiative is a framework that the Government of the ROK created in order to contribute in the women’s peace and security field more actively. Furthermore, the officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have explained to us that this matter is completely unrelated to the comfort women issue. My understanding is that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the ROK has also given explanations externally to the effect that this initiative is not raising a specific problem and linking it to the Japan-ROK agreement is inappropriate. Both Kang Kyung-wha, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ROK and I have been saying since the beginning of the year that we would move forward the Japan-ROK relations positively in a future-oriented manner this year, the 20th anniversary of the Japan-Republic of Korea Joint Declaration, so we intend to work as hard as we can to ensure that the future-oriented relations can be built strongly and positively, and I certainly would like the ROK to also develop an environment for that. Regarding the issues related to the comfort women, we are working hard to fully implement the Japan-ROK agreement, and regarding Takeshima, Japan is already saying that we will resolve the issue peacefully and has not taken any other action, so I hope the ROK will not raise any unnecessary issues, and I would like the diplomatic officials of the two countries to make strong efforts to ensure that the future-oriented relations of the two countries will be positively developed in a variety of fields.
Reporter: Are you saying that you accepted the explanation from the ROK?
Minister Kono: The ROK side is giving that explanation so I would like the ROK side to act properly as they say.
Reporter: The members of the advisory council include the representative of a civic organization and knowledgeable persons who have been involved in the comfort women issue for many years. Do you still think the initiative is unrelated to the comfort women issue despite that?
Minister Kono: I think that just because those people have been involved in a variety of activities that does not mean that all of the activities of those people are related to one thing, and we received a thorough explanation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the ROK, so I am satisfied that this is the situation. Therefore, I intend to move forward this relation positively.
Reporter: Just now you presented us the view of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the ROK that the initiative and the comfort women issue are unrelated. Is it reasonable to conclude that the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family of the ROK accepts this as the view of the entire Government of the ROK?
Minister Kono: Naturally we understand that to be the explanation of the Government of the ROK.
Reporter: How would you respond if the members of this initiative mentioned or brought up the issue of the comfort women? Minister Kono: As there was an explanation from the Government of the ROK that this would not be the case, I think it is inappropriate to respond at this time to those kinds of hypothetical questions as if something like that had happened.
Reporter: What was the reason for a discrepancy in the first place?
Minister Kono: I think it was slightly due to the nature of the explanation, and there were various other issues as well, but we have received an appropriate explanation, so we accept what they say.