Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Wednesday, October 31, 2018, 9:40 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: This morning, from around 9:15 for approximately 20 minutes, I spoke with Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha of the Republic of Korea (ROK). With regard to the decision issued yesterday by the Supreme Court of the ROK, which completely infringes upon the legal foundation of the relationship that Japan and the ROK have developed since the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1965, namely the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the ROK and the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation between Japan and the ROK, I stated that Japan views the situation extremely seriously and urged the ROK Government to take thorough and resolute actions to respond to the situation. Minister Kang explained that the ROK Government has started discussing this issue. Japan will therefore wait to see what type of response the ROK Government decides to take. That is all from me.
Reporter: You have stated that the ROK Government is discussing how to respond to the situation. Did you and Minister Kang hold more in-depth discussions, such as what specific options are available?
Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from going into any further detail. Japan hopes that the ROK Government will recognize the severity of the matter and respond swiftly, thoroughly and resolutely.
Reporter: Did you discuss the timing of the response?
Minister Kono: I hope the ROK will respond swiftly.
Reporter: Are we to understand that Minister Kang made remarks to that effect?
Minister Kono: Minister Kang stated that the ROK Government is discussing its response.
Reporter: Yesterday, an ROK spokesperson said that Japan and the ROK must exercise their combined wisdom in dealing with this matter. I believe a special team has been set up in the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau for this matter. What kind of approach do you think would be best?
Minister Kono: The ROK side, I believe it was a spokesperson, stated that the ROK will endeavor to ensure that this does not affect Japan-ROK relations. This morning, I explained that if the legal foundation of our relations is infringed upon, there is certain to be an impact on Japan-ROK relations. Japan hopes that the ROK Government will take resolute actions in accordance with the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the ROK and the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation between Japan and the ROK, in order to prevent unjustifiable damages and costs from being inflicted on the Japanese people and Japanese companies.
Reporter: Did you mention the possibility of bringing this case to the International Court of Justice? Was that discussed at all?
Minister Kono: The ROK Government is now discussing its response. We will wait for the outcomes of those discussions.
Reporter: The plaintiff’s lawyer has mentioned the possibility of the forcible enforcement of the ruling in relation to Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal’s assets, including the company’s shares. What is your view on this?
Minister Kono: The ROK Government is discussing its response and we will await the results.
Reporter: With regard to the comfort women issue, according to some press reports, during his recent visit to Japan, Vice Minister Cho Hyun is said to have informed the Japanese side that the Foundation to Support Former Comfort Women will be disbanded. Could you confirm the facts?
Minister Kono: The reports are false.
Reporter: So this was not mentioned?
Minister Kono: No.