Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Friday, January 4, 2019, 4:14 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Earlier, I received a request for a telephone talk from Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha of the Republic of Korea (ROK), so the two of us spoke for 30 minutes by telephone.
We exchanged New Year’s greetings, and I then received an explanation from Minister Kang concerning the movements from the ROK side based on the decisions by the ROK Supreme Court regarding the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula. Japan is taking this issue very seriously and I stated that we would like the ROK side to make a firm response. Japan has firm cooperation with the ministries and agencies concerned and has a system to be able to take necessary responses. But I believe the ROK side should take a response before that, so I will keep watching the current situation. When needed, we would be forced to take firm measures based on international law, so we will only make preparations toward that response.
Reporter: Did Minister Kang say when the ROK Government would make a response or give a detailed explanation?
Minister Kono: I believe it would be best to refrain from disclosing Minister Kang’s statements, but under Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, considerations on countermeasures have been conducted since before. I requested that a firm response be taken as quickly as possible so that no unjust disadvantage can affect Japanese companies through not only the judicial decisions thus far but also in terms of the future.
Reporter: The ROK has disclosed new images of the radar lock-on incident. What about this matter?
Minister Kono: This issue is one between the defense authorities. It is important to firmly discuss this issue based on the facts of the matter and resolve it as quickly as possible, and Minister Kang and I have already recognized this.
Reporter: You stated that there have been movements regarding the judicial decision in your opening statement. Did you mean the request by the plaintiffs for seizure of assets?
Minister Kono: Yes.
Reporter: Would the advancement of the judicial procedure to implementation of seizure of assets correspond to an unjust disadvantage affecting Japanese companies as the Government of Japan has stated? Also, did you achieve the recognition you mentioned regarding the radar incident during your discussion with Minister Kang today? Can you please confirm that?
Minister Kono: We discussed that today, but the defense authorities have already recognized together that it would be best for both countries to confirm the facts of the matter, discuss it, and resolve this issue as quickly as possible. If unjust disadvantages occur for Japanese companies, the Government of Japan will naturally have to take various measures. I have stated until now that I would like a firm response to be taken quickly so that does not happen, and I repeated that today.
Reporter: Is seizure of assets an unjust disadvantage?
Minister Kono: I conveyed that the Government of Japan would be forced to take countermeasures if an unjust disadvantage occurred for Japanese companies, and I believe Minister Kang understood that.
Reporter: In terms of actions by the ROK side, preservation measures have been requested for preservation of assets of Japanese companies. If these preservation measures are implemented, this would be slightly different from seizure of assets, so do you consider that this would also be a disadvantage?
Minister Kono: I received an explanation that it would not be realization of assets. This would essentially be something to do together, but I heard it is not going that far.
Reporter: When you say it is not going that far, there is a different implication for Japan. So if does not actually advance to seizure of assets, is it correct to understand that it would not be a direct disadvantage?
Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from stating in detail what would happen in different situations.
Reporter: Can you please tell us what specific response you meant when you mentioned a firm response based on international law concerning the civilian workers issue?
Minister Kono: We will take a firm response based on international law. I would like to refrain from stating anything further than that.
Reporter: Was there any reference to an opinion on a request for an apology from the ROK regarding the radar lock-on issue?
Minister Kono: No.
Reporter: Concerning China, in regard to the issue of the Chinese ocean research vessel conducting research activities around Oki-no-Tori Shima Island , it seems that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already issued a protest. Can you please state your view again?
Minister Kono: I would like China to make a precise response. I previously requested to Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi that China has gained economic strength and should exhibit behavior as a major power. I would like China to firmly respond based on international law in various situations.
Reporter: The schedule for your visit to Russia was officially announced today. Can you please stated again what kind of discussions you would like to have?
Minister Kono: Prime Minister Abe and President Putin have already had discussions as leaders about accelerating various aspects toward conclusion of a peace treaty. I would like to have firm negotiations based on that.