Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Takeshi Osuga
Wednesday, June 19, 2019, 4:35 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Repeal of Import Restrictions on Japanese Food Products by the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mr. Takeshi Osuga, Foreign Press Secretary: The repeal of import restrictions on Japanese food products and other items introduced by 54 countries and regions after the Great East Japan Earthquake is a matter of top priority for the Government of Japan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has conducted vigorous efforts while taking various diplomatic opportunities and mobilizing diplomatic missions and others. As a result, the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo recently announced its decision to repeal its import restrictions on Japanese food products, and yesterday, on June 18, there was a formal notification to the Japanese embassy. I welcome the decision to repeal the import restrictions by the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I will continue to work on persistently appealing to the 22 countries and regions that still continue their restrictions.
(2) Asia in Resonance 2019 and the Visit to Japan by a Group of Southeast Asian Football Players
Foreign Secretary Osuga: Tomorrow evening, on June 20, the opening reception for Asia in Resonance 2019 will be held, attended by Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Norikazu SUZUKI. Following the Japonismes 2018 which was held in France from last year to the beginning of this year, we will intensively implement culture and exchange projects connecting Southeast Asia and Japan this year.
In addition to countries in Southeast Asia, exhibitions and exchange events have already been held in cooperation with the Sanriku International Arts Festival in areas throughout the Tohoku region of Japan in March, and in Tokyo, events are planned to be held including plays, films, dances, concerts, and more after the opening reception on June 20, tomorrow, through July.
In addition, this Saturday on June 22 at 2 p.m. in Fukushima J-Village, the international goodwill game known as the JapaFunCup will be held, in which the U-18 Tohoku Select Team will face the “ASIAN ELEVEN” composed of U-18 players selected from Southeast Asian countries.
For details on the events, please direct inquiries to the Japan Foundation Asia Center, which is working as the secretariat for Asia in Resonance 2019.
Issue of the Former Civilian Workers from the Korean Peninsula (Announcement of the Position of the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK))
Asahi Shimbun, Kihara: I would like to ask a question about the issue of the requisitioned workers. Just minutes ago today, the Government of the ROK announced that it would coordinate through diplomatic channels if Japan accepts the plan to have ROK and Japanese companies fund the compensation for the requisitioned workers, probably the plaintiffs. How does the Government of Japan view this at this moment?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: I am aware that the Government of the ROK expressed its position regarding the issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula in the form of a press release from the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Government of Japan has firmly requested the Government of the ROK to take appropriate measures including remedying the unlawful situation in light of international law, but concerning the proposal of funds indicated by the ROK side, I believe this would not remedy the unlawful situation in light of international law caused by the ROK and would not be a solution to the issue.
More than four months have passed since the Government of Japan requested consultations in accordance with the Claims Settlement Agreement between Japan and the ROK on January 9. During this time, the Government of the ROK has not accepted consultations despite repeated requests from the Government of Japan, so on May 20 we notified the ROK side of the referral of the issue to arbitration in accordance with the Agreement. There is no change to our position of requesting the Government of the ROK to accept arbitration in accordance with the Agreement.
Asahi Shimbun, Kihara: Have you officially conveyed what you have just stated to the Government of the ROK? Or will it be conveyed?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: The ROK side conveyed to us about its announcement in advance, and the Japan’s position has already been conveyed to them.
Asahi Shimbun, Kihara: Did the ROK convey this today?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: I would like to refrain from commenting about diplomatic exchanges including the timing, but this was conveyed and there was an exchange in advance.
Asahi Shimbun, Kihara: Am I right to understand that the position you just stated was conveyed?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: That’s so.
Asahi Shimbun, Kihara: From where and to where was it conveyed?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: I would like to refrain from commenting including on that point.
Asahi Shimbun, Kihara: In terms of Seoul and Tokyo, was it both?
Foreign Press Secretary Osuga: I am not saying that there was prior notification today, so I would like to refrain from commenting including when the notification was made.