Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary OHTAKA Masato
Wednesday, November 13, 2019, 5:15 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Comfort Women Issue (Compensation Claim Lawsuit)
Asahi Shimbun, ONO: I have heard that the first hearing today has just started in the Seoul Central District Court for the lawsuit against the Government of Japan for compensation filed by former comfort women. I believe that the Government of Japan has taken the policy of not attending the trial by claiming sovereign immunity. Can you please tell us about the response today and what principle the action was based on?
Mr. OHTAKA Masato, Press Secretary: With regard to the facts concerning this lawsuit, since this is taking place in the Republic of Korea (ROK), I am not in the position to give an explanation on behalf of the Government. As you stated, the position of the Government of Japan is that Japan is not in the jurisdiction of the ROK based on the principle of sovereign immunity under international law. The Government of Japan’s position is that this lawsuit must be dismissed.
We have firmly conveyed the position of the Government of Japan to the Government of the ROK up until now. In any event, Japan’s position is that all issues of property and claims between Japan and the ROK, including the issue of comfort women, was settled completely and finally through the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation between Japan and the ROK in 1965. In addition, as you are already aware with regard to the issue of comfort women, it was confirmed by Japan and the ROK to have been resolved finally and irreversibly with the Japan-ROK agreement in 2015. We will continue to monitor the developments of the lawsuit.
Asahi Shimbun, ONO: In that case, does that mean that no one will attend the trial today on behalf of the Government of Japan?
Press Secretary OHTAKA: I have not received detailed information to that extent, but from Japan’s position, the position of sovereign immunity, the trial is not something we should be involved with.
Asahi Shimbun, ONO: In that case, if the ROK court does not recognize Japan’s sovereign immunity, will Japan take countermeasures or any kind of response?
Press Secretary OHTAKA: As this is a matter concerning a domestic court in the ROK, I should not comment about it. It is also a hypothetical issue of the future, so I do not think that I should speak about it at this time. However, if what you said occurs, it would of course be unacceptable to Japan.
Cherry Blossom Viewing Party
Kyodo News, ONOZUKA: I would like to ask about the cherry blossom viewing party hosted by the Prime Minister. Is there a record of the list of names recommended by MOFA? If there is a record, when does the record start and end, and what is the volume?
Press Secretary OHTAKA: In regard to the cherry blossom viewing party, till now MOFA has selected people to recommend based on the policy indicated by the Cabinet Office to ministries and agencies, but I would like to refrain from answering about specific details such as which people were recommended. However, please understand that management of administrative documents was appropriately carried out in accordance with the Public Records and Archives Management Act.
Kyodo News, ONOZUKA: With regard to whether or not there is a record of the names, in case it is an official document, it has already been clarified by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Probably each ministry and agency has archiving rules, so what about this document?
Press Secretary OHTAKA: Indeed, archiving rules are based on the Public Records and Archives Management Act that I have just mentioned. I would like to take this opportunity to state that management was appropriately carried out in accordance with the Public Records and Archives Management Act.
Kyodo News, ONOZUKA: Although I am repeating myself, what were the fields of the people who were recommended? I do not need to specifically hear the individual names, but what fields were the people in?
Press Secretary OHTAKA: As I stated before, I would like to refrain from commenting on which people were recommended.
Kyodo News, ONOZUKA: Until now, have there been any recommendations based on requests from ministers, state ministers, and parliamentary vice-ministers?
Press Secretary OHTAKA: That is a question regarding the content of the specific recommendations, so, as I have mentioned, I would like to refrain from replying.
Situation in Hong Kong (Injured Japanese National)
Yomiuri Shimbun, ASANO: In regard to the Japanese national who was injured at a demonstration in Hong Kong that was announced yesterday at the press conference by Minister Motegi, has there been confirmation of the circumstances of his injury or any other information?
Press Secretary OHTAKA: This is basically the same as what Minister Motegi stated yesterday, but it has been confirmed that on November 11, a Japanese national in his 50s was injured when he encountered a demonstration in Hong Kong. It has also been confirmed that he contacted the Consulate-General of Japan in Hong Kong, received treatment in a hospital and had already been discharged. As has already been stated, we will continue to provide necessary support to the extent possible from the perspective of protecting Japanese nationals.