Joint Press Conference Following the Japan-Republic of Korea Foreign Ministers' Meeting
February 11, 2010, Seoul, Republic of Korea
On February 11, upon the conclusion of the Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Foreign Ministers' Meeting, Mr. Katsuya Okada, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, and Mr. Yu Myung-hwan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the ROK, held a joint press conference. An overview of the Ministers' opening statements and the subsequent question and answer session is provided below.
1. Opening Statements
(1) Mr. Yu Myung-hwan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the ROK
Japan-ROK Bilateral Relations
I sincerely welcome Minister Katsuya Okada, his first visit to the ROK after assuming office. Today's meeting was the third time Minister Okada and I have had talks, and we engaged in valuable discussions on various topics regarding policies for developing our bilateral relations. I would like to explain briefly the main results of our meeting.
Minister Okada and I commend the fact that our two countries are moving forward as we aim at neighborly relations characterized by closeness both geographically and psychologically. With this year marking the 100th year of the forcible annexation of the Korean peninsula by Japan, we agreed to further develop future-oriented, friendly and cooperative Japan-ROK relations as we make steady efforts to resolve issues of past history. Regarding the issue of granting local suffrage to ROK nationals with special permanent residency in Japan, a long-sought goal among this community, Minister Okada stated that the Government of Japan is paying considerable attention to the issue and will continue to examine it. In addition, we agreed to continue to promote Shuttle Summit Diplomacy this year between the leaders and to cooperate actively towards the success of the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting, which will be convened in the ROK this year.
Minister Okada and I share a common recognition about the importance of ROK-Japan FTA and we agreed to continue our efforts towards the resumption of negotiations on such an agreement. Furthermore, we agreed to cooperate actively to expand exchanges among businesspersons from Japan and the ROK and also from Japan, the ROK, and China. In order to expand people-to-people and cultural exchanges between Japan and the ROK, we have agreed to examine actively a policy of increasing at an early date the number of working holiday visas issued to ten thousand. We also agreed to launch at an early date the 3rd term of the Korea-Japan Council on Cultural Exchange.
The North Korea Situation
Regarding the North Korean nuclear issue, we reaffirmed our countries' common position, assessed the current situation, and consulted with each other regarding actions to be taken in the future. We agreed to work together in the future to bring about the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks and the denuclearization of North Korea through close consultation among the members of the Six-Party Talks.
In addition, concerning the proposal by North Korea to conclude a peace accord and its call for the lifting of sanctions against North Korea, we concurred on the view that the return of North Korea to the Six-Party Talks and substantial progress on denuclearization must take place first, and we affirmed that we would maintain the basic approach of "Dual Tracks", conducting in parallel, the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions and dialogue. We also decided to accelerate consultations between the ROK and Japan on future directions for addressing these issues, including putting the "Grand Bargain" proposal into concrete terms.
Cooperation to Address Global Issues
Our two countries agreed that they would expand their cooperation regarding development assistance, responses to climate change, and responses to the global economic crisis and other global issues, as well as their cooperation at the United Nations and other fora.
First, regarding the stationing of a ROK provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in Parwan province, Afghanistan, we agreed to hold consultations on Japan-ROK cooperation for reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan. Moreover, together we will make efforts so that United Nations climate change negotiations can be concluded at the session of the conference of the parties to be held in Mexico in November this year. We also intend to strengthen bilateral cooperation by means of the "ROK-Japan Green Partnership" initiative agreed at the ROK-Japan summit in October 2009. Furthermore, we agreed to engage in close cooperation towards the successful holding in November 2010 of the G20 summit in Seoul and the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Yokohama.
(2) Mr. Katsuya Okada, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
Overview of Japan-ROK Bilateral Relations
I am very pleased to have had this opportunity to visit the ROK at the invitation of Minister Yu Myung-hwan. Today I was able to have extremely meaningful discussions with Minister Yu. This is already my third meeting with Minister Yu, and Prime Minister Hatoyama and President Lee Myung-bak have also already held summits together twice. Having summit meetings and Foreign Ministers' meetings at such frequency is unprecedented, I believe.
This year marks a significant juncture of Japan-ROK relations. In respct of what occurred a hundred years ago, it is my recognition that the people of the ROK were deprived of their country, and that their national pride was deeply scarred. I myself am proud of being Japanese. All the more for this, I can understand well the feelings of the people whose country was deprived of and whose national pride was scarred. I believe that the feelings of the annexed side and victims who suffer pains should never be forgotten. Based on this recognition, I would like to strengthen our friendly relationship with the ROK, which is genuinely future-oriented while looking squarely at the prospect of the coming century. I hope that my visit this time would be conducive to forming the basis of such relationship, and I am resolved to continue to make ceaseless efforts in this regard.
At today's meeting, in addition to Japan-ROK bilateral relations, Minister Yu and I discussed moving forward in global Japan-ROK relations and the North Korea situation.
First, we concurred that in order to make Japan-ROK relations even more firmly established, our governments will support the extremely friendly exchanges between the people of our countries so that they become even more dynamic. In that regard, we agreed to launch the 3rd term of the Japan-Korea Council on Cultural Exchange.Dr. Kiyofumi Kawaguchi, President of Ritsumeikan University, was recently selected to be the chair of the committee on the Japanese side.
Moreover, Minister Yu and I once again shared a common recognition that a Japan-ROK EPA will be extremely important in making the linkages between Japan and the ROK even more solid. Minister Yu and I confirmed that we will cooperate as we continue to make further efforts towards the resumption of negotiations. I hope to move on to hold even deeper discussions concerning our bilateral relations over lunch today.
Japan-ROK Cooperation Concerning Global Issues
With regard to advancing Japan-ROK cooperation to address global issues, I consider Japan-ROK relations to already extend beyond our two countries and Asia. It is necessary for both Japan and the ROK as developed countries in Asia to make contributions to international society as a whole, and this year presents an ideal opportunity from this perspective. Minister Yu and I have affirmed that our countries will cooperate closely as the ROK hosts the G20 Summit and Japan hosts the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in November.
We also concurred that we will consider carefully concrete policies for cooperation on an "in the field" basis in Parwan province, Afghanistan, where an ROK PRT is scheduled to conduct operations, in order to strengthen further Japan-ROK cooperation concerning assistance to Afghanistan in which we have been engaged.
We also had a frank exchange on climate change, nuclear disarmament, and other issues. Addressing climate change, we agreed that we would advance our cooperation towards the success of COP16. Regarding nuclear disarmament, we confirmed that we will cooperate towards the success of the Global Nuclear Security Summit scheduled for April.
The North Korea Situation
Next, we had an exchange of views on North Korean issues, common challenges for both Japan and the ROK. Minister Yu and I reaffirmed our recognition that a comprehensive resolution of the nuclear, missile, and human rights issues including the abduction issue is necessary in order to achieve peace and stability in Northeast Asia. We shared the recognition that under the current situation, it is important that the five parties in the Six-Party Talks maintain the unity while exercising "strategic patience," and that in order to start the negotiations on the peace agreement and to lift sanctions at the request by North Korea, it is necessary in the first place for North Korea to implement measures including those for denuclearization. On that basis, with a view to possible resumption of the Six-Party Talks, we confirmed that the members of the Six-Party Talks including Japan, the ROK, and the United States will continue close cooperation on our approach to take after the Talks resume.
Finally, I would like to express my sincere gratitude once more to Minister Yu Myung-hwan and to the people of the ROK for extending to me such a warm welcome. Thank you very much.
2. Questions and Answers (In the order asked)
Question (ROK press, to Minister Yu Myung-hwan): The visits of Dr. Wang Jiarui[, head of the International Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China,] to North Korea and of Mr. Kim Kye Gwan, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Korea, to China have recently accelerated the movement towards resumption of the Six-Party Talks. I would like you to explain again what Japan and the ROK discussed at today's meeting concerning the Six-Party Talks. In addition, when do you think the Six-Party Talks resume? In this connection, if there is a "Grand Bargain" for the resolution of North Korean nuclear issues, or another proposal to address the issues comprehensively, I would like to know the content.
Minister Yu Myung-hwan: I had an extensive discussion with Minister Okada today regarding the North Korean nuclear issue. I believe it is still premature to predict that the recent contacts between China and North Korea will lead to an immediate resumption of the Six-Party Talks. However, we hope such contacts will continue in a positive direction and that there will be a resumption of the Six-Party Talks and soon afterwards a progress in the North Korean nuclear issue. The government of the ROK is currently in the process of getting the details of the recent China-North Korea contacts via our embassy in China. On this foundation, in the future we intend to consult closely with countries concerned through bilateral channels regarding means of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, including the "Grand Bargain" and other approaches.
The North Korean nuclear issue is a common concern to both Japan and the ROK, and we intend to engage in close consultations and maintain our robust cooperation.
Question (Japanese press, to Minister Katsuya Okada): The Government of Japan is currently considering submitting a bill to the Diet concerning the granting of suffrage in local elections to foreign nationals with permanent residency status, including ROK nationals with special permanent residency in Japan. I understand that on the ROK side as well there has been a heightening sense of anticipation towards the passage of this bill at an early date. At the same time, there is also strongly-rooted guardedness within Japan, and opposing viewpoints have also arisen within the Cabinet. In this context, what kinds of exchanges of views did you have at today’s meeting regarding this bill? I would also like to hear your outlook regarding whether you as the Foreign Minister expect the enactment of this bill. Finally I would like to ask for your comments on future efforts to address the territorial dispute over the island of Takeshima ("Dokdo"), issues of history textbooks, and other bilateral issues and matters of concern.
Minister Katsuya Okada: First of all, the Government of Japan is currently in the process of examining the issue of local suffrage for foreign nationals. Minister Yu expressed his expectations in today's Foreign Ministers' Meeting, and I explained that the Government of Japan is currently considering the issue.
As for the bilateral issues of concern that you mentioned, Japan has its own position on these matters. This is something that has been explained thoroughly to the Government of the ROK until now. That said, I believe it is necessary for the Governments of both Japan and the ROK to make efforts so that these issues do not adversely affect Japan-ROK relations as a whole.
Question (ROK press, to Minister Katsuya Okada): In an opening statement, the fact was mentioned that this year marks the 100th year of the annexation of the Korean peninsula, and I believe that, taking this opportunity, both Japan and the ROK share a common recognition that a new bilateral relationship is necessary. Concerning the issue of a visit to the ROK by His Majesty Emperor Akihito, in December 2009 Mr. Ichiro Ozawa, Secretary General of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), had responded that if the people of the ROK would welcome it, he would not oppose it, and subsequently Minister Yu Myung-hwan stated that the ROK is ready to welcome the Emperor at any time. What is your outlook on a visit by the Emperor?
Next, the 1995 statement by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama known as the Murayama Danwa contains excellent content matter, but I believe that it has been tarnished as a result of the actions and statements made by Liberal Democratic Party administrations. In light of this, now that there has been a change in administration to the DPJ, is there readiness for the Government to make a new statement by the Prime Minister, or to adopt a new resolution?
In addition, the DPJ has emphasized greatly the point that it has the courage to squarely face up to the history of the past, but many do not understand what exactly that means. Please explain that in a way which is easy to understand.
Minister Katsuya Okada: As I just said, this year marks a significant juncture of Japan-ROK relations. As Prime Minister Hatoyama often states, we will strive to reinforce bilateral relations which are genuinely future-oriented and friendly, without averting our eyes from the negative history of the past and looking squarely at the prospects of the coming century. Specifically, I would like to enhance our mutual exchange of people further through programs such as the Japan-Korea Cultural Council, which we have agreed to launch today.
Regarding the Murayama Statement, Prime Minister Hatoyama himself was involved in the Cabinet Decision. The current Cabinet adheres to the Murayama Statement made at the juncture of the 50th anniversary of the end of the War.
Concerning the visit to the ROK by His Majesty the Emperor, it will be considered discreetly, taking into consideration relevant circumstances.
Question (Japanese press, to Minister Yu Myung-hwan): Regarding the Japan-US alliance, recently Japan-US relations have been worsening significantly over such issues as the relocation of the Futenma Air Station of the US military. The relocation of the Futenma Air Station and the Japan-US alliance are issues very deeply related to the security of the Korean Peninsula. In today's talks, did you bring up such issues, Minister Yu? Also, please give us the ROK Government's position regarding the shaky state of the Japan-US alliance.
Minister Yu Myung-hwan: Okinawa issues were not taken up as a topic at today's meeting. However, United States Forces, Japan and United States Forces Korea together play a central role in ensuring the peace and stability of Northeast Asia. From this perspective, the ROK, which shares strategic interests with Japan, also takes great interest in these issues. However, both the United States and Japan fully recognize the importance of their bilateral cooperative relationship in Northeast Asia, and I believe that, in light of the closeness of Japan-US relations, the two countries will overcome the issue of Futenma Air Station, resolving it satisfactorily in a future-oriented manner.
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