"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Press Conference by the Prime Minister regarding the Issue of Former Civilian Workers from the Korean Peninsula

[Date] March 6, 2023
[Source] Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
[Notes] Provisional translation
[Full text]

(On the Government's reaction to the issue of former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula, the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting and his historic recognition of the Japan-ROK relations)

Earlier today, the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) announced their measures regarding the issue of former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula. We regard the latest measures announced by the Government of ROK as a step towards restoring healthy Japan-ROK relations. ROK President Yoon Suk Yeol and I have been in communication on various occasions, including our meeting in New York and the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting in Cambodia. I believe that Japan and the ROK are important neighboring countries in addressing various issues in the international community, and in light of the current international situation and strategic environment, we recognize the importance of Japan-ROK and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation, as well as the importance of cooperation with the ROK in working toward a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. We intend to closely communicate with President Yoon down the road. Regarding the question about a future Japan-ROK Summit Meeting, we have not yet decided on any specific diplomatic schedule in Japan-ROK relations. We have taken over the position of previous cabinets on the recognition of the history, including the Japan-ROK Joint Declaration announced in October 1998. This is the position that the Government of Japan takes.

(On his thoughts on ensuring the irreversibility)

We regard the measures announced today by the Government of ROK as a step towards restoring healthy Japan-ROK relations. We understand that the Government of ROK has also made various efforts on its part. We have high hopes that this could be an opportunity to strengthen and strongly advance Japan-ROK relations while implementing the measures. To this end, I would like to emphasize the importance of communicating closely with President Yoon.

(On whether the concerns over possible reversal on the irreversibility has been eliminated)

I would like to refrain from going into a hypothetical question. We appreciate the announced measures and hope that Japan-ROK relations will move forward. To that end, we will continue to communicate with each other.

(On the Japan-ROK Export Control Policy Dialogue)

Let me first clarify that the "update of licensing policies and procedures on exports of controlled items to the ROK" has been conducted to ensure proper implementation of export control from a security perspective and therefore is a separate issue from the issue of former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula. And today, I have been informed that in order to restore the pre-July 2019 status quo regarding the pending issue of export control, both sides have decided to promptly hold related bilateral consultations between the Japanese and ROK authorities, in light of the ROK's announcement of its decision to suspend its WTO dispute settlement procedures. I hope that the consultations will proceed steadily. For further details, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is ready to answer your questions.