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TITLE Spokesperson's Press Briefing (Apr. 25, 2013)
Date 2013.04.25
FILE

Press Briefing
Spokesperson and Deputy Minister for Public Relations Cho Tai-young
Apr. 25, 2013 14:30 KST


Good afternoon. Let me start today’s briefing.

Today, I have quite a few, eight to be exact, announcements to make. I will discuss each one briefly.

First, the Foreign Ministry, in cooperation with the Korea Tourism Organization, will provide interpretation service to nationals of the Republic of Korea who, due to their language barrier, face difficulties communicating with public officials and other locales in emergency situations during their overseas trips. The service will be available from April 29.

To this end, the Foreign Ministry and the Korea Tourism Organization will conclude an agreement on April 26, under which their call centers are to work together to provide interpretation service for those in such aforementioned situations in a bid to promote safe overseas travel.

This service will be available in the form of three-way telephone call among the ROK national in trouble, the relevant local official and the interpreter at the call center. And it will be provided in English, Chinese and Japanese.

The Foreign Ministry expects that ROK nationals will find this service handy in promptly coping with accidents and other emergency situations in foreign countries.

Moving on to the second announcement, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns will visit the ROK on April 27 and 28.

On April 27, he will hold a working luncheon with First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun, followed by a courtesy call on Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se later in the day.

During Secretary Burns’ visit to the country, the two sides will hold extensive discussions on matters of mutual concern, including preparations for President Park Geun-hey’s visit to the US as well as North Korea and its nuclear issues.

Thirdly, the ROK government will send Representative Suh Sang-kee, head of the National Assembly Intelligence Committee, as special envoy of President Park Geun-hye to the coronation ceremony of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. The ceremony will take place in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on April 30.

Representative Suh serves as the ROK head of the ROK-Netherlands parliamentary friendship association.

The ROK government offers its sincere congratulations on the coronation of King Willem-Alexander and wishes prosperity of the Dutch royal family.

Fourthly, the ROK government has decided to provide China with 1 million US dollars in relief aid to support its prompt recovery from the earthquake that hit its province of Sichuan on April 20.

Prior to this decision, the ROK government had sent condolence letters from the ROK President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to their counterparts to convey our condolences and consolations. China has conveyed gratitude for our decision to provide assistance.

Fifthly, the Foreign Ministry and the East Asia Institute (EAI) will co-host an international meeting themed “strategic thinking of the 21st century and the diplomatic vision of the new government” in Seoul on April 29.

The meeting will bring together some 130 people, including incumbent and former government officials from the ROK and other major countries, those from the media outlets from home and abroad, and others from various walks of life at home.

The meeting will cover the foreign policy direction of the new ROK government and its specific strategic policy tasks.

The event is expected to serve as an opportunity to gather extensive opinions on the aforementioned topics from experts from home and abroad.

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se will deliver opening remarks, while welcoming remarks will be presented by Chairman of the EAI Board of Trustees Ha Young-sun.

Sixthly, Acting Head Sally Fegan-Wyles of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) will visit the ROK from April 28 through 30.

UNITAR is a UN training organization that conducts education and training programs designed to strengthen capacity of UN member states in the fields of environment, peace and security.

During her visit to the country, Ms. Fegan-Wyles will visit the Jeju International Training Center, one of UNITAR’s regional training centers, and hold meetings with the Governor of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province and the President of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, one of the Foreign Ministry’s affiliates.

Seventhly, according to a press report, the Japanese government plans to include in the final draft of its “Basic Plan on Ocean Policy” its aim to “make efforts to disseminate to the world the proper understanding that the name ‘Sea of Japan’ is the only internationally established name referring to the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.”

The name “East Sea” has long been used by the Korean people to refer to the aforementioned body of water. It is widely used by the international community as well.

In this vein, we do not accept the Japanese claim that the “Sea of Japan” is the only internationally established name.

The Japanese government should recognize the legitimacy of our use of the name “East Sea” in accordance with internationally established standards and principles.

Lastly, a ROK-Turkey Policy Planning Consultation will take place in Seoul on April 30.

In the meeting, the two sides will discuss the foreign-policy planning processes of the respective countries and exchange views on the trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula and energy security.

The ROK and Turkish delegations to the meeting will be led by MOFA’s Director-General for Policy Planning Lee Sang-hyun and his counterpart Gokturk from the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

This is all for my opening statement.


[Q&A]

Q: Yesterday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made remarks emphasizing the legitimacy of Japan’s invasion of the Korean Peninsula. Please tell us once again the ROK government’s position on these remarks.

A ROK-China Foreign Ministers’ meeting took place yesterday. At what level did the Ministers propose holding a ROK-US-China strategic dialogue? What position, if any, did the Chinese side express regarding this?

A: Earlier today, First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun summoned the Japanese Ambassador to the ROK Koro Bessho and conveyed our stern position regarding recent remarks made by the Japanese government officials and political leaders.

In the meeting, the ROK side voiced strong regrets over the twisted historical perception of the Japanese government officials and political leaders as well as their recent series of retrogressive remarks and behavior.

Vice Minister Kim stated that it is completely incomprehensible that Japan, which deeply values honesty and trust between individuals, turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to excruciating loss and pain that Japan inflicted on neighboring countries through its aggression and colonial rule.

The ROK, which intends to develop good-neighbourly and friendly relations with Japan, finds it profoundly regrettable. The ROK strongly urges the Japanese leaders to reflect on Japan’s past aggression and colonial rule in an honest and humble manner through the mirror of history, and to correct their retrograde perception, comments and behaviors today.

On the ROK-US-China strategic dialogue, during Foreign Minister Yun’s visit to China, it was noted that there have been active bilateral exchanges recently on a government level between the ROK and the US, as well as between China and the US.

There was the ROK-US strategic dialogue during Minister Yun’s visit to the US and Secretary Kerry’s visit to the ROK.

Minister Yun also held dialogue with China during his recent visit to the country.

There was dialogue between the US and China during Secretary Kerry’s visit to China.

The ROK side noted that such high-level exchanges between the ROK, the US and China helped strengthen strategic communication. The ROK and China exchanged views on this.

Q: When do you think the ROK-US-China strategic dialogue will start?

A: We have already explained the meaning and concept of the ROK-US-China strategic dialogue. We explained that the dialogue will first begin with 1.5 track.

The ROK is exchanging opinions on this with China. It is difficult for me to give you the exact start date here.

Q: During the ROK-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, did the two sides discuss the numerous comments on historical perception by the Japanese politicians in recent days?

In addition, the ROK and China seemed to agree to coordinate to solve many difficult, but important, issues, including North Korea issues. Please tell us if the issue of Japan’s historical perception will be one of them.

A: Could you clarify your second question?

Q: As far as I know, the ROK and China agreed to coordinate and cooperate in order to solve many issues.

Do they include the issue of Japan’s historical perception, which has recently come under criticism? Please tell us if the ROK will cooperate with China on this matter.

A: Are you asking if the ROK and China will coordinate on the issue of Japan’s historical perception, as well as on North Korea?

Q: Yes

A: We will refrain from mentioning whether the ROK and China discussed the latest comments and behaviors by the Japanese political leaders and government officials.

However, as I said, this is an extremely important issue.

The ROK government told the Japanese government on uncountable occasions why a correct perception of history is important. To my knowledge, the ROK’s highest-level leadership has also recently made such a remark.

Japan has made various reactions to this. Those reactions were incomprehensible and made no sense at all.

Let me stress once again that Japan, as a perpetrator, needs to behave based on an accurate perception of its wrongdoings. I will repeat that that is enormously important in promoting bilateral relations between countries.

Q: I saw the press release, in which the Foreign Ministry promised to respond in a multi-faceted manner to Japan’s wrong perception of history. Does that mean the Foreign Ministry will even consider recalling the ROK Ambassador to Japan, if the current situation continues?

A: As it has done, the ROK government clearly expressed its position this time as well. The ROK will keep a close watch on the issue.

The ROK will not make premature assumptions on what action it will or will not take. We will continue to watch the situation.

Q: The leader of the ruling party said today that he wants the UN or other international organizations to take some action regarding Japan’s shift to the right. What is the Foreign Ministry’s position on that? I’d like to know if it is possible for an international organization to take a different approach to Japan’s such rightward turn or comment on “invasion”.

A: As I said just before, the ROK government will make any response, while keeping a watch on related developments. The ROK will take action in the process, if needed.

I will conclude today’s briefing. Thank you.


* unofficial translation

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