A government source revealed that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a “secret agreement” with Foreign Minister Taro Kono when he appointed Kono. The agreement was he will “never mention” the “Kono Statement” acknowledging the Japanese Imperial Army’s involvement in the comfort women issue. This statement was issued by his father, Yohei Kono, when he was chief cabinet secretary. Kono was also asked to make sure that his words and actions are in line with the statement issued by the Abe cabinet in 2015 on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, which stated that “the position articulated by previous cabinets” on the war “will remain unshakable.” Kono reportedly consented right away.
As a matter of fact, after he took up his post as foreign minister, Kono told Foreign Ministry officials: “Yohei Kono and Taro Kono are two different persons with different thinking. I would like you to forget your past experience and work with me.” Therefore, it was evident that he would have accepted Abe’s request.
A close aide to Abe explained that the Prime Minister specifically banned Kono from mentioning the “Kono Statement” because “he did not want leftists and rightists at home and abroad to take political advantage by picking on every single word the foreign minister says on this, no matter how he puts it.”
On the other hand, Kono once advocated the ministry’s reform, asserting that “discontinuing all the Foreign Ministry’s official development assistance (ODA) would be better for the security of humankind” and that “all phony international organizations should be abolished.” If he shelves his other statements that were unrelated to the “Kono Statement,” he is still certain to face criticism.