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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Press Conference by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Following the G7 Taormina Summit

Saturday, May 27, 2017

 [Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
One year ago the G7 leaders gathered in Ise-Shima, Japan for the G7 Summit, where we confirmed our strong resolve to lead global peace and prosperity.

In the one year since then many of the G7 leaders have changed. This has been the sixth time for me to attend the Summit and, as has been the case on previous occasions, we engaged frankly in candid and vigorous discussions.

We will work together and take action to respond to various global issues, including the fight against terrorism, the global economy, the situation in the Middle East including Syria, maritime security, and the situation in Ukraine. We reconfirmed our strong solidarity at the Summit.

This is because all the G7 nations share the most important fundamental values, namely freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law. We will raise such universal values aloft and lead the world towards peace and prosperity. The G7 nations possess this strong determination.

However, these values today face unprecedented challenges. North Korea has ignored repeated warnings from the international community and is escalating its acts of provocation through nuclear tests and missile launches. Last week, North Korea launched a missile reaching an altitude of over 2,000 kilometers, making it clear that a wide area encompassing Eurasia and the Pacific is now within range of North Korea’s missiles.

For more than 20 years we have searched for a peaceful solution to the North Korean issue. That search is of course still continuing. However, looking at the reality to date it is clear that attempts to engage in dialogue have been used by North Korea to gain more time. North Korea has trampled roughshod over the efforts of the international community to achieve a peaceful solution and has persisted with its development of inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and nuclear weapons.

In a little over one year North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and has implemented more than 30 missile launches. All of these are in clear violation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. It is regrettably the case that disregard for international law has become commonplace.

This could send out the wrong signal to forces around the world that have ambitions of secretly engaging in nuclear and missile development. If we leave this issue unchecked there is a real danger that security threats could proliferate around the world like an infectious disease.

This issue is not only a matter for East Asia alone. It represents a threat to the entire world. This is a view that was shared by the G7 leaders at the Summit. What is being called into question is the determination of the international community to protect peace and uphold the rule of law, and also the specific actions that are required to back such determination.

Japan highly values the strong commitment made by President Trump in indicating that all options are on the table. Ahead of the G7 Taormina Summit I held talks with President Trump, and we agreed that in response to North Korea’s repeated dangerous provocations Japan and the United States will cooperate in increasing pressure such as through further sanctions, and will work together with other countries concerned, including the Republic of Korea (ROK).

Here at the G7 Summit, too, the G7 explicitly agreed that North Korea must immediately and fully abandon all nuclear and ballistic missile programs. To that end the G7 is in unanimous agreement that we stand ready to strengthen measures aimed at achieving these objectives. G7 leaders also shared a strong determination towards the immediate resolution of the abductions issue.

In the first half of the 20th century, we twice experienced the tragedy of world war. It was in response to these immense sacrifices that an international order was developed for the purpose of maintaining peace. Today, however, that peace and the international order on which it is based, are under threat.

Now is the time for the international community to stand together. Above all, cooperation with China and Russia, who share borders with North Korea, is essential. I would like to use this opportunity to reiterate my call for the solidarity and action by the international community as a whole, including China and Russia.

I would like to express my appreciation for the leadership of Prime Minister Gentiloni, who, as Chair of the G7 Summit, positioned North Korea as a top priority and has compiled a strong message at this Summit.

The calm and endless blue of the Mediterranean Sea. The rich nature of Sicily. Friendly chatter among people in towns that carry on age-old traditions.

When I stand here in the peaceful surroundings of Taormina, I cannot help thinking of the tragedy that occurred in Manchester in the United Kingdom a few days ago.

The innocent lives and smiling faces of young people, who had bright futures before them, were extinguished in an instant by despicable terrorists. One of those to lose their lives was a girl who was just eight years old. I cannot help feeling strong resentment.

I would like to reiterate my heartfelt condolences to all the victims and express my sympathies to their families.

Based on last year’s action plan adopted at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit, this year we agreed that the G7 will remain united and bring the fight against terrorism to a higher level. I am determined that Japan will also fulfil its role in a determined manner, in cooperation with the international community, to defeat terrorism.

We must also work together to tackle issues of poverty and inequality, which provide breeding grounds for violence.

Although the industrial revolution created great prosperity, it also caused inequalities between capital and labor, and gave rise to social issues. However, our predecessors successfully resolved such issues by protecting workers’ rights and ensuring that the fruits of the industrial revolution were circulated widely throughout society. The enhancement of national education also became a driver of 20th century innovation.

The world today finds itself in the midst of a new wave brought about by globalization.

Cross-border trade in goods, movements of people and transfer of capital are growing at a tremendous pace. The dynamism brought about by free trade should become the foundation of global peace and prosperity, as was the case with the industrial revolution.

However, this must be open to all, and people have to be compensated fairly for their efforts. If we allow unfair practices to distort markets, they could threaten the free trade system itself.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement and the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Japan will use all means to ensure the global expansion of free and fair markets based on rules. We are committed to taking a leadership role as a flag-bearer of free trade.

At the same time, we must face up to issues that may arise from free trade, such as inequality. It is also important to squarely respond to concerns and dissatisfaction that are brought about by globalization. These issues were a major theme in our discussions on economic policy at this year’s Summit.

We will create opportunities for all people by utilizing the fruits of growth and investing boldly in education and social security. Furthermore, we will promote new vitality that will lead to further growth by creating a society in which all people can actively participate. Creating a positive cycle of growth and distribution is the key to resolving the aforementioned issues.

At the forefront of such efforts are the initiatives that Japan is currently advancing towards the realization of a society with the dynamic engagement of all citizens. By creating opportunities where everyone, whether they are female or male, are old or young, have a disability or are suffering from an intractable illness, can fully exercise their capabilities, we can surely achieve further economic growth.

At this year’s Summit I emphasized the importance of simultaneously tackling the challenges of economic growth and responding to inequality, and we reaffirmed that the G7 will work together to aim for greater inclusiveness and sustainable economic growth.

Next month a new growth strategy that will further evolve Abenomics will be determined. The key phrase in that strategy will be “creating opportunities for all people.”

We will enhance recurrent education, creating new opportunities also for those people who have temporarily stopped working for various reasons, including child-rearing.

By expanding investment in education, we will create opportunities for everyone with ambition and enthusiasm to advance to high school, vocational college or university, no matter how financially disadvantaged their family background.

By ensuring that Japan is filled with opportunities for everyone, we will create a sustainable growth cycle for the future. My Government will formulate a future-oriented growth strategy that will kick-start such efforts.

I will end my opening statement here.

Questions and Answers

REPORTER (HARA, NHK): Prime Minister, you have devoted a good deal of the press conference today to the issue of North Korea. Despite warnings from various countries North Korea shows no signs of ceasing its acts of provocation. What do you consider to be the most important point in dealing with North Korea and how do you intend to achieve a breakthrough?

In addition, it would appear that at this Summit meeting there were differences of opinion among the participating countries on various issues, such as global warming countermeasures, refugees and climate change. Will the G7 maintain solidarity in its approach to such issues? As this is your sixth G7 Summit, what role did you play in bringing opinion together among the G7 and what was the reaction of other leaders?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: Firstly, at this G7 Summit we shared the recognition that the issue of North Korea represents a threat not just to Northeast Asia, but also to the globe. We confirmed that the G7 will increase pressure on North Korea, and will take the lead in measures by the international community concerning North Korea.

In my meeting with President Trump we confirmed that we will increase pressure on North Korea through sanctions and close cooperation in the United Nations Security Council. We agreed that in order to deter the threat of North Korea, Japan and the United States will engage in specific actions in order to improve defense structures and capabilities.

With regard to trade, based on the recognition that free, fair and mutually beneficial trade is the key to growth, we, as the G7, reiterated our commitment to keep our markets open and to fight protectionism, while standing firm against all unfair trade practices, including the issue of excess capacity. With regard to the ongoing large-scale movement of migrants and refugees, we recognized the importance of both an emergency humanitarian response and long-term development assistance. I believe that it is highly significant that the G7 achieved solidarity on this issue.

In addition, as the Chair of last year’s G7 Summit, in my opening statement as the first speaker this year, I stressed that in the face of the major challenges facing the international order, it is essential for the G7, which shares fundamental values, to demonstrate its solidarity and promote the rules-based international order. Being the Chair of last year’s G7 Summit, I was the very first person to state my views regarding the significance and solidarity of the G7. I believe that we confirmed our shared recognition that precisely in the current situation, where the international order that has been built up by the G7 is being challenged both in terms of the economy and the security environment, it is of the utmost importance for the G7, which shares universal values, to achieve further solidarity. I believe that we have been able to send out a strong message that the G7 will respond to the important challenges the world currently faces in solidarity.

REPORTER (RICCARDI, ANSA): Prime Minister, you have stated that the cooperation of China and Russia will be essential in order to resolve tensions in Asia, particularly the situation surrounding North Korea, and you have sent messages to both countries. However, in paragraph 12 in the G7 Taormina Leaders’ Communiqué, which deals with the issue of North Korea, there is no mention of these two countries. Are you disappointed that there is no mention of China and Russia? Do you feel that you would have liked to have drawn out more outcomes from the G7 Summit?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: This was the first time at the G7 Summit for North Korea to be discussed as a major agenda item, and it was treated as a top priority. I also discussed at great length the threats and issues relating to North Korea and how the G7 should respond to them. The G7 leaders each expressed their opinions on this issue. Since last year North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and more than 30 ballistic missile launches. The threat posed by North Korea has entered a new stage. During the 18 years of the rule of General-Secretary Kim Jong-il, North Korea launched a total of 16 missiles, and under his son, Chairman Kim Jong-un, they launched more than double that entire number within the space of little more than a year. It is imperative that the entire international community act in solidarity to urge North Korea to cease its dangerous acts of provocation and abandon all nuclear and ballistic missile programs. I believe it to be of the utmost significance that at this Summit meeting, the G7 demonstrated its solidarity in firmly applying pressure on North Korea. In the forum of the United Nations too, the G7 will work together to ensure the adoption of a strict UNSC resolution.

REPORTER (KURAMOTO, KYODO NEWS): I have a question concerning the bill to amend the Law on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds, which would newly establish the offence of the preparation of acts of terrorism and other organized crimes. The G7 Summit has confirmed that the G7 will stand united in fighting terrorism. On the basis of discussions in the meeting, how do you intend to approach deliberations on the bill in the current session of the Diet? You have stated that you intend to press forward diligently towards achieving the passage of the bill, by providing thorough and detailed explanations about it in upcoming deliberations in the House of Councillors. However, the former Vice Minister for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has given a press conference about the matter of Kake Gakuen, which has prompted calls from the opposition parties for a thorough debate on this matter in the Budget Committee of the Diet. How do you intend to approach Diet deliberations on the draft bill going forward? With a view to further enhancing public understanding about the bill, do you intend to extend the current Diet session beyond June 18?

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  At the Summit, I noted my appreciation for the expression of support that was made at the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in April for Japan’s ongoing effort to become a State Party of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), including the draft bill concerning the offence of the preparation of acts of terrorism and other organized crimes which provides the necessary framework for Japan to accede to UNTOC and is currently being deliberated in the Diet. Furthermore, in the G7 Taormina Statement on the Fight Against Terrorism and Violent Extremism, the G7 consensus is that we should reinforce cooperation in order to implement all relevant UNSC resolutions and international instruments, including UNTOC.

As was made clear from these discussions, it is of the utmost importance for Japan to develop the necessary legislative framework and conclude UNTOC, as this will enable further cooperation with the G7 and international community as a whole, and strengthen measures to respond to international organized crime, including the ever-intensifying threat of terrorism. It has already been made clear in Diet deliberations that Japan’s accession to UNTOC is necessary in order to advance mutual assistance in investigations and facilitate the extradition of criminals in response to the increasingly global nature of terrorist groups. The bill on the offence of the preparation of acts of terrorism and other organized crimes was recently passed by the House of Representatives and the Government is determined to provide thorough and readily understandable explanations in deliberations in the House of Councillors, with a view to ensuring the bill’s passage.

With regard to the length of the Diet session, that is a matter for the Diet itself to determine. In the remaining time left in the current session the Government will continue to provide thorough explanations.

REPORTER (CHAMPION, BLOOMBERG NEWS): Prime Minister, you mentioned North Korea, the increasing capabilities that they are showing with their missiles, and your discussions with President Trump about capabilities you could develop in response. Can you tell us what capabilities Japan would like to develop exactly beyond what it has now. And if I may follow up on something you said in your remarks. This was a difficult summit on climate and trade. As a veteran of, now six G7 Summits, can you characterize how the arrival of President Trump at the G7 has impacted that? Than you.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: President Trump was among four G7 leaders who were participating in the Summit for the first time. We engaged in in-depth discussions on a variety of global issues. We also discussed with President Trump the Paris Agreement on climate change, for example. Whether to withdraw from or remain a party to the agreement will be decided from now on. But I believe that it is significant that we have his understanding on the discussions in the G7 and our discussion to date.

Additionally, we engaged in a candid exchange of opinions on trade and I am pleased that we agreed to continue to work together to fight protectionism. As I stated in my opening remarks at this Summit, it is essential at this point in time for the G7, which shares values, to be united. I believe that ultimately we were able to come together under this shared recognition.

With regard to North Korea, it is important that we strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities and also that we enhance the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. Under my administration we have once again started to increase defense spending, which for the previous ten years had been subject to reductions. We have already decided to increase defense spending for five consecutive years and have been implementing this policy. We are working to improve deterrence and response capabilities by improving the capabilities of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), including in ballistic missile defense (BMD); developing a structure capable of seamlessly responding to all contingencies through the enactment of the Legislation for Peace and Security; and further strengthening the bonds of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. In particular, through the enactment of the Legislation for Peace and Security, under the Japan-U.S. alliance, each side can provide assistance to the other in order to defend Japan. An alliance where each side can assist the other will naturally strengthen the bonds we share.

We have recently also implemented joint exercises between a U.S. Carrier Strike Group and units of the Maritime and Air SDF. This is of great significance in improving deterrence capabilities. In terms of BMD, too, currently four of Japan’s six Aegis destroyers are equipped with BMD capabilities and we are moving forward to refit the remaining two vessels with the same capabilities. We are also currently constructing two new vessels, in an effort to bring our total fleet of Aegis destroyers to eight as soon as possible. The Government also intends to proceed with the deployment of a new kind of missile interception system that is being jointly developed by Japan and the United States.

Looking to further enhance our defense capabilities and also bearing in mind that the current Medium Term Defense Program will expire at the end of the next fiscal year, I want our National Security Council to engage in a thorough review that takes into due account the increasingly severe security situation in the Asia-Pacific. In any event, the Government is determined to develop defense capabilities to protect the lives and ensure the safety of the people of Japan.

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