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The Prime Minister in Action

Welcome Reception for the Third Japan-China Business Leader and Former High-Level Government Official Dialogue (Japan-China CEO Summit)

December 4, 2017

Photograph of the Prime Minister delivering an address

Photograph of the Prime Minister delivering an address

  • Photograph of the Prime Minister delivering an address
[Provisional Translation]

On December 4, 2017, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the welcome reception for the Third Japan-China Business Leader and Former High-Level Government Official Dialogue (Japan-China CEO Summit) held in Tokyo.

The Prime Minister said in his address,

“First, I want to offer my heartfelt welcome to everyone from the Chinese business community visiting Japan, including Mr. Zeng Peiyan, Chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. This is already the third Japan-China CEO Summit, which gathers together distinguished corporate executives from Japan and China. There is a Japanese saying, ‘Peach and chestnut seeds take three years to bear fruit, persimmons take eight.’ It means it takes time to bear the fruit of your actions. I see here the seeds planted through the hard work of former Prime Minister Fukuda and Chairman Zeng are now producing tremendous fruit.

I often say that Japan and China maintain an inseparable relationship. Materials and semi-finished products that can only be made in Japan are exported to China, which are then assembled into finished products in China and exported around the world. Having said that, our mutually beneficial economic relationship between Japan and China is not limited to bilateral trade. It is a relationship that is brimming with even greater possibilities.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimated that the annual demand for infrastructure would rise to 1.7 trillion dollars by 2030 in Asia. Meanwhile, only about 900 billion dollars is actually being invested. Investments have not caught up with the demand.

The cooperation between Japan and China to meet this robust infrastructure demand in Asia will not just boost the economic growth of our two countries, but also contribute greatly to the prosperity of people in Asia.

Of course, we need to ensure the economic viability of the projects, and the fiscal soundness of the countries carrying out infrastructure development must not be undermined. Otherwise we will not be able to realize sustainable growth.

Moreover, it must be accessible to everyone and open to anyone. The infrastructure development needs to be carried out through a transparent and fair process. I am certain that open economic activities will be the force for creating new innovation.

I hope to make the region stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean a free and open area that is based on fair rules. These vast waters should be a global public good that brings peace and prosperity to all people into the future, without discrimination.

I believe that under this Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, Japan can cooperate significantly with China which has put forward the One Belt, One Road initiative.

At the recent Japan-China summit meeting, I proposed that we also work together to develop businesses in countries other than Japan and China, going beyond the usual promotion of trade and investment between our two countries. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang and I were able to reach a shared understanding regarding this.

In that sense, I have sincere expectations that this Japan-China CEO Summit will mark a new start in cooperative relations between the Japanese and Chinese business communities.

Exactly 45 years ago, then Prime Minister Tanaka was able to achieve the normalization of Japan-China relations through a series of frank and candid discussions with then President Mao Zedong and then Premier Zhou Enlai. When asked later about what led him to speak so frankly with his Chinese counterparts, former Prime Minister Tanaka stated that a summit meeting was not simply a forum for diplomatic negotiations, but was a meeting that became the foundation for longstanding Japan-China relations into the future.

At the summit meeting last month, I also had frank and extremely in-depth exchanges with President Xi Jinping on a variety of issues, including the situation in North Korea. If I may refer to President Xi’s remarks at that time, the meeting truly marked a new start for Japan-China relations. I am in total agreement with him.

I would like to welcome Premier Li Keqiang to Japan, by holding a Japan-China-Republic of Korea summit meeting as soon as possible. With next year marking a major milestone of the 40th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People’s Republic of China, I wish to visit China at an appropriate time and I hope President Xi will visit Japan as early as possible as well. Through such high-level mutual visits, I hope to elevate Japan-China relations to a new height.

I have heard that the joint mission to China with the Japan-China Economic Association two weeks ago was a tremendous success, which was attended by Chairman Sakakibara of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) who is also here today. I understand that Premier Li held talks for an hour, the longest of its kind, with the largest delegation of its kind consisting of 250 people. Having heard this, I have made my speech today the longest ever for this summit, longer than my previous speech,said that the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People’s Republic of China became possible only after gaining the understanding and cooperation of the people. At times, former Prime Ministers Kakuei Tanaka and Takeo Fukuda had an intense rivalry within the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) back then. Both were also convinced that paving a way for the relationship with China would benefit Japan and this region.

Today, I stand before you as someone who descends from former Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda, with cooperation from Mr. Toshihiro Nikai who descends from former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka.

I am convinced that broadening exchanges and cooperation at every level between the people of our two countries will serve as a driving force to carve out a new era of the Japan-China relationship. In 2020, and then in 2022, we will see the opening of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games in succession. I would like to make use of these opportunities to greatly strengthen exchanges among young people who will lead our future. I hope to dramatically expand exchanges between the people of Japan and China in fields such as the economy, culture, and sports.

In this regard as well, this Japan-China CEO Summit has an ever growing role. I would like to close my remarks by expressing my hope that the deep ties among all of you will act as a strong force for the further improvement of the Japan-China relationship. Thank you very much.”

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