Press Conference by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Following His Visit to China
October 8, 2006
I. Opening Statement
PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE: Today, I have come to China as the destination of my first overseas visit out of a desire to build with the leaders of Japan's important neighbor, China, a relationship which enables us to candidly exchange views on our future and to build a future-oriented relationship and a relationship of mutual trust so that I shall be able to open the way toward the future of our relationship.
On the Chinese side, in spite of the very busy schedule the leaders have, with this being the first day of the Congress, President Hu Jintao, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Wu Bangguo, and Premier Wen Jiabao found time to meet with me and I should like to express my gratitude for that. With these three leaders, I, with an open mind, discussed the future of our countries and we confirmed that the responsibilities of Japan and China are to make constructive contributions to the peace and prosperity of Asia and the entire world. We agreed that to do so we shall set into vigorous motion the two wheels of politics and economy. By setting these tandem wheels in motion, we need to raise the Japan-China relations to an ever higher dimension and build a strategic relationship of mutual benefit in which we together work to solve global challenges.
In the meetings, I emphasized that postwar Japan consistently has walked the path of a peaceful nation, maintaining as its foundation freedom and democracy, and that Japan will continue to contribute to world peace. This was received with positive appreciation by the Chinese side. We also agreed that it is important to establish mutual trust between the leaders of our two countries. We therefore agreed to engage in frequent summit dialogues. I extended an invitation to President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao to visit Japan, and we received their consent. The working-level people on both sides will engage in coordination.
We also discussed other specific subjects the two countries needed to address. We agreed that a nuclear weapon test by North Korea cannot be tolerated and we confirmed that we shall cooperate closely with the countries concerned to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, including the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks. I also explained how tragic the abduction issue is and how important it is to resolve this issue. The Chinese leaders expressed their understanding of the high level of concerns that the Japanese people have with regard to this issue.
Regarding the issue of resource development in the East China Sea, we agreed to accelerate consultations with a view to turning the East China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship, and cooperation.
Apart from these urgent issues, we also agreed to step up cooperation on United Nations (UN) reform, regional cooperation in East Asia, and cooperation in such areas as energy and the environment in order to expand our common strategic interests. We also agreed to promote exchange and dialogue at all levels and in the areas of politics, security, economics, as well as social, cultural and other areas in order to promote mutual understanding.
I am convinced that this visit to China has proven to be a turning point that will lead the Japan-China relations to a higher level.
I should like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the warm welcome of all those in the Chinese Government and to those concerned for all their efforts.
II. Question on Yasukuni Issue and Perception of History
QUESTION 1: In today's summit meetings, the pending issues between Japan and China-the issues of Yasukuni and the perception of history-I believe have been discussed. Mr. Prime Minister, do you believe that the understanding of China had been facilitated through today's discussion? And with regard to the visit to Yasukuni, you said that you would like to appropriately address this issue to overcome political issues. What do you mean by that?
PRIME MINISTER ABE: In the meetings today, Chinese leaders referred to the spirit of using history as a mirror to progress toward the future. They also mentioned that they would like political obstacles to be removed. In response, I said we shall look at past history squarely and shall continue to conduct itself as a peaceful nation. Japan has come through the 60 years of the postwar period on the basis of the deep remorse over the fact that Japan in the past has caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of the Asian countries, and left scars in those people. This feeling is shared by the people who have lived these 60 years and is a feeling that I also share. This feeling will not change in the future.
With regard to the visits to Yasukuni Shrine, I explained my thoughts. Whether I have visited or will visit Yasukuni Shrine is not something I shall make clear since this is a matter that has been turned into a diplomatic and political issue. I shall not elaborate on it. That said, from the viewpoint that both sides shall overcome political difficulties and promote the sound development of the two countries, I shall address this matter appropriately. This explanation which I made, I believe, was understood by the Chinese side. What I mean by "address appropriately" is what I just explained now.
III. Question on Japan-China Political and Economic Relations
QUESTION 2: What do you mean by trying to have this wheel of policy be set in force together with the economy?
PRIME MINISTER ABE: On the relations between Japan and China, we see the political and economic relations between our two countries as the tandem wheels of a vehicle and they both need to work properly. On the economic side, our relations are moving very well. Over the past five years, Japan's trade with China has doubled so much so that now our trade with China has surpassed our trade with the United States. If we look at the content of this bilateral trade, Japan's investment to China has contributed to increased job opportunities in China, creating, I understand, jobs for ten million people. Japan's exports to China and China's exports to Japan-many of these are semi-finished products and we are mutually exporting more of these products and earning foreign reserves. In other words, we need each other. It is important that we mutually make sure that this relationship will not be harmed.
Alongside this economic relationship, on the political front as well, we need to build a relationship of mutual trust and on the basis of that mutual trust we need to utilize that relationship in the interest of the future of our two countries and the prosperity of the region and the entire world. By having these two tandem wheels work properly, I believe we can lead our relations into a new realm.
IV. Question on Strategic Relationship of Mutual Benefit
QUESTION 3: Mr. Prime Minister, during today's summit meetings, you have claimed strategic mutual relationship as one of the features of the Japan-China relationship and you talked about UN reform and also cooperation. What do you mean? How do you plan to proceed?
PRIME MINISTER ABE: Strategic relationship of mutual benefit, this is something that needs to be built on the basis of strategic mutual interests. On the economic front, I have already said that we today already enjoy a very good relationship. In the days ahead I should also like to work out as well as possible a Japan-China-South Korea investment agreement and I received the agreement of the Chinese side.
There are many areas of mutual interest or mutual benefit in the economic area. Economic relationships are basically that sort of thing. Also in the political area, we need to prevent a nuclear test by North Korea, we need to together address the North Korean missile issue and we need to address these issues in the framework of the Six-Party Talks. Japan and China should cooperate with each other and exercise their respective influence. In the area of the environment as well as in the area of energy, I am sure there are many things on which our two countries can cooperate with each other. In the political sphere, we need to exchange views and build up shared objectives and by building these building blocks we shall be able to build a strategic relationship of mutual benefit. tion and shall strive to induce North Korea to give up their nuclear weapons.
V. Question on North Korean Nuclear Issue
QUESTION 4: You have mentioned the need for an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks to counter the North Korean nuclear threat. Can you further elaborate on how you expect Japan, South Korea, and China to work together to counter this threat?
PRIME MINISTER ABE: With regard to the North Korean issue, which is one of the major common challenges for Japan and China, I explained that we are adopting this policy of dialogue and pressure to resolve the pending issues of abduction, nuclear, and missile issues and to realize the normalization of relations on the basis of the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration. I also explained Japan's position with regard to the abduction issue and gained the understanding of the Chinese side.
In my meeting with President Hu Jintao, we saw eye to eye that North Korea's announcement of its intent to conduct a nuclear test can never be tolerated because it is a grave threat to the peace and security of East Asia and the international community. We mutually also appreciated the fact that on the sixth of this month, the Security Council's presidential statement was issued. We confirmed again that through cooperation with each other and through cooperation with the other countries concerned, we should like to induce North Korea to return unconditionally to the Six-Party Talks. I also requested the Chinese side to exert further efforts as the chair of the Six-Party Talks.
On the North Korean nuclear test issue, we have a common foundation, a common understanding and perception that we can never tolerate that. We shall further step up our coordination on this issue and cooperate with each other and send out a strong message so that North Korea will respond positively to the international community's will.
VI. Question on China's Influence on the North Korean Nuclear Issue
QUESTION 5: In order to stop the nuclear experiment, how do you analyze China's clout on North Korea and what do you specifically expect out of the workings?
PRIME MINISTER ABE: China is the chair of the Six-Party Talks vis-a-vis North Korea. China, I would assume, has major influence. We can never tolerate a nuclear test by North Korea, and in the summit meetings today we saw eye to eye that both of our countries cannot tolerate that. I think this in itself constitutes a strong message to North Korea.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, we hope that China will exercise its influence so that North Korea will return to the Six-Party Talks without any conditions. So we shall strive to this end through cooperation and coordination with China and the other countries concerned.
I assume that North Koreans are watching this summit meeting here in Beijing very intently. In that summit meeting, we came out with a very strong message that we can never tolerate a nuclear test by North Korea and I believe this was very significant.