Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet  
Speeches and Statements by Prime Minister TOP

Joint Press Conference by Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan, Premier Wen Jiabao of the People's Republic of China, and President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea following the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting

December 13, 2008
(Provisional Translation)

Note: The opening statements and answers by Prime Minister Aso, Premier Wen Jiabao, and President Lee are simultaneous interpretation, and as such, may vary slightly from the phrasing used in the original languages.

MODERATOR: We would like to begin a Joint Press Conference for the Japan-China-ROK Leaders' Meeting. First, the chairman, Prime Minister Aso, will make initial remarks, followed by Premier Wen Jiabao and President Lee Myung-bak. First, I would like to invite Prime Minister Aso, please.

PRIME MINISTER TARO ASO: Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I had the pleasure of welcoming President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea, and Premier Wen Jiabao of the People's Republic of China, here in Fukuoka, to hold a Trilateral Summit Meeting today. The three leaders used to meet briefly in the wings of other international conferences to date. This time, however, we held this Trilateral Summit Meeting quite independent of those other meetings, for the first time ever in history. I should like to call this meeting the first Japan-China-ROK Summit.

In the meeting today, we agreed to hold this trilateral summit once a year, in rotation among the three countries. For the leaders of the three northeast Asian neighbors, all major countries in the world, to come together periodically and to step up cooperation amongst them should be regarded as a dramatic development that will contribute significantly to the stability and prosperity of this region and the entire world. In fact, the combined GDP of the three countries will account for 16.7 percent of the global total, and in terms of trade, also 16.6 or 16.7 percent.

We signed joint statements a while ago. In the statements we spelt out - as the guiding principles of trilateral cooperation - openness, transparency, mutual trust, common interest, and respect for our diverse cultures, and expressed our resolve to promote our cooperation in a future-oriented manner. The following are major results of today's summit.

Firstly, on international finance and the economy, which is the greatest challenge for the world today - I said, firstly, international finance and economy. The three countries agreed to steadily realize the agreement of the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy held in Washington, D.C., in November. All three countries attended that summit meeting. We agreed to reinforce regional cooperation in order to stabilize our financial markets. In particular, the three of us welcomed the recent decision to top up currency swap limits between Japan and the ROK, and China and the ROK, in order to help each other in the interest of stabilizing financial markets. We also agreed on the need to strengthen the Chiang Mai Initiative, which is East Asia's currency safety net, and to increase the capital of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). We also shared the view that countries in Asia need to take necessary measures to jack up growth potentials and expand domestic demand, fight against protectionism, and to strive to move forward the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations.

Secondly, on disaster management cooperation: to strengthen disaster management for earthquakes, typhoons, floods and other natural disasters, we decided to organize trilateral ministerial meetings starting next year. Japan shall host the first meeting.

Thirdly, we, the three leaders, discussed regional situations including North Korea, as well as global challenges such as the environment, disarmament and non-proliferation. In particular, on the environment, we see eye to eye that we should promote cooperation on common issues of this region such as air and marine pollution.

In conclusion, let me say I am very grateful to Premier Wen and President Lee for making this very fruitful exchange of ideas possible in today's meeting.

The next trilateral summit will take place in China, next year. I shall cooperate closely with the leaders of China and Korea to make the next summit successful. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Next, I would like to invite Premier Wen Jiabao, please.

PREMIER WEN JIABAO: Good evening. This time I have come here to Fukuoka and had this meeting together with Prime Minister Aso and President Lee Myung-bak. I am very happy I was able to attend this trilateral meeting. This was a working meeting, producing a lot of results - a very fruitful meeting. So I would like to take this opportunity, once again, to express my gratitude to Prime Minister Aso and the Japanese officials concerned for all the hard work they have done in preparing for this meeting, and for the very warm hospitality extended to us. I would like to make four points with regard to the trilateral cooperation.

Number one - the three countries are neighbors, and in East Asia they have important influence. Peace, amity, cooperation and development are the common aspirations of the peoples of the three countries. Also, these are required for the peace and stability of this region. We established the trilateral cooperation under the joint statement and we shall also hold periodically the Trilateral Summit Meeting, which are of great significance. This means that the trilateral cooperation has entered a new stage of development. Next year, the next summit meeting will take place in China. As the chair of the next trilateral summit, China, together with Japan and the ROK, shall strive so that greater results can be produced from the trilateral cooperation.

Number two - the current financial crisis continues to spread, having greater impact by the day on the world economy. The three countries are important economic players in Asia and the world, thus together we should strive to respond to the once-in-a-century crisis. We shall step up our dialogue on macroeconomic policy and promote economic cooperation in East Asia, and by putting in place steady policies, should facilitate investment and contribute to the facilitation of trade. This should contribute to financial stabilization, economic growth, and thus enable the region to regain confidence in dealing with the financial crisis.

Number three - the three countries are main pillars in East Asian regional cooperation, based on mutual benefits. This regional cooperation also complements other regional cooperation mechanisms and, together with these, other regional cooperations can develop together and provide greater space for cooperation. With the joint announcement on disaster management cooperation and the action plan for cooperation, we have added further substance to the trilateral cooperation and thus will add to the momentum for East Asian regional cooperation. Thus, the promotion of our cooperation is in the interest of not just the three countries but also of East Asia in general.

Number four - the strengthening of cooperation will further cement the foundation for our relations. With Prime Minister Aso, and also with President Lee, I had bilateral meetings. We had very candid exchanges of views on matters of common interest and bilateral relations and were able to share views. I would like to once again say that from the long-term perspectives and from the basis of strategic interests, we attach importance to further developing cooperation with both Japan and the ROK, and attach importance to friendship between the peoples of China and Japan, and China and the ROK. We should strive to take broad perspectives, and I am sure that with that we will be able to develop a stable partnership amongst the three countries and thus bring a greater happiness to the peoples of the three countries, and make even greater contributions to the development of this region. Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. President Lee Myung-bak, please.

PRESIDENT LEE MYUNG-BAK: First of all, I would like to say that it was most significant that the Trilateral Summit Meeting was held here in Fukuoka. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Prime Minister Aso for making the preparations for this Trilateral Summit Meeting, and also my gratitude goes to the people of Japan. Fukuoka has a sister city relationship with Pusan in the ROK, and also cooperates together for the development of an economic and trade zone. Therefore, it is most meaningful that the summit meeting took place in this city.

The three leaders have met in a separate meeting for the first time in history. We have had meetings in the wings of other international meetings but we decided to make this a regular meeting as an independent trilateral meeting. This was the very first of such meetings.

By engaging in dialogue, we have found that we have common visions on various certain difficulties, we thought. Having discussed various difficult issues, I believe we have found commonalities, and have been able to come to agreement. In overcoming the financial crisis in this region, should we cooperate with each other, then we should be able to make contributions not just to the three countries, but contribute also to the economic development of the entire world. I believe that is one element of the significance of this Trilateral Summit Meeting.

In the trilateral meeting this time, especially on the financial crisis and against the backdrop of difficulties in the real economy - I believe this provided a good opportunity for us to further step up our cooperation. It is not easy to find opportunities for cooperation trilaterally, but this time we were able to discuss how we could together overcome the financial crisis and improve the real economy. Of course, there have been efforts to organize international cooperation, but ahead of that I believe there is even increasing importance for regional cooperation in this regard. In the financial cooperation among the three, and between the ROK and Japan, and the ROK and China, we increased the swap limits. This is very meaningful. We also translated the trilateral cooperation into action, and in that respect I think this is also very significant. On all matters, all challenges of the region, on finance and trade, I believe we can cooperate with each other, and what was proposed today I believe will be engaged by the ministers and central bank governors. I am sure we will see concrete results emerge.

Youth exchange, matters related to Africa, on numerous other international affairs as well, I believe the three countries expressed a virtually common understanding. Especially, we agreed that there is a need for cooperation among the three in order to further promote the Six-Party Talks. Also, at the G20 Summit Meeting in Washington, D.C., and also at the APEC Summit, agreement was adopted that in each country we should engage in fiscal mobilization to improve the real economy. As we try to overcome the economic crisis, we should never fall back to trade protectionism - that is one of the things we discussed. Also in the summit meeting today, we agreed to steadily implement the APEC agreements and also the G20 Washington meeting agreements - that the three of us should actively support these agreements.

Ahead of that, the two leaders already referred to disaster management and other matters as well - we discussed those matters and were able to come to agreement. We put together these results into the joint announcement, which I think is very meaningful as well.

This trilateral meeting today I believe will be significant not just for the three countries, but for ASEAN, ASEAN+3, and for their neighboring countries. I believe this trilateral cooperation will be very important as this region as a whole tries to deal with the economic difficulties. I believe not just the three, but peoples in other countries are paying attention to this meeting. I believe we were able to produce greater results than anticipated, and also were able to mark a very historic step.

So, once again, I should like to express my gratitude to Prime Minister Aso for providing this first ever opportunity, and also I would like to express my gratitude to Premier Wen Jiabao.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. I would like to receive questions now. Those of you who are appointed, please come to the standing microphone. Please give us your name and affiliation before asking a question. First, from the Japanese press.

QUESTION: I would like to ask a question to Prime Minister Aso. Now, this is the first Trilateral Summit Meeting among the three countries. What do you think is the significance of this meeting? That is the first question. Also, I wonder if there was any discussion in the meeting about the North Korean nuclear issue and the abductions issue.

PRIME MINISTER TARO ASO: Well, the significance of this trilateral summit - perhaps I might say - is the historical necessity of this meeting. Politically and economically, the three countries all have a very significant presence in the region - if you look in terms of the economic clout of the three countries added together, as well. The leaders of these three neighboring countries got together for the first time. It is actually rather unnatural that we have not had this sort of meeting before, as President Lee Myung-bak said just now. The financial crisis, I believe, encouraged or promoted this trilateral summit, in any case. The three countries will be working together hand in hand, and I think that in itself has great significance. We have launched this trilateral framework of dialogue with a future orientation. I think this is very significant.

On North Korea, on the abductions issue and North Korea's denuclearization - denuclearization is a very significant issue. The Six-Party Talks just ended, but we agreed it is important that we work closely together under the framework of those Six-Party Talks. Instead of acting separately, we should work together in carrying out our dialogue with North Korea: I think that is important.

I also stated that apart from the nuclear issue, Japan has this abduction issue vis-a-vis North Korea. So I explained Japan's position - that we shall strive to promote Japan-North Korea relations, and that I would appreciate their cooperation. The two leaders expressed their understanding regarding Japan's position, and also expressed their willingness to cooperate with Japan. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Next, we would like to invite a Chinese press.

QUESTION: I would like to ask a question to Premier Wen. Now we are facing a very serious international financial crisis, the Chinese government says. What kind of efforts have been made for stabilization of the situation here in this region?

PREMIER WEN JIABAO: On this matter, let me make three points. First, today, China is organizing various measures to expand domestic demand and maintain stable economic growth. I believe this will be very important and active in significance for maintaining the growth and stability of the region's economy. We are adjusting the macroeconomy actively, and implementing appropriate currency policy. We have also adopted a 10-item domestic demand expansion program, and decided to invest 4 trillion yuan in the coming two years with the emphasis on social security, agriculture, rural wellbeing, education, and culture. Water management, railways, highways, airports - we shall invest in such infrastructure projects, and reduce CO2 emissions, work on energy savings, and also work on disaster management. We also have adopted a 9-item financial support program, and also ensured liquidity for banks, so that they will be able to step up their lending to smaller businesses. We have also adopted 6-item support measures for the textile industry, for energy, metallurgy, and the petrochemical industry. We shall promote technological innovation and promote mergers and acquisitions, and also promote electrification of rural areas, so that farming households will be able to purchase home appliances and also purchase farming equipment. We shall provide tax credits up to 500 billion renminbi, promote healthcare reform to reduce the burdens of medical care, and also improve teachers' salaries, and improve pensions. By adopting these measures we believe we will be able to contribute to expand domestic demand, and also improve the standard of living of the people.

In East Asia, China is the greatest export market, and also every year we accept about US$500 billion of goods. We shall maintain stable growth and maintain imports. If we can do this we shall be able to provide greater opportunities for cooperation to countries around the world, and also provide greater job opportunities for our trade partners, I believe. Thus, maintaining stable growth of the Chinese economy will contribute to the world economy and also contribute to the region's economic growth.

Secondly, today, China is addressing the financial crisis hand in hand with the East Asian countries. At the ASEM meeting, East Asian countries engaged in an in-depth exchange of views on the financial crisis. We shall work towards the multilateralization of the Chiang Mai Initiative and the Asian bond markets. China, in cooperation with other countries concerned, has been working on further expanding the swap scale. These measures should contribute to strengthening the confidence of these countries in overcoming the crisis, should contribute to allaying the difficulties, and contribute to regaining confidence. China is also working on strengthening our capability to deal with crisis. We shall step up our trade and improve infrastructure, improve our farming communities, and promote bilateral and multilateral FTAs, in order to step up the driving force of growth in the region. If we can increase the economic growth capabilities of the countries in the region, then we shall be able to allay the shocks to the real economy. We are taking a responsible attitude in dealing with the current crisis: together with East Asian countries, China will actively respond to various crises and shocks, and should like to achieve mutual benefits.

MODERATOR: The last question will be received from the Korean press.

QUESTION: I would like to ask a question to President Lee Myung-bak. Along with Brazil and the United Kingdom, the ROK is a member of a troika in the next G20, but within the Asian region there are many developing countries as well as developed countries. With respect to the solutions to the current issue, there are a variety of issues. How are you going to put together a common view? Also, the Six-Party Talks were held in Beijing. As you look at the situation between Japan and the ROK, and between the ROK and China - between the leaders, I understand there is an agreement to continue the Six-Party Talks. What is your future alliance?

PRESIDENT LEE MYUNG-BAK: Well, I think you asked me two questions. First, on April 2, in London, the second G20 financial summit will be held. In that second financial summit there will be four working groups on financial oversight functions, international institution reform, and so on. So there will be four working groups, and the leaders of all the 20 countries will participate and will consider the substance in the coming 100 days. The United Kingdom, Brazil and the ROK will serve as the coordinators. In Washington, D.C., we already reached agreement that we will work together. This is the first time in history that developing and developed countries came to an agreement on a common issue. So on this issue, I believe we shall be able to successfully coordinate the views between developed and developing countries. I am sure they have different views, and of course the issue is no easy one. But I believe that the three countries will serve as coordinators. We discussed this in the meeting today, as well. In Asia, the countries participating would like to coordinate their views ahead of the April meeting, and reflect the views of Asia at the April meeting. I think that all countries around the world should strive and do their best so that we will not see the recurrence of this sort of crisis. I believe basically they will, no problem.

With regard to the Six-Party Talks, many countries expressed their disappointment, but ultimately we need to make North Korea give up nuclear weapons by developing their economy, and bringing about happiness for the people of North Korea. Therefore I believe that the objectives of the Six-Party Talks should be achieved. Denuclearization of North Korea is a very difficult issue. We shall take a lot of time, but this is a matter that needs to be resolved. In the Six-Party Talks held recently, five countries excluding North Korea came to an agreement on verification. Whilst the five countries came to agreement on verification, North Korea did not agree. Therefore we could not resolve matters. But I believe China, as the chair, has made important contributions, and I am grateful for that. There have been difficulties in the Six-Party Talks, but at the same time we have seen gradual progress. It has been very slow, and we may need a lot of time ahead, but I believe the representatives of the six parties should address the negotiations with patience. In the US, the new administration of President-elect Obama will come in, but under that new administration I believe the Six-Party Talks should be held again. Our three countries should share views on this, and should also solicit the agreement of the US and Russia, so that we will have a common perception in dealing with the Six-Party Talks. The three of us share this view. Everyone, I believe, should deal with patience but also with hope, and be ready to spend a lot of time in arriving at a solution. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Now it is time to close this session, so with this I would like to conclude this press conference for the Trilateral Summit Meeting.