Press Conference by Prime Minster Kishida Regarding His Visits to France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States of America
January 14, 2023
As I wrap up this series of visits to countries in Europe and North America, I would like to give some remarks.
On January 1, Japan assumed the presidency of the G7 and also began serving as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. During this trip, exchanging views with my counterparts in various countries caused me to once again feel intensely Japan's weighty responsibility in leading the international community as well as the great expectations the world holds towards Japan.
With the leaders of each of the G7 member countries I visited, namely France, Italy, the UK, Canada, and the U.S., I engaged in frank exchanges of views about our outstanding bilateral concerns, our bilateral cooperation, and our understanding of increasingly tense regional affairs. From my side, I explained Japan's way of thinking under the G7 presidency as we work towards the holding of the G7 Hiroshima Summit. We also had thorough discussions regarding what sort of actions the G7 should take during 2023. The outcome was that we succeeded in reconfirming that the G7 will unite and act in cooperation so as to fully defend the international order, which is based on the rule of law.
In meeting face to face in preparation for the Hiroshima Summit, it goes without saying that the biggest issue to address has been Russian aggression against Ukraine, which will soon reach the one-year mark since it first occurred. I pointed out that aggression against Ukraine was a problem affecting more than just Europe, instead being a challenge to the rules and principles of international society as a whole. My counterparts and I agreed on the understanding that at the G7 Hiroshima Summit we must demonstrate strong political will to uphold the international order based on the rule of law. We also confirmed that we will maintain or strengthen both our stringent sanctions against Russia and our strong support to Ukraine.
In addition, world leaders gathering in Hiroshima holds significance that goes beyond merely the G7 summit. For the sake of humankind's very survival, it would be absolutely unforgivable it we were to disregard the history of nuclear weapons not having been used during the 77 years that have passed since the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I want to vigorously send out to the world precisely this kind of message from Hiroshima, an atomic bombing site, in a way appropriate for the weight this carries historically.
Also, in order to respond to the various issues facing the international community, it is necessary for the G7 to further strengthen its involvement with the Global South. Towards that end, there was a common recognition among my counterparts and myself that we should press forward in building up our involvement with the Global South through active contributions towards global challenges such as climate change, energy, food, health, and development, and we agreed that we will undertake responses through coordination with each other as the G7.
In addition to these agenda items, the G7 needs to be engaged with important issues facing the international community, including responses to the global economy, regarding which various downside risks have been pointed out; regional affairs; and economic security. Japan will continue to coordinate and lead our response as the G7, based in part on these discussions I had with my counterparts.
Besides these discussions we had to work towards the holding of the G7 Hiroshima Summit, my counterparts and I also held thoroughgoing discussions about bilateral issues.
In particular, in my meeting with U.S. President Biden yesterday, with regard to the contents of Japan's three security-related documents, including our new National Security Strategy, I overviewed the fact that we have taken the decision to dramatically change Japan's security policies, including with regard to possessing counterstrike capabilities and increasing defense spending. President Biden responded by expressing his all-out support.
As both Japan and the United States face the most severe and complex security environment in recent history, Japan's efforts in this regard will link in to a further reinforcement of the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance.
Our efforts were highly acclaimed and received support from a wide variety of audiences, which I regard as evidence of those efforts' value. Those audiences include not only President Biden but also Vice President Harris and also a bipartisan group of United States Senators and Representatives, including former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi; on both of those occasions yesterday, we engaged in an exchange of views. And, my audiences also included those attending the speech I delivered at Johns Hopkins University.
Also, having confirmed that the national security strategies of Japan and the U.S. are aligned with each other and that we will renew our determination to further reinforce the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, President Biden and I released a Japan-U.S. Joint Statement. We are also enjoying ever-intensifying partnership in the area of economic security, including cooperation on making supply chains more resilient and on semiconductors. As the prime minister of Japan, going forward I will reinforce the Japan-U.S. Alliance and work to reinforce the security cooperation between Japan and the U.S., which has broadened in scope to include the economy and technology; accordingly, I will make even greater efforts towards ensuring and developing the security and prosperity of the Japanese people.
The lesson that Russian aggression against Ukraine has demonstrated to us is that the security of Europe and the Indo-Pacific are inseparable. Harboring a strong sense of crisis that Ukraine may be East Asia tomorrow, I have worked with Europe to reinforce our security cooperation within the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere.
Prime Minister Sunak of the UK and I signed a reciprocal access agreement that will form a new foundation for Japan-UK security and defense cooperation. President Macron of France and I agreed to promote cooperation between us in the Indo-Pacific and to aim to convene joint foreign and defense ministerial consultations, known as a "2 + 2" meeting, within the first half of 2023. Also, this past December, Prime Minister Sunak, Prime Minister Meloni of Italy, and I announced we will undertake the joint development of next-generation fighter jets. In the future, we will deepen our security cooperation with these partner countries.
I also intend to have the opportunity at the earliest possible time to exchange views with Chancellor Scholz of Germany, whom I was unable to meet with during this trip because of scheduling issues.
Turning our eyes to the area surrounding Japan, we find the situation becoming increasingly severe, including attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force in the East and South China Seas and more frequent nuclear and missile activities by North Korea. I once again conveyed to my counterparts my strong sense of crisis regarding this East Asian security environment and the North Korean abductions issue.
The G7 summit will be held in Japan, the sole Asian G7 member. That is precisely why it is imperative for us also to discuss Indo-Pacific regional affairs in depth. The leaders of all the countries I visited during this tour showed a high degree of interest in the Indo-Pacific, with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada having been interested since well before. UK and French warships in the Indo-Pacific region calling at ports, increasingly active joint exercises, and Canada and Italy each formulating its own Indo-Pacific strategy are all expressions of the G7's commitment to bring about a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. At the G7 Hiroshima Summit, I intend for us also to reconfirm further cooperation towards realizing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.
With the prolonged aggression against Ukraine, a buildup of nuclear and missile capabilities, and the rapid enhancement of military capacities, tensions are intensifying in the East Asia region. Furthermore, we face global-level issues such as an increasingly uncertain future course for the global economy, a worldwide energy crisis, a food crisis, climate change, and infectious diseases. These are all urgent issues that simply cannot wait.
The unity and cooperation of the G7 will affect global trends even more than they have historically. Japan, under its G7 presidency throughout the year 2023, is going beyond simply holding the Hiroshima Summit in May to shoulder the weighty responsibility of leading the international community through this entire year.
In carrying out this momentous responsibility, during this overseas trip I held exchanges of views with my counterparts on a wide range of fields, and I feel that more than anything, I succeeded in deepening my relations of trust with other national leaders and also in generating results that will link in to the future.
With that, I will conclude my remarks at the end of this overseas trip.