Press Conference by Prime Minister Kishida Regarding His Attendance at the Seventy-Eighth Session of the United Nations General Assembly and Other matters

September 20, 2023

[Provisional translation]


[Initial remarks by Prime Minister Kishida]
Let me offer my thoughts regarding my visit to the High-level week of the United Nations General Assembly.
Throughout the year, on various occasions such as the G7 Hiroshima Summit, Japan has shared with many countries the importance of various principles of the United Nations Charter, which serve as foundations of the international community, while also playing a leading role in discussions on the international level. At a time when the international community is facing multiple crises ranging from aggression against other countries and challenges to the rule of law to climate change and infectious diseases, we should create a world filled with cooperation, not division and confrontation. This is the message I have been strongly advocating.
In order to realize an international community for cooperation in this challenging world, I believe that we need a common language which resonates to all of us. Based on this idea, in my address at the General Debate and the SDG Summit, I urged world leaders to go back to the very basic foundation of treating human life and dignity with paramount importance, and to aim for a world caring for human dignity.
This is a mindset that is rooted in my political principle of investing in people, and it is also a vision that is unique to Japan, which has long promoted human-centered international cooperation based on human security. Today, I would like to talk about a world caring for human dignity, particularly from three perspectives: global issues, challenges to the rule of law, and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
Firstly, regarding global issues, I would like to point out that vulnerable countries and people are most heavily affected by the food crisis caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, as well as by other global crises such as climate change and infectious diseases. Unless we listen to the earnest voices of the so-called Global South countries and cooperate closely with them, we will never be able to overcome division and confrontation, nor will we realize an international community for cooperation. This is something I have advocated on various occasions, including the Hiroshima Summit, and the promotion of such efforts is essential for the realization of a world caring for human dignity.
In order to achieve the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), it is important for the entire international community to commit itself to addressing the gap in development finance to support low-income countries and vulnerable people, among other initiatives. I called for action by the entire international community at the latest SDG Summit, and Japan, for its part, will continue to contribute to achieving the SDGs through impact investment and other methods, while also drawing on the wisdom of various domestic and international actors and utilizing private funds.
Regarding climate change, Japan is steadily reducing greenhouse gas emissions toward achieving net zero by 2050. We are also working to achieve global net zero by extending cooperation for energy transition through a variety of routes in accordance with regional situations under the concept of the Asia Zero Emission Community (AZEC). We will continue to support countries vulnerable to climate change, while also calling for contributions to international climate finance.
As for global health, in order to be fully prepared for infectious diseases that may emerge as the next pandemic after COVID-19, we need to address key initiatives such as further promoting universal health coverage and ensuring fair access to Medical Countermeasures (MCM). At a related meeting tomorrow, I would like to demonstrate Japan’s commitment to these issues and confirm that the entire international community will be working together.
We are now witnessing outrageous acts of aggression to other countries with ambitions of territorial expansion. The principles of the United Nations Charter, such as sovereign equality, respect for territorial integrity and prohibition of the use of force, form the foundations of the rule of law. Fully upholding the rule of law is essential in realizing a world caring for human dignity.
Therefore, acts of aggression by Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, are completely unacceptable. In today’s Security Council high level open debate, I again condemned in the strongest terms Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and called on Russia to immediately stop this aggression and withdraw from Ukraine. I also clearly stated that the threat and use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable.
In the present times when the free and open international order based on the rule of law is being seriously shaken, it is time for the United Nations, as a universal international organization, to demonstrate its ability to effectively resolve issues. We must immediately take concrete action to strengthen the functions of the United Nations, including Security Council reform. Japan will work together with other member countries to realize a United Nations as a forum to face together challenges rather than division and confrontation.
Addressing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is my life’s work and efforts in this area are urgently required to realize a peaceful and stable international society caring for human dignity.
As I mentioned in Hiroshima, a “world without nuclear weapons” is an achievable ideal. Based on my long-held thoughts and initiatives, at a general debate speech and at a High-level Commemorative Event on an FMCT (Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty), I called for the increased involvement of political leaders and the steady mainstreaming of nuclear disarmament. As part of such efforts, I announced the establishment of “Japan Chair for a world without nuclear weapons” to promote international discussions among a wide range of stakeholders. We will continue to steadily implement the initiatives one by one under the “Hiroshima Action Plan,” with broad involvement from both nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states.
Finally, I would like to say a few words on economic matters. New York, the world’s financial center, attracts investors and business leaders from around the world. Last fall at the New York Stock Exchange, I presented the “New Form of Capitalism” that the Kishida administration is working on. Tomorrow, I will be delivering remarks to financial and business leaders at the Economic Club of New York.
My remarks will include: how Japan's economy, which has been under a deflationary mindset for nearly 30 years, is undergoing various moves and changes that pave the way for a dynamic new stage; our initiatives for accelerating these changes and turning them into a driver for Japan’s economy by promoting reforms in the labor market and domestic and foreign investment environments, as well as by swiftly implementing bold economic measures focusing on structural wage increases and increased investment by the public and private sectors; and our plans to invite investors from all over the world to Japan during the “Japan Week” campaign next month, for the purpose of promoting in various aspects the presence of Japan’s economy that “turns changes into strength.”
Early next week, after my return to Japan, I will be giving instructions to set the pillars of economic measures. We will start a full-scale examination of economic measures under the new Cabinet launched last week.
(Jiji Press, Mr. Ichikawa)
In yesterday’s address at the General Debate, you spoke about nuclear disarmament and Security Council reform. I think both themes have difficult hurdles to overcome. How do you plan to achieve them? In particular, I wonder if you have any specific plans to limit the use of the veto. I would also like to ask why you did not refer to the issue of ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System) treated water. Do you have any plans to meet with Chinese President Xi before the end of the year and directly request the lifting of the total import ban on Japanese marine products?
(Prime Minister Kishida)
In yesterday’s address at the General Debate, I stated that as the world is changing dramatically, we need a Security Council that reflects the current reality of the international community, and that we need to expand both the permanent and non-permanent membership of the Council.
In the address, I also pointed out that the initiatives to limit the use of the veto which exacerbates division and confrontation in the UN, will strengthen and restore confidence in the Security Council. The Government of Japan has long held the view that permanent members should limit the use of the veto as much as possible. The reform of the Security Council is by no means an easy task as the interests of each member country are intricately intertwined, including the issue of the veto. As you have pointed out, it is not easy to limit the use of the veto, but countries like France and Mexico have traditionally actively supported this. In addition to the G4 (Japan, Brazil, Germany and India), Africa and recently the United States are also supportive. I believe that we need to make efforts to build up concrete ideas through communication with these countries.
Regarding nuclear disarmament, in light of the current international situation, I am alarmed that the hurdles we have to overcome are becoming even higher. And that is the very reason why, in yesterday’s address at the General Debate and at the High-level Commemorative Event on an FMCT, I called for greater involvement of political leaders and the mainstreaming of nuclear disarmament. As part of this effort, I announced the establishment of the “Japan Chair for a world without nuclear weapons.” I hope that these efforts will contribute to overcoming the divisions in the international community.
In the address, I focused on working towards a world filled with cooperation. Since this was the focus of the address, I did not touch upon the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, but I have so far been providing detailed explanations so far on Japan’s position regarding ALPS treated water at international conferences and bilateral summits, and have gained broad understanding. I intend to continue such efforts.
As for your final question on whether there are any plans for a Summit Meeting with China, there are no plans for a Japan-China Summit Meeting at this moment. However, with regard to Japan-China relations in general, Japan must assert what it should assert, call for responsible behavior from China, engage in dialogue, and work together on common issues to build a constructive and stable relationship through mutual effort. Japan has consistently maintained this policy and thinking. I would like to continue to maintain close communication with China at all levels, including at the high level.
(Press trust of India, Ms. Singh Yoshita)
My question also concerns the Security Council reform. The current composition of the United Nations Security Council does not reflect the geopolitical reality of the 21st century. And it has failed to prevent and respond to crises in the world. A recent example of this is the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. What are your thoughts on forming a partnership with India and other countries to promote and realize the reform of the UN Security Council?
(Prime Minister Kishida)
As you have pointed out, the Security Council is currently in a situation where it is unable to respond effectively to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. As a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Japan will strive to ensure that the Security Council fulfills its primary role through close dialogue with member countries.
At the same time, however, it is clear that the Security Council reform, including the reform of its system, is also necessary. In yesterday’s address at the General Debate, I emphasized that as the world changes significantly, we need a Security Council that reflects the current reality of the international community, and that concrete actions should be taken, looking ahead to next year's Summit of the Future and the subsequent 80th anniversary of the UN in 2025.
In order to realize the Security Council reform, cooperation with countries that also seek reform is essential. I believe that the G4 framework, which includes Japan and India, is an important partnership for cooperation toward the reform. Tomorrow, on September 21, Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, will attend the G4 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. She plans to share our recognition regarding the current status of the Security Council reform and discuss the direction of future initiatives.
I believe that we should continue to persevere in our efforts by deepening cooperation and discussions with the G4, as well as the United States and African countries, as I said earlier.
(Asahi Shimbun, Mr. Nishimura)
I would like to take this opportunity to ask about economic measures. You mentioned earlier that you will be giving instructions to set the pillars of the economic policy early next week. As the people of Japan suffer from soaring commodity prices, I would like to know which specific points you intend to prioritize in setting these pillars. Regarding the source of finance, you said at the press conference the other day that the policy will be well backed and will be formulated by October. It seems that you have the supplementary budget in mind, but do you plan to complete the whole process from the formulation of the supplementary budget to its submission to the Diet before the end of October, or if it takes more time, when will you aim to have it submitted? Finally, as the schedule for the supplementary budget can be directly linked to your strategy for the dissolution of the House of Representatives, I would like to hear about what strategy you currently have in mind.
(Prime Minister Kishida)
Regarding the economy, I believe that Japan’s economy is at an important stage in two respects. Firstly, Japan’s economic situation is still unstable. In the April-June quarter this year, there was a slight shift from a deflationary gap to an inflationary gap, but if you look at the details, domestic demand, including consumption and investment, is still unstable. Furthermore, the economic outlook of major economies remains unpredictable.
Secondly, I feel that Japan's economy is at a critical moment regarding whether it can enter a new stage or not.
There have been numerous signs suggesting Japan’s economy, dominated by a deflationary mindset and characterized by its excessive focus on cost cut, is now shifting to an aggressive stance with wage increases and expanded investment in people and other targets.
This represents the first such change in 30 years and I believe that if we successfully accelerate this change and turn it into opportunities and strength, Japan’s economy will be able to fully enter a new stage.
With these two points in mind, I would like to work on the formulation of drastic economic measures. As I said earlier, we will lay out the pillars of the policy early next week, and the Government and the ruling parties will start a full-fledged discussion.
We are considering to compile the measures by around the end of October before submitting to the Diet a supplementary budget to finance the measures at an appropriate time.
The pillars of the economic measures scheduled to be announced early next week will focus on responding to surging commodity prices, strengthening incentives for wage increases and expanded investment, social reforms to overcome the issue of the declining population, as well as the safety and security of the people. We will announce the pillars after discussions with leading members of the Government and the ruling parties.
Regarding your question on the dissolution strategy, I launched a new Cabinet last week, and I will devote myself to addressing the issues that cannot be postponed under this new Cabinet. I do not have anything else in mind at this moment.
(American Television News, Mr. Ahmed Fathi)
Thank you for mentioning the needs of the Global South, the needs of developing countries, in particular. What are your current thoughts on China’s influence in Africa? Also, does Japan intend to do more on the African continent, and how does it intend to do so?
(Prime Minister Kishida)
First of all, I am of course aware that China is engaged in various activities in Africa. We are closely monitoring the details of these activities and the impact they have on the countries in question. On the other hand, Japan has long built up a cooperative relationship with Africa, as demonstrated by the 30th anniversary of TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) this year. As a partner that grows together with Africa, Japan has set out a policy with a focus on investment in people and quality growth.
In May this year, under Japan’s G7 presidency, I myself visited four African countries in order to directly listen to their voices, and confirmed that Japan will cooperate on various issues faced by Africa. We also discussed the importance of transparent and fair development finance, and confirmed the importance of maintaining and strengthening a free and open international order based on the rule of law. We also concurred on working together in the international arena.
We hope to further deepen relations between Japan and African countries down the road by working closely together, while taking a fine-grained approach that is uniquely Japanese, with a steady focus on human resource development and technology transfer. I would like to promise that we will continue to provide support in the Japanese way.

Related Link

Archives (Archived entries for the 98th through 100th prime ministers)