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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Press Conference by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Hague, The Netherlands
[Provisional Translation]


The leaders of countries from around the world have met under one roof to talk face-to-face and discuss matters directly.  While various issues face the international community, it is my belief that we will most certainly resolve those issues by leaders from around the world building relationships of trust and taking action together.

(The Nuclear Security Summit)

Condemning the illicit use of nuclear material by terrorists and using nuclear energy safely for peaceful purposes are major challenges common to all humanity.  Here in The Hague, an international city of peace and justice, world leaders came together and reached agreement on efforts we will take in cooperation with each other.  In particular, Japan and the United States, which enjoy a high level of technological sophistication, will join hands to lead these efforts.
The Joint Statement by Japan and the United States on minimizing nuclear material that was issued on this occasion was, according to President Barack Obama, the foremost achievement of this summit. I met with President Obama again at the summit venue and we succeeded in reaffirming our friendship.

Japan is the only country to have suffered the devastation of atomic bombings during war.  Japan truly has a responsibility to lead global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, working towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.  We will continue to make every possible effort into the future to foster world peace and stability.

(The G7 Summit)

Yesterday, the G7 held a summit.  The G7 nations—Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, and Italy—are countries that share fundamental values that include democracy and the rule of law.

We held frank and highly intensive discussions regarding the situation in Ukraine.  We must never condone changes to the status quo with force in the background.  Russia’s attempt to annex Crimea is clearly in contravention of international law and is no longer merely an issue for a single region, Europe, but rather a global issue that exerts an impact on Asia as well.

My statement was received with agreement from many countries.

For both Japan and Japan’s friends in Southeast Asia as well, this cannot be dismissed as “someone else’s problem.”  It is not a situation that has nothing to do with us.  In that sense, I consider it to have been both timely and deeply meaningful that the leaders of the G7 nations jointly reaffirmed the principles of the rule of law and of compliance with international law and succeeded in sending out a message to the world.

We cannot deviate from our rules and principles.  We must, however, resolve this issue through peaceful and diplomatic means.  We must not allow a state of affairs akin to the world returning to the Cold War era.  We must not shut the door for dialogue.

Situated atop the history and wisdom garnered by those who preceded us, all countries involved must exercise self-restraint and take responsible actions.  I intend for Japan also to work to resolve this issue.

(The Netherlands)

Here in the Netherlands, I visited the Anne Frank House.  In her diary, Anne wrote that she wished to “become a journalist and write something great in the future as a writer.”

In the Secret Annex hidden behind the bookcase, Anne eagerly anticipated the day on which peace would arrive.  She maintained this hope until her very last moments, never losing her dreams for the future.

Regrettably, her dreams did not come true, but her thoughts were passed down after the war.  Holding fundamental values in common, humanity has built up efforts to create a peaceful world, fully determined that war should never happen again.

Here in the 21st century, we must create a world in which children do not have to harbor sorrow as Anne did.  We, the leaders of the world, have a tremendous responsibility.  This was a trip in which I renewed my ardent wish for world peace.

(The Japan-United States-Republic of Korea trilateral summit)

After concluding this press conference, Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea are scheduled to hold a trilateral summit.  President Barack Obama, President Park Geun-hye, and I will engage in a frank exchange of views regarding security in East Asia, and together we will affirm the close cooperation among Japan, the U.S., and the ROK.  This will also be a first step towards future-oriented relations between Japan and the ROK.  That is the kind of summit meeting I hope to hold.

2. Questions and Answers

REPORTER (HARA, NHK): I would like to inquire about the situation surrounding Ukraine.  At yesterday’s G7 summit meeting, it was decided that the G7 members would boycott the G8 Sochi Summit.  However, this has failed to halt Russia’s attempt to annex Crimea.  Mr. Prime Minister, you have for a long time emphasized the importance of dialogue.  In concrete terms, how will Japan respond to this situation from now?  Also, against a backdrop of Russia’s annexation of Crimea (sic) and China bolstering its maritime expansion, some even within the United States are pointing out a decline in the influence of the United States.  How do you view such comments?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: It is important that on this occasion, the G7 sent out a message that it is fully united in its stance that changes to the status quo with force in the background cannot be recognized on any account.  We decided that we would withdraw from participating in the G8 Sochi Summit.  At the same time, it is important for the G7 member nations to continue their efforts to seek out avenues for resolving the situation, acting in close cooperation with the other G7 nations while engaging in communication with Russia.  At the G7 summit, I myself also stated that point vigorously.  I intend for Japan also to play a role in working to bring a peaceful and diplomatic resolution to the situation.

The issues facing the international community are not those that can be dealt with through the efforts of any one nation acting alone.  With regard to the Ukraine issue as well, the United States has been displaying leadership in order to have the G7 act in cooperation.  Japan is also strengthening its cooperation with other countries even as it places the Japan-U.S. alliance as the foundation across a wide spectrum of areas, notably including the issue of freedom of navigation on the open seas.  The Obama administration is advancing a strategy in which it places importance on the Asia-Pacific region.

Such kinds of policies of the Obama administration will contribute greatly to regional peace and prosperity, and Japan welcomes them.  Japan will cooperate with the United States in order to foster regional peace and prosperity.  Japan and the United States acting in strong cooperation leads to peace and stability in Asia.

REPORTER (STERLING, ASSOCIATED PRESS): Mr. Prime Minister, yesterday you announced that you were going to be returning a large amount of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium to the United States.  My question is, Japan still has more than nine tons of plutonium inside the country.  And so, I’m wondering if you could tell me, what is the reason actually for keeping this material?  Experts say that it is more than Japan has a purpose for in the near future.  But you have also said that Japan will keep no material that doesn’t have a use in the future.  So, I’m wondering if you can tell me why you continue to keep it, and is it perhaps a danger to Japan and other countries?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: I will begin my response with the conclusion, that Japan’s efforts are completely consistent with the purpose of the Nuclear Security Summit.  I stated at this summit as well, “Japan has a responsibility to lead global efforts to enhance nuclear security.  I will continue to be in the front line of Japan’s efforts.”

Regarding plutonium, I declared at this summit that Japan will firmly maintain our policy that “we should possess no plutonium reserves without specified purposes for use.”

As for the plutonium in Japan, the conclusion has been delivered that the entirety of Japan’s stock remains in peaceful activities, under IAEA safeguards.  Furthermore, as a voluntary measure taken independently by Japan, we publish more detailed information on the management of plutonium than is required under international guidelines.

Japan has also committed to the minimization of nuclear material.  On this occasion, Japan and the U.S. agreed on bilateral cooperation regarding the removal and disposition of nuclear material, including the removal of the entire stock of highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium from its Fast Critical Assembly.

With regard to measures against nuclear terrorism as well, we have instituted suitable protective measures at all nuclear power plants through round-the-clock security provided by the police unit that counters small arms, while the Japan Coast Guard also deploys patrol boats at all times in the waters surrounding the plants.  In addition, under the new regulatory standards, we have strengthened our measures against nuclear terrorism, such as by establishing countermeasures on the supposition of impacts by aircraft crash.

REPORTER (HAYASHI, KYODO NEWS): I would like to ask you about the Japan-U.S.-ROK trilateral summit scheduled to begin after this.  Mr. Prime Minister, you have stated previously that the door for dialogue with China and the ROK is open, and that it is precisely because bilateral issues exist that the countries should be engaged in dialogue.  While I believe that this summit meeting will become a first step towards improving Japan-ROK bilateral relations, some issues remain, including the countries’ interpretation of history and the territorial issue.  What do you expect as the outcomes of this summit meeting?  And, based on this, how will you link the outcomes into improved bilateral relations?  No summit meetings with China have materialized so far.  What are your thoughts on improving relations with China?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: I believe that there will invariably be issues in any relationship between countries.  Through the instrumentality of President Obama, on this occasion, President Obama, President Park, and I are scheduled to hold a frank exchange of views regarding security in East Asia.  At this Japan-U.S.-ROK trilateral summit, with regard to the issues surrounding North Korea, I would like us to affirm the close cooperation among Japan, the U.S., and the ROK, all of which share fundamental values as well as national interests.  Moreover, this summit meeting will be my first meeting with President Park Geun-hye.  I would like to make this a first step towards fostering future-oriented Japan-ROK bilateral relations.

As for China, I shook hands and exchanged greetings with President Xi Jinping on the occasion of last year’s G20 summit meeting in Saint Petersburg.  I conveyed to him my approach that we should develop the Japan-China bilateral relationship by returning to the starting point of the “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests."  I feel it is regrettable that since then we have not created an opportunity to hold a deeper exchange of views.  Exactly as you mentioned within your question, various issues exist within the relations between countries.  It is precisely because issues exist that we should engage in dialogue, including at the leaders’ level.  I would like to develop a future-oriented cooperative relationship with China as well across the entire spectrum of areas, including politics, economics, culture, and more, taking a comprehensive viewpoint.  The door for dialogue is always open. I would like very much for the Chinese side to embrace the same stance.

REPORTER (YAMAGUCHI, TBS): In the meeting hall for the Nuclear Security Summit, you sat directly next to President Obama and spoke with him.  What did you talk about?  I would like to ask once more about your determination towards reinforcing Japan-U.S. bilateral relations as you prepare for President Obama’s visit to Japan next month.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: President Obama’s seat was right next to mine at the Nuclear Security Summit.  I expressed my respect once more for the leadership President Obama has shown in working to resolve the Ukraine situation and stated that Japan will support President Obama’s leadership within the alliance we enjoy with the United States.  I also stated that it was good that on this occasion the Japan and the U.S. successfully released a Joint Statement on minimizing nuclear material.  In response, President Obama said that the Japan-U.S. Joint Statement was the foremost achievement of this summit, and that he appreciated my efforts in compiling this Statement.

REPORTER (SUGAWARA, NIPPON TELEVISION NETWORK): I suppose that you will discuss the North Korea situation during the Japan-U.S.-ROK trilateral summit.  Intergovernmental consultations between Japan and North Korea will resume from the end of this month.  As you work towards an early resolution of the abduction issue, will there be an easing of the economic sanctions currently in place?  In addition, I would like to know your views under the current set of circumstances regarding having a top-level meeting with Kim Jong-un, First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: The abduction issue is a grave matter concerning the lives and security of the Japanese people.  The family members of the abductees are also gradually increasing in age.  Within this context, my administration is taking on this issue under the firm conviction to resolve it without fail while the Abe administration is still in office.

At today’s summit meeting, I will affirm Japan’s cooperation with both the United States and the Republic of Korea.  Based on that, the Japanese government intends to make every possible effort to resolve the abduction issue, while continuing to act in close cooperation with both countries going forward.  The ROK also faces humanitarian issues within its relations with North Korea, including the issue of separated families.  In the Japan-U.S.-ROK trilateral summit meeting that will be held later today, I will convey these thoughts of mine directly to President Obama and President Park and explain my thinking.  And, I will seek to confirm that the three countries of Japan, the U.S., and the ROK will act in cooperation to take on these kinds of humanitarian issues in addition to the nuclear and missile issues.

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