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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Press Conference by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Following his Participation in the APEC Summit Meetings

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

[Provisional Translation]

1.  Opening Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Since taking office as Prime Minister, I have visited various countries, always taking a panoramic perspective of the world map.  This time, as the milestone 50th country I have visited, I have come to China.

I also came here to Beijing eight years ago on my first overseas trip as Prime Minister.  The leaders of our two countries had frank discussions about the future of Japan and China, and we reached agreement on building a "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.”  And yesterday, I also confirmed that principle with President Xi Jinping.

For Japan and China, each needs the other.  In other words, we share an inseparable relationship.

In that sense, it was extremely regrettable that a Japan-China summit meeting has not been held for quite some time.  However, during this visit, President Xi Jinping and I did conduct a summit meeting, and I consider us to have successfully taken a major step towards improving our bilateral relations.

We agreed to move forward on creating a maritime communication mechanism in the East China Sea, where tense situations have arisen in recent years, to prevent unexpected incidents.

I also requested constructive responses to individual issues that had been taken up in the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting the other day, including the issue of Chinese coral vessels continuing their illegal operations in the vicinity of the Ogasawara Islands recently.

Various issues arise between countries bordering one other.  This is the same anywhere in the world.  That is precisely why we will build up dialogues over time.  I believe that it is possible to find a solution through frank dialogue between leaders, no matter what the issue may be.

Both Japan and China, which have responsibilities towards the peace and stability of the region and the international community, will return to the starting point of a “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests” and further develop their cooperative relations.  I believe that we succeeded in sending out that strong message to the world.

The whole world is paying close attention to the Asia-Pacific region, as it is this region that is achieving the highest rate of economic growth and brimming with the greatest amount of future potential anywhere.

With regard to the TPP, we held our first summit meeting in a year.  Through political leadership, we will squarely conclude the TPP negotiations, at an early date, with the end coming into focus.  By sharing this clear intention, we have finally come to see the way forward.

In addition, beyond the TPP, the realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, or “FTAAP,” which will create an even greater market, has now come into view.  At this APEC meeting, we were able to compile the roadmap for bringing that about.

It was 25 years ago under the leadership of Japan that APEC was launched together with Australia, the US, and the ASEAN countries.  Since then, APEC has overcome the Asian Financial Crisis, the Lehman Shock, and a variety of other difficulties to build an open economic sphere in which people and goods, investments and technology are exchanged freely within this Asia-Pacific region.  Over the next 25 years as well, Japan is determined to be at center stage, driving this large economic integration.

The summit meeting I held here with President Putin of Russia was our tenth.  We had a candid meeting in which we discussed a wide range of issues from Japan-Russia bilateral relations to Ukraine and other topics in international affairs.

Now, in Far East, across the sea from Japan, Japanese and Russian companies are acting in cooperation, with various projects about to yield results.  There is limitless potential latent in Japan-Russia cooperation across a broad spectrum of fields, including culture and sports in addition to economic fields such as energy, agriculture, medical services.

However, at present, even as we are about to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the fact is that Japan and Russia have still not concluded a peace treaty.

We would like to make President Putin’s visit to Japan a reality at the most suitable timing next year, and we will be moving forward with preparations for that visit from now.  On the basis of our personal relationship of trust, I will continue to engage tenaciously in negotiations towards the conclusion of a peace treaty as we expand the breadth of our multi-layered cooperation.

There will be more international meetings in the days to come, including summit meetings with the leaders of the ASEAN nations and the G20 summit.  International meetings also provide the opportunity to hold conversations individually with a large number of leaders in a cordial atmosphere.  At last night’s APEC dinner, I was able to catch up again with President Obama of the U.S. and Prime Minister Abbott of Australia, and I also spoke with President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea.

The world is facing such challenges as trends in the global economy where weaknesses are recently apparent, responses to Ebola virus disease, and dealing with ISIL—the so-called “Islamic State.”  I intend to have frank talks with leaders from around the world about these issues and discuss countermeasures with them.

Tomorrow I will depart China and head to Myanmar.  I am really looking forward to meeting once again the leaders of ASEAN, whom I welcomed to Tokyo last December.

I wish to strengthen still further the partnership with ASEAN that we agreed in Tokyo at that time, which covers a wide range of fields such as the economy and infrastructure, security, and culture.  I intend to make it a fruitful meeting.


2. Questions and Answers
I would like to ask about Japan-China relations.  You have conducted your first Japan-China summit meeting with President Xi Jinping, but in concrete terms, what kinds of changes are you expecting to emerge within the bilateral relationship, with this meeting as a springboard?  In addition, no resolution has been reached regarding the issues surrounding the Senkaku Islands or Yasukuni Shrine.  How do you intend to deal with these issues to bring about a resolution?  What do you consider to be the most desirable timing for future political dialogues between Japan and China or for the next Japan-China summit meeting?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: Regrettably, within Japan-China relations, there have been no summit meetings for more than two years.  I believe that through this summit, we succeeded in taking a major step forward towards both Japan and China returning to the starting point of a “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests” and improving our relations.  Based on the outcomes of our talks, concrete consultations will begin for putting into practice a maritime communication mechanism, which will be a communication channel for avoiding unexpected incidents in the future.  In addition, under the approach of a “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests,” in order to develop cooperative relations between Japan and China across a variety of fields, I would like to build up our dialogues going forward between our countries’ relevant authorities, as well as at the ministerial level.  I believe that the next summit-level dialogue will emerge naturally once these kinds of dialogues build up over time.

REPORTER (LI, PHOENIX SATELLITE TELEVISION):  Placing very great emphasis on summit diplomacy, you said that it is necessary to have summit meetings in order to improve relations between Japan and China, and yesterday a summit was conducted.  I would like to hear your impressions of that.  Also, I would like to hear your views, Mr. Prime Minister, regarding what should be done in concrete terms from here on, looking towards the future, and regarding whether or not this kind of dialogue can continue going forward.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: Japan and China each have a tremendous responsibility towards the peace and prosperity of the region and the world.  I believe that a great many countries around the world are hoping for improvements in Japan-China relations.  In this summit meeting, I conveyed to President Xi Jinping that I want both Japan and China to return to the starting point of a “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests,” develop our bilateral relations taking a broad perspective, and together fulfill our responsibilities towards the peace and prosperity of the region and the world.

During the breaks in the APEC summit, many heads of state and government came to me, glad that this Japan-China summit meeting had taken place.  They stated in unison their hope that Japan-China relations will improve, with this as the turning point.  I believe that Japan and China have a responsibility to live up to these expectations of the international community.

Yesterday I held summit talks with President Xi Jinping, and the sense of responsibility that President Xi holds towards the daily lives and the future of 1.3 billion Chinese was conveyed to me very keenly.  I myself also have responsibility for the future of the Japanese people.  In addition, we have responsibilities towards the peace and prosperity of not only our two countries Japan and China, but also the region.  I felt very strongly that with regard to this point, we succeeded in having a shared recognition.

REPORTER (ABIRU, SANKEI SHINBUN): At this APEC meeting, you tackled various matters, including a summit meeting with President Putin of Russia in which you took up the issue of the Northern Territories, a conversation with President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Summit Meeting.  Please share your comments on each of these one more time.  In addition, against the backdrop of such a large number of these many kinds of issues, talk of dissolving [the House of Representatives] has begun to sweep through Nagatacho.  What sort of timing do you have in mind for carrying out the dissolution?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: At the Japan-Russia summit meeting, President Putin and I were able to hold a frank and fruitful exchange of views on matters ranging from our bilateral relations, including the issue of concluding a peace treaty, to the Ukraine issue and the situation in North Korea.  The outcome of the meeting was that we will launch concrete preparations aimed at bringing about a visit to Japan by President Putin at an appropriate time next year.  I believe this was a highly meaningful summit meeting as we advance our relations with Russia in a manner in line with Japan’s national interests.

On the sidelines of the main APEC meeting, I held one-on-one summit talks between President Putin and myself.  I believe we were able to agree in our way of thinking and our sentiment that we will move forward on negotiations on the conclusion of a peace treaty as we advance our future bilateral relations.

At last night’s dinner for the APEC leaders, President Park Geun-hye and I were seated next to each other.  I suspect this was because “J” and “K” are next to each other alphabetically.  Not only were our seats next to each other, but they were also quite close together, so our conversation started in a very natural manner.  We talked about a variety of matters. 

I believe that in one sense we were able to talk to each other in a very frank way.  We also agreed to promote the smooth progress of our Director-General level consultations.

The TPP is an ambitious, first-ever attempt to create a single economic zone within the Asia-Pacific region.  At the summit meeting, we shared a clear intention to exert political leadership in order to squarely conclude at an early date the TPP negotiations with the end coming into focus.  By doing so, we have finally come to see the way forward.  I myself am also determined to make efforts towards the early conclusion of negotiations.

As for the timing of a dissolution [of the House of Representatives], I have not made any decision on that matter whatsoever.  I have heard that in Japan, there have been reports based on speculation.  I will not respond to those, but, as you know, I myself have never so much as mentioned a dissolution.

REPORTER (REYNOLDS, BLOOMBERG NEWS): Isabelle Reynolds from Bloomberg News.  I’d like to ask about foreign exchange rates.  The Bank of Japan’s monetary policy has resulted in the yen falling against other currencies, including the dollar.  Are you concerned that this trend could become unstoppable, and what will you do to help those who are suffering because of it?  Also, are you concerned about retaliation from Japan’s trading rivals?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: As the Prime Minister, I will make no comment on the exchange rate level.  In general terms, I believe that movement towards a weaker yen is a plus for exporting companies and for business operators that have expanded their operations overseas, among others.  And, of course, we must pay very careful attention to small- and medium-sized enterprises, people in local areas, and others who are affected by sudden rises in the prices of imports.  I intend to come up with countermeasures as appropriate.  As for the Bank of Japan’s “Quantitative and Qualitative Monetary Easing” policy, even the G20 has confirmed its understanding of this policy being intended as a means for halting deflation and supporting domestic demand.  The recent expansion of quantitative and qualitative monetary easing by the Bank of Japan is also a means aimed at pulling out of long-standing deflation, and not something targeting the foreign exchange rate.  As for foreign exchange, Japan has committed to the agreements under both the G20 and the G7 that foreign exchange rates should be determined by the market.  It is my understanding that all countries take the same stance on this point.

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