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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Press Conference by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Following the G7 Summit in Schloss Elmau

June 8, 2015

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Prime Minister Abe

At the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting held in Fukushima last month, Prime Minister Sopoaga of Tuvalu spoke of the fear he felt as Super Cyclone Pam lashed his country, saying, “Our islands themselves will sink.”  Global warming is causing sea levels to rise and threatening the very existence of the beautiful islands dotting the South Pacific.  The Prime Minister also appealed to us, saying, “There is no time to lose.  We ask that you save the people living on the islands.”

Japan overcame the Great East Japan Earthquake and a nuclear accident to put forth an ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction target.  However, in dealing with climate change, which advances at a global scale, it is of the utmost importance to draw up a new framework in which all nations participate.

At this year’s G7 Summit, we confirmed that unshakable principle together with global leaders.  The countries that lead the world come together once a year to together discuss, and then work to tackle, the issues confronting the globe.  Over its 40-year-long history, the G7 summit has become a forum for grappling with the issues of the day and has contributed to world peace and prosperity.

Again at this year’s summit, the world has joined hands to take on such new issues as the threats of terrorism and infectious diseases, and also women’s human rights.  We succeeded in sharing that strong determination.  I wish to express my sincere respect to the leadership shown by Chancellor Merkel of Germany as summit chair.

We in the G7 have certain words and phrases we share in common—freedom, democracy, fundamental human rights, and the rule of law.  Our sharing of these fundamental values forms the foundation of our unity.

That is exactly why the G7 stands in solidarity in supporting the stability of Ukraine.  This principle is unwavering.  Before arriving at this summit, I visited Ukraine as the first Japanese prime minister ever to do so.  I told President Poroshenko that going forward, Japan will continue to spare no effort in providing all possible cooperation in order to accelerate domestic reforms within Ukraine.

Peace and stability are necessary above all else in advancing reforms and bringing about sustained growth.  Whether it be in Europe, Asia, or anywhere else around the world, we cannot accept unilateral changes to the status quo with force in the background,  with the stronger mistreating the weaker.  Japan takes a clear and consistent position, attaching great importance to the rule of law as well as to sovereignty and territorial integrity.

All the parties concerned, including Russia and Ukraine, should faithfully implement the ceasefire agreement.  Within the international community, I have repeatedly called for the principle that all disputes must be settled by peaceful means on the basis of international law, not through the exercise or threat of force or coercion.  I succeeded in garnering strong support from my friends in the G7 again at this summit.

Moreover, this kind of peaceful and diplomatic solution is impossible without dialogue.  Disagreements must not be a reason to bring dialogue to a halt.  Quite the contrary, it is precisely because issues exist that we should engage in dialogue.

Had this been a meeting of the G8 instead of the G7, President Putin would have joined us here.  After the Cold War ended, we welcomed Russia, and we have a history of achievements in taking on global issues as the G8.

Japan wishes for Russia to be constructively engaged as a responsible nation in the various issues facing the international community.  To promote that, going forward, I intend to continue with the dialogues I have had with President Putin.

Next year, Japan will again chair the G7, and I will invite leaders from around the world to Ise-Shima.
Shima’s magnificent sea spreading out before you stretches unbroken from the Pacific all the way to the Indian Ocean.  Taking firmly to heart the feelings of a great many countries in both Asia and Africa, Japan as the presidency intends to discuss issues frankly with world leaders to foster world peace and prosperity.

What’s more, as this also represents a special opportunity, I would like for the other leaders to fully experience Ise Jingu shrine and other aspects of Japan’s traditions, culture, and natural beauty.  I intend to make this an opportunity to send out to the world the message of how superb Japan’s “hometowns” or local regions are.

I will end my opening statement here.

Questions and answers

REPORTER:  Responses to the situation in Ukraine became one of the focal points at this year’s G7 summit.  As conflicting stances continue regarding the situation in Ukraine, disagreements between the U.S. and Russia have also become more acute.  What are your views regarding how the G7 should respond going forward to the situation in Ukraine as well as to China as it intensifies its maritime advances?  As there seems to be somewhat of a difference of opinion even among the G7 members, do you think it will be possible for the G7 to cooperate closely in its response?  Also, although you mentioned you will continue to hold dialogues with President Putin, the disagreements between the U.S. and Russia have become more acute.  Do you believe that President Putin’s visit to Japan can be realized within 2015?

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  Thus far I have repeatedly maintained as Japan’s fundamental position that nations must respect the rule of law, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and that all disputes must be settled by peaceful means on the basis of international law, not through the exercise or threat of force or coercion.

At this summit as well, I have maintained that it is necessary for the G7 to stand united as we work to tackle issues around the world, whether they be the situation in Ukraine or the situations in the South China and East China Seas.  I received strong approval and support for this statement from the other G7 leaders.

Japan will chair the G7 summit next year.  We intend to lead the discussions by advocating as the position of the Presidency that unity is necessary as the G7 responds to issues around the world.  To reiterate what I said earlier, I believe that the G7, sharing the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, fundamental human rights, and the rule of law, should release a message sent out in unity.

Even today, 70 years since the end of the war, the situation is that we have not yet concluded a peace treaty with Russia.  In order to move the issue of the Northern Territories forward, we will aim to realize President Putin's visit to Japan at an appropriate time during 2015.  The specific schedule will be considered in a comprehensive manner in the time to come, taking into account various factors while also evaluating the state of our preparations.

REPORTER:  Are you optimistic that next year in Ise-Shima we will be witnessing a G8 meeting again, rather than a G7 meeting?  Is this something you will also be discussing with President Putin when he visits Tokyo later this year?

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  The G7 summit is a forum at which the leaders of major advanced countries, who share the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights, engage in frank exchanges of views regarding issues facing the world.  Through this year’s summit, I recognized once again the significance and importance of the rich and thoroughgoing discussions so characteristic of the G7, which are not found in any other forum.

Next year Japan will chair the G7, and I will invite world leaders to Ise-Shima.  We will hold this summit in Asia for the first time in eight years.  I wish to hold frank discussions with the world leaders of the G7 to foster world peace and prosperity, incorporating the viewpoint of the Asia-Pacific region.

In light of the current situation in Ukraine, at present, I consider it unlikely that we could hold meaningful discussions at a G8 summit that includes Russia.

However, at the same time, Russia’s constructive engagement is also necessary regarding the issue of Syria and the issue of Iran’s nuclear development, as well as North Korean issues and other issues within Northeast Asia.  I believe that at this G7 summit many of the leaders shared that recognition.

Disagreements must not be a reason to bring dialogue to a halt.  Quite the contrary, it is precisely because issues exist that we should engage in dialogue.  After the Cold War ended, we welcomed Russia, and we have a history of achievements in taking on global issues as the G8.  Japan wishes for Russia to be constructively engaged as a responsible nation in the issues facing the international community and for Russia to become a responsible nation that does so.  To promote that, going forward I intend to continue with the dialogues I have had with President Putin.

REPORTER:  I would like to ask about the security legislation bills now being deliberated at the Diet.  At a recent meeting of the House of Representatives’ Deliberative Council on the Constitution, all three of the Constitutional scholars, including the one recommended by the ruling parties, declared in their testimonies that the legislative bills violate the Constitution. How do you regard what these scholars pointed out? Moreover, a variety of public opinion polls also indicate that opposition to the bills exceeds support in public.  Do you have any intention of withdrawing or reviewing the bill, given the voice of the public and scholars’ remarks?

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  Your question is very important, so I would like to respond to the public directly and thoroughly.

To secure the lives and happy daily lives of the people is the most important duty of the government.
The security environment surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly severe. Threats can easily cross national borders. No country can now ensure its own security only by itself. I have engaged in quite a number of summit meetings in which I explained Japan’s Legislation for Peace and Security, and I believe that this recognition is shared among almost all countries.

In the light of this recognition, it is this Legislation for Peace and Security that will enable seamless responses to any situations. I consider the development of this legislation indispensable for defending the lives of the Japanese people through seamless responses to any situations.

In the course of developing this legislation, the basic logic of the constitutional interpretation has remained entirely unchanged. This basic logic concurs with the reasoning laid out in the Supreme Court ruling related to the Sunagawa incident.

This Supreme Court ruling on the Sunagawa incident is related to the Constitution and the right of self-defense. The ruling includes the following statement: It should be regarded as natural that Japan can take necessary self-defense measures as the exercise of the inherent right of a state in order to maintain its own peace and security as well as its survival. This is one of the fundamental points of basic logic of the Constitution.

Under this constitutional interpretation, the legislative bills under deliberation at the Diet stipulate that the use of force as a measure of self-defense can and will be exercised in a limited manner in order only to defend the lives of the people and their happy daily lives under the “Three New Conditions,” which are unprecedented anywhere in the world and extremely strict.

These Three New Conditions are as follows: an armed attack against Japan or an armed attack against a foreign country in a close relationship with Japan occurs and as a result threatens Japan’s survival and poses a clear danger to fundamentally overturn people’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and where there is no other appropriate means available to repel the attack and ensure Japan’s survival and protect its people, which means that all diplomatic means have been exhausted—they have all been tried, and there is no other means to protect the lives of the Japanese people, and then that we must limit the use of force to the minimum extent necessary.

Should these Three New Conditions not be met, the use of force would not be permitted. Except in cases in which the lives of the people as well as their happy lives are defended by force, the use of force will never be conducted. And even in such cases, these Three New Conditions must all be met.

I firmly believe that this is in accordance with the basic logic of the Constitution that I mentioned earlier. I believe that those who just heard about these Three Conditions here have a good understanding. It is very clear that this legislation is not for defense of other countries per se and fully follows the Supreme Court ruling.

The government conducted very thorough discussions on such matters and took a Cabinet decision in July last year.


REPORTER:  Are you concerned that the yen is weakening too quickly against the euro, and is there an exchange level at which your government might be comfortable?

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  It would be inappropriate for me to comment on the exchange rate and so on, as it might cause an unforeseen impact upon the market.  That said, if I were to comment in a very general way, I think it is desirable for exchange rates to transition in a stable manner in accordance with economic fundamentals.

Given that, if I were to comment on the impact of foreign exchange trends on the Japanese economy, speaking only generally, a weakening yen brings positive effects to companies that export or businesses expanding overseas. 

For example, a large number of tourists are visiting Japan from overseas.In addition, thanks to the advantages of overseas visitors being able to travel to Japan cheaply, the number of overseas visitors, which had been 8 million [per year] before the Abe administration took the reins of government, increased by 5 million last year to reach 13 million people.  This year it appears we will dramatically surpass this number still further.

Moreover, [foreign] tourist expenditures within Japan surpassed 2 trillion yen last year for the first time, an increase of 1 trillion over the figures from before my administration began.  A large number of tourists are coming from overseas and leaving 1 trillion yen of wealth in Japan.

At the same time, it is also true that rising import prices associated with a weakening yen may impact small- and medium-sized enterprises and micro enterprises, regional economies, and consumers’ day to day living through the rise in the cost of raw materials and so on.  I intend to pay close attention to those impacts as well.


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