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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Press Conference by Prime Minister Abe Following the G20 Summit, the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, and the ASEAN-related Summit Meetings

November 22, 2015

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Over a little more than a week, at the G20 summit, the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, and the East Asia Summit, the heads of leading nations around the world have gathered together, holding earnest discussions regarding a variety of issues facing the international community, and also towards fostering the sustainable growth of the global economy.

These days, in light of concerns regarding the slowdown of the global economy, the foremost topic is economic growth.  I made my appeal to the other leaders focused on the second stage of Abenomics, particularly the two points of dynamic engagement of all citizens and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or “TPP,” Agreement.

Amidst increasing uncertainty over the global economy, all countries, including emerging economies, have now run into the same “wall” of how to ensure sustainable economic growth.

Now is the time when we must create a society brimming with opportunities for all, whether young or old, male or female, whether with disabilities or intractable illnesses, and moreover, people who have met with failure in the past. Micro-, small and medium enterprises possessing novel ideas, particular skills and techniques are also engines for growth.  In addition, we need ideas for making greater use of those strengths on the global stage.

If all people are able to demonstrate their experience and abilities as much as they like and participate actively, we will be able to shatter that “wall” that has hindered growth, and it must be possible to boost economic vitality reliably.  That became the major theme of this year’s G20 and APEC meetings.

For that reason, our new approach of “the dynamic engagement of all citizens” received attention from a large number of countries.  I believe that I have once again confirmed that this is the “ultimate growth strategy” indicating the course towards sustainable growth.  I renewed my determination also to tackle any and all difficult issues going forward, in order to bring about at an early time a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged.

At the various meetings I attended this past week, a great deal of interest was also directed at, among other areas, Japan’s high rates of energy conservation and energy efficiency, our universal health insurance system, and our wisdom regarding disaster prevention.  In realizing sustable growth, it is also necessary to build infrastructure highly resilient to earthquakes, typhoons, and other natural disasters and create a society with superior energy conservation that does not impose a heavy burden on the environment.  We must secure this kind of “quality” in our growth.

Fair rules under which high-quality things are evaluated as such will become shared in common across a wide range of fields, from services to intellectual property.  The TPP Agreement is an effort to create new economic rules for the 21st century.  At the APEC meeting and other fora, the economies such as Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, the Republic of Korea, and Indonesia expressed their strong interest in future participation in the TPP, about which agreement in principle was reached just recently.  The TPP is truly a grand plan for the long-term future of our nation.

At the summit meeting among TPP negotiating countries, we agreed that each of our countries would play a leadership role to bring about the signing and entry into force of the Agreement at an early date.  For our part, Japan too will place emphasis on efforts to expand the TPP going forward, while working to obtain the approval of the Diet at as early a time as possible after the Agreement is signed.  We will moreover directly link the effects of the TPP to reviving the economy and vitalizing local regions.  We will stay mindful of the feelings of worry and unease among the public as we compile effective policy guidelines and carry them into execution with a view to dispelling those worries.

In addition, over the past week, I held summit meetings with the leaders of a number of countries, utilizing this valuable opportunity in which the leaders of the world’s major countries have come together.

I held my first summit talks with Prime Minister Turnbull of Australia and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada.  During these talks we exchanged views across a wide spectrum of fields, ranging from the economy to security.

I concurred with President Putin of Russia, whom I met with for the twelfth time, that we will aim at the conclusion of a peace treaty and seek out all possible opportunities to continue our dialogues.  I was able to meet with Prime Minister Cameron of the UK and Chancellor Merkel of Germany again in our first talks since the [G7] Schloss Elmau Summit in June.

I also held frank talks with Prime Minister Modi of India, President Erdogan of Turkey, and King Salman of Saudi Arabia, as well as with my friends in ASEAN countries.

President Obama of the United States and I agreed that, on the basis of the robust Japan-U.S. alliance, our two countries will further reinforce our efforts to foster the peace and prosperity of the region and the world as we advance our cooperation with countries with which we share fundamental values.  And, we once again sent out to the world the message of the importance of the rule of law, a value our countries both share.

International law must be observed.  Freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight everywhere around the world must be safeguarded.  All disputes must be settled by peaceful and diplomatic means in accordance with international law, not through the exercise of, or threats using, force or coercion.

At the East Asia Summit, this exact point was a major theme, with a focus on the situation in the South China Sea.  This resulted in what I consider a strong consensus that each country must act responsibly in accordance with international law and strictly refrain from actions that give rise to tense relations in order to safeguard the peace and security of the seas and ensure freedom of navigation.  I believe that we will be able to foster mutual trust as relevant countries build up dialogues with each other over time, grounded in shared rules.
Various issues invariably exist between one country and another.  At times, their views may conflict with each other.

However, the stance that terrorism cannot be tolerated under any circumstances is an area where we have no differences of opinion whatsoever.  Terrorist attacks occurred in Paris during my visit to Turkey, where the G20 summit was held.  And it was just a few days before that a Russian passenger airplane was blown up through terrorism.  This year, Japanese nationals have also been among the victims.  Nationals of other countries including China have also become victims of terrorism.  Vicious terrorism that cruelly deprives a large number of ordinary people of their lives is a clear assault on humanity’s universally-held values of wishing for peace and prosperity.

Japan, the U.S., Russia, China, the countries of the Middle East—indeed, the entire international community—will resolutely join hands in the fight against terrorism.  At the G20 summit, and again too at the APEC meeting and the East Asia Summit, the international community succeeded in uniting to send out that clear message.  We were able to display strongly the solidarity of the international community in confronting terrorism.  That is how I view the outcomes of these international meetings.

“Let us meet again next week in Paris.”
That is the pledge I exchanged with many national leaders.  Climate change is also a challenge faced by all humanity.  At COP21, I would like us to aim at compiling well-designed countermeasures for the entire international community to undertake.

In closing, I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation towards the people of Malaysia who have extended such a warm welcome to me.

Questions and Answers

REPORTER (HARA, NHK): My question is about China’s maritime expansion.  In terms of structures being constructed in areas and sea areas where there are disputes over national borders, I don’t think there is much difference between the situations in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.  Mr. Prime Minister, by emphasizing the importance of the rule of law and freedom of navigation, you indicated some concern over developments by China.  Do you think that a large number of countries, including the countries of ASEAN, understood the points advocated by Japan in the series of summit meetings this week?
Also, you indicated in the recent Japan-U.S. summit meeting that you intend to give consideration to activities by the Self-Defense Forces in the South China Sea, paying particular attention to the impact such activities would impart on Japan’s security environment.  How do you intend to deter developments by China, including the situation in the East China Sea?

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  China’s increasingly ambitious maritime activities in its surrounding waters are a matter of concern shared by the region and the international community including Japan, and Japan too is giving close attention to the matter.
Japan has consistently appealed for the “three principles on the rule of law at sea”:  first, states shall make and clarify their claims based on international law.  Second, states shall not use force or coercion in trying to drive their claims.  Third, states shall seek to settle disputes by peaceful means.
Many countries, including ASEAN countries, agreed with these three principles.  At the East Asia Summit, we reconfirmed these principles and I believe we were able to send out a strong message.
With regard to attempts to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea, Japan will continue to address the situation in a resolute, calm, and sensible manner.  Concerning the issue of resource development, as we agreed at the Japan-China bilateral summit meeting this month, we will continue to seek to resume consultations at an early date based on the “June 2008 agreement” and promptly implement the agreement.
In the South China Sea, Japan has been engaged in activities that contribute to regional stability, including support for capacity building and conducting Japan-U.S. joint exercises, and we will continue to press forward with these.
At the same time, at the present time, the Self-Defense Forces are not conducting continuous surveillance and reconnaissance activities in the South China Sea, nor do we have any concrete plans to do so.
While Japan supports the “freedom of navigation” operations by the U.S., such operations are being carried out independently by the U.S.  It seems that there are some misunderstandings in some regards, but those operations are entirely separate from the Self-Defense Forces’ activities, and Japan will not participate in them.
As Japan has stated on a number of occasions thus far, we intend to give thoroughgoing examination to the measures we could take, bearing in mind various options, while taking into consideration the impact that situations in the South China Sea have on the security of Japan.  This is exactly what I have said repeatedly until now, notably in the Diet and on various other occasions.
At any rate, in order to safeguard open, free, and peaceful seas, it is important for the international community to work together. As for activities by the Self-Defense Forces, there are at present no concrete plans.

REPORTER (MOHAMAD, BERNAMA): Japan is one of the major economies and has strong ties with ASEAN.  However, there are still non-tariff barriers which make it so difficult for ASEAN economies to penetrate the Japanese market, such as auto parts and rice, so what is your comment?  And, is Japan willing to open up the market under the TPP for ASEAN and Malaysia?

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  The economic mutual interdependence between Japan and ASEAN is ever-deepening as a result of the ASEAN region’s economic expansion.  The year after I assumed office, I visited all ten ASEAN countries, and thus far I have had a total of 64 bilateral summit meetings with various ASEAN heads of state and government.
The Government of Japan imposes neither tariffs nor non-tariff barriers on auto parts, and the matter has never been raised as an issue by any ASEAN country.
Under the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP), we have been working to open the Japanese market further by, for example, lifting a large number of tariffs on other items.
On agricultural, forest, and fishery products, we have been making all possible efforts, such as liberalization through the TPP Agreement, domestic measures to transform agriculture into an industry on the offensive, and other measures.
Under the TPP, we will not only reduce or remove tariffs but also move forward with liberalization across a wide range of fields including services and investments.  For Malaysia as a TPP participating country, I think that business opportunities will expand across the entire spectrum of fields, including manufactured goods as well as services, in the market within the TPP region, which includes Japan.

REPORTER (ISHIGAKI, JIJI PRESS): Mr. Prime Minister, in the wake of the terrorist incident in Paris, you have confirmed through this series of summits and bilateral meetings that Japan will act in cooperation with the international community in countering terrorism.  What kind of counterterrorism measures do you intend to work out in cooperation with the international community?  In addition, what kinds of countermeasures will you take domestically, in the lead-up to next year’s Ise-Shima Summit?  With regard to domestic counterterrorism measures, some in the ruling parties are calling for “conspiracy” to be newly established as a crime.  What are your thoughts on that?

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  First of all, I wish to express once more my heartfelt condolences to the victims of terrorism.  I resolutely condemn outrageous acts of terrorism.  In the series of summit meetings this past week, the G20 released a special Statement on the Fight against Terrorism, and the APEC Economic Leaders’ Declaration also placed emphasis on the need for the international community to unite in the fight against terrorism.  Japan will do its utmost towards countermeasures designed to contain international terrorism, in cooperation with the international community.
I also consider support for enhancing the capacity of various countries’ law enforcement agencies, measures to counter terrorists’ funding sources, and assistance in creating societies resilient to radicalization to be extremely important.  Through these kinds of compound efforts, we will actively work to prevent terrorist acts.
As we prepare for next year’s Ise-Shima Summit, Japan will enhance and reinforce its counterterrorism measures still further.  In particular, it is a matter of urgency that we strengthen our intelligence gathering in cooperation with the international community.  To do this, in early December we will establish an “International Terrorism Intelligence Gathering Unit,” a new team tasked with gathering intelligence.  We will in addition more vigorously promote measures to prevent the spread of terrorism into Japan, along with border controls, surveillance and reconnaissance for important facilities, and other countermeasures.  We will accelerate the preparation of the necessary systems and equipment and take all possible measures to prevent terrorist acts.
As for “organized criminal conspiracy” that you mentioned just now, while the government recognizes this as an important issue, we are currently giving careful consideration to the matter, given the unease and concerns that have been expressed at the Diet until now.

REPORTER (TWEED, BLOOMBERG NEWS): Prime Minister, you brought this pamphlet about how Abenomics is progressing in Japan, but the economic indicators in Japan at the moment seem to belie the message that you are giving, with an economic contraction which is the second economic contraction since you took office.  Prices fell in August and in September.  Yet you have a goal to reach an economy of 600 trillion yen.  When do you expect to reach that goal and how do you expect to reach that goal?

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  First of all, I would ask you to take a look at the major course of progression over these three years since we took the reins of government.  Through the policy of Abenomics’ “three arrows,” we have come to the point where we are now on the verge of breaking free of the deflation that has persisted for 15 years.  Nominal GDP has increased by 28 trillion yen.  Moreover, it now exceeds 500 trillion yen.  Employment has increased by more than 1.1 million people.  The ratio of job offers to job seekers has reached a high not seen in 23 years.  Corporate earnings are at their highest level in history.
We are also steadily putting my Growth Strategy into practice, notably through the agreement in principle on the TPP Agreement, but also through enhanced corporate governance, the dynamic engagement of women, reforms to agricultural cooperatives and to medical services, and reforms to the electricity market.
While it is certainly true that, as you pointed out just now, real GDP for the July-September quarter showed negative growth overall, when you look at the indicators closely, the major factors behind that are for example declines in automobile inventories.  When inventories decline, in fact the GDP indicators turn negative.  That being the case, I believe that a positive trend is now emerging towards the future.  Thanks to improvements in real wages, personal consumption is also increasing.  Although the overall recovery trend continues, we must provide firm support for the economy.
For that reason, we will tie corporate earnings in to wage increases and capital investment.  We will also formulate a supplementary budget containing emergency countermeasures and other efforts to bring about a GDP of 600 trillion yen.  I intend to issue instructions towards that end upon returning to Japan.  We will moreover continue to move forward vigorously with the Growth Strategy by lowering the effective corporate tax rate and other means.  At the same time, we will get to work tackling structural issues such as the dwindling birthrate and aging population and bring about the dynamic engagement of all citizens, thereby creating a strong economy.
As for achieving a GDP of 600 trillion yen, we intend to push forward aiming at roughly 2020, as we have said previously.

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