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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Press Conference by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Following His Attendance at the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, ASEAN-related Summit Meetings, and Other Related Meetings

November 14, 2017

[Provisional translation]

Opening Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

I wish to express my sincere thanks to President Duterte and the people of the Philippines for the heartwarming welcome they have extended to me. This is my first time back to the Philippines in ten months, and every time it has undergone a transformation, making me feel the dynamism of this region very keenly.

I was in Viet Nam until two days ago and Viet Nam too has been developing quite remarkably. Let me take this opportunity to extend my thanks to the people of both Da Nang, where the APEC summit was held, and Hoi An for their enthusiastic welcome.

Half a century has passed since ASEAN was founded. It has achieved amazing development over the years as “the growth center of the world” through its spirit of freedom while respecting diversity.

I wish to express my respect to the nations and peoples of ASEAN, which have kept up untiring efforts until now to achieve unity and solidarity as well as development. Japan has walked together with ASEAN and advanced together with ASEAN.

And, with our eyes fixed steadily on the next 50 years, we will make this growth sustained and inclusive. We will hold values in common and foster the development of the rule of law. The role of ASEAN in bringing about world peace and prosperity will expand further.

From ancient times, the people of this region have enjoyed wide-reaching abundance and prosperity on the stage of the free seas, with freedom of navigation and the rule of law forming the cornerstone.

We will make this region, extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean, one which is free and open to all. We succeeded in also having all countries at this East Asia Summit share that thinking with us.

It is imperative that Japan and China deepen their cooperation to help foster peace and stability in this region. During this trip I held talks with President Xi Jinping and also with Premier Li Keqiang. President Xi stated our meeting was “a new start for Japan-China relations” and I am of the very same mind.

The economy, culture, tourism. We will raise Japan-China relations to a new stage by strengthening our cooperation at every level and by deepening our exchanges, including high-level mutual visits, at the major juncture of the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China, which we commemorate next year.

Cooperation with Russia is also essential. President Putin and I concurred that going forward, we will advance in concrete terms the matters agreed at Nagato, including visits to graves by former residents of the four Northern Islands and joint economic activities.

Based on the relationship of trust President Putin and I have built up, we will move forward one step at a time towards our major objectives of resolving the issue of the attribution of the four islands and concluding a peace treaty.

Against this backdrop, as the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting was taking place, negotiations by 11 member countries on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement reached agreement at the ministerial level, a major step forward.

Over the last few years, it has been with high aspirations that we have engaged in earnest negotiations with countries sharing our fundamental values. Rather than allow that outcome to be for naught, we have taken a major step forward towards a free trade system based on fair rules -- that is, truly towards the creation of a 21st-century global economic order.

I wish to extend my sincere thanks for the efforts made by the various countries towards reaching this agreement, including by Viet Nam, which graciously co-chaired the meeting alongside Japan. Japan will continue to demonstrate leadership towards having the agreement signed and brought into force at an early date.

Recently, Japan also achieved agreement in principle on an Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU. Japan is determined to do everything within its power to extend across the world free trade economic zones based on high-standard and fair rules.

Throughout this series of meetings, the most outstanding issue was that of North Korea. During the East Asia Summit, the leaders of the participating countries shared a sense of crisis not felt before.

The international community will act in a unified manner in fully implementing relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and in intensifying the pressure on North Korea to the greatest possible level. We must create the conditions under which the North Korean side requests dialogue, saying it will change its policies and wants to engage in dialogue.

We will resolve the North Korean nuclear and missile issues and the abduction issue. Japan will continue to make every possible effort in order to make our solidarity with the international community even firmer.

Recently President Trump visited Japan and now we have held the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and the East Asia Summit. Throughout this period I believe I have shared Japan’s position with the international community and further deepened our cooperation with various countries.

The Fourth Abe Cabinet will actively conduct diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map, going beyond the diplomacy we have conducted thus far.

Tomorrow I will return to Japan. Immediately afterwards I will deliver a policy speech to the special session of the Diet. I am determined to squarely confront issues such as the North Korean issues and the aging society and dwindling birthrate that should truly also be called national crises, while also making all-out efforts in the administration of both domestic and diplomatic affairs.

I will end my opening remarks here.


REPORTER (HARA, NHK):  My question is about economic matters. Mr. Prime Minister, just now you touched on the TPP Agreement, but regarding the TPP Agreement entering into force at an early date, about when in concrete terms are you aiming for this to happen? Do you also intend to seek the approval of the Diet during its next ordinary session?

I also have a question about relations with China. You and President Xi Jinping agreed that going forward you will discuss measures that will contribute to regional and global stability, including the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. What are your views on how Japan will be involved in the “One Belt, One Road” initiative in the future? Also, what in concrete terms is your image of businesses in third countries that Japan and China would move forward on cooperatively?

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  As for the TPP11, in Da Nang, Viet Nam, I believe we took a major step forward by achieving an agreement at the TPP ministerial meeting led by Japan. We truly succeeded in taking a powerful step forward towards creating a 21st-century global economic order.

This message from Japan, that as the standard-bearer for free trade, we will work to extend free and fair high-standard economic rules around the Asia-Pacific region and across the world, had high impact, I believe.

Going forward, we want the agreement to enter into force as early as possible. With a view to having it enter into force at the earliest possible time, I intend for Japan to lead the discussions while working in close cooperation with relevant countries.

As for the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, we look forward to this initiative making contributions in a forward-looking way to the peace and prosperity of the region and the world by adequately incorporating the thinking held in common by the international community regarding the openness, transparency, economic efficiency, financial soundness, and other such aspects of the infrastructure. Japan wishes to cooperate from this viewpoint.

As for Japan-China business cooperation in third countries, it will be imperative to build free and open win-win relations based on rules. Moreover, we look forward to this being beneficial for the development of the Japanese and Chinese companies and also the countries where the cooperation is taking place. From next week, about 250 representatives of Japan’s business circles are scheduled to visit China as a joint mission. We have high expectations for the opportunities to meet and talk face to face with leading Chinese political figures. The Government of Japan also supports such kinds of exchanges.

I would like for relevant people on both the Japanese and Chinese sides to have dynamic discussions on how both Japan and China should contribute to the stability and prosperity of the region and the world, including in terms of food exports and imports, the environment and energy conservation, and tourism, and additionally the “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

REPORTER (DIZON, PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER):  My question is what further enhancements or improvements should the Philippines and Japan make in their security cooperation, considering the continuing tensions in the Korean Peninsula and China’s power projection in the South China Sea. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  The Philippines, which is at a strategically important location within the sea lanes, faces such issues as maritime security challenges and terrorism. It is also within the range of North Korea’s ballistic missiles.

President Duterte and I have held summit talks three times this year. Holding summit meetings between Japan and the Philippines three times in a single year is something I imagine only President Duterte and I have ever done. In keeping with this, he and I are in agreement that we will deepen our cooperation of course to resolve the North Korean issues, and also in terms of measures to bolster maritime security, fight terrorism, and enhance public security.

To introduce some concrete examples of our cooperation, in addition to providing patrol vessels and high-speed boats to the Philippine Coast Guard, which is already being implemented, Japan has newly decided to provide coastal observation radar equipment, and yesterday in the presence of President Duterte and I, representatives of both countries exchanged signed documents. In addition, at this East Asia Summit, Japan announced assistance at a scale of approximately 15 billion yen in total over two years to improve security in the southern Philippines and in the Sulu-Celebes Sea.

We intend to use these efforts to promote the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” I have been advocating. Japan intends to further strengthen its cooperation with the Philippines in order to maintain and strengthen a free and open maritime order based on the rule of law and make the Indo-Pacific into a global commons yielding security and prosperity for all countries.

REPORTER (MATSUMOTO, JIJI PRESS):  My question is about the North Korea situation. Mr. Prime Minister, through your visits to Viet Nam and the Philippines during this trip, you called for intensifying pressure on North Korea to the greatest extent possible during both your summit talks with individual leaders and multilateral meetings. As we head towards the end of 2017, when the effects of the UNSC sanctions resolution are expected to materialize, some take the view that the North Korea situation will become more tense. Mr. Prime Minister, how do you analyze future movements by North Korea? And, I would like to know what the Government of Japan’s policy for dealing with it will be, based on that analysis.

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  Since September 15, North Korea has not engaged in any provocative actions, but its provocative remarks have continued. Given its nuclear and missile development over the past 20 years, we believe that North Korea is continuing its nuclear and missile development in a consistent manner.

Based on the outcomes of President Trump’s visit to Japan as well, I also held frank exchanges of views with President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin regarding North Korea’s nuclear and missile issues. We agreed that as we head towards a harsh winter from now, we will watch with great care the effects of the sanctions in North Korea.

It is meaningless to have dialogue with North Korea simply for the sake of dialogue. We must make North Korea commit to abandoning all nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner.

At the East Asia Summit and in the various summit talks I held with individual leaders, I made a strong appeal that we must maximize pressure on North Korea to create conditions under which the North Korean side calls for dialogue. I believe the outcome was that I received support from many leaders regarding the necessity of pressure on North Korea and the resolution of the abduction issue.

I intend for Japan to continue to cooperate with the United States as well as trilaterally with the U.S. and the Republic of Korea and, acting in unity with the international community through close cooperation with relevant countries including China and Russia, work towards the resolution of the North Korean nuclear and missile issues, and most importantly of all, the abduction issue.

REPORTER (GOMEZ, ASSOCIATED PRESS):  Mr. Prime Minister, there are some concerns about American commitment to maintaining a strong presence in Asia to ensure the security of its allies. And, given some worries over China’s actions in the South China Sea and President Trump’s focus on domestic issues, do you think these concerns are baseless or valid? And if you do share these concerns, is Japan, under your leadership, ready to play a larger security role in Asia, and in what concrete way should a stronger Japanese security presence in Asia be expected?

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  President Trump gave a speech at the APEC CEO Summit regarding “a free and open Indo-Pacific” and stated unmistakable commitment to this region.

Japan harbors no doubts or concerns whatsoever regarding the United States’ commitment to the security of the region. Until now, and indeed from now on, Japan intends for the U.S. and Japan to join hands in playing a leading role towards ensuring the peace and stability as well as the prosperity of this region.

And, Japan will reinforce its efforts to foster regional security. Japan will press forward with the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” in order to maintain and strengthen a free and open maritime order based on the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific and make the Indo-Pacific a global commons that brings security and prosperity to all nations without distinction.

Japan’s view is that going forward we can cooperate together with any country, including China, as long as it agrees with this kind of approach.

As for how to do this, between Japan and these countries, we intend to advance cooperation for peace and stability, including assistance to foster maritime law enforcement capacity as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, alongside helping fundamental values such as freedom of navigation and the rule of law take root while strengthening connectivity through the development of “quality infrastructure” and other endeavors.

In this regard, I explained at today’s East Asia Summit that in the Indo-Pacific region, Japan will expand human resources development, the provision of goods, and intellectual contributions within the three areas of maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and peacekeeping operations.

In the future Japan also intends to continue to make active contributions to the security of the Indo-Pacific region. When doing so, I believe that as a matter of course, Japan and the United States can also cooperate in making such contributions, on the basis of the Japan-U.S. alliance.

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