Press Conference by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Following His Visits to Indonesia, India and Malaysia
August 24, 2007
I. Opening Statement
PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE: On this trip I visited Indonesia, India and Malaysia. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN, with its secretariat in Indonesia, the 50th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Malaysia, and it also happens to be the Japan-India Friendship Year. It was most useful to visit these three countries in this landmark year.
Through my visit this time I sensed strongly that there continue to be great expectations placed on Japan in terms of trade and investment, and environmental technology. It is important to grow this new Asia into an open region that is brimming with vitality and innovativeness. To that end, I believe we need to strengthen cooperation with the countries of Asia, notably India and ASEAN countries, at many different levels in politics, economy, culture and education, the environment and energy, and also in many other areas.
It was meaningful that I was able to agree on concrete measures to step up cooperation in my meetings with the leaders of the countries I visited this time.
On this trip I have been accompanied by a large business delegation under the leadership of Mr. Mitarai, chairman of Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), and comprising 250 or so captains of Japan's business community. This business mission was welcomed very warmly in each country. The fact that this mission has accompanied me shows the eagerness of the Japanese public and private sector to together step up cooperation with these countries. This should surely advance our cooperation with the countries concerned to new heights, and we shall certainly make efforts to do so.
In each of the countries I visited I took up the subject of climate change, a global challenge. The heads of state regarded highly the Cool Earth 50 initiative I am advocating, and have shown their kind understanding. I was able to confirm with them that we shall cooperate positively to build an effective post-Kyoto framework.
With regard to North Korea I stressed to the leaders of the countries the need to speed up developments toward denuclearization of the country. I also stressed the need to resolve the abduction issue, an extremely important issue for Japan, as soon as possible, and the leaders showed their understanding and support.
In Indonesia I signed the Japan-Indonesia Economic Partnership Agreement, an agreement that I believe will serve as the driving force to significantly propel the economic ties between the two countries.
I also delivered a speech in Indonesia on Japan's ASEAN policy. In this speech, I said that Japan will redouble its efforts to support ASEAN's integration and development with a spirit of caring and sharing.
In India we announced a roadmap which embodies programs for cooperation in wide-ranging areas: politics, economy, the environment, energy, people to people interactions, working together in the global arena, etc.; programs intended to give concrete shape to the strategic and global partnership Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and I agreed on during his visit to Japan last December.
A dialogue between the presidents of leading universities of Japan and India was also held to further bilateral exchanges in the area of education. In my address to the Indian parliament I emphasized the large potential that exists to expand bilateral cooperation between the two major democracies in Asia, and the members of parliament in response expressed their expectations of Japan.
Here in Malaysia I reaffirmed in my meeting with Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi that our two countries will cooperate not just in the context of our bilateral relations, but also on regional and global issues. Together we put out a joint statement which declares the building of everlasting friendship and far-reaching partnership for our common future.
Last but not least, I would like to thank the people of the countries concerned for their very warm welcome and hospitality. Thank you.
QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister, you brought forth the concept of broader Asia on your visit to India. I understand you want to enhance ties among the four nations which share common values of freedom and democracy, i.e. Japan, the US, Australia and India. Among these four, the leaders of Japan, the US and India will attend the APEC meeting next month. On that occasion, do you have any plan of holding the first trilateral summit and do you propose to institutionalize such a summit going forward, and do you wish to bring India to join the said summit to make it quadrilateral in the future?
PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE: I plan to attend the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting next month, and on that occasion if a trilateral summit of Japan, the US and Australia were to be held, then I certainly would consider that very meaningful. As for the dialog among Japan, the US, Australia and India, a working-level meeting was held among the four countries in the past May, and the countries concerned will continue to discuss in depth how to further advance that sort of discussion. In any case, I think it would be desirable that various frameworks that exist in the region, layers upon layers should I say, function with each other, with each of the mechanisms complimenting the others to function effectively, and I believe the countries in the region will deepen their relations and that the region as a result will become more stable.
PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE: At the G8 Heiligendamm Summit in Germany the issue of climate change was one of the most important items on the agenda. We had in-depth discussions on how to address the issue of climate change amongst the G8 countries, and we said that emissions from greenhouse gases should be halved by 2050. This vision or long-term target also happens to be the same as the target for my initiative Cool Earth 50, so it was agreed that this proposal from Japan should be given serious consideration, and there is reference to that in the outcome document, the Chair's Summary. I am advocating that by halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 we should create a situation where the temperature of the globe will not rise further. To achieve that all major emitters need to participate, and we need to make the framework effective. In addition, for many countries to be able to participate, the framework needs to be flexible and diverse as well, a framework under which the countries will be able to juggle both economic growth and environmental protection. These are the three principles embodied in my initiative, Cool Earth 50. At the G8 meeting there was general understanding for these principles, and I believe they generally regard this proposal highly.
During my visits to Indonesia, India and Malaysia this time, again I explained my Cool Earth 50 proposal, and especially here in Malaysia, where in fact when I announced the Cool Earth 50 initiative Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi happened to be present and expressed his support for this idea, I would like to maintain close coordination with Malaysia on this subject in the days ahead. I might also add that vis-a-vis like-minded countries in the developing world we may provide financial support as well as energy conserving and environment protecting technology.
PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE: As for foreign policy, I believe the understanding of the Japanese people is indispensable if we are to implement foreign policy. It is only when you have the understanding and support of the people that you can very firmly implement that policy. It goes without saying that on foreign policy I need to get down to consultations with the members of the opposition, and I have to strive to gain their understanding of my thoughts on foreign policy. I have been speaking of assertive diplomacy, which is to engage in foreign policy to strengthen cooperation and coordination with countries that share basic values, and secondly to build an Asia that is open and brimming with innovativeness, and also thirdly to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the international community. These are the elements of what I call assertive diplomacy. It is not for us to selfishly insist on Japan's national interests. Rather, we need to give thought to what Japan should do in the international community. In the international arena we need to assert very firmly what Japan intends to do together with the countries of the world. This is the basic line which I would like to speak to members of the opposition parties about.
As for the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law, that provides the underpinning for Japan to play the role expected of Japan by the international community in working together with them in the fight against terrorism, launched after the 9/11 attack in which as many as 24 Japanese nationals lost their lives. This is the sort of activity that is highly appraised by the international community, and the law provides a legal underpinning for that activity. It is on that basis that Japan is engaged in the fight against terrorism, and many countries are hopeful that Japan will maintain and continue this activity. Japan is regarded highly by the international community for its activity, and I would very much hope that the members of the Democratic Party of Japan will also understand this.
PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE: ASEAN is the growth center of Asia, and indeed of the world. An ASEAN that advances, an ASEAN that is stable, with ever deeper integration, that is better coordinated, and experiencing better economic growth, that is an ASEAN with a bright future, and not just Japan but many countries have placed great expectations on ASEAN. I am sure that these expectations for ASEAN are shared by the entire world.
A China that grows economically is not regarded as a threat. A China that grows in fact represents an opportunity for Japan, for this region and for the entire world. We very much hope that China will take on responsible roles in the region against that backdrop.
ASEAN and China are not juxtaposed concepts or perceptions, and we have no intention to juxtapose the two against each other. Within the ASEAN+3 framework Japan, China and the Republic of Korea engage in discussions with ASEAN and are deepening their coordination. Then there is the East Asia Summit (EAS), where India, Australia and New Zealand are added to the 13. Among these 16 nations we have discussions on numerous matters and concrete results are about to emerge. Through these different layers of mechanisms I believe the region will be able to deepen their mutual understanding and grow into the future.
PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE: As for personnel decisions, during my visit to these three important countries I have concentrated entirely on diplomacy and on summit meetings with the leaders of the three countries. Regarding a Cabinet reshuffle, upon return to Japan I would like to make the final decisions. In the days ahead, it behooves Japan to continue with its reforms, otherwise we will come to a dead end some day sooner or later. We need to reform and implement firmly a new economic growth strategy. That philosophy is what we need to maintain throughout. Of course we observed the results of the House of Councillors election, and thus we need to do some soul-searching, and reflect on ourselves and our mistakes. We would like to strive to revitalize the different regions of Japan, and will take into consideration these and other elements in coming to a decision about the reshuffling of the cabinet.