Japan-Germany Joint Press Conference
August 29, 2007
[Opening remarks by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe]
First of all, I would like to extend my warm welcome to Dr. Angela Merkel, the Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, on her visit to Japan. The present summit meeting is the third one to have taken place between Japan and Germany this year, and I think this is symbolic of the extremely close relationship that exists between our two countries. This summer, Chancellor Merkel led the G8 Summit in Germany to a very successful conclusion in her capacity as the Chair of the Summit. Germany will be handing over the chairmanship of the Summit to Japan, which next year will be hosting the Hokkaido Toyako Summit. Chancellor Merkel and I have agreed to maintain our two countries' good partnership in this endeavor as well. We also have agreed to work together to tackle international issues.
The fight against terrorism was one item on the agenda of our talks. I explained to Chancellor Merkel my strong intention to extend the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law, while seeking the understanding of the opposition parties. I told Chancellor Merkel that the Law must be extended because fueling operations by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in the Indian Ocean have served as an important basis for maritime interdiction operations by countries including Germany.
In response, Chancellor Merkel remarked that Germany appreciated Japan's will to continue making a contribution. We also exchanged our views in a meaningful manner on our cooperation at the United Nations (UN), as well as on climate change and energy, important themes to be discussed at next year's Hokkaido Toyako Summit.
Chancellor Merkel and I have agreed that the two nations will cooperate with each other in the areas of climate change and energy for the building of an effective framework in which all major emitters participate. We have also exchanged views about support for developing countries in the interests of energy security and improving energy efficiency.
We have agreed to continue our close cooperation at the UN in order to realize the UN Security Council reform.
Chancellor Merkel and I will be having a dinner together after this press conference, during which time we will be further exchanging our views on the international situation.
That's all from my side.
Thank you very much. First of all, I would like to convey my sincere appreciation to the people of Japan for the very warm hospitality that they have extended to us. As Prime Minister Abe has just mentioned, he has visited Germany twice this year. This is my first visit to Japan as the Federal Chancellor of Germany, but I visited Japan ten years ago to attend a meeting to discuss the Kyoto Protocol. I am very much looking forward to visiting Kyoto once again during this visit to Japan.
Germany and Japan enjoy a very friendly bilateral relationship and are advancing our close cooperation. Both our countries are achieving economic growth, and against this backdrop I have been thinking about how we can make our exchanges even closer on a variety of aspects including cultural exchange.
I talked earlier with Prime Minister Abe about Japan's participation in the Hanover Trade Show. This will, I am sure, produce all kinds of forward-looking, positive incentives. I also think that the trade show will be an important opportunity for Japanese products to become better known in Europe.
Japan will be taking over the G8 chairmanship from Germany and will host the Hokkaido Toyako Summit next year. I understand that measures to prevent global warming will be one of the main themes of the G8 Summit in Japan, and I hope that technologies and@measures for saving energy will also be proposed on that occasion.
I would like to ensure that the process moves forward smoothly up to June by continuing to maintain our very close coordination. This is one area of our cooperation. I hope to see major progress in climate change measures, and to this end, our respective energy ministries will hold a meeting.
As Prime Minister Abe mentioned just now, Germany will cooperate with Japan to achieve the UN Security Council reform.
Prime Minister Abe and I took up the issue of contributions to Afghanistan during our talks. Japan's contributions, including the fueling operations, strongly support the German ships. We Germans will never back down in the fight against terrorism in making a decision about Afghanistan in the future. We also must lay out a vision of the future before the Afghan people. Moreover, we must achieve progress for the sake of our own security too. Germany and Japan are in close agreement on these points.
Our two countries have built a very important bilateral relationship in various fields. We enjoy a friendly relationship.
I am confident that both our countries can make a contribution to world peace while playing and fulfilling our respective roles and responsibilities. I am looking forward to deepening our discussions about this matter during this evening's dinner with Prime Minister Abe.
QUESTION 1: This is a question for both leaders.
Both Japan and Germany have dispatched naval vessels to the Indian Ocean in the fight against terrorism. You just mentioned that views were exchanged between the two leaders on the extension of the Anti-terrorism Special Measures Law. In the case that the Japan's Self-Defense Force is forced to withdraw, it is quite likely that this will have an effect on the German force's activities as well. Please let us know of your ideas on this matter.
Also, I have a question for Chancellor Merkel. I hear that you will be meeting with President of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Ichiro Ozawa. May I ask what will be the subject of your talks with him?
PRIME MINISTER ABE: As I mentioned in my opening remarks, the JMSDF's fueling operations are an important activity, which have become a cornerstone of the maritime interdiction operations. It is the expectation of the international community for Japan to continue these fueling operations so that the maritime interdiction operations can be conducted without fail.
Chancellor Merkel also remarked that she appreciated Japan's will to continue performing this activity. I will make it certain, while seeking the understanding of the opposition parties, that Japan continues this activity, an activity both expected and required of us by the international community.
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: Let me reemphasize that Germany is paying close attention to Japan's contribution to the international efforts for the fight against terrorism. The situation is a rather difficult one, but that is all the more reason why it is so important for the international community to demonstrate our determination clearly that we will not capitulate to terrorism.
In my talks with DPJ President Ozawa, I would like to talk about the bilateral relationship between Germany and Japan, and about international issues too. Also, I would like to talk about the work of the country holding the G8 chairmanship. I would like the members of the opposition party to deepen their understanding on my policies. And I would like to take this opportunity to search for some points of common ground between us.
Also, I would like to ask a question to Prime Minister Abe. Today, the Nikkei stock average fell again. What do you think about this financial instability? Do you think it marks the prelude to a recession?
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: The Federal Republic of Germany is doing all that it can do to secure the release of hostages. We are determined to spare no effort toward this end. At the moment, Germany is studying how to cope with the emergency situation, but I do not think that the release of Korean hostages will have any major influence on our policy. We are simply trying to win the release of hostages as soon as possible.
PRIME MINISTER ABE: First of all, the Japanese economy is on a powerful recovery track. As Prime Minister I will refrain from making comments on stock price movements, but I certainly think we must pay attention to various economic indices.
Also, it is essential for us in the international community to exchange information between the concerned authorities, central banks, and between domestic and overseas organizations.
Also, Chancellor Merkel, you visited China before coming to Japan. What is your position on China's environmental and human rights issues? How do you think the international community should address these issues?
PRIME MINISTER ABE: Firstly, let me talk about the climate change issues. Addressing climate change is a task that the international community has to be united in working on, and an issue on which each country has to carry out its responsibilities. Against this backdrop, we need to construct a flexible and diverse post-2013 framework, in which each country can advance their efforts strongly according to their respective capabilities and responsibilities. This is a conviction that I shared with Chancellor Merkel, on which I believe I could obtain her agreement.
The important thing is that each country recognize the fact that we all bear responsibilities to address the climate change issues and that we advance our discussions based on that recognition.
In any event, it is essential that we build a framework in which major emitters, such as the US, India and China, participate.
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: At the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Japan expressed its position to call for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050.
This position is based on Japan's proposal called "Cool Earth 50," a very important initiative. It was precisely because of this initiative that we were able to achieve results in Heiligendamm, take the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in a forward-looking way and establish numerical targets.
It is true that the US and the EU see some differences of opinion between them. And there are also differences between Japan and Germany to some extent. But even so, we were able to make major progress. After all, each of the parties must take up its responsibility to address the climate change issues. We also agreed on an approach to build the post-2013 framework by 2009. Since this is an international process, we are expecting some very tough negotiations in the future, as was the case before the Heiligendamm Summit too. The preparations will proceed until, and even after, the G8 Summit is held in Japan next year.
Europe by itself cannot formulate the G8's position. Japan will also have an important role to play.
The talks I had with Prime Minister Abe today are very important in this respect too. We were able to reconfirm our intention to continue our close partnership.
On the question about China, I hope you will understand if I tell you that I have said everything I should have said about China in China, and in Tokyo I would like to focus our attention on the Germany-Japan relationship.
This agreement was proposed by the Japanese side, but does Japan have some specific schedule in mind? In the event that a Japan-EU FTA entered into force, in which areas would the Japanese government consider reducing tariffs? Also, would Japan and the EU be abolishing tariffs on agricultural products?
I would like to address this question to both leaders. In particular, I would like to ask Prime Minister Abe whether the Japanese side has a concrete project in mind or not, because Minister Endo has already commented about this. And then, I would like to ask Chancellor Merkel whether the German side will consider free trade in agricultural products with Japan or not. I think that South Korea (Republic of Korea) is one step ahead in this matter. Also, I believe that Japan has already taken up the subject with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other nations.
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: I can answer this question only in general terms, because it was not on the agenda of today's talks. Germany and Japan are maintaining a good cooperative relationship in the process of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The point is to bring the Doha Development Round to an end. Faced with the financial instability under the current framework, we are going to advance our discussions with the participation of Brazil, the EU members and the US.
As for the schedule, I am expecting a variety of new developments.
We have issues of agricultural subsidies on the one hand and tariffs on industrial products on the other. The interests involved are very complicated.
We can certainly discuss a bilateral agreement, but first of all, we should work to obtain progress at the WTO level multilaterally.
PRIME MINISTER ABE: I have stressed a number of times the importance of innovation and openness for Japan to attain growth amid a declining population.
The WTO is an important structure in this context, not only for Japan but for the whole world, including for the developing countries, and Japan and Germany are maintaining sufficient partnership within this structure.
Japan has already concluded Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with some Asian countries. I am aware that we have quite a few areas to study and discuss, including the possibility of a Japan-EU EPA.