Joint Press Conference
Note: The opening statement and answers by Prime Minister Hatoyama as well as the questions from the Japanese journalist have been translated into English from the Japanese minutes. Statements and questions in English have been transcribed as delivered, with minimal modifications for clarity.
(1) Dr Yukio Hatoyama, Prime Minister of Japan
I have held substantive discussions with Mr Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Mr Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, President of the European Commission, for an hour and fifteen minutes. We concurred that Japan and the EU are extremely important global partners which share common values. We have made a fresh departure, with a new government in Japan and President Van Rompuy assuming his new post on the EU side. This was the first [Japan-EU] summit since these changes and I regard this as the initial step in creating concrete, action-oriented cooperative relations.
We agreed to promote two new areas of cooperation.
Firstly, we will launch a joint high-level group to examine measures and frameworks for strengthening Japan-EU relations. Most notably, we agreed to begin a joint examination of the ways to comprehensively strengthen and integrate the Japan-EU economic relationship. At next year's summit, we will determine the next step based on the options emerging from this examination. The Japanese side would like to conduct work leading to an economic partnership agreement (EPA) as one option, and will be devoting its efforts to bring this about. This government is more focused on "opening the nation" than previous governments. While various challenges will likely arise, we will overcome them.
Secondly, with regard to peacebuilding in Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere, we agreed to advance concrete cooperation efforts. We will engage in cooperation for peacebuilding in Afghanistan and Pakistan, particularly concerning assistance to the police. For Somalia, [we will cooperate on] measures against acts of piracy. We also agreed to collaborate in order to resolve global issues in the areas of diplomacy and security.
We discussed the world economy, mainly focusing on Greece, and global issues such as climate change. In particular, Japan's ambitious efforts on climate change were commended. The EU has also established ambitious targets compared to other developed nations, and the two sides shall cooperate for the success of COP16 in Cancun.
At the working dinner to follow, I will explain my East Asian community initiative and we will exchange views on such regional issues as East Asia including North Korea, and Afghanistan/Pakistan.
Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, good evening. Konbanwa. It is a pleasure to be here in Japan. Let me thank all of you for the hospitality shown by the Japanese people during my days here, not only here in Tokyo, but also in Kobe and Kyoto. Together with President Barroso, I also had the honour of meeting Their Imperial Majesties the Emperor and Empress earlier today, an opportunity for which I am truly grateful. And, I would especially like to thank Prime Minister Hatoyama for his gracious welcome.
This might be the nineteenth EU-Japan Summit, but it is the first summit in the new era, taking place under new leadership on both sides. In the European Union, we have a new treaty and new institutional actors and I am one of them. We have continuity and we have change on both sides. Continuity provides us with a firm basis and change opens opportunities to take our cooperation and joint action to new areas.
The European Union and Japan have a lot in common. We defend, as the Prime Minister said, the same values and the same type of society. We are committed to democracy, [the] market economy and peace. We are also both facing the challenge of adapting to a rapidly changing world. On this basis, it is a strategic imperative to further strengthen the ties between Europe and Japan and to expand them to a wider range of issues. We need to be not only global actors but also global political actors; not only global economic actors, but also global political actors. Our collaboration should not only be about trade, but expand to more political domains, and we have to take joint action in political issues as well. The European Union is therefore firmly committed to strengthening the ties with Japan. This summit, I believe, has contributed to just that.
The most important outcome is that we have a clear pathway for future relations, both political and economic. We have decided to establish a joint high-level group to identify options for the comprehensive strengthening of all aspects of Japan and EU relations and defining the framework for implementing it. The group will report back to us at the next summit in Brussels in 2011, and we will have after six months a mid-term review to evaluate the offers already made and the progress we have to make in the coming six months.
We have also made commitments to closer cooperation in a wide range of areas, some of which we will discuss during our dinner. We will continue to cooperate on the key global issues like the economic crisis through the G20 and climate change. In this regard, I welcome Prime Minister Hatoyama's ambitious climate policies.
Japan and the Union will work closer to achieve peace through crisis and post-conflict management. On Afghanistan, we have decided to build up cooperation in the field of assistance to the Afghan police. We also discussed cooperation on anti-piracy.
Lastly, I look forward to our discussions on the developments in the East Asian region, including China and North Korea, at dinner. I find the Prime Minister's call for an East Asian community initiative very interesting. Although Europe and East Asia may look different at the first glance, we must not forget that it was the vision of regional cooperation and integration that ultimately transformed Europe sixty years ago. It was the implementation of this vision that made war in Europe unthinkable. As Europeans, we can only welcome Prime Minister Hatoyama's vision and offer our support, experience and readiness to engage actively in the realisation.
Last but not least, we will discuss Iran. The Japanese government and the Union share the serious concern about the Iranian nuclear programme and Iran's persistent failure to meet its international obligations, and we will work together in the United Nations. We will also express our mutual concern about the human rights situation in Iran.
Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to end with a haiku about the EU-Japan relations.
The sun is rising in Japan - the country of the rising sun - at the same time, we are sleeping - [there is a] seven hours' time lag, [so] we are sleeping in Europe - but it is the same sun. I [will] read it [again] because haikus, you have to read them twice.
Thank you. Arigatou.
Good evening. I first would like to warmly thank our Japanese hosts and especially Prime Minister Hatoyama for their hospitality. It is a real pleasure to be in Tokyo on what has been a very productive day.
Our strategic partnership is a key one to which we attach great importance. Europe and Japan have much in common. We share common values. We believe in democracy and are committed to democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. We are also committed to open[ing] market economies, sustainable development, social solidarity, and also we share common challenges. We therefore have a key common interest in facing them together, and I strongly value the willingness and readiness both sides have expressed today to tap the full potential of our partnership.
At the start of the new decade, we need a fresh relationship based on results. For example, it is clearly [in] our common interest to strengthen our economic integration in order to foster trade and investment. But we have to get it right. This means to work together on how to strengthen or economic relations in a balanced and mutually beneficial way. I am confident that with political will we could achieve significant progress relatively quickly. And that was the reason why we decided to create a high-level group that Prime Minister Hatoyama and also President Van Rompuy [have] already mentioned: to give this comprehensive analysis of our relationship and to come [up] with concrete proposals.
To [reinforce] our relationship does not serve only our strictly bilateral interests. It goes beyond. It is about our mutual interest in this increasingly fast-changing, interdependent, challenging world we live in, as we have been showing, for instance, [through] addressing with the same commitment the very important issue of climate change.
The global crisis has also put our economies and societies under stress. This means that we have to be proactive and cooperate closely, especially within the G20 framework. This year we have two important G20 summits. We cannot miss these opportunities for global recovery and reshaping of global economic governance. I'm sure that Japan and the European Union can together play a leading role on these issues. Let me also stress that it is our responsibility to ensure that all parts of the world participate in that recovery. The G20 brings together the most important traditional and also new donors, which makes it a suitable platform for broad-based initiatives on development. This should also be fully explored.
We also discussed the economic situation. We know the interest there is in Japan regarding the situation in the euro area, specifically on Greece, so let me make a very brief statement regarding Greece. The European Commission is making solid and rapid progress with the European Central Bank, the IMF and the Greek authorities to finalise the Greek adjustment programme. The Commission expects this work to be finalised in the coming days. On this basis, the euro area member states will take a decision on the activation of the financial support, as decided by heads of state and heads of government of the euro area on 25 March and specified by the euro group ministers on 11 April. All European member states are finalising those procedures that will allow them to provide financial support to Greece, as necessary. [In] my mind there is no doubt that Greece's needs will be met in time. That restructuring in the euro area member states is not an option. The euro area member states, Commission and European Central Bank are determined to guarantee the overall financial stability of the euro area and as you know, today President Van Rompuy also announced a euro area summit that will take place no later than 10 May.
This was one of the concrete issues that we have discussed during what was a very productive meeting. Once again, Prime Minister Hatoyama, thank you very much for your hospitality and for the strong spirit of cooperation with the European Union.
Question: At this summit you have agreed to establish a joint high-level group. I would like to ask Prime Minister Hatoyama what kind of progress is foreseen regarding this undertaking, including the schedule. Also, I understand that the EU side maintains a cautious stance on an EPA, citing Japan's stringent regulations. I would like to ask [the EU leaders] how they intend to pursue progress in the future.
PRIME MINISTER YUKIO HATOYAMA: At today's summit we agreed to establish a high-level group that will deal with political aspects as well. This high-level group will examine the ways to comprehensively strengthen and integrate the economic relationship between Japan and the EU, and will address all issues of interest on both sides, including tariffs and non-tariff measures. This government will do the work with a strong political will to "open up the nation", something which previous governments did not have. Half a year from now, we will each evaluate the progress which the other side has made by that time, and we hope to advance to the next step at the next summit meeting. I look forward to work being done leading to an EPA after this, although the EU does not consider this to be easy. I intend to undertake this in an unfaltering manner, progressing in half-year and one-year steps.
PRESIDENT HERMAN VAN ROMPUY: I will be very brief. The most important thing I learned from our meeting - our first meeting; we will work later on at dinner - is that [when there is] strong political will to go forward - when there is political will - everything is possible. So we established this high-level group to prepare the work, but not in a bureaucratic way. Not in a way of some kind of show or gaining time. No. With a strong political commitment to have results [within] a year. And we could review the progress, as the Prime Minister said, ahead of the next summit, or even evaluate the progress made after six months. I stress: nothing may be ruled out. Nothing may be ruled out, including on the economic and trade side. We leave our options open. I think the main word I heard in our first meeting was "openness". We have the openness on the Japanese side. We are open to discussion on the EU side. And then I am convinced that with that political will we will get results and, I stress it again, nothing may be ruled out, including on the economic and trade side.
PRESIDENT JOSE MANUEL DURAO BARROSO: I'd like just to highlight the point that Prime Minister Hatoyama made himself, [which] is the need to look at this trade relation[ship] in a comprehensive way. So that's why it is important to include tariff aspects but also the non-tariff barriers. And these, frankly speaking, have been an important point of our discussions, also in previous summits - the need to eliminate some of those non-tariff barriers and to work for more regulatory convergence. And, frankly speaking, we cannot have an FTA without these matters being settled. And some of them cannot be settled technically in an FTA. We need to look at that regulation. We know that there is a real willingness on the [part of] European industry as well to come to a deeper relation[ship] with Japan in terms of trade and in terms of investment, but they are concerned about this matter.
And I really want to welcome the openness that has been shown by Prime Minister Hatoyama, that precisely he thinks it is important to avoid any kind of bureaucratic thinking about this, but to remove this kind of artificial barrier so that our relation[ship] in all aspects - economic, including trade and investment, but also other aspects - can indeed flow and have a new dynamism. Regarding the timing, it was clearly discussed in the meeting that we expect to have the results of this high-level group for the next summit, so in 2011, but there can be in the meantime a mid-term review of the progress achieved.
And for President Barroso, if I might, you've talked about a willingness here to address non-tariff barrier issues, but can you give us a sense of how much Japan would need to change and which issues in particular are going to be important for the EU in deciding whether or not to start a formal process towards an FTA or EPA or an EIA.
And for Prime Minister Hatoyama, if I might, are you disappointed with the EU response to you on this issue? After all, you have come with a very new approach, as you said, from your predecessors, and yet don't have a formal process towards an EPA. And could you give us a little bit of detail? You talked about the desire to open up the sectors like automobiles. Can you give us any details of things you think Japan can do in the near future to address those EU concerns? Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT HERMAN VAN ROMPUY: Thank you for the question. "Fully complementary" is what President Barroso said in his introductory remarks. I will add some considerations on Greece. Market pressures on the Greek debt have intensified as you know in the last days, and particularly since the announcement of Standard and Poor's of a downgrading of Greece and Portugal yesterday. As I already announced, we will have a meeting of the euro area at the level of heads of state and government by 10 May at the latest. In view of these developments, I would like to recall the strong commitment of the euro area member states at the highest level to take the necessary steps to ensure financial stability of the euro area as a whole, in line with the principles of responsibility from the Greek side and solidarity from the euro member states. These are not only principles but we are in the process of implementing the mechanism we agreed upon. Negotiations, as President Barroso has said, between the Greek government, the Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF are ongoing and are good on track. An agreement should be reached by early May. In parallel, member states are taking the needed steps at the national level to extend bilateral loans to Greece. All governments are fully committed to provide support to Greece to ensure the stability of the euro zone. And I and many others are fully confident that an agreement will be reached in the coming days on a very strong and an ambitious adjustment programme which will set a credible medium-term strategy for the Greek economy. And that restructuring in one euro area country is out of the question. I am also fully confident that on the basis of this programme, Greece will receive on time from the IMF and the European Union the financial assistance it needs to implement its adjustment programme and to preserve the stability - I reiterate, the stability - of the euro area.
PRESIDENT JOSE MANUEL DURAO BARROSO: [Regarding] the question specifically addressed to me, in fact Prime Minister Hatoyama already responded partly. Some of the sectors where we would like to see some progress were automotive, the medical sector, regulations regarding some food [and] general rules of procurement. But if you want a more comprehensive list, you can refer for instance to the very interesting work done by the Europe-Japan Business Council. I had a working meeting with them just before our summit, and I think they addressed the point rightly.
So, what I want to make clear here is the following. We really want to deepen our trade and investment relation[ship] with Japan. The goal here is not to buy time or to procrastinate. That's not at all our position. Our position is to have this deepen. [As for] economic relations, we very much welcome the spirit that Prime Minister Hatoyama put in this economic relation and the overall relation[ship] with us. But frankly speaking, this is essential for us, to have this kind of balance. And some of those issues cannot be addressed by integration or agreement or economic partnership agreement. Some of those issues are regulatory issues that are very much dependent on the regulation in Japan. European business[es] told me that some of these concerns are expressed also by Japanese firms and other companies working in Japan. So that's why I think it is very important for us, so that we can address the issue of tariff[s], also to address the non-tariff [barriers], but also the regulatory convergence. This is extremely important if you want to have this balanced approach. And if you work with this political commitment that we saw today during the summit, I believe real progress can be achieved, and so we will have the conditions to go further in our economic and trade and investment relationship with Japan, a country that is very high in Europe's priorities.
PRIME MINISTER YUKIO HATOYAMA: As for whether or not I am disappointed, I would not necessarily say that I am. At this summit we agreed on the establishment of a high-level group and decided to conduct a joint examination. I had originally sought joint studies, but the differences between our two sides will be reviewed by this high-level group and if movement forward is thereupon accepted, we will move on to the next step. If we move ahead with political will, I believe that we can start consultations on an EPA. Naturally, it is important that we undertake this in a balanced fashion. Japan will make efforts regarding its non-tariff measures, and likewise on the EU side it is necessary to make efforts in, for example, tariff measures on automobiles. Openness is being urged with regard to Japan's non-tariff measures, as imports of automobiles are materially being restricted through the imposition of various conditions, while approvals of medical devices tend to take time, and as for government procurement, procurement from overseas is [practically] difficult. I intend to bring about substantial regulatory reform in these and other areas.