Joint Japan-EU Leaders' Press Conference
April 23, 2008
[Opening remarks by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda]
Today, I welcomed Prime Minister Janez Jansa of the Republic of Slovenia, which currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), as well as Mr. Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, President of the European Commission, and we held a regular Japan-EU Summit Meeting.
Through the processes of enlargement and integration, the EU's standing in the international community is becoming even more prominent. We agreed that Japan and the EU, as strategic partners, will further strengthen our coordination and cooperation on the major issues facing the international community.
Furthermore, I received from the EU side a commitment for firm support and cooperation toward achieving the success of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit that is to take place in July of this year.
We agreed that both sides will cooperate as we tackle global issues, such as climate change, energy, development, Africa, the global economy, the sharp rise in the price of foodstuffs, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and non-proliferation. For the climate change issue, in particular, we affirmed in our discussion that we will aim for the creation of an effective framework that is to take effect from 2013 and that Japan will continue to cooperate with the EU in this regard, in order to achieve a global reduction of emissions. Furthermore, we agreed to cooperate on creation of rules to govern the global economy, as well as on efforts to ensure the safety and security of consumers, and to attain concrete results from the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV).
Last week, I sent a message to the United Nations and to the World Bank on the issue of the sharp rise in the price of foodstuffs, a phenomenon garnering great attention around the world. The EU agreed to closely cooperate with Japan on measures to address this issue as well. We also agreed to cooperate toward achieving an early conclusion to the WTO Doha Round.
We exchanged views on the situations that are prevailing in major regions, including East Asia, which encompasses North Korea, Afghanistan, and Iran, as well as peace in the Middle East. We shared views on a broad range of matters: in particular, we agreed to continue our dialogue on the security environment in East Asia.
The results of our meeting are incorporated in the Joint Press Statement and annex (Japan-EU Cooperation on Consumer Safety and Protection) that were released today. I am glad to be able to announce these results together with the EU. Based on the results of today's discussions, Japan intends to continue to cooperate with the EU in the international community.
Thank you, Prime Minister Fukuda, for the floor. First of all I would like to thank you for hosting this Summit and for the warm and generous hospitality that Japan has extended to the EU delegation.
Through regular dialogue the European Union and Japan have developed a strong partnership. Since 1991 yearly summits have already become a tradition. The evolution of our relationship is so in line with the Japanese proverb saying that "continuance is power." Indeed, the continuity of our cooperation makes our voice stronger and gives us confidence in addressing the most important challenges of the modern world.
I am very glad that today's EU-Japan Summit reached a very broad consensus on a number of issues. The outcome of our fruitful exchange of views can be summarized under the three most important messages.
The first one is that the European Union and Japan fully assume their responsibility in dealing with outstanding global issues. The EU and Japan share concerns about climate change. We are committed to further invest in the United Nations climate process, aimed at achieving a global and comprehensive post-2012 agreement by the end of 2009. We emphasized the need for further strengthening energy security, including by greater use of sustainable energy options.
The EU and Japan will work together to promote stability of financial systems aiming at diminishing negative effects on developed and developing countries.
Our cooperation for an early and balanced conclusion of the WTO Doha Development Agenda shall continue.
Furthermore, we firmly stand together in our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals with special reference to the development of Africa.
Our second message refers to the joint commitment of the European Union and Japan to promote international peace and security. We reaffirmed the willingness to enhance dialogue in building common views on East Asia. The European Union welcomed the emerging regional architecture in the region, and recognized the constructive role of Japan in this process to be open, transparent and based upon universally recognized values.
There was a common understanding that by coordinating our efforts in areas such as water management, health, human resources, human rights and democracy, we should contribute to stability and prosperity in Central Asia.
Special commitment was made with respect to further cooperation on assistance to Afghanistan. We reiterated the importance of working together for promotion of sustainable peacebuilding throughout the continents, for example enhancing Africa's peacekeeping capabilities. Regarding the Middle East process, we fully support the political process launched at Annapolis: only a negotiated solution can bring peace to this region.
Our third message is that the EU and Japan remain determined to closely cooperate for greater prosperity and life quality. We agreed on important issues that can bring concrete results to the benefit of our citizens.
The EU and Japan will work towards greater consumer safety and protection. We will deepen our cooperation acceleration which should lead to easier and safer traveling between the EU and Japan. We are committed to promote the exchange of people also by making progress in the field of visa waivers. Moreover, I would like to stress our determination to enhance mutual cooperation in the fields of science and technology: a special agreement is to be signed soon.
I should conclude by expressing my satisfaction that today the EU and Japan have reaffirmed their commitment to further promote strategic partnership. I firmly believe that in future we will see more and more concerted actions addressing outstanding global economic, political and security issues. Thank you.
As prime ministers Fukuda and Jansa just said, Japan and the European Union are global players and strategic partners. It was precisely with this spirit that we have addressed very important issues. I will not repeat what was just said. Let me underline just three points that I believe are specifically important: climate change; aid to development; and trade, the Doha talks. On climate change, both the European Union and Japan recognize the urgency of the challenge and the need to take decisive and collective action. I am very happy with the results of our meeting.
I call your attention to Paragraphs 6-10 of the Conclusions of the Joint Press Statement: they really show a convergence between Japan and the European Union. This is especially important before the G8 Summit that will be chaired by Japan in July. I am very much looking forward to participating in that Summit.
We are doing our best to work also with other major players in this field to make the G8 Summit chaired by Japan a real moment of breakthrough, trying to make real progress, so that we can make progress to have, if possible, in 2009 at the Copenhagen conference, a global agreement. Developed countries must lead the fight against climate change. Following the agreement reached in Bali last December, the United Nations negotiations are intensifying.
But much remains to reach a comprehensive and ambitious post-2012 climate change agreement. That is why it is important that opportunity of July 2008 here in Japan -- that is why we believe now we have a basis also to work with others to create the momentum to progress.
We also discussed how to enhance development cooperation, particularly in Africa. I also sincerely hope that the G8 Summit under the Japanese presidency will put back the Millennium Development Goals in the spotlight of the world's attention.
Indeed, the downturn in global official development aid in 2007 for the second year in a row is alarming, and when we add to this negative development that we have watched recently the recent elements concerning food crisis, we have reasons to be sincerely concerned. So we also hope that we can mobilize the global community to additional effort in terms of development aid, mainly to Africa.
On trade issues, a successful conclusion of the Doha Round of WTO talks is a priority both for Japan and the European Union. We in the European Union remain very committed to an ambitious, comprehensive and balanced agreement. We believe that could be good news for the global economy.
Japan and the European Union are very important economic partners: between them, they account for about 40 percent of global GDP. So I think that it is our interest to keep this open regime of trade but also to keep our commitment to these matters where global responsibility is needed, namely development aid and the fight against climate change. From that point of view, I think that our Summit was indeed very, very positive.
Question 1: I would like to address my question to Prime Minister Fukuda. I understand that in discussions about the creation of a post-Kyoto framework for reducing greenhouse gases, there has been a disparity between Japan's position, which entails the promotion of a sector-based approach, and the EU's position, in which comprehensive volume restrictions are emphasized. During your talks today, I understand that the EU side expressed an affirmation of the effectiveness of the sector-based approach. Based on today's discussions, how do you intend to advance Japan-EU cooperation toward the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit on the climate change issue, which is a major topic of the Summit? Please share with us your thoughts on this.
During our discussions today, I once again explained the sector-based approach that Japan is proposing with a view to building such a framework. From the EU side, I understand that a certain degree of positive evaluation was given to the effect that this sector-based approach would be effective in securing fair and equitable country-specific volume targets. At the time of the Summit as well, I intend to continue to maintain close coordination so that we can advance negotiations, based partly on today's leaders' discussions, within the United Nations framework.
But on the other side, we agree on the common goal. What is the most important, both to Japan and the European Union, our industrialized, developed countries, which have also capacities to deal with this challenge.
So I think that it is of crucial importance that, first of all, the developed countries -- mostly the countries of the G8 -- reach agreement among themselves to include into their plan all positive suggestions and approaches, also the suggestion and approach proposed by Japan, of course, and then to lead the fight against the climate change, and also to help the developing countries. I think that we will be able to invite on board also developing countries and those who are not included in the Kyoto process by our leadership and also by our strong commitment.
At this point I want to stress that the European Union decided to go ahead, even alone if there is no global agreement, but of course we need this global agreement. The only possible successful end of this fight is with the global approach, and in this area the developed countries should lead.
Of course, as we said, we are ready to go to 30 percent if the other developed economies do the same. So I am very confident that we are going to deliver on our own commitments, but as Prime Minister Jansa just said, it is important to have a global agreement. It is precisely because we need that global agreement that we are very much supporting the G8 process and also the Major Economies Meetings -- both of them, those processes.
We believe that looking for the G8 in July here in Japan, where I will participate also, it is important what we have achieved today, because if you look at the conclusions of the meeting, there is indeed the idea of complementarity of approaches. But to reach targets, there are to be binding targets for the global community: that is what was agreed.
Regarding specific issue you mentioned about biofuels, it is a very complex issue, as you know. We have to make an assessment about the objective and consequences of biofuels for food prices, and how this issue relates one to the other. Let me once again underline one point: the European Union unanimously agreed on specific targets for biofuels, but it is sustainable biofuels -- it is a new generation of biofuels. It is important to understand this.
What happens today is that biofuels are being produced without any kind of international regime, any kind of common standards, and this is precisely where we see the problem. Some of the biofuels that we are witnessing now have bad consequences for the environment. We need to promote another generation of biofuels and this is exactly why we are working. We are working and I personally asked the services of the Commission to come with a new assessment of the situation regarding biofuels -- economic and ecological impact of it in the face of the most recent developments. We are studying all the implications of this issue. But, once again, European Union leaders did not decide to promote the biofuels of the past. They committed to specific targets for a new generation of biofuels, if and when it is possible to develop these new generations.