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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Press Conference by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on the occasion of the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda

PRIME MINISTER NODA: This was the second time that I attended the United Nations (UN) General Assembly session following on from last year's session. The UN General Assembly is an invaluable summit diplomacy forum, at which many leaders from all corners of the world gather together in New York once a year. My visit here is predicated on a firm conviction that it is one of the vital duties of the Prime Minister to make maximum use of this forum and to make a wide appeal to the international community on Japan's positions and assertions.

In my address earlier at the general debate, I was able to once again convey to the international community, as I did last year, that Japan is resolutely resolved to "continue to make a contribution to the world and human well-being" from a variety of dimensions.

In this year's address, I spoke about the policy challenges being tackled by various countries, including Japan, from the larger context of a theme that ran through my entire address, which was "Responsibility for Tomorrow and Three Pearls of Wisdom." In order to overcome the challenges shared by the world and humans, I urged that now is the time to pool together the three pearls of wisdom humans have gained so for. They are: the power to give adequate thought to not only the "now" but also the "future"; the perspective of looking down at the earth where we live; and the manner in which human beings settle disputes reasonably under rules.

Given that the "rule of law" is one of the themes of the current session of the UN General Assembly, I called on countries to adapt the third pearl of wisdom by settling global issues, including territorial issues, not with "force" but with "reason." I underscored the importance of preventing and resolving inter-state conflicts in a peaceful manner and the role to be fulfilled by international judicial institutions based on the principle of the "rule of law." In particular, with regard to international judicial institutions, while underlining Japan's personnel and financial contribution, I called for countries to recognize the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as Japan did.

From the perspective of the "rule of law," there are numerous global challenges which ought to be illuminated once again. In my address, I touched on the issue of abductions by North Korea and its nuclear and missile issues, the nuclear issue of Iran, and the violence and suppression in Syria, and stated Japan's position.

In addition, from the standpoint of enhancing the governance of international organizations, I stressed that negotiations on the reform of the UN Security Council should be accelerated so that it reflects the realities of the world in order for the Council to be fully effective and so that we can move closer to the realization of the Security Council reform.

Through my address, I believe I sent out a clear message that we will "solve the issues facing the world by giving adequate consideration to future generations based on rules from the perspective of looking at the earth from the outside."

During my visit, I met with as many leaders as possible and strove to forge mutual trust. I was able to hold beneficial exchanges of views with the leaders of Australia, Indonesia, Mongolia, Colombia, and Egypt, as well as UN General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon under a cordial atmosphere. In particular, I believe it was a significant achievement that I was able to confirm with Colombia about the start of negotiations on the Japan-Colombia economic partnership agreement (EPA) and with each country on strengthening our partnerships.

With this, I would like to conclude my opening statement.


REPORTER (Kato, NHK): In your general debate address, you stressed that issues of territories and territorial waters should be settled in accordance with international law in line with the theme of the "rule of law." What was the response to this from various countries in your opinion? Also, how do you intend to obtain the understanding of countries regarding the Senkaku Islands and the Takeshima issue? Additionally, China and the Republic of Korea (ROK), together, have been strengthening their actions against Japan. How does Japan intend to deal with this?

PRIME MINISTER NODA: I believe there were three questions. Regarding the first question, I underscored in my general debate address that Japan has consistently given priority to the rule of law, which I emphasized in my address, and has contributed to its enhancement. I stressed that efforts must be made to resolve issues in a peaceful manner in accordance with international law no matter what the situation may be. As to the extent to which we obtained the understanding of the international community, it is too soon to know as I have just delivered the address. I endeavored to give a compelling explanation of Japan's position, and I expect it to serve as an opportunity for countries to deepen their understanding of the position of Japan.

In your second question, you asked about Senkaku and the Takeshima issue. With regard to Senkaku, it is clear that the Senkaku Islands are an inherent territory of Japan in light of historical facts and based upon international law. Indeed, there exists no issue of territorial sovereignty, and the Senkaku Islands are under the valid control of Japan. We have been making clear to foreign governments and the media that this is Japan's basic position, and we will continue to communicate this position. Regarding Takeshima, too, we will continue to underline Japan's position to the international community in a timely and appropriate manner.

Moreover, in order to prevent these issues from harming bilateral relations, including Japan-China or Japan-ROK relations, and to ensure that they do not adversely affect stability and peace in the entire East Asia, it is important, as I have been inferring in my discussion on the rule of law, that communication is maintained in a calm and extensive manner and without both sides losing sight of the overall picture. As I emphasized today, I believe we must keep in mind the foremost principle that we must settle issues not by force but address them in a reasonable and calm manner based on international law, and I will be calling on nations concerned to exercise such self-restraint.

REPORTER (Pennington, AP): I have another question related to Senkaku. On this issue, to what level is Japan prepared to make compromises with China and Taiwan? In light of the impact this issue is having on regional stability and Japan's commercial activities, to what level is Japan prepared to make compromises?

PRIME MINISTER NODA: While the word "compromise" was used, as I stated in my response to a question earlier, it is perfectly clear that the Senkaku Islands are an inherent territory of Japan in light of historical facts and based upon international law. It is a fact that there exists no issue of territorial sovereignty, and therefore, we will never make a compromise that would cause Japan to back down from this fact. This must be made clear. Having said that, in order to prevent these matters from adversely affecting and harming the overall vital relations between Japan and China, and as you pointed out a moment ago, Japan and Taiwan, Japan will ensure that reasonable and calm responses continue to be taken. In this light, I believe it is important that we maintain communication without losing sight of the overall picture. Vice-ministers' talks were held recently. Japan would like to maintain dialogue and communication at various levels through a range of channels. Through these efforts, we will work to contain the adverse effects on overall relations.

REPORTER (Matsuo, Mainichi Shimbun): I have a question concerning the new president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been elected as president of the LDP. What are your reactions to his election? Also, the new president has indicated that unless you commit to dissolving the House of Representatives and holding an election within the year, the LDP will not take part in deliberations on the bill on special measures for government bonds. How do you intend to respond to such a stance? Also, we hear that you have requested a telephone meeting with President Abe. If it is the case that in a further meeting of the three parties of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), LDP, and New Komeito, no common ground can be found with regard to a dissolution of the Diet, will you scrap your pledge of a "dissolution in the near term?" Finally, there are a number of important bills that are waiting for the opening of the extraordinary Diet session. When do you intend to open the session?

PRIME MINISTER NODA: First of all, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been elected as the new president of the LDP and I would like to congratulate him on his appointment. I telephoned the office of the LDP president at 10:30 pm last night, Japan time, to pass on those congratulations myself. During the phone call I noted that we are both in the midst of creating our respective party structures, but called on President Abe to hold a further party leaders' meeting once the party structures are in place. At the time of such a party leaders' meeting I intend to discuss the various points that you have just raised. I believe that newly elected President Abe stated during the presidential campaign that he would abide by the three-party agreement. I also believe that he stated that the bill on special measures for government bonds would not be used as a political bargaining chip. I aim to engage in thorough exchanges of opinions on this issue and others in the future, and I expect that in the course of these discussions the matter of the timing of the opening of the extraordinary Diet session and the bills that will be deliberated during its course will be finalized. With regard to the dissolution of the Diet, as I have said before, I have not indicated a specific timing to anyone.

REPORTER (Eckhart, Reuters): With regard to the confrontation over territories, I would like to ask what the Government expects from China. For example, does the Government believe that responsibility lies with the Chinese Government for the damage inflicted on Japanese factories and companies that are operating in China? Does the Government intend to demand compensation? At the same time, what support is the Government requesting from its alliance partner the United States? What kinds of cooperation are you seeking, for example moral support or security-related cooperation?

PRIME MINISTER NODA: I believe your question relates to the Senkaku Islands and what the Government stance is regarding what is being requested of the Chinese Government. Ultimately the issue is one in which the Government made a decision to purchase parts of the Senkaku Islands  that have been in the private ownership of a Japanese citizen for a long period of time. This purchase was concluded in order to ensure the long-term peaceable and stable maintenance and management of the Senkaku Islands. It is not the case that the Government has newly come to possess the islands, but rather, as I have just stated, that the Government decided to purchase the islands that had previously been in the ownership of a Japanese citizen, and in the final analysis the matter is one of a transfer of ownership rights. The Government has frequently explained to the Chinese Government that the issue is one of a transfer of ownership rights, but unfortunately we have yet to gain their understanding. As a result of this lack of understanding it has regrettably been the case that there have been acts committed in China, including attacks, looting and destruction targeting Japanese citizens and Japanese companies. There should be no such resort to violence for whatever reason and the Government has expressed this point clearly to the Chinese Government, calling strongly for the protection of Japanese citizens and Japanese companies. Naturally, in Japan too, Chinese citizens will have their own individual views, but as the same sort of actions as seen in China are not acceptable in Japan, we seek to make our position clear to the people of Japan and call on all citizens to respond calmly and rationally. The Government will continue to put forward our argument and stance, seeking to gain understanding in a calm and rational manner. With regard to the United States, the Government of the United States has for some time now been indicating a policy of deepening involvement in the Asia-Pacific region, given the stringent fiscal and economic situation. The Government basically welcomes this stance. The presence of the United States is of great significance for the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. I hope that the United States will continue to perform such a role.

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