"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Press Conference by Prime Minister Naoto Kan at the end of G8 Summit

[Date] May 27, 2011
[Source] Prime Minister of JAPAN and His Cabinet
[Full text]

[Prime Minister Naoto Kan] At the G8 summit this year I received very warm words of sympathy from all the leaders with regard to the disaster. And they also said that they were deeply moved by the Japanese, who responded very calmly, even in the face of such a catastrophe. And I only felt more deeply the deepness of the bonds (kizuna) that we have with the countries around the world and I was most gratified.

Following the summit meeting last year, I am glad that I was able to attend the summit meeting this year and engage in a very candid exchange of views with the leaders of other countries. To engage in foreign policy smoothly, I believe that it is extremely important - I felt this once again - to have relations of trust amongst leaders.

The G8 summit this time was chaired by President Sarkozy, and he invited me to deliver an initial presentation regarding the earthquake disaster and the nuclear power accidents in Japan.

In my initial remarks, I reported to the gathering that we had launched the Nuclear Incident Investigation and Verification Committee in order to achieve the highest possible levels of nuclear safety, drawing on the valuable lessons of the nuclear power accidents. And I also told the G8 leaders that I wish to fulfill Japan's historic responsibility to communicate the experiences and lessons of the accidents to people around the world as well as to future generations.

I also announced that Japan shall be organizing an international conference next year on nuclear safety in cooperation with IAEA, based on the findings of the investigation and verification of the nuclear power accidents, and called on the member countries of G8 to participate in that meeting. Also at G8 meeting as well as the OECD meeting ahead of this G8, building on the Fukushima nuclear accidents, I enumerated Japan's basic policy that will open the future for Japans energy policy.

More specifically, in addition to the two pillars of power generation that we've had: nuclear power and fossil fuels, which have been the major sources of power generation to date, two new pillars will be added and these two are renewable energy, or natural energy, and energy saving. I explained this basic view regarding our new energy policy.

Renewable energy, such as solar, wind power, bio mass, by utilizing such energy, we shall grow the percentage of renewable energy out of total power generated to at least over 20 percent by the earliest possible time in the 2020's. So we shall expand the utilization of renewable energy and to that end I stated that we shall engage in very bold technological innovations and in the efforts to disseminate such energy. To achieve such target, we need to engage in technological innovations, not just in the form of government-led projects, but we also need to encourage private-sector-led projects that mobilize private sector funds and knowledge or wisdom. And I am encouraged to see people like Mr. (Masayoshi) Son of Softbank have already spoken out to the same effect in this field.

Now, energy saving means more efficient use of energy, but we also have to question our lifestyle to date, which was premised on the infinite presence of energy resources. We need to create a new lifestyle in which a comfortable life can be enjoyed even with limited energy. So I think it is important we have to create such new culture of energy consumption and have to engage every citizen in such efforts as well. These are the efforts that we would really like to get down to. This is what I explained to my colleagues at the G8.

Also, at the G8 summit this time we had discussions on international situations very broadly. With regard to DPRK, I led the discussion called on all the other G8 members to firmly tackle this issue of DPRK's uranium enrichment program, which is a clear violation on UN Security Council resolutions. We could send out a very strong message vis-a-vis DPRK, demanding them to engage in concrete actions towards the resumption of the dialogue, abandon its nuclear programs and resolve the abduction issue.

Also, including the period of the G8 meetings, this time I had numerous one-on-one meetings with leaders of numerous countries. I had meetings with President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Fillon of France. Since this was an official visit to France I was able to have these meetings with these two leaders, and in my meeting with President Sarkozy, we agreed to launch a strategic dialogue between the foreign ministers of our two countries, a proposal that was made by President Sarkozy. We also had very fruitful discussions on realization of UN Security Council reform and on various global challenges.

In my meeting with President Obama of the United States, since the disaster I've had several phone conversations with him, but since it was the first time for me to meet with him following the earthquake, I directly expressed my gratitude for the very generous support we have received from the United States, and we have had very substantive discussions on a broad range of issues: Japan-US bilateral relations, the Middle-East situation, the Asia-Pacific situation, amongst others.

Now, with regard to the timing for making a judgment on our participation in the TPP negations, I told President Obama that while there is a delay because of the disaster, we would like to make our judgment as soon as possible after comprehensively considering this matter. President Obama kindly invited me to visit the United States in the first half of September and we agreed to work out the schedule. Ahead of that, with the premise of Diet consent, we wish to hold in the latter half of June the so-called two-plus-two meeting of the foreign and defense ministers of Japan and the United States, and also during this summer we shall be welcoming Vice President Joseph Biden to Japan. We would like to utilize such opportunities to further deepen the Japan-US alliance, which is built on the three pillars of security, economics, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

In my meeting with President Medvedev of Russia, we saw eye-to-eye that we shall further deepen mutually beneficial relationship of cooperation in all areas, including energy. With regard to the territorial issue, we concurred on continuing territorial negotiations in a quiet and calm atmosphere.

In addition to these meetings I also had very meaningful meetings with the leaders of Britain, Germany, Canada and Hungary.

After this I will move to Brussels and attend the Japan-EU Summit tomorrow. The European Union is a global partner which shares basic values with Japan, and at the summit meeting we shall get down to discuss further strengthening of relations between Japan and the EU. This year the summit tomorrow will mark the landmark 20th anniversary and I would like to make sure to make it a success.

Through summit diplomacy this time, I have expressed my determination to achieve open reconstructions as soon as possible in cooperation with the international community, and also expressed my determination to continue to make our international contributions as a way to reciprocate the goodwill that we have received from the international community. We shall do that as one of the leading countries of the world, and the leaders of the G8 responded by expressing their very warm support.

Now, numerous challenges are awaiting me once I get back home, but by obtaining the understanding of opposition parties, building on the results of the diplomacy this time, we shall do our best to achieve a very robust future-oriented recovery and reconstruction as well as a creation of future through close cooperation with the international community so that we shall be able to respond to the expectations of the Japanese people, notably the disaster-affected people.

[Cabinet Secretary for Public Relations] The floor is open to your questions. When you are designated, please state your own name and affiliation before asking your question. Yes, Mr. Yamaguchi.

Q. [Yamaguchi from NHK] Earlier you mentioned this ambitious goal of achieving the proportion of renewable energy raised to 20% by the earliest possible in 2020's, and you have announced that as an international commitment. However, in terms of the financial sources to achieve such technological innovation, you have not elucidated the basis of calculation. In order to achieve this international commitment, how much investment are you planning to make, and what is your road map?

A. To be precise, at the earliest possible time in the 2020's I would like to achieve at least 20% as the promotion of renewable energy of total power generation. This is what I stated at the OECD meeting as well as at the G8 summit meeting.

Now this is indeed as you suggested a very ambitious target, but I would not think it impossible. Already, some European countries have achieved close to 20% in terms of the proportion of renewable energy. We have today in the diet a legislative proposal for fixed price purchase (feed-in-tariff) system for power generated by renewable energy. I hope this bill will be approved by the Diet as early as possible so that many people will participate in such renewable energy power generation. I think that will be the important first step. Also we shall do our best to support innovative technological development as well as efforts to disseminate renewable energy. Of course, government funding will be an important element of that but we will also count on private-sector funding and I'm sure that the private sector's wisdom will mobilize itself as well. Now we find ourselves in very difficult fiscal conditions, but once people realize the huge potentials of renewable energy, I'm sure that financing as well as wisdom can be attracted.

[Cabinet Secretary for Public Relations] Then we will take one more question? Yes, please. Mr. Matsuura.

Q. [Matsuura from Kyodo news agency] I wish to ask a domestic question concerning the injection of seawater into the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, there is the increasing sense of distrust of government handling of information disclosure. Under these circumstances, the LDP is planning to submit a non-confidence motion, and there are some among the DPJ members to take side with that. If there are some members that support that or are absent in voting, what sort of disciplinary measures are you thinking of as the head of the DPJ? And also, there are views that the parliamentary session should be maintained open for the time being; what is your view about extension of Diet session?

A. With regard to the injection of seawater, I've already explained in my response to Diet queries. Also, I understand there are various movements among the opposition parties, but my party, I'm sure, will be able to remain united in responding to the circumstances.

With regard to the Diet session, we are asking the Diet to deliberate numerous legislative proposals, and bearing that in mind, after returning to Japan, I shall consider how to deal with the Diet session in close consultations with the Chief Cabinet Secretary and Secretary General as well as others concerned.

[Cabinet Secretary for Public Relations] This concludes the press conference, thank you very much for your cooperation.