"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 Shinzo Abe Following his Visit to Canada and Attendance at the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

[Date] September 27, 2013
[Source] Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
[Notes] Provisional Translation
[Full text]

1. Opening Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE: Japan intends to proactively contribute to world prosperity and peace.

This visit has reinforced for me the enormity of what the world expects of Japan.

Canada, the first country I visited on this trip, is a critical partner with which Japan shares universal values, such as freedom, democracy, basic human rights, and the rule of law. This year also happens to be the 85th anniversary of the establishment of friendship between Japan and Canada. Prime Minister Harper and I were able to agree that we will further deepen our friendship of over six years and strengthen our cooperation in a wide range of areas, including the economy and security.

In particular, it is of great significant for Japan that an agreement could be reached on the stable supply of low-cost Canadian liquefied natural gas (LNG) and on strengthening the defense cooperation by concluding an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement (ACSA).

And this is the time of the year when world leaders gather together in New York.

I had an opportunity to hold talks with the leaders of France, Qatar, Iran, Pakistan, as well as a number of African nations.

I could sense very clearly that there was a high level of interest in Japan's efforts to achieve robust growth once again.

I was able to take a variety of opportunities in New York to explain my vision, which is for Japan to revive a robust economy and play a proactive role in tackling global challenges, including security issues.

There are still many people in the world who do not have access to medical and health care services which Japanese people take for granted. This is an area in which Japan can make significant contributions based on its own experiences.

"Looking forward to seeing Japan take leadership."

This is what Bono told me about a role of Japan. Bono has expressed to me his confidence in Japan's leadership, and he gave a strong yell on Japan's role in global health.

I also had discussions with Mr. Bill Gates on contributions to global initiatives for tackling diseases.

Furthermore, I had an opportunity to meet with women who are active on the front lines of various fields in the world.

These women have carved out a career for themselves in their fields.

I am a strong believer that women's active participation will conquer the current sense of stagnation.

In the context of supporting developing countries, a major theme for the international community is how to ensure women exercise their full potential.

There is no doubt that creating "a society in which women can shine" will bring significant vitality not only to Japan but also to the world. This is a view I placed emphasis on in my address to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

In my UN address, I described my commitment to "Proactive Contribution to Peace", which I believe, Japan's flagship policy in the 21st century.

Through new contributions in response to the issue of Syria which Japan has pledged on this occasion, as well as through Japan's own efforts towards the peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue in Iran, Japan, under the banner of "Proactive Contribution to Peace," took advantage of the forum of the UN General Assembly to promote specific actions.

Japan will continue to fulfill its responsibility in the global effort to create "an even better world." I believe I was able to communicate to the world Japan's determination to play an even more proactive role toward achieving peace, stability, and prosperity in the world.

When I return to Japan it will be October, a time of harvest and efforts bearing fruit.

The upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting and East Asia Summit will provide fortuitous opportunities for Japan to discuss the future with the leaders of the Asia-Pacific region, the most important region for Japan, in order to ensure that we deliver solid outcomes in response to the various domestic and diplomatic issues.

Through this visit, I have renewed my resolve to fulfill the public mandate and to meet the world's expectations.

2. Questions and Answers

REPORTER (FURUMOTO, MAINICHI SHIMBUN): On various occasions, including in your address to the UN General Assembly, you have presented Japan's policy on "Proactive Contribution to Peace." However, with regard to such matters as the deployment of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) for peacekeeping operations (PKO), there are hurdles in connection with the interpretation of the Constitution. Moving forward, how do you intend to realize this "Proactive Contribution to Peace"?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: Once a year, world leaders meet at the UN General Assembly. Addressing the UN General Assembly is synonymous with addressing the international community. I wanted to take this opportunity to explain what we, Japan, are thinking, what we are trying to do, and what kinds of contributions we are trying to make, and thereby, make Japan's presence fully known.

In my address to the UN General Assembly, I spoke with particular emphasis on:

(1) Japan's determination to contribute even more proactively than ever before towards world peace, stability, and prosperity under the concept of "Proactive Contribution to Peace"

(2) Japan's concrete contribution of more than US$3 billion over the next three years to the international community for global efforts to realize "a society in which women shine."

I was pleased to hear the voices of expectations towards Japan's expanded role and contributions in the world.

Japan's contributions in response to the issue of Syria and initiatives in response to Iran's nuclear issue are both part of the "Proactive Contribution to Peace." Bearing this flag, Japan will advance specific initiatives and further contribute to increasing the benefits for the entire international community.

During this visit, I met with a variety of people, and on those occasions, I explained the content of our "Proactive Contribution to Peace." I believe many people expressed endorsement for our vision.

With regard to the issue of the interpretation of the Constitution, the discussions at the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security have only just resumed. We will work to foster the understanding of the people by explaining what is being discussed at the Advisory Panel, what the issues are, and what the goals are, while keeping in line with specific examples.

At the same time, we will of course hold discussions with the ruling parties, in particular, with the members of the New Komeito Party, to obtain their understanding.

REPORTER (TANDON, AFP): You mentioned that you met with President Rouhani of Iran. Iran of course has been an issue that has been quite prominent here at the UN General Assembly. What was your impression of President Rouhani and whether you think that Iran will be able to solve the nuclear issues? And specifically on the role of Japan, Japan has cut its oil imports from Iran in response to the U.S. concerns. Could Japan adjust oil imports to past levels in exchange for a peaceful resolution by Iran?

PRIME MINISTER ABE Imports of Iranian oil to Japan have been declining due to the nuclear issue.

Sincere and concrete efforts by Iran to solve the nuclear problem are essential for overcoming this situation.

Yesterday I held talks with President Rouhani and communicated to him my belief that the international community had great expectations of the new administration, and that the key to solving the problems would be for Iran to capture this current window of opportunity and to demonstrate its flexibility.

After holding the talks my frank impression is that President Rouhani has a forward-looking attitude and is attempting to cooperate with the international community. I strongly hope that Iran will take specific actions to dispel the concerns of the international community and restore the country's trustworthiness.

As we work toward a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue Japan intends to build on our traditional friendly relationship with Iran to make as big a contribution as possible.

REPORTER (MATSUTANI, NHK): I would like to ask a question about your handling of the consumption tax and economic policy. I believe your decision regarding the consumption tax rate will be announced soon but in terms of economic policy, calls for caution with regard to the reduction of the corporation tax have been growing among the ruling parties. Furthermore, New Komeito is calling for the expansion of the child-care allowance, among other matters. Please tell us what your approach will be, including your decision about the raising of the consumption tax. I believe you are of the view that priority should be given to the recovery of corporate earnings, which you hope will lead to an increase in wages and a growth in employment, but critics have pointed out that it is difficult to force private sector companies to raise wages. How do you intend to achieve this?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: Regarding the consumption tax, early in October I will check the various economic indicators, carefully assess the economic conditions, and make a final judgment.

As a result of the "three arrows" of Abenomics the economy is currently making steady improvements. I think we may have finally managed to find a way to escape from 15 years of deflation.

For this reason, I believe that adequate measures for maintaining the growth trajectory and restoring the vitality of the economy are necessary. Right now I am exchanging views with the ruling parties as part of the process of formulating those measures. Moreover, we are currently engaged in coordination on the matter. Through the collaboration of the Government and the ruling parties we will take a through approach in order to ensure that the best solutions are adopted.

Regarding the point you raised in your question about whether expanded corporate earnings will be reflected in wages, my economic policy consists of creating a virtuous economic cycle in which increase in corporate profits lead to higher wages employment growth, and to a growth in consumption. I think I have obtained understanding from the business community on my policy.

It is necessary to enter this virtuous cycle as soon as possible and in meetings between Government, labor, and management we are holding frank discussions on this issue, among others. I also want to provide support through the taxation system to companies that raise wages. I think we must provide companies with those kinds of incentives as well. We have received the understanding of many companies in this regard and, also, we made appeals to many companies before the summer bonus period and received the consent of several companies.

I will continue to move our policies forward so that the fruits of economic recovery are spread more widely among all of the Japanese people. Let me also note that the Abe administration has increased the reconstruction budget from 19 trillion yen to 26 trillion yen. In no circumstances will we reduce the reconstruction budget that we have just increased. I declare once again that it remains in place. We will also formulate the new measures with that as a precondition.

REPORTER (PENNINGTON, AP): Last week the foreign minister of China expressed willingness to hold dialogue with Japan if Japan would acknowledge the existence of a dispute over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands. I would like to ask whether you feel there is any room for compromise at all on this issue. Please give us your prospect on how the tension between Japan and China will be eased?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: What I would like to say is that the Japan-China relationship is one of the most important bilateral relationships. I can say that Japan and China have inseparable links in various areas. Both Japan and China have responsibility for the peace, stability, and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the world.

Regarding the Senkaku Islands, they are an inherent part of the territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law. Indeed, the Senkaku Islands are under the valid control of Japan. Intrusions into the territorial waters around the islands by Chinese Government vessels are continuing, and we believe this is an extremely regrettable matter, but Japan will never compromise regarding the sovereignty of the islands. At the same time, Japan has never taken actions that may escalate the situation. We have handled the situation resolutely and calmly to date and we will continue to do so.

I intend to advance Japan-China relations by returning to "the principle of the mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interest", in which both counties manage the relationship so that individual issues do not affect the overall relations. I communicated my intention directly to President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit meeting.

Even though certain issues exist, we should not close all the doors for dialogue. On the contrary, we should engage in bilateral dialogue, including at the summit level, precisely because there is an issue. Japan's door for dialogue is always open and I hope that China will adopt the same attitude.