"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 Abe following the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

[Place] New York
[Date] September 29, 2015
[Source] Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
[Notes] Provisional Translation
[Full text]

Opening Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

This is the third consecutive year I have visited New York in order to attend the United Nations General Assembly. Two years ago, I advocated the creation of "a society in which women shine." Last year, I appealed for the world to cooperate in addressing the threats of the Ebola virus and terrorism.

Every year the issues change. But what they have in common is the fact that the international community works together to confront those occasional crises. Under the flag of the United Nations, leaders from around the world rally together, consolidating forces to overcome challenging issues. That is what the United Nations General Assembly is all about.

This year's biggest issue is the outpouring of large numbers of refugees from the Middle East and Northern Africa into Europe.

As a partner that shares fundamental values, Japan declares its solidarity with Europe.

A tremendous number of people have had to flee from their home countries where they were born and raised. The causes of this reality are fear of violence and terrorism, as well as fear of poverty.

The world must cooperate so that they can find a way to escape from poverty. Economies must be turned around and countries must be rebuilt. I believe that helping people to become self-reliant is the shortest path to solving problems and restoring peace.

Japan is determined to carry out significant responsibilities in bringing a fundamental resolution to the refugee issue through actively cooperating in economic assistance and in education, health and medicine.

Japan fights poverty while staying along with the people. Sixty years ago, we started by working right alongside Indian farmers, teaching them how to use agricultural machinery, while also battling epidemic diseases troubling Sri Lankan livestock farmers.

Japan shares the wisdom of our companies executing this high-quality manufacturing as well as our workplace ethics which we take pride in. We have actively trained young people in Asia and Africa. We actually go to local areas and spend time there, working directly with the people to foster human resources. This is how Japan operates. This year's UN General Assembly adopted as a new agenda its strong will for the world to join hands in tackling poverty and realizing sustainable development.

That agenda clearly and thoroughly specifies that it is essential to have "high-quality" growth and education centered on human beings. I consider Japan to have achieved great results by thoroughly utilizing the experience and know-how that we have cultivated over 60 long years.

But it is more than only poverty alleviation. I believe that there are some contributions that only Japan can make towards the diverse range of issues that the world faces in the 21st century—infectious diseases, climate change, women's rights, and preparations for tsunamis and other natural disasters.

At the same time, regrettably, we are unable to say that the present-day United Nations, which now marks the 70th anniversary since its founding, has sufficiently addressed such new challenges. Prime Minister Modi of India, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, President Rousseff of Brazil and I held a "G4 summit meeting," where we agreed on our recognition that it is necessary to reform the UN Security Council in a way appropriate for the 21st century. We also confirmed that we will take actions together going forward.

We Japanese have the will and the determination to carry out an even greater role as a permanent member of the Security Council, to create the better world the United Nations seeks as an ideal.

Hoisting high the banner of "Proactive Contributor to Peace," Japan is determined to contribute even more proactively to global peace and prosperity.

Taking advantage of this opportunity when global leaders come together, I held my 11th summit meeting with President Putin of Russia. Under the relationship of trust that he and I share, we agreed to aim at concluding a peace treaty and to build up our dialogues frequently in the future.

Having held a number of summit meetings with Pacific island nations, countries of Africa and the Middle East, and so on, I also believe I succeeded in developing active diplomacy from the viewpoint of a panoramic perspective of the world map.

Tomorrow, I will visit the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica, birthplace of the world's fastest man, Mr. Usain Bolt. This will be the first-ever visit to Jamaica by a Japanese prime minister. Jamaica is a major country in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and a country with which we share the fundamental values of democracy and the rule of law. I intend to discuss with Prime Minister Simpson-Miller the great potential for bilateral cooperation.

New York is a city where a great number of Japanese are actively pursuing their fields, including Mr. Hideki Matsui, who was enormously popular when he played for the Yankees in years past. Here in New York I had the opportunity to interact with a number of Japanese.

Moreover, New York is a hub for not only politics but also economy and culture, and a city where people gather from all around the world. There is no opportunity more ideal for sending out to the world the message of Japan's appeal.

I explained directly to investors and business managers representing the U.S. how Abenomics has shifted into its second stage and I urged them to invest in Japan. I will continue to create a robust economy, placing the utmost priority on the economy. Through assistance for child rearing and social security, I will halt the shift to an aging society with low birth rate and create a society in which all one hundred million-plus citizens are each dynamic engaged. I strongly stated my determination to achieve these.

I also highlighted the potential held by each of Japan's regions, our beautiful hometown areas, our appealing tourist attractions, and our superb "washoku" cuisine with the cooperation of Ms. Junko Koshino; Ms. Fumiko Hayashi, Mayor of Yokohama; Mr. Eikei Suzuki, Governor of Mie Prefecture which is home to Ise-Shima; and others.

I want people around the world to know Japan's traditions and culture. In the future I intend to markedly reinforce our diplomacy that places Japan's soft power at the forefront.

Next spring, Japan will invite world leaders to Ise-Shima to hold a summit. Ise-Shima is home to traditions and culture in which Japan takes great pride, including notably its beautiful bay and the Ise-Jingu Shrine. I intend to hold frank discussions together with world leaders regarding various issues facing the world in this very tranquil setting.

Japan will reliably demonstrate leadership to foster world peace and prosperity. I wish to send out the message of our strong determination even more powerfully, taking the opportunity of this United Nations General Assembly.

Questions and Answers

REPORTER (HARA, NHK): I would like to ask about Japan-Russia relations. Mr. Prime Minister, you held talks with President Putin here in New York. There are disagreements between Russia and the United States regarding the situation in Ukraine and the situation in Syria, and I believe that the future of Japan-Russia relations is greatly impacted by the future of U.S.-Russia relations. How do you intend to achieve a breakthrough regarding such a situation? Also, President Putin's visit to Japan was postponed last year. By roughly when do you intend to make a decision about the best timing for his visit?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: In our summit yesterday, President Putin and I held frank and wide-ranging discussions on Japan-Russia relations and urgent international affairs. Japan and Russia have not concluded a peace treaty in the 70 years since the end of World War II, which I consider to be an abnormal situation. Resolution of the Northern Territories issue will only come through dialogue between the leaders of our two countries.

President Putin and I agreed that we will continue to have dialogues at the summit level, making use of opportunities at the G20, APEC, and other international meetings. As for the situation in Ukraine, the situation in Syria, and other important issues facing the international community, it is important to gain Russia's constructive engagement. I believe that yesterday we again succeeded in holding frank and useful discussions. We confirmed that we will continue to hold such discussions into the future.

As for the schedule of President Putin's visit to Japan, on the basis of the mutual agreement reached at the Japan-Russia summit meeting on the sidelines of the APEC meeting last November, it will be considered in a comprehensive manner, taking into account various factors including the state of preparations. President Putin and I agreed that we would realize his visit to Japan at the best timing.

REPORTER (BRUNNSTROM, REUTERS): About your Abenomics 2.0, can you tell us why you decided to replace the initial three arrows with another three, which some critics would say are a little bit vague? And, does it mean for example that the government is no longer caring so much about the two percent inflation target [or] getting sustainable growth or structural reforms, and can you achieve your growth target with no apparent pro-growth plans?

And also, on the issue of Syrian refugees, you announced new money for refugees from Iraq and Syria today. What is the possibility of Japan accepting some of those refugees as other countries in the world have done?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: Through the policy of Abenomics' "three arrows," Japan has clearly made improvements to its employment and income environments. I believe this fact demonstrates the correctness of our policies. We have come close to breaking out of deflation, and we are most certainly poised to be transformed into a nation that is able to grow.

However, Japan also faces the structural issue of an aging society with low birthrate, which has not been addressed for many years. That is why I decided to aim to create a society in which all one hundred million-plus citizens are each dynamically engaged. The new "three arrows" are in fact clearly-set targets that we must work to achieve.

While the "three arrows" policy in place up to now designated economic policy measures, in the new "three arrows" of the second stage of Abenomics, we laid out concrete targets. The first arrow is a "robust economy" aiming at a 600 trillion yen GDP, aspiring to becoming Japan's largest post-war economy through a reinforcement of the "three arrows" that have been in place up until now. On that basis, as the second arrow, we will provide support for child-rearing to achieve a birthrate of 1.8 children per woman, which is the level the public has indicated as desirable, in order to maintain the population at 100 million people. As for the third arrow, the baby-boomer generation will be approaching the age when they need nursing care. This will cause a great deal of damage to the economy if their children's generation—that is, the second baby boomer generation—comes to quit their jobs in order to take care of their parents. We have also been called on to dispel those anxieties. We added the arrow of social security in order to create a society in which the need to provide nursing care never forces anyone to leave a job. None of these arrows can be achieved overnight. But I intend to move forward on further nation-building by firing off the new "three arrows" with all I've got.

As for responses to the current refugee issue, I view this as precisely an issue that we must tackle through the international community acting in partnership. Speaking about a population issue in Japan, there are other things we should do before accepting migrants, namely the dynamic engagement of women in society and the dynamic engagement of the elderly, and there are moreover various means we should still attempt for raising the birth rate. At the same time, Japan intends to fulfill its own responsibilities regarding this refugee issue. Japan intends specifically to make contributions going forward with a view to transforming the very soil that gives rise to refugees.

REPORTER (KURAMOTO, KYODO NEWS): I would like to ask about the Cabinet reshuffle. In the press conferences you held in Japan thus far, you indicated your intention to carry out a Cabinet reshuffle upon your return to Japan. Have you decided upon the timing of the reshuffling of your Cabinet or of the members of the Board of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)? You also indicated that you intend to utilize a structure that is balanced across all age groups and both sexes. Please explain the goals of the reshuffling and the principles you intend to follow.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: I plan to reshuffle my Cabinet and the LDP Board members on October 7th, after I return to Japan.

In the future, I will fire my new "three arrows" to create a society in which all one hundred million-plus citizens are each dynamically engaged. I believe it necessary to create a powerful structure—a new structure—in order to advance this kind of new policy. I think it is fair to say that the LDP is a treasure house of human resources, both male and female and across all age groups. I would like to have as many people as possible demonstrating their abilities even as we maintain the larger framework.

At present, nothing has been decided yet regarding who will serve in which positions, but I intend to think it over in an unhurried way between now and the 7th. Fortunately, it will take 20 hours to return to Japan from Jamaica together with you[, the accompanying members of the press]. No telephone calls will come in during that time either, so I intend to think it over well, making use of that time and other opportunities.

REPORTER (FRIEDMAN, NPR): The disagreement between the central government and the Okinawans over the U.S. base relocation seems to be at a standstill. What might a compromise look like, or will you press ahead without taking into consideration the objections of the Okinawans?

And, on that point also, new documents show a history of the U.S. military dumping toxic chemicals and killing sea life on Japanese soil. How can you ensure the Okinawans that this won't happen after a base move?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: I consider alleviating Okinawa's military base burden to be a responsibility of the government and a mission for the government to fulfill. Within that, the important point is that we must absolutely avoid having Futenma Air Station, which is in the heart of an urban area, become firmly entrenched in its current location. I believe we can say this understanding is shared by both the national government and Okinawa Prefecture.

Recently, we held intensive consultations with Okinawa Prefecture over the course of a month, and I myself stated the thinking of the Abe Cabinet about reducing the military base burden and promoting and developing Okinawa. We also share a common understanding with Okinawa Prefecture that we will continue discussions going forward. In order to do so, we will newly establish a council of the national government and Okinawa Prefecture and hold consultations.

At the same time, we will move forward firmly with the Futenma Air Station relocation work, with the national government acting fully in unison and in accordance with relevant laws and ordinances while giving consideration to the impacts on residents' daily lives and the environment.

You mentioned the environment just now. We are giving the greatest possible consideration to the natural environment, including precisely Okinawa's seas, its coral, and so on. I would like to reiterate that fact very clearly.

In the future, I would like to take all possible opportunities to provide explanations to gain the understanding of the people in the local area as well as the people of Okinawa Prefecture.