"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 the G20 Hangzhou Summit

[Place] Hangzhou, China
[Date] September 5, 2016
[Source] Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
[Notes] Provisional Translation
[Full text]

Opening Statement

PRIME MINISTER ABE: Let me begin by saying that today, North Korea once again went ahead with launching ballistic missiles. As many as three missiles were fired into Japan’s exclusive economic zone simultaneously. This is unprecedented and represents a grave threat to our security. This is an impermissible and outrageous act that undermines the peace and stability of the region and is totally unacceptable.

Here in Hangzhou, just as world leaders were holding serious discussions on peace and prosperity, missiles were launched in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. The launches are a clear challenge to the international community, and Japan lodges a serious protest against North Korea.

At the G20 Summit, I immediately held talks with President Obama of the United States and President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea. We fully agreed to coordinate closely, including at the United Nations. I also urged China’s cooperation on this matter at the Japan-China summit meeting a short while ago. Japan will resolutely respond to the situation, hand-in-hand with the international community.

This year in May, the G7 leaders met in Japan. At Ise-Shima, the G7 leaders agreed that we would take all appropriate policy responses in order to avoid falling into another crisis.

Amid the slowdown in emerging economies that had acted as a “growth engine,” the G7 will lead efforts to achieve a sustainable and strong growth of the world economy. This resolve was included in the Leaders’ Declaration under my chairmanship.

Three months have passed since then.

At this year’s G20 Summit, the world economy was also the leading theme. On the basis of the discussions at the Ise-Shima Summit, I stressed that now, with the world economy facing major risks, it is important that we strengthen international cooperation.

The leaders of the G20 including the emerging economies shared a sense of concern over the world economy, and concurred on the need to take all appropriate policy responses. It was a significant achievement that in addition to fiscal and monetary policies, emerging economies including China were able to reach agreement on steadily addressing structural problems such as excess capacity.

Japan will fulfill its responsibility as the country holding the G7 presidency as well as based on this G20 agreement.

Recently, the Cabinet approved economic measures exceeding 28 trillion yen in project scope and compiled a supplementary budget. During the extraordinary Diet session that will be convoked this month, we will seek to swiftly pass the supplementary budget, as well as postpone the consumption tax increase planned for April of next year in order to steadily prop up domestic demand. We will also aim to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and pass associated legislation.

I intend to make the extraordinary Diet session in autumn one that speeds up Abenomics.

Even in the face of shortfalls in global demand and weaknesses in the global economy, member countries will never resort to protectionism and take actions collaboratively for the sustainable and powerful growth of the world economy. I would like to express my respect to President Xi Jinping of China for his leadership in compiling the Leaders’ Communique that includes such views.

China has long been an important friend for Japan. We both have a major responsibility to regional peace and prosperity and to the world economy. Recognizing this fully, we both need to make efforts to improve our relations from a broad perspective.

Taking this opportunity afforded by the Summit, President Xi Jinping and I held our third summit meeting.

Yes there are a variety of issues and problems because we are neighboring countries, and there are issues on which our opinions differ. However, it is precisely because there are difficult issues that we need to hold discussions. At our summit meeting moments ago, we agreed to hold dialogues on various fields and at various levels. In order to make the East China Sea a “Sea of Peace, Cooperation, and Friendship,” we concurred to accelerate discussions regarding a maritime-air communication mechanism between our defense authorities.

Our two countries will continue to hold a series of dialogues based on the major principle of “Mutually Beneficial Relationship Based on Common Strategic Interests.”

“The play of sunny skies,” “richer still in rain.”

What’s “real” does not lose its glimmer in any situation. On this occasion I was able to visit West Lake whose magnificent view has been admired since ancient times. I would like to sincerely thank the people of Hangzhou for their warm hospitality.

Tomorrow I will head to Laos. Within a span of two weeks or so, I have gone to Rio de Janeiro, Nairobi, Vladivostok, and Hangzhou, and next is Vientiane. I have traveled a distance equivalent to making two circles around the Earth to carry out proactive diplomacy. If I can only jump into a warp pipe like Super Mario, I would be able to travel in an instant. But that is not the case.

The world still faces a range of issues—a world economy with an increasingly unclear outlook, regional conflicts, terrorism, and refugees. To find solutions to these issues, Japan will demonstrate leadership under the banner of “Proactive Contribution to Peace.” We are determined to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world.

ASEAN also confronts a variety of issues, including the issue of the South China Sea. In whatever situation, and the more complex an issue is, the more important it is for us to go back to the principles.

Any dispute must be resolved not by use of force or intimidation, but peacefully and diplomatically based on international law.

We will fully uphold the rule of law and assure regional peace and stability as well as prosperity into the future. At the East Asia Summit, I look forward to holding extensive discussions with Japan’s friends from ASEAN regarding the region’s future we aim to achieve.

Questions and Answers

REPORTER (HARA, NHK): I would like to ask about the achievements of the Japan-China summit meeting. You mentioned earlier that the two sides concurred to accelerate negotiations on the defense mechanism. However, is it likely that China will exercise self-restraint on issues such as intrusion into Japan’s territorial waters in the East China Sea and establishment of outposts in the South China Sea? In addition, there is some lack of agreement among ASEAN member states due to China’s diplomatic offensive. How do you intend to go about finding fundamental solutions to these issues?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: During the summit meeting, although time was limited, we were able to have quite substantive, thorough discussions through simultaneous interpreters. I conveyed Japan’s position on the East China Sea and South China Sea issues frankly and clearly to President Xi Jinping. While there are a variety of issues because we are neighboring countries, this is precisely why it is important that we talk to each other.

I will continue to urge China to work to stabilize the situation in the East China Sea through dialogue and consultations, and make the East China Sea truly a “Sea of Peace, Cooperation, and Friendship.”

In this regard, it was very significant that President Xi and I were able to agree to accelerate discussions regarding a maritime-air communication mechanism between our defense authorities. Furthermore, our two countries will be holding discussions towards resuming negotiations regarding the implementation of the “2008 Agreement.”

With regard to the South China Sea issue, I believe it is important to resolve this issue peacefully and diplomatically based on international law.

REPORTER (SHEN LIANG, ORIENTAL MORNING POST): I understand that you are from Yamaguchi Prefecture. In both Hangzhou and your home prefecture, there is a bridge called the Kintai Bridge. The two are sister bridges. I see these bridges as a sign of friendship. Now, the G20 Summit was held in Hangzhou. Was this your first time visiting Hangzhou? Are there any places in Hangzhou that you would like to go see in particular?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: You know very well about my home prefecture. This is my first time visiting Hangzhou, but my mother in fact visited Hangzhou in October 1985. Upon her return she told me that Hangzhou was a truly beautiful place and that she had rarely been to such a beautiful place. She viewed the beautiful sites inscribed on the World Heritage list, including West Lake, Liuhe Pagoda, and Lingyin Temple. She had said that she would like to visit Hangzhou with me the next time. Regrettably our visit has not been realized. But visiting Hangzhou for the first time, I can see that it is a beautiful city surrounded by forests and springs, just as my mother had said.

As you stated, there is a bridge called Kintai Bridge also in Iwakuni City in my home prefecture of Yamaguchi. It is said that approximately 340 years ago, a feudal lord of the Iwakuni Domain drew upon the Kintai Bridge over West Lake as a reference for building a bridge over Nishiki River that was frequently flooding and causing flood damages.

Based on these ties, Iwakuni City and Hangzhou City signed a sister city agreement in 2004. I think it goes to show that widespread and extensive exchanges between Japan and China had taken place in various areas and at various levels.

In visiting Hangzhou on this occasion, I have become a huge fan of West Lake and Hangzhou known for the “Ten Scenes of West Lake,” which are magnificent sites every season. If there is an opportunity I would definitely like to visit Hangzhou again with my mother and wife.

Japan and China will celebrate a succession of milestones with the 45th anniversary of our diplomatic relations coming up next year and the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Japan-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship coming up the year after next. At the summit meeting a short while ago, President Xi Jinping and I discussed this and we pledged to make use of these opportunities to deepen mutual understanding and trust. I hope that by building on these efforts, we can deepen the friendship and good will between the two countries.

REPORTER (ISHIGAKI, JIJI PRESS): I have a question regarding the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). In the United States, ratification of the TPP is becoming uncertain with front-runner candidates in the presidential election expressing opposition to the TPP and members of Congress seeking to revise the agreement. How will you achieve a breakthrough in this situation? In addition, approval of the draft agreement will be a focal issue during the extraordinary Diet session. Can you please also explain how you intend to embark on this?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: At this year’s G20 Summit, the leaders agreed to avoid protectionism and promote free and open trade to achieve sustainable growth, even as the global economic outlook grows less clear. Japan will expand the sphere of free and fair economies globally. We are determined to take strong leadership to achieve this.

We must not allow the TPP—particularly key to our growth strategy—to come to a standstill. I also discussed this with the leaders of the TPP member countries that are here at this G20 Summit. As for Japan, I hope to secure Diet approval as early as possible to give momentum to the TPP’s early entry into force. I believe Japan securing swift approval at the Diet will give momentum to this. To this end Japan will dedicate its greatest possible effort.

The TPP will promote free and fair competition in which the values of goods and services are legitimately appraised. It will allow farmers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are eyeing to expand into foreign markets with their local specialties and unique technologies to actively participate in markets. There is a set of defined rules. Under these rules, SMEs can seek to export to and expand into foreign markets. The TPP opens up such possibilities. We need to correct the misunderstanding that liberalization makes only large enterprises and the wealthy richer. The Government will endeavor to provide careful explanations and present measures for facing international competition, and in this process, pave the way for a future which young people can have hope in.

REPORTER (REYNOLDS, BLOOMBERG): A number of your economic advisors have expressed concern about the effect of the stronger yen on Abenomics. How do you feel about the risk that this poses to your economic policies and what can you do about it?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: As I always say, I would like to refrain from making comments about recent exchange rate levels. I would like to reiterate that our policy remains unchanged, which is that we will closely monitor movements in exchange rate markets with a sense of urgency and respond firmly when necessary.

This response policy is in line with the G20 Leaders’ Communique, which states the importance of exchange rate stability for the first time in three years, based in part on Japan’s assertion.

I am aware that under the Bank of Japan Act, the Bank of Japan is not permitted to purchase foreign bonds if the purpose is exchange rate intervention. I believe specific monetary policy approaches should be left up to the Bank of Japan, and I have confidence in the abilities of Governor Kuroda.

At this G20 Summit, we were able to agree that a range of policy responses including monetary policy would be taken in order to deal with the risks to the world economy. The Government views that the Bank of Japan will continue to properly take policy measures towards achieving the 2% price stability target.