"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] Joint Press Conference by H.E. Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan,H.E. Mr. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, andH.E. Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission,Following the Signing of the Japan-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement and Japan-European Union Strategic Partnership Agreement

[Date] July 17, 2018
[Source] Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
[Notes] Provisional translation
[Full text]

Opening Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

I extend my sincere welcome to Their Excellencies Mr. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, on their visit to Japan.

I wish to thank both President Tusk and President Juncker for the heartfelt condolences they expressed in response to the enormous damage that occurred as a result of the recent torrential rains. I also highly appreciate that, upon learning that I needed to cancel my visit to Brussels, they graciously paid a visit to Japan instead.

Today, we have signed the historic Japan-European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as well as the Japan-EU Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA). Amid widening protectionist movements worldwide, , the signing of this EPA will vividly demonstrate to the international community the firm political will of Japan and the EU to lead the world keeping the flag of free trade waving high.

The Japan-EU EPA will create one of the advanced economic zones in the world, with a population of 600 million and 30 percent of the global economy, amounting to roughly 21 trillion dollars. This agreement will establish a high-level, free, and fair economic framework that is suitable for the 21st century and it will become a new engine of Abenomics, bringing about tremendous opportunities for Japan's agriculture, forestry, and fisheries businesses as well as our micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses. We will work in cooperation towards the EPA's early entry into force so that the results of the agreement can be felt tangibly and at an early time by the citizens of both Japan and the EU.

The Japan-EU SPA forms the foundation upon which Japan and the EU, sharing fundamental values, will maintain and expand the free and open international order and lead the peace and prosperity of the international community. Based on the SPA, Japan and the EU will further strengthen their cooperation in a broad range of fields.

In today's summit meeting, we held a meaningful exchange of views regarding various kinds of cooperation being promoted between Japan and the EU. Japan welcomes the EU's intention to expand its involvement in Asia's security. Japan and the EU will continue to strengthen their cooperation under the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.

With our eyes fixed also on October's Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit, we will advance our cooperation in such fields as connectivity and quality infrastructure.

With regard to cross-border transfer of personal data between Japan and the EU, today the authorities of Japan and the EU agreed on mutual adequacy finding and I welcome that the commitment was taken for both sides to complete the necessary procedures for establishing a framework for mutual and smooth transfer of personal data between Japan and the EU by autumn 2018.

I welcome that the ministers of Japan and the EU agreed to establish a Japan-EU High Level Industrial, Trade and Economic Dialogue.

In the fields of education, culture, and sports, we will continue to advance our cooperation following the ministerial-level first EU-Japan Policy Dialogue, which was held the other day, as imparting momentum.

As for the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU, I want to reiterate my appreciation for the EU's efforts to minimize negative impacts upon the global economy, including for Japanese companies and ensure transparency and predictability of the negotiations, as well as for the timely and appropriate information disclosure to Japan.

We also held meaningful discussions on the issue of North Korea. The recent United States-North Korea summit meeting was one aimed at breaking out of the shell of mutual distrust and I welcome it as a step towards the resolution of the abductions, nuclear, and missile issues. North Korea has abundant natural resources and a hard-working labor force. If North Korea fully complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions, it will be able to sketch out a bright future for itself. The resolution of the abductions, nuclear, and missile issues is a precondition to this, and Japan will work towards such a resolution to the utmost of its ability, in cooperation with the EU and the rest of the international community. Upon conveying to my EU counterparts Japan's determination to have direct interchanges with North Korea to bring about the early resolution of the abductions issue, I received the support of the EU on this matter.

The Japan-EU EPA and SPA signed today are historic agreements that will elevate Japan-EU relationship to a new dimension. Taking these agreements as the guideposts, I will vigorously develop Japan-EU relations across various spectrum of fields and contribute to world peace and prosperity, together with Donald and Jean-Claude, keeping the flag of free trade waving high as partners sharing universal values such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

I will end my statement here. Thank you very much.