"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 Ryutaro Hashimoto, Lyon Summit

[Place] Lyon
[Date] June 29, 1996
[Source] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

I. Introduction to the press conference and ground rules for the briefing

Moderator: Welcome to today's press conference by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. The Prime Minister will be joining us shortly, but before that I just want to go over the ground rules for this press conference. When the Prime Minister enters the room, we ask that you remain seated for security reasons. Also, at the end of the press conference, please remain in your seats until after the Prime Minister has left the room. Please be sure to turn off your portable telephone during the press conference. The press conference will last for thirty minutes. During this press conference, the Prime Minister will first make a statement; then the floor will be opened to questions. The moderator will take the first question from the Japanese press and the second question from the international press, and will alternate questions thereafter. Please raise your hand if you wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. Wait to be called upon by the press conference moderator before coming to the nearest microphone. Before asking your questions, please clearly state your name and affiliation. Questions are limited to one per person, and may be asked in English, French, or Japanese.

II. Introduction of the Prime Minister

Spokesman for the Delegation of Japan Hiroshi Hashimoto: I would like to start the press conference given by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. First, a statement by Prime Minister Hashimoto.

III. Statement of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: Thank you for coming, ladies and gentlemen. Allow me to make one special comment at the outset -- that is, in hosting the Summit Meeting this time, President Chirac and all the others on the French side have made very elaborate preparations, and thanks to them we have been able to have a very fruitful meeting. So, I would like to start with that word of gratitude. As I look back at the Summit Meeting this time, these are the four major points: The first was globalization. That question of how to address globalization was discussed, and in addition to policy coordination that we have discussed in the past, I stressed that globalization is taken as a challenge, but also provides us with new opportunities. Thus, we should take globalization positively, and engage in efforts to increase the flexibility of the economy and society. At the same time, we should provide proper care for those people who tend to be left behind those trends. Secondly, with regard to partnership between advanced and developing countries, I very positively addressed the question of development. I argued for the importance of a new global strategy under the global partnership to set new targets for development, such as the reduction of infant and maternal mortality. This idea was supported by the other leaders. I also stressed the importance of support for Africa -- a statement which was welcomed. The third major point was global issues and political issues. On these, I stressed the importance of environmental protection, as well as nuclear safety. And also, from the point of view of the Asia-Pacific, I explained our views with regard to the Korean Peninsula, as well as our thoughts regarding China's accession to the World Trade Organization. In addition, the Bosnian issue in Europe has global implications, and likewise, the Korean Peninsula situation has global implications. I therefore stressed the importance of the P-8 countries to provide support for the four-party talks that have been proposed by President Kim Young Sam and President Clinton with regard to the Korean Peninsula, and also the importance of further support for the KEDO. Also, I expressed our determination to more actively participate in assistance for peace implementation in Bosnia, which was appreciated. In addition to this, on Bosnia, the Middle East peace, Russia, and terrorism -- on these matters, amongst others -- we had in-depth discussions. As you know, immediately before the Summit Meeting, there was a terrorist act which was most unfortunate. Therefore, the moment I met with President Clinton, I expressed my words of condolence to the bereaved families. Because of that, we adopted a declaration on terrorism, and we also decided to host a ministerial meeting in Paris on this subject matter in July. Japan also proposed to host in Japan a seminar on terrorism to be participated in by representatives of both advanced and developing countries. With regard to anti-personnel mines, I proposed that early next year we host in Japan an international conference for the purpose of strengthening international support for the efforts by the United Nations to remove the mines. This idea was supported by the other leaders. I also mentioned that we have decided recently to actively support efforts for a total international ban of anti-personnel mines, and to adopt a series of voluntary measures with regard to the use of mines. On cooperation with international institutions, I stated that the reform of international institutions should not be reform for the purpose of reform, and I suggested that the savings made through reform should be reinvested in the development of the developing countries. This was reflected in the Economic Declaration. I have felt for some time that the G-7 countries, which are the leaders of the world, should address squarely the question of welfare and the well-being of humankind -- in other words, this question of handing over for posterity, a better world and a better society to live in. Some of you from Japan may be aware that I have adopted from the very beginning of my life as a politician -- as my life's work -- this issue of welfare. All the countries around the world are addressing this question of welfare, including social security, and are experiencing difficulties. Some countries are placed under the heavy burdens of social security costs. And, there are some countries which are bound to embark on building new social security systems. There are some, amongst developing countries, that are only today beginning to study what social security is all about. But, all of us are, in different ways and at different levels, addressing this question. Therefore, I am convinced that by sharing our knowledge on this matter, as well as our experiences, including both successes and failures, we will be able to continue establishing a more sustainable social security system -- for example, giving due consideration to the economic vitality of a country, its national incidents, the burdens on younger generations and businesses, and by so doing, contributing to the furtherance of the welfare of the people. Welfare, after all, is about the mechanism for people supporting each other. Therefore, I believe that not only advanced countries, but the newly industrializing countries and economies and developed countries should share their wisdom, knowledge and experiences in order to resolve their respective problems and headaches. I expressed these thoughts of mine to the leaders of the other countries yesterday, in the form of an initiative for a caring world. Fortunately, I was blessed with the support of President Chirac, Chairman of the Meeting, President Clinton of the United States, who will be hosting the Summit next year, as well as the other leaders. So, we would like to take this as a theme that all of us will be thinking about toward the Summit Meeting in the United States next year. While having the cooperation of the OECD and other international institutions, Japan certainly hopes that through this endeavor, we will be able to share our own experiences and knowledge with the other countries. That is all I have to say at the outset. Thank you.

IV. Introduction of question and answer session

Spokesman for the Delegation of Japan Hiroshi Hashimoto: Thank you very much. Before we go to the questions and answers, there is one point I would like to make. There are initiatives made by Prime Minister Hashimoto at this Summit, and the relevant policies of the Japanese Government. All materials concerned are all included in the envelope which is distributed at your individual chairs. Now, I would like to invite questions. Please raise your hand, if you have a question.

V. Efforts to resolve trade issues pending between Japan and the United States of America

Q: Prime Minister Hashimoto, thank you very much for being very successful in a very long international conference. Regarding the Japan-U.S. summit level meeting, to which we have all been paying great attention, I would like to ask one question. Regarding semiconductors, which has been a pending issue between the United States and Japan, it has been said that you have agreed with President Clinton that, regarding the insurance and semiconductor issues, there will be an effort exerted for the issue to be concluded by the end of July. But, is it really possible to arrive at a conclusion by the end of July? At the same time, in the first half of the meeting, thirty minutes, you and President Clinton had a tete-a-tete meeting, just you two. If you refer to some of this discussion I would appreciate it very much.

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: Until I met with President Clinton, I did not really imagine at all that we should be having a tete-a-tete with just the two of us. So, right after we met, and after I expressed my condolences to the Americans who lost their lives due to the terrorist act, and as we were moving upstairs in the lift, President Clinton all of a sudden made this proposal to me. So, I am sure my people were surprised, and I was also caught off guard. Now, if I may add to the list you gave, there is one pending issue between Japan and the United States, and that is the civil aviation discussions in the passenger area. Now, on semiconductors and insurance, in fact, the two of us had very in-depth discussions. When my other colleagues joined, I summarized in the following way -- both of us agreed that we shall do our utmost to bring these talks to a conclusion by the end of July. Of course, the Japanese side will make efforts. But since we are talking about arriving at a conclusion, we will need the Americans to make efforts as well. With efforts being made by both sides, let us try to come to a settlement. That was the conclusion of the meeting that I had with President Clinton. I believe there was no objection to this by President Clinton; I am sure the way I summarized our talks is agreeable to President Clinton. At this very juncture, certainly, it is not easy to have an outlook for a solution of the insurance and semiconductor issues. Having said that, we cannot allow Japan-U.S. relations to be undermined by these issues. We have over the years shared the same rules, and have been building and creating a better situation. Now, we have our own positions and requests; the United States side has its own positions and requests. I will refrain from going into the specifics of these matters because these are matters for negotiation. On the matter of insurance, the Deputy Prime Minister, and on the semiconductor issue, Minister of International Trade and Industry Tsukahara, will make efforts as well. Likewise, efforts should be made on the U.S. side, and through these efforts, let us try to arrive at a settlement. That was agreed during the meeting. Today, after the conclusion of all the program on the summit meeting, when parting with President Clinton, I said, we will make efforts, and therefore, please, on the U.S. side, you also make efforts. Also, if people on the U.S. side are engaged in other matters as well, and if they haven't got any time to work on these issues, that would not be welcome. So, I have now asked President Clinton to deal properly with that situation. I believe that we can expect President Clinton to enable the talks to proceed smoothly. This is not a matter of one side winning and the other side losing. It is a matter of finding out, as successfully as possible, the meeting ground in the two sides, and as I look at the faces of these two colleagues of mine here, I think I can have trust in them.

Spokesman for the Delegation of Japan Hiroshi Hashimoto: I would like to invite a question from the non-Japanese press, please.

VI. Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto's Initiative for a Caring World

Q: The Japanese Prime Minister is Mr. Hashimoto, and the Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government is Mr. Hashimoto. Even after experience, my company's editing division did not understand that fact. I tried to explain so much; it took so much effort to try to make it understood for the past three days. Prime Minister Hashimoto, you have referred to the initiative you have suggested, the Initiative for a Caring World. I think that is somewhat different from the past Japanese Prime Ministers. Perhaps, it is aimed to play a more dynamic role in the international sphere. Is that your idea? Or is it that Japanese activity itself should be more dynamic, taking more leadership in the international sphere? Was that the purpose of that proposal?

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: About the time Japan lost the second world war, about 51 years ago, I was a second grader. That was a time when Japan was seeing a lot of babies. But at the same time though, the infant mortality rate was very high. Japan was also a country with a high level of maternal mortality. Today, our headache is a declining birthrate, so the number of babies is very small, and maternal mortality also is very limited. Today, we are already engaged in an effort to reduce the suffering caused by high levels of infant mortality. For example, the Government of Nepal has designated a county, and there, we have built a primary health center for children. Also there, we have brought in a child educational assurance system, the same sort of system that we have in Japan. We have also started health classes for mothers. Certainly, we have been reducing maternal mortality in Nepal. That is just only one of the examples of the things that we are doing. So, the lessons we have gained over the years through hardship -- we would like to share them with other countries without their going through the same hardship. That is a wish we have had over the years, but we were not sure if this was really suitable as subject matter for a G-7 Summit. I wasn't too sure about it, so I informally sounded out the reaction of President Chirac on this, and also, through the working level, I maintained contact with the other leaders, and had communicated to them my thoughts as a personal suggestion. This does not mean that I am going to launch an initiative or to impose our thoughts on other people. That would be too presumptuous. But, I hope you understand this is not the first that Japan has made that sort of proposal. At the time of the London Summit, I was Finance Minister, and on environmental issues I stated that, around 1970, Japan experienced an explosion of environmental pollution -- air pollution, water pollution, deforestation -- misreading the limitations of the self-cleansing capabilities or self-restoring capabilities of nature. So, we established the Environmental Agency in order to clear the environment. We have not completed that work, but today, we are building something which is totally different from Japan in the 1970s. So, at the time of the London Summit, twenty years after that, we distributed materials explaining our experience with pollution and efforts thereafter, and stated that we do not want others to repeat the same mistakes, and therefore, we would like to share with you the record of our mistakes and failures. Also, we stated that we would like to share with you thoughts about how much effort we have made in order to correct those mistakes. And we stated that we are prepared to share all the information. Several countries since then have made use of that information, that data. There is a country, for example, that made use of such information to establish their environmental protection agency. Also, as Minister of International Trade and Industry, when I visited ASEAN countries, I made the same offer. So, what I would like you to know is that, if Japan hides its past mistakes, other countries may likely repeat the same mistakes, and we don't want them to do that. One mistake once is enough for humankind. All the efforts we have paid in order to pull ourselves out of those failures -- we hope other people will make use of that information, so that the same mistakes will not be repeated. We have already taken that action in the environment area, and in the welfare and social security area, we are about to do the same. That is the intent.

Spokesman for the Delegation of Japan Hiroshi Hashimoto: Then, a representative from the Japanese press, please.

VII. Japan's assistance for reconstruction in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Q: During the Summit Meeting, regarding Bosnia, you have said that Japan is going to participate in the support of peace implementation in Bosnia. But in more specific terms, how does Japan intend to support this effort? There could be some possibilities, like election observation teams, etc. How about that?

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: If I went into detail, I could be very long. So allow me to respond to that question by giving you one example. Until peace truly returns to Bosnia, I believe there are going to be a lot of twists and turns beyond the problems that we are already experiencing. The questioner referred to election monitoring as one example. In relation to election monitoring, we should like to provide both financial as well as personnel support. With that in mind, we shall try to see what specifically we can do. Having said that, we have had the impression that Bosnia is a faraway country from Japan. Also, we do not really have adequate knowledge -- historical or geographic -- with regard to this country of Bosnia-Herzegovina. So while consulting with other countries and international institutions and agencies, we shall actively engage in efforts that we can undertake -- for example, election monitoring. But just as we pay consideration and interest in European situations, we would like our European friends to also be concerned equally in the Asian situation, in the Korean Peninsula situation. We would very much like to see their active participation in KEDO, because we believe that both these situations are not regional issues, but issues of global implication.

Spokesman for the Delegation of Japan Hiroshi Hashimoto: Now is the time for non-Japanese press. How about you?

VIII. Meeting between G-7 leaders and the leaders of international financial institutions

Q: I wanted to ask you a question about the international financial institutions. I know you were at the meeting with representatives from the international financial institutions today. I wanted to ask you, are they of value? Were they of value to you? What value was that? Do you expect to meet with them again next year (Mr. Wolfensohn, etc.)?

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: Yes, your question about meeting with the heads of international institutions -- the UN Secretary-General, the WTO Director-General, the IMF Managing Director and the World Bank President. I think I benefited much from the useful remarks they made. In that respect, I believe their participation in the meeting was very useful, or effective, shall I say. President Chirac made the proposal inviting these heads of international institutions. I stated that I paid respect to his insight in doing so. So the question is what will be done from here. The next Summit Chairman is the United States, and I would not want to bind the hands of the host country of the next Summit Meeting. But, whether they participate in the Summit or not, I think that there should be more frequent opportunities for the Heads of State and Government and the heads of international institutions to meet each other and have time to exchange views with each other. That should be quite positive.

Spokesman for the Delegation of Japan Hiroshi Hashimoto: Now it is the Japanese press' turn, please.

IX. Situation on the Korean Peninsula

Q: In the Chairman's Statement, regarding the Korean Peninsula, there was a reference regarding the four countries' negotiation and consultation. But until that kind of agreement was achieved, I hear that concerted action was difficult to be made because there was opposition from Russia, and also, there is no reference about any declaration regarding China.

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: On the 22nd and 23rd of this month, I met with President Kim Young Sam of the Republic of Korea on Cheju Island before coming to this Summit Meeting. At that meeting, whilst discussing the situation on the Korean Peninsula, we agreed that we should try to promote the four-way talks as proposed by President Clinton and President Kim Young Sam, involving China, North Korea, the Republic of Korea and the United States. So I said at the Summit Meeting this time that I had consulted about this matter with President Kim Young Sam, and that this four-way talk proposed would be desirable for promoting the resolution of the problem on the Korean Peninsula. We see eye-to-eye on that with President Clinton, and therefore I have done my part to try and coordinate our positions for the realization of the four-way talks. Now, amongst the heads of delegations, who said what on what specific matters is not appropriate for me to share here. But there is no need to say that, after discussions, we arrived at a conclusion or agreement which is embodied in this statement. On Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Middle East and on the Korean Peninsula, we shared the perception that these are areas of instability. It is in that manner that we referred to these areas. But no one thought that China embodied an element of instability, and that is why the statement did not refer to China alongside these other regions or countries. Now, setting that aside, I believe that we should make efforts to integrate China into the international frameworks as much as possible. We should ask China to revamp their institutions and systems so that they can be more readily welcomed into international organizations like the WTO. But at the same time, let us make efforts to take them into our frameworks. So we have said that before, and I said that during this summit meeting, as well.

Spokesman for the Delegation of Japan Hiroshi Hashimoto: The non-Japanese press, please.

X. United Nations Reform

Q: Mr. Prime Minister, if I may ask you a question in English, the Chairman's Statement contains a lengthy annex which details reforms to the United Nations since the summit in Halifax. May I ask you your view of the speed of UN reform, and also may I ask you your view of the wish of Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali to serve a second term as Secretary-General in the United Nations?

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: I think that that question on the Secretary-Generalship of the United Nations is too early, is too premature. When the right kind of time comes, I will respond to that question. With regard to the United Nations reform, we hope that that reform will be accelerated, and certainly, we do hope that a broader reform would proceed. In recent years and months, discussions on UN reform have, if anything, tended to concentrate on fiscal or budgetary reform. But the problem with the United Nations today is not limited to the fiscal area. We have to come up with a United Nations that is right, that is appropriate for a post-cold War world. And so we certainly have to continue to engage in UN reform.

Spokesman for the Delegation of Japan Hiroshi Hashimoto: Though time is limited, I would like to continue for a few more minutes. And for those who would like to ask a question, please make your question short, and we'll ask the Prime Minister to make the answer short. The Japanese press, please.

XI. Trade issues

Q: Most issues in the member countries, every time there is a trade negotiation, there is a country which always comes forward with uniform action in order to solve the problem. During this Summit Meeting, was that point taken up?

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: To apply one's laws extraterritorially, or to take unilateral measures, would not be desirable. This statement was made at various moments during the summit meeting this time by various representatives. However, all of us were very cautious with regard to taking this up for discussions. But I recall that this sort of statement was made from time to time.

Spokesman for the Delegation of Japan Hiroshi Hashimoto: Non-Japanese press, please.

XII. Participation of Russia in the G-7/P-8

Q: What are your thoughts with regard to making the G-7 into a G-8, and also, what are your thoughts with regard to Russia?

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: In the political sphere, there is no one who would deny that Russia is, in fact, playing a very major role in the world. In fact, this year, as a result of a proposal made by President Yeltsin, the Nuclear Safety Summit was held in Moscow in the form of the P-8 -- that is, the G-7 plus one. This time, unfortunately, President Yeltsin did not participate, but Prime Minister Chernomyrdin participated on his behalf, and we had, as you know, the P-8 meeting. In the economic sphere, however, we feel -- and I think it is the collective view of ours -- that the time is not yet ripe. That is how I take it.

Spokesman for the Delegation of Japan Hiroshi Hashimoto: To the Japanese press, I apologize, but since Prime Minister Hashimoto is in Lyon, touring at a distance, we would like to ask the non-Japanese press to ask two more questions. Two more questions from the non-Japanese press, please.

XIII. Semiconductor trade issues

Q: Multilateralism has been one of the major themes of this summit, as you have pointed out. Yet the discussions on semiconductor trade at this point are a bilateral matter. I am wondering if you would see it as preferable, either now or some time in the future, for this negotiation to be expanded to a trilateral negotiation involving the European Union?

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: The European Union -- what is the situation of their tariffs with regard to semiconductors, in the case of the European Union? Are they offering exactly the same conditions as we do? Does the European Union provide the same level of tariffs on semiconductors as we do? If you are talking about equal footing, Japan and the United States have zero tariffs on semiconductors. The European Union, however, has not reduced tariffs on semiconductors to zero. One party is protecting semiconductors with tariffs. Can it be on equal footing without tariff protection? I have some doubts about that. But having said that, of course we are engaged in discussions on semiconductors with the Americans on the question of whether to extend the Japan-U.S. bilateral semiconductor agreement. And of course the proper information is communicated to the European Union, and we also hear or sound out the wishes of our European friends. So in that respect, dialogue on semiconductors is already there. Please do not mistake that. But if our European friends wish to have a trilateral arrangement, then the Europeans will have to reduce their tariffs on semiconductors to zero. If that condition is satisfied, I believe Mr. Tsukahara, our Trade Minister, will not refuse that nor will turn down that sort of dialogue.

Spokesman for the Delegation of Japan Hiroshi Hashimoto: The last question, please -- again, from a non-Japanese representative?

XIV. Nagano Olympics

Q: Regarding Japan's work for peace, on 25 October 1993, in its Resolution 4811, the UN General Assembly called for a revival of the ancient Olympic truce, under which all countries taking part in future Olympics would halt their wars for six weeks. The first Olympic games where this truce can be properly implemented are those of Nagano in February 1998 -- and this in a country which has made the promotion of peace a key element in its foreign policy. Does Japan have any plans, prior to the '98 Olympics, to alert its ambassadors in countries of conflict to work as intermediaries for peace, and even in countries which insist on continuing wars in February 1998, to ban athletes from those countries from taking part in the Winter Olympics in Nagano?

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: If I were to make that sort of suggestion to the ambassadors of the countries concerned, I would not say, "We will not allow athletes from countries in conflict to participate." At least, while the youths representing their respective countries participate in the Nagano Olympics, please stop those other competitions. Competition in the sports world, yes, go ahead, right on! But stop the other competition's disputes. That I would say. But in this world of sports, these young people that come to compete against each other, even if they hail from countries in dispute, if they are to come and compete against each other and get together, that's fine. I would not say, "Look, now, even six weeks before the beginning of the Nagano Olympics, your countries are engaged in armed conflict, and therefore I would not allow people from your countries to represent." I would not say that. Like athletes -- I am an athlete myself -- if I have all of the qualifications to participate, and if I am not allowed to take part in a competition in a faraway country, then I would really feel very lonely. And my rivals, who compete in the same competition, I am sure, would not hope and would not welcome this idea of certain athletes not being allowed to participate because of that fact. Let everyone participate, and I think that is better. If, as a result of participating in sports, we could dispel the grudges that we have against each other, that would be good. But I have some objection to your remarks about the ancient Olympics. Are you sure that you can say that we should go back to the ancient Olympics in front of women? To the extent that I know, in the ancient Olympics, women were not allowed to enter the studio. That means, of course, there were no women's competitions. Now, can I dare suggest to women that we are going back to the ancient Olympics, and therefore be warned, you are not allowed to come into stadiums?

Spokesman for the Delegation of Japan Hiroshi Hashimoto: Thank you very much to all of you. Time is up, I'm afraid. Thus, the meeting is adjourned. Until the Prime Minister leaves the room, please stay in your seat. Thank you very much.