FINAL PRESS CONFERENCE BY PRIME MINISTER JUNICHIRO KOIZUMI
Thursday 10 June 2004
Briefing Room A, IMC
- OPENING STATEMENT
- Question on Japan's Role in Iraq's Reconstruction
- Question on Reducing Iraq's Debt
- Question on the DPRK
- Question on Japan and Asia
I. OPENING STATEMENT
PRIME MINISTER JUNICHIRO KOIZUMI: First of all, I should like to express from the very bottom of my heart condolences for the passing of President Ronald Reagan who was deeply respected by the people of the United Sates and who left many important achievements. Also I should like express my heartfelt gratitude to President Bush, who chaired the summit meeting this time, as well as other members of the US Government for organizing the summit successfully, and to the people of Georgia for their very warm hospitality and welcome.
It was in 1975 when the first G7 summit meeting took place in Rambouillet, France. This is the 30th meeting since. At that first summit the leaders gathered following the oil crises, when the price of crude oil shot up from 1 to 2 dollars to per barrel to 10 dollars or more. And all consumers around the world were hurt seriously economically. In Japan, as it was dependent on overseas oil supplies for 99 percent of its consumption, the damage on Japan was significant.
Immediately following that oil crisis, for one full year, Japan experienced very rapid inflation of 20 percent per year. Now thirty years since, Japan is going through deflation, a situation that it has not experienced before and we are in the process of overcoming that. So it is a far cry from 30 year ago.
Back in those days, the industrialized countries got together to figure out how to overcome the oil crisis. So five industrial countries--the United States, UK, France, Germany, and Japan got together at that time. We have now grown into a Group of Eight. Over the past 39 years many incidents took place around the world. Year on year, leaders of the industrialized countries got together for these G5, G7, and G8 summits.
This time we discussed rising oil prices, Iraq, the Middle East, the DPRK, and the world economic situation. We are all faced with numerous problems, so we had fairly meaningful meeting.
Each time we have different items of the agenda, but we all face common political, economic, and social problems, and there's no change in that the G8 leaders come together to discuss how to address these problems. This time we took up the terrorism issue, Iraq, the DPRK, rising oil prices, and I believe we were able to exchange our views very candidly.
Especially with regard to Iraq, the transfer of sovereignty and also toward reconstruction support for Iraq, a new UN Security Council resolution was adopted unanimously, and the G8 Summit was indeed held in the most timely manner. Middle East and African leaders took part in the G8 Summit meetings this time. Especially the new president of the Interim Government of Iraq, President al-Yawar, took part as well. With the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq, a stable and democratic government has to be put in place. What is most important in this regard is that the Iraqis themselves showed to the international community their will to rebuild their society with their own hands.
Those who will reconstruct and establish a stable democratic government is not the United States, the G8 countries, or the United Nations. It is the Iraqis themselves who have to overcome the confrontation and conflict between the pro- and anti-American forces and show their will to the international community that they are going to rebuild their own society. The UN and the international community has been showing their willingness to cooperate with Iraq's reconstruction and stabilization. And that is why this new resolution was passed by the UNSC for the transfer of sovereignty and reconstruction of that country. Japan shall also provide its contribution to humanitarian and reconstruction support for Iraq that most suits Japan.
With regard to the world economy, unlike last year we now see many brighter signs. This improving trend of the world economy should be further carried forth in such a manner that all the countries concerned carry out reforms to make this recovery more sustainable.
The Japanese economy has long remained stagnant. This is the third year of my administration, but there is no change in my view that there can be no economic growth without structural reform. Since taking office, the government has set its economic goals, and I believe improvements are taking place as we had envisioned, or even better than that. And by carrying forward reform we would like to see to it that it would lead to sustainable economic growth, and I would like to further grow these fledging reforms into a large, blossoming flower.
Alongside the robust economic growth, rapid growth is also continuing in China, our neighbor. We should take advantage of these favorable conditions, and Japan should also grow its own economy so that we can contribute to the world economy as a whole.
Turning to the DPRK, last month I paid my second visit to Pyongyang following my first visit on September 17 the year before last. I met with Chairman Kim Jong Il and discussed the abduction issue, nuclear program dismantlement, and the missile issue. These issues need to be resolved comprehensively. I said that there is no change in this basic attitude, and I visited Pyongyang again to make further progress in this regard. We believe that nuclear program dismantlement is a matter of the greatest concern for the international community.
The six-party talks are about to be held involving the US, Russia, China, Korea, and Japan as well the DPRK. We should take advantage of this opportunity to encourage the DPRK to become a responsible member of the international community.
On development, one of the themes we discussed was that we have to give importance to the environment, and I stressed this point. During the days of rapid economic growth, for a bout a decade Japan experienced double digit economic growth year after year. Alongside that economic growth, we also experienced its negative aspects in the form of environmental pollution. Be it a developing or developed country, as we try to grow our economies we also have to pay due consideration to the environment, and from that perspective I suggested that we need to work on the three Rs: to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste. We have to attach greater importance to these three Rs, and the leaders at the G8 this time saw eye to eye on this.
Many countries--African countries, the Middle East, and the G8 leaders--expressed their views very candidly. I think that the summit meeting was very meaningful. So once again I would like to express my gratitude to President Bush, who organized this meeting, as well as to the American people for their kind hospitality. Now I would like to entertain questions you may have.
II. Question on Japan's Role in Iraq's Reconstruction
HIDEO KOIKE, NHK: During the summit, there was unanimous agreement to join hands to support Iraqi reconstruction. However, France and Germany still maintained their position not to take part in the multinational force. Do you think that Japan has a role to play to build an effective international cooperation. Now that the SDF's participation in the multinational force is controversial, even within the LDP, how would you explain this to the Japanese people?
PRIME MINISTER KOIZUMI: I had a talk with President Yawar of the Iraqi Interim Government. President Yawar said that he highly regards Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the humanitarian and reconstruction support. And he is very grateful for that support. Building on the unanimous approval of the UNSC resolution, Japan wishes to provide support that is suitable to Japan as a responsible member of the international community. There will be a multinational force, and within that force we would like consider how best the SDF can contribute in the humanitarian and reconstruction support area. Upon my return to Japan I will consult with the various people concerned and figure out what sort of support and cooperation would be most appropriate for Japan.
The stability of Iraq will have a major bearing not just on the Middle East but on the world as a whole, including Japan. Therefore I believe that Japan also has to seriously think about its support.
III. Question on Reducing Iraq's Debt
ALISON ZIELENBACH, SAVANNAH MORNING NEWS: Prime Minister, I wonder if you can talk a little bit about Iraqi debt relief. I know that last year you said Japan would be proactive. I wonder if could put a figure to that or say if you would lead the way.
PRIME MINISTER KOIZUMI: With regard to Iraq's debt reduction, Japan wishes to remain flexible. Japan is the largest creditor vis-a-vis Iraq in the world, and depending on the numbers that you use and whether or not you include the private sector, the figures can differ. Nevertheless, there is no change in the fact that Japan is the largest creditor. If we speak only in terms of government credit, I believe it is between 4 billion to 7 billion dollars. As the largest creditor, how far debt will be reduced certainly will have a bearing on Japan itself. We also believe that the debt of Iraq should not shackle Iraq's reconstruction. This rate of reduction has be discussed at the Paris Club. And of course there are many other countries with significant amounts of credit vis-a-vis Iraq. So Japan wishes to remain flexible. The decision on what percentage the debt reduction would be has not been decided. But as far as Japan is concerned, we will remain flexible so there will stability during reconstruction in Iraq.
IV. Question on the DPRK
KIYOSHI GOJIMA, SANKEI SHIMBUN: During the Summit this time, you explained the Japanese position vis-a-vis the DPRK in detail. Was there understanding of this from other leaders? Based on the outcome of this summit, how will the Government of Japan achieve the comprehensive resolution of the DPRK, including the nuclear, abduction, and normalization issues.
PRIME MINISTER KOIZUMI: I've met with Mr. Kim Jong Il twice. The first meeting on September 17 the year before last, and once again last month. I saw a slight change in Mr. Kim's attitude between the two meetings. At the first meeting, he showed strong resentment toward the United States. This time, I felt he was seeking dialogue with the United States. With regard to the abduction issue, the first time he said the issue was already resolved. Last month, once again he said once again that the abduction issue had been resolved. But I said no, it has not been entirely resolved, and we got him to say that he would reinvestigate this.
With regard to the dismantlement of the nuclear program, Mr. Kim stated clearly that the ultimate goal will be the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Also with regard to the freezing of the nuclear program, he also explicitly said he takes for granted that verification should follow this freezing. Now I said, look at the benefits you would get by developing a nuclear program and the support you may get for that, and also consider the benefits you would gain by giving up the nuclear program. If you dismantle the nuclear program and become a responsible member of the international community, then the benefits he would get would be full-scale economic cooperation, including energy support, food support, and so on. The benefits he would gain from hanging on to nuclear program would be miniscule. So dismantlement would bring far greater benefits to the DPRK. This is a point I stressed to Mr. Kim. There is much hope that he would address these issues with calmness and in good faith. It is true that there is a lot of mistrust, but I hope that Mr. Kim will engage in a sincere exchange of views at the six-party talks that will take will place later this month.
If he intends to dismantle, I hope that in the six-party talks, he will state clearly his views where the United States is present. Of course, such an expression may be at a bilateral meeting or a multilateral one. I said to President Bush that he should get out what the DPRK says in bilateral meetings in action as well. Also I hope that the DPRK will also show in attitude its will to become a responsible member of the international community.
Above all, I believe that a diplomatic and peaceful resolution is necessary. To that end, Japan will continue to work on the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues in a comprehensive manner so we will ultimately arrive at the normalization of relations. I believe Mr. Kim is seeking his own personal security from the United States. I also think that he is seeking economic cooperation from Japan. To that end, all countries at the six-party talks should indicate to the DPRK that it is necessary for it to give up its nuclear program. Without this, and without a final resolution of the abduction issue, there cannot be normalization of relations between Japan and the DPRK. And without normalization, there cannot be full-fledged economic cooperation from Japan. We will continue with our efforts to engage in dialogue in cooperation and coordinate with other countries so that we can somehow move in a better direction.
V. Question on Japan and Asia
MAX SATO, AFP: Mr. Prime Minister, how much do you think Japan is representing the interests of other Asian countries at the G8. And do you think it's better to bring in other countries, such as China, to the G8, or is it better to leave China outside the G8 meetings.
PRIME MINISTER KOIZUMI: The G8 does not think of G8 interests alone. The economic growth of the world, reduction of poverty, security, and counterterrorism--there are many things that the G8 contributes of the development of the world. That is what the G8 Summit works on. Of course, Japan thinks about Asia. Japan, of course, has been promoting economic cooperation with China, Korea, and ASEAN. We have deep mutual interdependence. We also discussed Africa this time. We hope that Africa will learn from the effort that Japan has been making. We're planning on holding a TICAD Asia-Africa trade and investment conference in Tokyo this coming fall. So, the G8 does not only think about problems of the G8, we also think about the problems of Africa and Asia, and the world's problems, and we as developed countries are thinking what we can do. We intend to discharge our responsibilities. That is what the G8 is. And as a member of Asia, and as a member of the G8, we wish to discharge our own responsibilities by always attention to not just Asia but to the entire world as well.
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