Joint Press Conference
by Prime Minister Hashimoto
and Prime Minister Bolger
on the Japan-New Zealand Summit Meeting

April 30, 1997
Wellington, New Zealand
(Provisional Translation)

  1. Opening Statement by Prime Minister Jim Bolger of New Zealand
  2. Opening Statement by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto of Japan
  3. Questions and Answers

  1. Opening Statement by Prime Minister Jim Bolger of New Zealand

    Prime Minister Jim Bolger: Thank you, and I acknowledge and welcome the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Hashimoto, the distinguished delegation from Japan to New Zealand and the Ambassador to Japan, and members of the media. Thank you for coming.

    The Prime Minister and I have shared almost two hours this morning and covered a wide range of areas. We had a warm, informed discussion on matters that are of mutual interest to both our countries. This was, I would say, one of the better discussions I have had with another Prime Minister, and I appreciated the time and the openness of the discussions. We discussed many issues; let me touch on a few of them.

    From a bilateral perspective Japan, of course, is one of the leading trade partners of New Zealand; two-way trade amounts to $6 billion and Japan is the second-largest trading partner that we have in the world -- trade that has grown enormously in the last 20 years. We value that connection with Japan on trade matters, because after all it broadens out into a whole range of opportunities for our two peoples to understand each other better. We recognize the great disparity in the size of the two countries -- Japan, a leading world economic power, and New Zealand, a modest country in the Southwest Pacific. And yet that we can find so much that we can agree on, I think it is very, very impressive indeed.

    Some of the areas we talked about this morning which I found particularly interesting were the Asia-Europe dialogue that has started, the strong support that Prime Minister Hashimoto indicated that he was providing for New Zealand and Australia to join the Asian side of that dialogue, and that is something that I welcome Japan's support and the Prime Minister's personal support for. I was able to indicate that on the reform of the United Nations, which has been an ongoing discussion item for many years, New Zealand continues its strong support for Japan to be a member of an enlarged Security Council, that would reflect both the dynamics of the Asia Pacific region and the particular strength and role of Japan within that region. So we would want to continue that.

    The issue of shared objectives really is part and parcel of a dialogue between the two Prime Ministers. We had talks about trade, about APEC and about the progress toward lowering trade barriers, not only between us bilaterally but also among the member nations of the APEC group.

    We talked also of the desirability of widening some of the discussions out beyond just trade to environmental issues where we have common interests. Japan is hosting a major environmental meeting toward the end of the year in October; New Zealand of course will be there. Global warming is the dominant concern of that, an issue that affects all countries. Particularly it affects some of the smaller island nations to our north in the Pacific and Japan's south. Here again, we welcome the information that the Prime Minister provided of the meeting that Japan proposed to host towards the end of the year and inviting all of our nations to attend. New Zealand will certainly also be attending that meeting at the foreign ministerial level. Again, it is building bridges to cover the distance between us, the physical distance between Japan and New Zealand, by so many opportunities where we can engage with each other on matters of common interest and common concern, as the case may be.

    The Prime Minister very generously spent some time explaining Japan's and his personal view on developments in the Asia region, developments in China, the relationship between Japan and the United States as a triangle (if you like), and how he saw that emerging. I found the discussions very important and very valuable, so I thank you, Prime Minister.

    We spent a little bit of time close to home for Japan, on the concerns that we all share about North Korea, an old Communist state that is frankly collapsing within itself. Both the humanitarian and other pressures for that are great and are very, very close to Japan. But New Zealand, even at this distance, has made some contribution to some of the initiatives that have been out there.

    I just conclude by saying that we had shared before an opportunity to discuss our common interest in reform. New Zealand has engaged in reform for so many years; Japan has engaged in reform under the leadership of Prime Minister Hashimoto. We both agreed that normally you get a lot of criticism at the beginning, but hopefully there are distinct benefits at the end of the reform process. So I was able to wish Prime Minister Hashimoto every success in the reform program that he has engaged in, in his home country, Japan.

    It was an excellent meeting. I should leave it here, and should invite Prime Minister Hashimoto, for you to make some opening remarks, and then we will take some questions.

  2. Opening Statement by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto of Japan

    Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister. Actually, last evening, when we arrived here, Prime Minister Bolger and Mrs. Bolger were kind enough to meet me at the airport, and we also had very useful talks in the car on the way here. In May 1996, when I met with Prime Minister Jim Bolger in Tokyo, Mr. Bolger kindly invited me to visit New Zealand. It is a great pleasure for me now to be able to take up that invitation and visit New Zealand. This visit is an element of the Asia Pacific diplomacy that I have vigorously promoted since taking office.

    I have extended an invitation to Prime Minister Bolger in return, to visit Japan, together with Mrs. Bolger, in the first half of next year as an Official Guest, and Mr. Bolger has kindly accepted this invitation. Incidentally, he has also expressed his desire to climb Mt. Fuji on this visit. In fact, New Zealand's Ambassador to Japan has been flustered very much. He told the Prime Minister, "It can't be helped, Prime Minister, it is still shadowed in heavy snow at that time, and therefore, better give up that little idea." So I don't know whether it will become a reality or not.

    That exchange of jokes and lighthearted remarks indicates that we had a very frank exchange of views today. I think we covered two main areas, the first of which was bilateral relations. Japan and New Zealand enjoy a very close relationship in terms of economic and personnel exchanges. In fact, in this regard, the city of Kurashiki, which under the new electoral system is in my own district, has a sister city relationship with Christchurch, and to that extent New Zealand has become close to my heart as well.

    Mr. Bolger and I reaffirmed the need to make further efforts to promote such friendly relations. In this regard, Japan is now seriously promoting economic structural reform and other reforms, and the economic reform and administrative reform which New Zealand has achieved have very much attracted the attention of the Japanese people.

    The second area covered was regional and international issues. Japan and New Zealand cooperate closely as partners in the Asia Pacific region. We will continue to deepen cooperation in such areas as APEC, ARF (the ASEAN Regional Forum) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as assistance to the Pacific Island countries. In particular, as far as assistance to the Pacific Island countries is concerned, consultations have been undertaken by the two countries on cooperating for the establishment of facilities for the use of the remote education program of the University of the South Pacific, which I understand is called the USP-net.

    I expressed once again our support for the accession of New Zealand to ASEM as a member on the Asian side, and I also exchanged views with Mr. Bolger on China, the Korean Peninsula and situations in the South Pacific. Especially with regard to this New Zealand accession to ASEM, I once again expressed my support for that, and explained to Prime Minister Bolger very candidly the discussions we have been having on this question of participation with the other countries concerned. I said we would spare no efforts in cooperation in working for the earliest possible accession of New Zealand, together with Australia, to ASEM as a member on the Asian side. Thank you, Prime Minister, very much.

    Prime Minister Jim Bolger: I suppose that my opening comment on the issues from the discussion was that they were wide-ranging. The wide range had its elements of humor, and I am not in training yet to climb Mt. Fuji. Thank you; questions, please.

  3. Questions and Answers

    Q: The first question, for Prime Minister Hashimoto, is that you discussed reform. I wonder what specifically, Mr. Hashimoto, you think you could learn from New Zealand, the advanced country in terms of reform? The second question is for Prime Minister Bolger: if there is one particular piece of advice that you could give to Prime Minister Hashimoto in that regard, what would it be?

    Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: Thank you for that question. We currently are proceeding with reforms in six areas in parallel and simultaneously: administrative reform, fiscal structural reform, economic structural reform, financial system reform, social security reform and education reform. I believe that as these reforms will vitalize the Japanese economy, they will definitely contribute significantly to the furtherance of economic relations between New Zealand and Japan in the days ahead. We engaged in an in-depth discussion on this matter, not just this time but also last year when Mr. Bolger visited Japan. I don't know what kind of advice Mr. Bolger is going to make in response to that question, but if I could tell you what was the most effective piece of advice, it is that when most of the mass media considers that, although that Prime Minister is saying he will carry out reform, he most likely will not be able to do so, that is the best time to carry through reforms. So I shall, with that in mind, work very hard to accomplish these reforms. There are differences between our two countries in terms of the background to economic reform as well as economic structures, so we cannot transplant New Zealand's kind of reform as is to Japan; that would not be quite useful. Especially as Japan is facing a serious aging population, we cannot take New Zealand's lessons unaltered into Japan. However, I have been watching New Zealand's reforms as a grand experiment, and in the area of deregulation, I think, there are numerous lessons that we have taken from New Zealand's experience, and that we can learn from in the days to come as well.

    Prime Minister Jim Bolger: Can I respond briefly to your question, too? I would not be so bold as to proffer advice to Prime Minister Hashimoto as to how he might go about reforming Japan. The countries are, as he said, very different. But from our perspective, the important thing we have found in New Zealand is that to be successful -- because reform has been tried before -- that to be successful it was essential to reform right across the board. And our track experience showed that if you didn't do that, then we were not able to make the progress we have made in recent years. The reason we have been successful in recent years is that reform has been more broadly-based, and it included, as far as possible, all sectors. The differences in Japan may mean that there is a different approach needed there, but as Prime Minister Hashimoto has already indicated, we have had a number of discussions, very frank and full discussions, on this, both in Tokyo and at APEC and again this morning. So we are very familiar with each other's actions.

    Q: Can I ask Prime Minister Hashimoto if he were able to give Mr. Bolger any assurances about further liberalization of the Japanese import regime on agricultural products, which are of interest to New Zealand?

    Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: We believe that today, the most important thing for us to do is to steadily implement the Uruguay Round Agreement, because that is an international undertaking, and therefore it behooves us to implement it as is. After completion of the agricultural negotiations under the Uruguay Round, or at the time of the conclusion of the agricultural negotiations under the Uruguay Round, we adopted this minimum access for rice. We are, in fact, implementing that agreement steadily. So we should certainly implement very steadily and surely these agreements that we have entered into, and I believe it is only natural that then, the volume of agricultural products traded between Japan and New Zealand would also increase in that process. We certainly would not put up any barriers against any country who has a supply of safe and quality products. At the same time, we believe that as the younger population decreases, we should try and make sure that agriculture built on a firm foundation will continue to survive in Japan as well, and it is from that vantage point that we are currently engaging in an overall review of Japan's agricultural policy. Should quality products emerge from that process in Japan as well, let me request you that you be open with and import such Japanese products into New Zealand as well.

    Prime Minister Jim Bolger: As I touched upon briefly, two points. One is that I welcome the progress made in the Uruguay Round, and as the Prime Minister has indicated, they are progressively implementing the undertakings that Japan gave. We are clearly working through the APEC process to table improved Individual Action Plans each year, year on year, so we have a commitment of free trade between the developed countries within the region by 2010. That is a great positive. The third point -- I perhaps should make the observation, Prime Minister, a question at all the international forums -- that is that New Zealand is one of the few countries that has a trade surplus with Japan, and that is something that a lot of people would like to know how we achieved. I am sorry; I think we have to go to meet the ministers. I thank you; I know there would be many other questions. You may catch either of us somewhere else, but we have to attend a State Luncheon. Prime Minister, as you are aware, we have to meet my ministerial colleagues before that. Thank you very much.

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