The First Press Conference, 9 July 2008
- G8 Summit Meeting on the Heiligendamm Process
- Question concerning the atmosphere at the G8 Summit Meeting on the Heiligendamm Process
- Question concerning the discussion on climate change
- Question concerning the coordination of aid
- Question concerning the discussion on biofuels
- Question concerning nuclear energy aspirations of the G5 countries
- Questions regarding the mention of a particular country in the discussion on aid standards
- Question concerning the abduction issue
Press Secretary Kazuo Kodama: Good morning to you all. Today is day three of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, and we are happily coming to the close of this G8 Summit. Thank you for your very hard work to cover all these events.
This morning, the G8 leaders met with the leaders of five emerging economies: South Africa, Brazil, India, China and Mexico. This Heiligendamm Process Meeting started at 8:45 and ended at 9:40. At the outset, as the Chairman of this Meeting, Prime Minister Fukuda mentioned briefly as follows: in Heiligendamm last year, it was agreed that the G8 Summit in Japan would receive an interim report on the dialogue. This Summit would be an opportunity to assess its progress and give it further momentum.
Indeed, this dialogue process has a focus on four items: development; innovation; investment (including intellectual property); and energy efficiency. On all these issues, the Working Group has been set up and over the last year since the Heiligendamm Summit on average two meetings have been held. The outcome of those deliberations is now compiled in the Interim Report on the Heiligendamm Process at the G8 Summit in Hokkaido Toyako 7 to 9 July 2008. Prime Minister Fukuda asked the current presidency of this Heiligendamm Process, Chancellor Merkel, to make her report on the last year's deliberations on all these issues. I won't go into the details since you now have the report, but I will just briefly sum up what Chancellor Merkel mentioned.
Chancellor Merkel mentioned that, number one, issues like food security, climate change, and rising oil prices are all issues that require a global response. That means not only the G8 but also the major emerging economies, like the G5 countries, do need to share a common responsibility, although, of course, we have to be mindful of maybe some differences of responsibility - in the case of climate change, we accept a common but differentiated responsibility. In any case, Chancellor Merkel emphasized the importance of a common endeavor to address these global issues.
As point two, Chancellor Merkel emphasized that this dialogue process is based on equality: equal partnership is the fundamental principle between the two groups. Then she briefly touched on the four items.
On investment and trade Chancellor Merkel reiterated that cross-border investment is among the major drivers of economic growth. On trade, based on yesterday's G8 discussions on the world economy, she reiterated that a successful conclusion to the WTO Doha Round is critical to economic growth and development. On innovation, Chancellor Merkel emphasized the importance, on one hand, of protecting intellectual property rights, and at the same time to ensure developing countries access to the most advanced technologies. There needs to be a balance between the two. On energy efficiency, she put it simply that the issue is very much relevant to the issue of climate change.
The following is sort of a conclusion to this one-hour long dialogue. I would like to introduce just two points. The first is that through the yearlong dialogue process the G8 and these emerging economies have been able to deepen their mutual understanding, and their relations have also improved accordingly, based on the dialogue. They also agreed that such a coordination and collaboration between the two should be enhanced. The second point is that both sides expressed their hope that dialogue will be further deepened and will be advanced.
Now I would like to introduce you to some of the salient points made mainly by the G5 side, on the following issues. On the issue of rising food prices, the following points were made by G5 leaders: one is that we should be mindful of the adverse impact of rising food prices especially on the underprivileged people in the developing world. Number two, therefore it is crucially important for us to increase food production both in the developed and the developing world. Number three, for that purpose, better coordination amongst all stakeholders is very much necessary.
Then the views of the G5 leaders on why this food price rise has been happening also were disclosed, as follows. Some of the leaders mentioned that one major reason is the rise in crude oil prices. Another is the expansion of biofuels production. These factors have been affecting rising food prices. On the issue of the rising crude oil price, a concern with the speculative money factor was also pointed out by some G5 leaders. On the Doha Round negotiation, the G5 leaders emphasized the importance of successfully concluding the agriculture agenda, including the necessity of either reducing subsidies or completely removing them. In response, some G8 leaders emphasized the importance of a balanced and comprehensive WTO (World Trade Organization) Doha Round agreement, as is pointed out in the G8 Leaders' Declaration, which is to maintain a balance amongst agriculture, non-agriculture market access (NAMA) and services.
Then from the Italian Prime Minister, since he will chair next year's G8 Summit, he briefly shared his ideas for the structure of next year's G8 Summit. He mentioned that day one will be devoted to G8 leaders to meet alone. Day two will be assigned to a discussion between the G8 and the Heiligendamm partners. Day three will be used for G8 plus G5 and Africa, just like we had on day one here in Toyako. At the very end, a G8 leaders alone meeting will be the final part of proceedings on day three. In any case, this is just a tentative idea floated by the Prime Minister of Italy. Details will be coordinated in due course.
Then, Prime Minister Fukuda wrapped up the hour-long discussion as follows. He believes we all had a very candid exchange of views and Japan will assume the presidency of this dialogue process in the latter part of this year: "I will sustain the very constructive and cooperative atmosphere of the German presidency, and I will hand over the baton to the Italian Prime Minister when we meet again in Italy next year. I do hope that we will jointly achieve positive outcomes on common solutions to all these interrelated issues that we have discussed during the G8 Summit this time."
Just a few more miscellaneous points. The G5 leaders shared their view on the current situation of the world economy and its future prospects. All in all, they expressed their concern about rising oil and fuel prices, and also attention should be paid to the risk of stagflation. Then they mentioned the importance of coordination and collaboration between the G8 and G5 to contribute to the management of the world economy and also to ensure growth.
On development aid, the following discussion took place. The G8 and G5 should strive to adopt a common standard in extending Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Africa or any developing countries. This is a footnote just from myself: in my previous briefings I touched on the issue of mutual accountability of both African recipients and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) donor countries. This issue is really linked to the necessity of the donor countries, including emerging economies - like China, India and Brazil - that are now quite capable of extending aid to African countries. The G8 leaders are hopeful that emerging economies will somehow accept such established disciplines and rules in ensuring the efficiency and transparency of aid money. This is the point made by G8 leaders.
This is my final point. There was no discussion on the future shape of the G8 or expansion of the G8 membership. There was no such discussion at all from either G8 leaders or the G5 side.
Q: I think last year's meeting was what you would call, in diplomatic speak, extremely lively. They were having tough arguments last year. How was the atmosphere this year?
Mr. Kodama: As I mentioned, in the final remarks of Prime Minister Fukuda, he said: a very candid exchange of views. I don't think the atmosphere was in any way tense at all; it was very friendly, cordial. As I introduced to you what sort of discussions took place, there seems to be, at least from my side, quite a convergence of views among G8 leaders and G5 leaders.
Q: Was there any discussion on climate change this morning? Yesterday the G8 made the announcement about 50-50 targets. Also, the G5 in Sapporo basically demanded that a lot of that had to be done by the G8 themselves. So was there any discussion on that this morning or will that come later today?
Mr. Kodama: There was no discussion on the climate change in this dialogue process. There is a Major Economies Meeting (MEM) meeting right now. Their focus is solely climate change.
Q: Your point about coordination of aid was very interesting, I thought. I am not quite clear the G5 are indicating that they are prepared to adopt stricter standards. Are they, for example, suggesting that they will follow OECD guidelines on transparency of aid and so on, and what is the next step in order to take this process further?
Mr. Kodama: I heard that this morning they only had a little over 60 minutes, so on all these issues, including development policy, every speaker expressed his or her own view. There was some exchange between two speakers, but more or less, there was sort of a one-way expression of views. In any case, yesterday afternoon, when the G8 leaders discussed the same issue in the session on African development, I remember that some G8 leaders mentioned that China has been becoming aware of the need to introduce more discipline in extending their aid. This is an ongoing process and in any case, this dialogue process will continue to discuss the issues pertaining to Africa and development, so these issues will definitely be followed up in due course.
Q: I have two questions, Mr. Kodama. Am I correct in understanding that you said the G5 leaders said that one of the main reasons for high food prices was high fuel prices and biofuels? If that is the case, I am just wondering because at least three of these countries - Brazil, China, and India - have their own biofuels targets or, in the case of Brazil, are biofuels producers themselves. Were they talking about somebody else's biofuels production or were they including their own biofuels production in it?
Mr. Kodama: On your first question, I don't have any information on who actually made these points. But as you said, you may be right that three of the five G5 countries are biofuels producers, so you are suggesting that it is very unlikely that any of these would make such a comment, but maybe the remaining two might have made such a comment. I should not say anything on this.
Q: My second question: were there any discussions over the nuclear energy aspirations of the G5?
Mr. Kodama: In this morning's session, I don't think the peaceful use of nuclear energy was discussed, but since you asked this question, I just want to draw your attention to yesterday's G8 leaders' document on the environment and climate change. In that climate change part there is a very clear reference to the importance of nuclear power programs in paragraph 28. It says, "A growing number of countries have expressed their interest in nuclear power programs as a means to addressing climate change and energy security concerns." Another part says, "We reiterate that safeguards, nuclear safety and nuclear security, the 3S, are fundamental principles for the peaceful use of nuclear energy." So surely I think they have the importance of nuclear energy in mind, but it was not discussed in this morning's session.
Q: Regarding the aid common standards, was there a mention of a particular country by name among the discussions?
Mr. Kodama: No, none at all.
Q: And no counter argument about this point?
Mr. Kodama: I don't think so, no.
Q: Who was it that raised the point?
Mr. Kodama: The point was raised by one of the G8 leaders.
Q: On the question raised bilaterally, at least with the United States, it is now nearly six years since November 2002 when North Korea acknowledged the abduction of Japanese citizens. Another indication of North Korean ruthlessness was the bombing in Rangoon of the South Korean Cabinet, in which four ministers were killed, an act carried out by "Room 35," directed personally by Kim Jong Il. The 25th anniversary of this atrocity falls later this year on 19 October. May I suggest that Japan watch out whether any acknowledgement or apology is forthcoming to, say, the new South Korean UN Secretary-General, only five days before UN Day on 24 October, as an indication whether North Korea really is turning over a new leaf and so might yet give more complete information on the still missing Japanese citizens.
Mr. Kodama: This is supposed to be a briefing on what transpired this morning in the Heiligendamm Process, so I think I better not comment on what you said.
But I just want to add one thing. In yesterday's G8 Leaders' Declaration, in the non-proliferation part, there was a clear-cut reference to the need to promptly resolve the issue of abduction. We received the unanimous support from the G8 leaders for our position on this.
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