Interviews & Articles

Foreign Press Secretary Yasuhisa Kawamura's Interview with BBC World Service

(November 20, 2016)

December 5, 2016
Japanese

Mr. Wyre Davies, BBC: Wyre Davies in Lima. Let’s get Japan’s views on all this now. Just before we came on air I spoke to Yasuhisa Kawamura who is a spokesman for the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. He is in Peru for the APEC Summit. Does he share those concerns about growing protectionism?

Mr. Yasuhisa Kawamura, Foreign Press Secretary: Yes. Growing protectionism is one of the main concerns for Japan as well. I think the Japanese Prime Minister will call for united action to meet with this challenge. The bottom line of this reaction to the rise of protectionism is to give a commitment to the free trade system.

Mr. Davies: Does that mean then that if America were to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the other countries would just proceed without them?

Foreign Press Secretary Kawamura: Well, I think it is still too early to determine what the economic and trade policy of the United States might be under the new administration. As Prime Minister Abe met with Mr. Trump, he is successfully establishing a personal relationship of trust for years to come.

Mr. Davies: When Prime Minister Abe met Donald Trump, did he talk about the importance of free trade to Japan and urge Mr. Trump, who on the campaign trail called TPP “a disaster” and worse in fact – did that come up in the conversation?

Foreign Press Secretary Kawamura: We followed the news reports and press coverage of what Mr. Trump said in the course of the presidential election campaign, but in the Prime Minister’s meeting with Mr. Trump in New York City, it was an unofficial setup and they discussed various issues. However, because of the situation, where he has not yet assumed the presidency yet, the contents of the meeting in New York City – I should refrain from making any concrete comments on that.

Mr. Davies: Is Japan concerned that China may end up the main driver in TPP if the US were to withdraw? Is that a worry for Japan?

Foreign Press Secretary Kawamura: Again, it is too early to determine the fate of TPP. The US, Japan and other TPP-related countries agreed and confirmed their continued efforts for TPP’s approval by the domestic audiences. Having said that, TPP is a kind of role model for the 21st century type of trade and investment rule making. The bottom line is that countries in the Asia-Pacific region mainly should keep their commitment for the further progress of the free trade system. Other types of trade agreements that are on the table, like RCEP or FTAAP, I think those new additional initiatives on trade and investment rule making are to follow high quality agreements, such as TPP, so we should focus on the quality, meaning and value of the trade agreement exercises.

Mr. Davies: Yes. That is why it matters. And talking about the international order, do you feel the international order is breaking down at the moment? You are right, Donald Trump is not President yet but it is only two months away.

Foreign Press Secretary Kawamura: Let me put it this way. The challenge for the international order has been increasing so the key message to the international community is that that international order should be preserved and maintained through appropriate efforts. When it comes down to the trade area, the leaders attending the APEC meeting should reconfirm their continuous commitment to the free trade system because the free trade system is the assured short cut for continued prosperity.

Mr. Davies: That was Yasuhisa Kawamura, who is a spokesman for the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, speaking to me from the Peruvian capital Lima just a short time ago.

(*Please be advised that this transcription was produced by a contractor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not by BBC.)