Press Conference by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi Following the G8 Summit
July 8, 2005
- Opening Statement
- Question on United Nations (UN) reform
- Question on Japan's assistance to Africa
- Question on North Korean abduction issue
- Question on invitation of the Commonwealth of Australia to the 2008 G8 Summit
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi: First of all, allow me to express my heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the victims and their bereaved families of the terrorist acts that took place in London yesterday. At the meetings amongst the Group of Eight (G8) leaders as well as at the meetings joined by leaders of emerging economies, strong outrage was expressed toward these terrorist acts. We sent out a strong message that we shall continue our fight against terrorism and try to prevent terrorism without yielding to terrorism and with common understanding. Having received the first news of the terrorist acts, Prime Minister Tony Blair returned to London in the middle of the summit. The understanding, however, was that we should not suspend this summit because of terrorist acts, that we should carry on our summit meetings. While Prime Minister Blair was away in London, Permanent Under Secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and also Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jack Straw chaired the meetings in place of the Prime Minister very skillfully.
At this summit meeting, the major topics on the agenda were issues of Africa and the climate change. Amongst the G8 participants, Japan is the furthest from Africa geographically. Also in terms of our past history, Africa was the region with which we were least engaged politically, economically and culturally. That said, without the resolution of African issues there will not be world stability and prosperity unless the issues of Africa are resolved. With that as our basic policy, we have been committed to extend as much assistance as possible. We have always asked ourselves what Japan can do in the interest of Africa in a way that is different from other countries and what kind of assistance is most needed by African countries in the interest of more stable livelihood, poverty alleviation, health with respect to infectious diseases, among others, education, and agriculture in ways that will enable African countries to stand on their own feet. This has been the focus of our cooperation. Forty years ago, the per capita income of Asian countries was lower than that of African countries. As a member of the Asian community, however, over the years Japan continued to offer assistance to Asian countries. Today, Asia has higher levels of per capita income than Africa. In this context, the Asian-African Summit was held in Indonesia to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Bandung meeting in April which I participated. Asian countries have steadily achieved economic development through their own efforts, and this Asian experience should be utilized in assisting African countries. At this summit, I expressed Japan's wish to cooperate, together with Asian countries, toward the self-reliant efforts of Africa so that it may develop on its own.
Japan has been reviewing its official development assistance (ODA). In the 1990s, Japan's ODA ranked number one in the world. As a result of this review, Japan's ODA instead of gradually increasing actually decreased. However, at present, there is this recognition amongst the G8 countries that Africa is important and we therefore need to increase our assistance to Africa. In light of this understanding, Japan announced its policy to proceed with increasing its ODA to Africa instead of curtailing it. Specifically, I also announced at this summit that in terms of overall volume of ODA, we shall add on our ODA by US$10 billion in the coming five years and also double our ODA to Africa in the coming three years. Japan shall of course cooperate with the G8 countries and also other Asian countries so that African countries can stand on their own feet and provide assistance to the field that is most needed by African countries.
Turning to climate change, since taking office as prime minister four years ago, I have been advocating that environmental protection and economic development must be achieved in a compatible manner. Forty years ago, Japan worked very hard to develop its economy, and as a result, we became affluent as we continued to enjoy economic growth of 10% or so year-on-year. There was also this feeling that if we try to protect the environment, cost will increase and products would be more expensive. Therefore, we tried to produce goods that would sell more around the world and at the same time we polluted our own air with emissions. Effluence from factories also polluted our rivers and seas. We generated these environmental pollutions, and in order to overcome pollution, we had to take in a lot of cost. Because we pursued economic development and economic growth, we polluted our environment. We do not want developed as well as developing countries to repeat the same mistake. That is why we pursue both environmental protection and economic growth. In doing this, the key lies in science and technology. In the past, we mass produced, mass consumed and mass disposed, and we took that for granted. However, we no longer live in that sort of age. We have to reduce waste as much as possible. We now also have to reuse waste as much as possible as resources, and all things need to be recycled from now on. A zero waste, zero emission society is necessity. So we have to achieve this 3R society - reduce, reuse and recycle waste or resources. We have taken up this policy so that we will be able to produce goods that are more environmentally and earth friendly. We have been working on this in Japan these days.
Recently, Madame Wangari Maathai, who received the Nobel Prize, upon her visit to Japan was most impressed by the Japanese word mottainai - that is, do not waste valuable things. The word mottainai really embodies the 3Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle resources, do not waste them. This is what Madame Maathai said. In English, French, Germany or other languages I believe it is difficult to translate this word mottainai, but perhaps we could simply use the Japanese word mottainai. After all, tsunami is a Japanese word. I believe this Japanese word mottainai really embodies all the 3Rs, and therefore, I introduced this word which means to attach importance on environmental protection and value resources.
Oil prices have shot up above the US$60 per barrel level. As the world becomes more affluent and people consume resources, pollution will result. Japan depends on oil imports for more than 90% of our oil demands. We need to use more environmentally friendly energies, for example, by using fuel cell cars or hybrid cars. Also, we need to use more wind or nuclear power and use diode instead of electrical volts. I have appealed to the gathering that we need to be more kind to the environment.
Apart from all these issues, I also expressed our position regarding North Korea, United Nations (UN) reform and other matters as well.
Terrorist attacks occurred, and there was a very tense atmosphere. It was against this backdrop that we conducted the summit this time. The Prime Minister, the Government of the United Kingdom (UK), the people of Britain, especially the people of Scotland, have been very kind in receiving us and I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for that.
Journalist from Jiji Press: During this summit, UN reform was taken up but at the same time, the difference in views among the G8 countries remained unchanged. How would you tackle UN reform as we come closer to the important juncture? During your remaining term of office, how would you cope with diplomatic issues?
Prime Minister Koizumi: With regard to UN reform, of course all the G8 countries have different positions and all countries are fully aware of these differences. However, it has been 60 years since the end of the Second World War. The UN back in those days and the UN today are different. While the relationship amongst the countries concerned may have been a relationship between enemies, this changed to a relationship between friends. Also, the number of member countries has tripled. Therefore, I believe this year we have seen a rise in momentum for UN reform more than ever. Now, Japan, in cooperation with the three other countries of the Group of Four (G4) - India, Brazil and Germany - is working on UN reform. We shall continue to maintain solidarity with the three other leaders of the G4. We had a meeting to that effect this time as well. At the G8 gathering, I stressed the importance of UN reform. As I said, all countries have different positions so I think there was a consideration not to reemphasize that difference. We all said that we recognize the importance of UN reform and that we need to reform the UN in terms of humanitarian affairs, human rights and development areas as well. I think we have been able to establish a common understanding, that there is a need for reform. As to what sort of reform, I think it would be difficult to arrive at a common position. However, as far as Japan is concerned, together with the other members of the G4, we would like to gain the understanding and cooperation of as many countries as possible. We shall continue our efforts to that effect.
As for my foreign policy from now on, there will be no change whatsoever since the first day I took office. We have an alliance with the United States (US). The Japan-US alliance and international cooperation will continue to be the basic pillars of Japanese diplomacy. As a member of the international community, Japan needs to cooperate with other countries on the North Korea or Iraq issues or the situation in Afghanistan. We shall continue to cooperate with other countries and play whatever role Japan needs to play. Also, we shall of course attach importance to our friendly ties with our neighboring countries, China and the Republic of Korea (ROK), and would like to resolve the territorial issue and sign a peace treaty with Russia, a perennial aspiration on our part.
I had a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on the margin, and it has been decided that President Putin will pay a visit to Japan in November this year. So in the run-up to his visit, we should like to expand the exchanges between Japan and Russia in accordance with the Japan-Russia Action Plan. With regard to the territorial issue, I believe we should both try to exercise ingenuity and figure out what sort of solution will be possible. Through diplomatic channels we will engage in consultations and we shall engage in serious efforts to find what would be the best solution to these difficult issues. Of course there are numerous domestic and diplomatic issues at stake, not to mention UN reform, but we should like to continue to nurture better exchanges and relations with the various countries concerned as they are indispensable for Japan's prosperity.
Journalist from Africa Today Magazine: Prime Minister, why is it that Japan is pushing for more aid to Africa instead of more trade with Africa? Aid alone will not solve the problem of health, education or halt poverty. Africa needs less aid and more trade. That is my first question. My second question is, Japan struggles to find a voice in that great family, the G8. Why so?
Prime Minister Koizumi: Why provide assistance to Africa? As I said earlier, the problem of Africa is not merely for Africa. By preventing conflicts, poverty or diseases, African countries will be able to achieve economic growth. By this, African countries will have the potential to stand on their own feet. In Japan, although geographically we are far away, we would like to support African efforts as much as possible and I think that is necessary.
On trade, to date we have been expanding tariff-free quotas as much as possible to improve access to the Japanese market. Rather than trying to have a stronger say in the G8, I have been speaking out from the point of what Japan can do or what Japan should do as a responsible member of the international community. It is not our intent to increase our influence. In fact, Japan enjoyed support from many countries around the world in order to pull itself out of poverty. It is thanks to these many countries around us that Japan has been able to achieve economic development and prosperity. If there are countries that are suffering from various difficulties, I believe it is necessary that Japan provides support to them.
Journalist from Mainichi Shimbun: On diplomatic challenges, you talked about North Korea. I would like to ask you about the North Korean abduction issue. The summit chairman's summary has made a reference to the need for a solution of the abduction issue for three consecutive years. I think the Prime Minister and the Government of Japan worked toward that. We are currently in a stalemate on the abduction issue. In order to have a breakthrough in this stalemate, do you have any policies or ideas? Specifically, what sort of measures will the Government of Japan take to bring about a solution?
Prime Minister Koizumi: Our basic policy on North Korea has been consistent. I visited North Korea twice and met with Mr. Kim Jong-Il. On the occasion of my first visit, we issued the Japan-Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Pyongyang Declaration and covered the abduction issue, the nuclear issue and the missile issue. We stated in the Declaration that we need to resolve all these pending issues comprehensively and achieve normalization of relations between two sides. On the basis of that policy, the family members of the abductees returned to Japan. However, there still are numerous other abductees in North Korea. We have this Six-Party Talk framework involving the US, the ROK, China, Russia, Japan and North Korea. It has almost been one year since the last round of the Six-Party Talks was held. Through these Six-Party Talks, North Korea should become a responsible member of the international community. I believe it would be most beneficial for North Korea to give up its nuclear capability for the stability of the Korean Peninsula. With regard to this dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear capability, President George W. Bush also believes that a peaceful and diplomatic solution is desirable. I am hoping that the next round of the Six-Party Talks would be held as expeditiously as possible.
During the G8 meeting this time, I sensed from the way the leaders were speaking that North Korea will soon return to the table of the Six-Party Talks. Why, I will not explain. However, that is the sense that I got. I hope that North Korea will return to the Six-Party Talks as soon as possible and show a very sincere attitude to resolve all these pending issues. In that context I would like to resolve the pending issues.
Journalist from Parity Democrat: On the Pacific Rim, there are two great democracies - Japan and Australia. While New Zealand has been invited to a summit, Australia has not been in the past. In 2008, when the next summit is held in Japan, will you invite Australia if not as a new member than at least as a guest?
Secondly, among the G8 democracies, Japan in at least one way is the most enlightened. Two of your four bank notes portray distinguished women writers, the 2000 yen Murasakishikibu and the 5000 yen Higuchi Ichiyo. Yet four of the G8 countries - the UK, Canada, France and soon Germany - have had or may soon have women prime ministers as have six Asian democracies - Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines and Sri Lanka. How soon may we see similar enlightenment in Japan or at least you nominating another woman as able as Ms. Sadako Ogata as head of a UN agency?
Prime Minister Koizumi: You are well versed with the situation in Japan. You even talked about Murasakishikibu and Higuchi Ichiyo. I am very grateful that you have interest in Japan.
We certainly have close relations with both Australia and New Zealand. We maintain friendly ties with both of them. The East Asia Summit will be held later this year. I believe that not just the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus Japan, China and the ROK but Australia and New Zealand should participate. So they are likely to participate in the East Asia Summit.
I think your suggestion is that Australia should be invited to the G8 summit as well. Next year in 2006, the summit will be held in Russia. And I believe you were referring to Japan's turn in the year 2008. I shall have left my post as prime minister by then. Where to hold that meeting and whom to invite are beyond my authority. I do not think I should infringe on the authority of my successor. That is something that I intend to leave to my successor. Needless to say, both Australia and New Zealand are stable democracies. In the world community, they are playing respectable and commendable roles. I have no disagreement on that view. As to who should participate in the next summit, that is the decision I should like to leave to my successor.
As to when a female leader may emerge in Japan, we have had female foreign ministers. As for prime minister, I really cannot make any prediction at this time. But one day sooner or later, I believe Japan could certainly have a female prime minister.
Back to Index