July 9, 2008
Note: The opening statement and answers by Prime Minister Fukuda are simultaneous interpretation, and as such may vary slightly from the phrasing used in the original language.
MODERATOR: I shall now start the press conference given by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan, as the Chair of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit.
PRIME MINISTER YASUO FUKUDA: Allow me to deliver my remarks. The Summit this time became extremely important, even more so than recent ones, because this Summit took place at a time when global challenges such as ongoing global warming, soaring oil and food prices, and tension in financial markets are having an impact on the everyday life of people very close to home. Against this backdrop, day and night over these three days here in Toyako, we engaged in serious discussions and we spoke out candidly, we spoke our mind, and at times our discussions got heated. But thanks to that, we have also been able to produce numerous results.
The first on climate change. We, the G8, arrived at a common view which is to seek to adopt as a global target the goal of at least a 50% reduction of global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) by 2050. This, needless to say, is based on a premise that the G8 including the US agree on this goal. There have been disparate positions on this matter amongst the G8 but I believe we have been able to arrive at a common view overcoming these differences, and have been able to make a contribution which is to add momentum to the United Nations (UN) negotiations. Apart from this, we also agreed to implement ambitious mid-term quantitative national targets, to launch an international initiative for innovative technology development, and to also launch climate investment funds to support developing countries. We also share the view that the sectoral approach is a useful means. On this occasion, as part of our efforts to promote Japan's Cool Earth Partnership initiative, we agreed on cooperation with Indonesia this time.
Further, at the Major Economies Meeting (MEM) today, building on the requests from G8 leaders yesterday, we saw eye to eye that we shall take further actions to step up our efforts on climate change. It is the very first time ever that leaders of the major economies got down to vigorous discussions on a broad range of climate change-related issues for two hours. I believe we have been able to show strong political will by the leaders, thus we have been able to achieve the initial objectives. As the Chair, I also suggested that MEM be held again at the time of the next G8 Summit, in Italy, and this was received with concurrence by the leaders. Also, there was an offer to this effect by the Prime Minister of Italy. Together with other major economies we shall step up our efforts on climate change and also provide appropriate assistance to developing countries.
The global economy was also one of the major focus points of our meeting this time. The world economy remains robust in the longer term, but tension persists in financial markets and also there is concern about the rising commodity prices and the subsequent inflationary pressures. Under this common view, G8 leaders, in order to ensure stability and growth of the economy, have shown their determination to continue with appropriate macroeconomic management and structural reforms.
On the rising oil prices, in relation to the tight supply-demand relations, it is necessary that producers and consumers cooperate in expanding production, and there is also the need to further promote energy conservation and alternative energy development. With regard to financial factors in relation to supply-demand there is a need to improve the transparency of the market whilst promoting analyses by international institutions. We, the G8, shall promote further coordination amongst the supervising authorities of commodity futures markets.
Towards the successful World Trade Organization Doha Round we also expressed our concerted determination to support a successful conclusion of the Ministerial Meeting in two weeks' time.
Development was also one of the focuses of our discussion this time. This year is the mid-point towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Building on this, G8 leaders renewed their determination to help achieve the MDGs in cooperation with developing countries. We also had intensive discussions on the area of health and came up with the Toyako Framework for Action on Global Health, which provides the framework of cooperation in the future. Also, we renewed our determination to implement the existing commitments in this area. We also came up with concrete results on increasing the number of health workers and addressing infectious diseases.
On rising food prices the G8 will address urgent support needs and at the same time shall support developing countries in stepping up their agricultural production as a medium- to long-term response. We also called for removal of export regulations and also for the release of food stocks, just as Japan has already done. In order to further promote efforts, we decided to establish a G8 Experts Panel and hold a G8 Agricultural Ministers' Meeting.
With regard to assistance for African countries, building on the outcome of the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV), we agreed to get down to concrete efforts to help economic growth and to help achieve the MDGs "Towards the Realization of a Vibrant Africa."
In the political area, we placed emphasis on discussions on non-proliferation and had substantive discussions on North Korea and Iran. With regard to the DPRK, we saw eye to eye that we should get down to tenacious efforts, though the way ahead may be very long, toward the realization of verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Also, I received very encouraging support and expression of support from the leaders of other countries with regard to the importance of advancing Japan-DPRK relations, including on the abduction issue, at the same time. Furthermore, we reaffirmed the G8's commitment with regard to the fight against terrorism and on the challenges of peace and reconstruction, and decided to promote G8 cooperation on Afghanistan and the Middle East Peace Process, amongst others.
With regard to the Zimbabwe situation, after serious discussions the G8 shared grave concerns and came up with a Joint Statement indicating the strong political will of the G8 to help resolve the problem. In addition, I propose that we step up efforts to build global peacebuilding capacity in the three areas of military, police and civilians with a target year of 2010. This was received with concurrence by the leaders. The G8 leaders should lead with the participation of all the countries concerned, the private sector and civil society in addressing the challenges that we face.
I am aware that many members of NGOs are here, especially in this press center. At this Summit we invited leaders of 16 non-G8 countries as well as representatives of five international institutions, in addition to the G8. As the host of this Summit, we also showcased Japan's environmentally-friendly technology and know-how to the world. This Summit has been a fulfilling three days, and I would like, in the end, to express my gratitude to the warm hospitality. The people of Hokkaido have supported the success of this Summit, and I would also like to express my gratitude to all concerned. Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: Now the floor is open to you for your questions. Those of you designated, please identify yourself by stating your name and affiliation.
Concerning climate change, in the declaration of G8 leaders concerning the long-term goal of greenhouses gases (GHG) reduction, the expression agreed was seek to share and adopt it with all the parties concerned. Prime Minister Fukuda, you consider this as the first step and not as the end. But what sort of significance do you think it would have in the UN negotiation on the post-Kyoto process? Also, the Meeting of Major Economies held today failed to strike an agreement on the concrete, numerical targets, both in terms of a long-term goal and a medium-term goal. What do you think the G8 and Japan should do to draw out concession from the emerging countries?
PRIME MINISTER YASUO FUKUDA:
At the G8 this time, I believe we came up with an important outcome in that we agreed to seek to adopt as a global target the goal of at least 50% reductions - including the US, that is to say. Now, the G8 has agreed that we shall seek this adoption with all participating countries in the UN negotiation process and therefore, I think, we have come to agreement on a concrete action towards further progress in the UN negotiations.
Now, this time, MEM has come together on the sharing of the views regarding the importance and urgency of the climate change issue, made in the interests of the future of the planet. I think that is a very important outcome. The expression of a strong political will by the leaders of 16 countries necessarily, I believe, will become strong momentum to promote the UN negotiations. Japan, also building on the outcome this time, shall share a long-term goal with the other G8 countries vis-à-vis emerging countries such as China and India, and shall exercise leadership so that such long-term goals will be adopted in the UN negotiation process.
I would like to follow up on climate change, if I may. I want to talk about the baseline year. The Europeans assume that the baseline we are talking about is 1990. Japan has made clear - and you have made clear personally – that you think you are talking about 2005 or maybe 2008. These have radically different implications, as you know, for the final levels of cuts. Given that you are talking about different things, doesn’t this make a mockery of all the pieces of paper that you have signed?
PRIME MINISTER YASUO FUKUDA:
You have asked about the base year. Now, this 50% reduction that we are saying - 50% in light of the recent situation, and on that point I think there is agreement by all. Various numbers are suggested as the base year and views may change at any given moment, but our view is about 50% by 2050 in view of the current situation. That is our view and that is not changed. So I don’t think there is any confusion with regard to the view on this matter.
As you pointed out, Prime Minister Fukuda, the soaring price of fuel and food push up the cost of food and fuel in the world, giving rise to inflation in various parts of the world, and affecting the people's lives. Do you think the G8 has been capable of producing effective measures this time, and do you think the prices will come down? And do you think the G8 framework could be effective enough on these kinds of global issues? Some call for G13. Do you think the G8 framework will continue to have validity?
PRIME MINISTER YASUO FUKUDA:
First of all, the current rising oil and food prices - will these calm down? I think that was the purport of your question. Now, whether that will happen or not - I certainly hope that will be the consequence, but nevertheless it is an urgent challenge. But at the same time we need to address the long-term challenge of this issue as well - so it is structural in nature as well. The rising food and oil prices, of course, add to inflationary pressures, and will therefore raise serious challenges to stable growth and would have a serious impact on the most vulnerable. In fact, the document speaks to this.
With regard to rising oil prices, it is important, in the first place, to improve the supply-demand balance. The G8 has come out with an initiative that we will hold a meeting focused on energy efficiency and new technology. Japan shall be hosting the very first meeting of this in the coming autumn. Furthermore, with the view that financial market factors are having a certain major impact on the rising oil prices, we need to analyze actual demand and financial side factors; we need, as well, to share information regarding oil inventory and so on. We also need to get down to further cooperation with authorities, with regard to commodities futures markets. We shall step up our action towards further transparency in the marketplace, as indicated in our document as well.
With regard to food prices, we need to take a consistent and comprehensive response, including immediate and short-term measures, as well as medium- and long-term measures. We decided to establish a G8 Experts Panel in order to ensure steady implementation. Through these efforts we shall respond through cooperation to the oil and food price issues, and we would like to lead to calming of inflation globally.
I would like your help in interpreting the last sentence of the standalone statement by the G8 leaders on Zimbabwe. It says, "We will take further steps, inter alia introducing financial and other measures against those individuals responsible for violence." Is this the G8 leaders wording for sanctions, and if so, what is the next step?
PRIME MINISTER YASUO FUKUDA:
With regard to Zimbabwe, the G8 shares grave concerns and came out with the joint statement that indicates strong political will toward the resolution of the problem. You ask about the formulation in that document. Vis-à-vis the Zimbabwean authorities, we are strongly seeking cooperation with the opposition to resolve this crisis through peaceful means, and expeditiously. We are also calling on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) to exercise strong leadership. At the same time, the document says that we shall consider further means for the resolution of the issue. There will be discussions on this very matter at the UN and other fora, I believe. If I may add to that, should there be agreement by the UN Security Council, then sanctions would be conceivable as well.
My question concerns North Korea. During the political issue discussion by the G8, North Korean issues have been taken up. Do you think the G8 has been capable of issuing a strong message concerning the North Korean nuclear and abduction issues? During the Bilateral Summit between Japan and the United States on 6 July, you mentioned that the North Korean nuclear plan declaration should be verified, and during the Six-Party Talks that would be a topic on the agenda. What do you think would be the standards for judging the validity of the declaration?
PRIME MINISTER YASUO FUKUDA:
At the Summit this time, we had a very substantive exchange of views on North Korea as well. We agreed that North Korea should abandon its nuclear weapons and nuclear programs in a verifiable manner and should take measures for the early resolution of the abduction issue as well. This is reflected in the leaders' declaration, as well as the Chair's Summary. Now with regard to North Korea's nuclear program declaration, what is important is to firmly and properly verify that content. That point was confirmed during the Japan-US Summit Meeting as well as during the G8 Summit. It is important to come up with a proper verification framework. As for the specifics of that verification, I believe discussions will take place at the Six-Party Talks that will be held starting tomorrow.
As you mentioned, there was a great deal of focus on African development in this Summit, and this comes halfway through the MDGs. But some previous G8 summits as well have also been focused on Africa, and there is criticism that those aid pledges have not actually come into reality. What can this G8 Summit do to ensure that aid pledges made by G8 countries will actually become reality, and what concrete results has it shown for people in Africa?
PRIME MINISTER YASUO FUKUDA:
I believe there are various different views. Some might suggest we are not delivering on commitments, but while we may hear such voices, don't we need those commitments? Well, probably we do - for development and stability and to address health-related problems. Of course, the G8 countries need to cooperate and do something that is useful for African countries, and I believe that will be extremely important. At the time of the Kyushu Okinawa Summit in 2000, Japan for the first time invited African leaders to a G8 Summit, and engaged in dialogue with them. Since then, Africa has become one of the major items on the agenda of recent G8 summits. As for assistance for Africa, in the three years through to 2007 we doubled our Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Africa, and at TICAD IV held at the end of May this year, we announced our policy to once again double Japan's ODA to Africa by 2012. At the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, the important outcome of TICAD IV was welcomed and also we agreed on "Towards the Realization of a Vibrant Africa" - to realize the economic growth of Africa and to help Africa achieve the MDGs we need to step up our cooperation in infrastructure development, in the health, water and sanitation areas, as well as in education. On good governance, we agreed that it is important to promote good governance, peace and security, in addition to supporting agriculture, including doubling of major crops. We do share this view as the G8 regarding steady support for Africa.
MODERARTOR Thank you very much. This concludes the Chairman's press conference.