Press Conference by the Prime Minister of Japan at the ASEAN+3 Summit

8 October 2003

  1. Opening remarks by the Prime Minister
  2. Question on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
  3. Question on the developments in Japan-ASEAN relations over the past thirty years
  4. Question on the incident involving weapons left behind by Japan in China after World War II
  5. Question on the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC)
  6. Question on the situation in Aceh

Ⅰ. Opening remarks by the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the press. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) +3 Summit Meeting took place here in Bali amidst beautiful natural surroundings. The beautiful sea, the winds and the nature allowed me to attend this meeting totally relaxed. I would like to thank President Megawati Soekarnoputri of the Republic of Indonesia, the Government of Indonesia and the people of Indonesia as well as the local people here in Bali for their very kind hospitality.

At the Summit Meetings this time I was able to confirm that regional cooperation is progressing steadily. In order to further actively promote such cooperation we engaged in a lively exchange of views. I believe that we were able to confirm that we shall continue to further such cooperation.

In my meeting with the leaders of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Korea we issued for the very first time a Joint Declaration of the Three Leaders. We reaffirmed that we need to carry out cooperation that is future-oriented and open to others outside the region. We also explicitly stated that we shall seek to continue to contribute to the peace and stability of East Asia. I proposed that there be a joint trilateral study to consider future cooperation amongst the three countries, including the possibility of a trilateral investment agreement. I was able to have the concurrence of the other two leaders.

In the ASEAN+3 Summit Meeting we exchanged views on the strengthening of economic partnership in East Asia and on the strengthening of ASEAN integration. I proposed that we need to engage in a follow up to the promotion of human resources development and people to people exchanges. After all, human resources are the driving force of development and in fact this has been one important area in which Japan has provided its assistance. But we should like to first review the actual results achieved and building on that consider what sort of cooperation would be needed further. The Government of Japan is prepared to actively contribute to this and ASEAN leaders also expressed their expectations for Japan's cooperation with regard to human resources development and I believe that they expressed their awareness of the importance of human resources development as well.

In the Japan-ASEAN Summit, this coming December we shall have the pleasure of organizing a Japan-ASEAN Commemorative Summit Meeting as this year has been the ASEAN-Japan Year of Exchange and each month a different ASEAN country has taken responsibility for organizing various exchange programs. With the support of the peoples of our countries, the exchange programs have proceeded well and have been producing tangible results. We should like to consider how best we can further expand such people-to-people contacts. So, I believe that the Commemorative Summit of the Leaders of Japan and ASEAN to be held in December will indeed be very meaningful and significant. We should like to share with the leaders of ASEAN the future direction of Japan-ASEAN cooperation. Also, not just considering the future direction, I also look forward to a very lively exchange of views on some tangible cooperation programs in order to further our cooperation. The Japan-ASEAN Commemorative Summit Meeting in Tokyo coming this December will build on the track record of Japan-ASEAN cooperation over the last three decades and this will send a signal that Japan attaches importance to our relations with ASEAN. In terms of markets and population, gross domestic product (GDP) or trade, this region does occupy a significant weight in the world. There are great potentials and possibilities and I should like to engage in discussions with the colleague leaders to discuss how best we could further substantiate such potentials and how we could further translate into reality these potentials.

This time, in terms of bilateral summits, I had my very first meeting with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of the People's Republic of China. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the normalization of relations we agreed that we would mutually try to strengthen our bilateral relations with a future orientation. As I have been saying, China's remarkable growth is not seen as a threat, but rather as an opportunity for Japan as well. We should take this as a challenge with a spirit of mutual competition and mutual benefit. It is in that spirit that I had discussions with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

When President Roh Moo-hyun of the Republic of Korea visited Japan earlier this year I had a one-on-one meeting with him too and we have agreed that we have to further carry forward the good relations we have, especially in relation to North Korea. We need to keep up our very close coordination with one another. In various areas we see expanding exchanges between Japan and the Republic of Korea and we agreed that we will further intensify this sort of exchanges. The Republic of Korea has started to open up, or liberalize access to Japanese mass culture, and we said that we should lead that to a broader exchange of culture between our two countries.

With Prime Minister Khin Nyut of the Union of Myanmar it was just a very brief meeting in the corridor, but I did have a very meaningful discussion with him. I asked him to keep up the efforts towards democratization because the international community is watching the developments in Myanmar with great interest and concern. I said that I hope there will be greater efforts towards democratization and I asked Prime Minister Khin Nyut to also exercise his leadership towards democratization. Japan, of course bearing in mind the friendly ties we have had over the years, would like to extend support.

We discussed not just bilateral relations, but also in addition to regional cooperation we also discussed regional stability and many people are concerned about the Korean Peninsula situation and for Japan itself of course this is a very immediate and a very serious issue including the nuclear issue and the abduction issue. Since agreeing on the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration we have said that regarding the nuclear issue, the missile issue and the abduction issue, all of these shall be resolved through peaceful means in order to normalize relations. I explain that this was Japan's basic policy and I believe that I had the understanding of all of the other leaders.

Recently as you know, the six-party talks took place in Beijing. In order to encourage North Korea to become a responsible member of the international community I believe there is agreement that the six-party talks would be important and also in order to achieve that peaceful and democratic resolution of the pending issues, the six way talks were of extreme importance. We highly appreciated the efforts of China in having organized those talks. I also called on the various countries as well that we should try together towards a peaceful and democratic resolution. I believe that we were able to see eye to eye on that.

On the North Korean issue, I myself said that Japan shall resolve various pending issues in accordance with the Pyongyang Declaration and lead to the realization of normalized relations between Japan and North Korea. I explained this basic policy, which I believe has been understood by the other leaders.

Amongst the ASEAN+3 there are of course different circumstances from country to country, but as a whole there is great potential to the cooperation of ASEAN+3 and for the further development and stability of this region the Government of Japan certainly has a role to play. So, building on the results so far, I explained that Japan's stance of attaching importance to ASEAN will never change and I believe I was able to have the understanding of the other leaders that Japan shall try to promote cooperation with that in mind. Of course we shall further promote exchanges with the ASEAN countries but we shall also strive to strengthen our ties with our neighboring countries, China and the Republic of Korea. It is in the interest of world peace and stability that Japan's peace and stability can be sustained. Thank you very much.

Ⅱ. Question on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

Mr. Tachibana, Asahi TV: Prime Minister Koizumi, you talked about the Joint Declaration between Japan, China and the Republic of Korea. There was reference of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Now China has joined in and in addition Japan and Korea's agreement of the past. What is the significance of that? Furthermore, in the case of China the approach may be different because of different considerations, but based on this Declaration what sort of approach do you think would be appropriate going forward?

Prime Minister Koizumi: I believe that the Government of China's efforts for the realization of the six-party talks should be appreciated very highly. Of course, China and the Republic of Korea, as well as ASEAN countries, cannot tolerate North Korea's nuclear development. So, for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, I believe that there is complete agreement that there needs to be sustained cooperation. China, amongst the various countries concerned, or compared to Japan and the Republic of Korea, has much stronger ties with North Korea. It has much greater influence on North Korea and I also believe that China has cooperation with North Korea in various fields. So, vis-à-vis North Korea I believe that it is not just Japan and the Republic of Korea, not just the United States of America, the Republic of Korea and Japan, but I believe that China and the Russian Federation also need to be involved. I think that these six-party talks need to be kept up. I felt that in my talks with them that China's role will indeed be very great as well. We do not know when the next round of six-party talks will be held, but I believe that we should make effective use of the six-party talks. I think that is a perception shared by the Republic of Korea and China as well. Cooperative relations with China and the Republic of Korea are very important and I believe that in the Trilateral Summit Meeting we were able to reaffirm the importance of such cooperative relations.

Also, in my bilateral talks with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and President Roh respectively, we were able to reaffirm that point. We shall seek a peaceful and diplomatic resolution, and for that purpose, how do we utilize the six-party talks is, I think, the point.

Ⅲ. Question on the developments in Japan-ASEAN relations over the past thirty years

Journalist from RCTI: Prime Minister Koizumi, about 30 years ago Japan was disliked by ASEAN nations. During the Cold War a number of cars were burned by students, but now all of the students, well some of them, have become ministers or decision makers in the respective countries of ASEAN. How do you distinguish the situation 30 years ago and the current situation as you are welcoming the commemoration of the Japan-ASEAN relationship?

Prime Minister Koizumi: In my meetings with the leaders of the ASEAN countries I was impressed that the cooperative relations between Japan and ASEAN over the past thirty years have indeed produced a lot of results. I heard a very candid expression of appreciation for Japan's cooperation and also Japan, over the past thirty years, I believe, has become an important partner for the ASEAN countries, a friend that "acts together and advances together" with the ASEAN countries. I believe this policy of Japan vis-à-vis ASEAN is understood by my colleagues, the leaders of the ASEAN countries. Japan's relations with ASEAN will only further deepen, and compared with three decades ago mutual exchanges have progressed by leaps and bounds and I believe that cooperative relations are proceeding in diverse fields. The younger generation looks more to the future rather than looking back, and with that in mind I believe they are actively pursuing building up cooperation. The people who went ahead of us, I believe have worked very tenaciously to build up these relations, so we, the following generations, should look towards the future and build up friendly ties amongst us. That is even more necessary than before and I believe that it is perfectly possible.

Ⅳ. Question on the incident involving weapons left behind in China by Japan after World War II

Mr. Sasaki, Jiji Press: Prime Minister Koizumi, in August there was an incident in Quiquihar City, located in the Northeastern part of China, involving chemical weapons discarded by the former Japanese army. This has become a point of concern between Japan and China. In your talk with Premier Wen yesterday, the Premier asked for the early resolution of this. In this connection, do you think for the early resolution of this issue a political decision is necessary, rather than only something at the officials' level alone?

Prime Minister Koizumi: To those who lost their lives or were hurt by the abandoned chemical weapons in Quiquihar City, I should like to express my heartfelt condolences as well as sympathies. This issue came up in my meeting with Premier Wen as well. For an early resolution of this problem in a manner that is acceptable to both sides, Japan should like to take appropriate measures in good faith. I believe that through the efforts of both sides and with Japan's good faith approach, we would like to see the resolution of this matter as early as possible.

Ⅴ. Question on the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC)

Journalist from BBC World Service: Japan has been a long partner of Asia and today India has joined the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC). Could you please elaborate on why Japan is not signing this treaty at this Summit?

Prime Minister Koizumi: Japan already has throughout the years maintained very firm, solid cooperative relations with the countries of ASEAN. Of course it is good for other countries to sign such a treaty, but Japan over the years has already built up a very strong and firm relationship of cooperation with the ASEAN members. With or without the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), the cooperation between Japan and ASEAN, not just in the economy but also in the political, security and in other areas, will certainly continue to grow.

Ⅵ. Question on the situation in Aceh

Journalist from The Jakarta Post: My question is on bilateral relations between Japan and Indonesia. Japan is the Co-Chairman of the Tokyo Conference on the Peace and Reconstruction in Aceh. Now war is going on in Aceh. As Co-Chairman of the Conference, what can you do to persuade both the Free Aceh Movement and the Government of Indonesia to stop the war and return to the negotiating table? Thank you very much.

Prime Minister Koizumi: With regard to the Aceh problem I certainly hope in the first place for a peaceful resolution. Indonesia is a country that comprises numerous islands and needless to say, the efforts to maintain territorial integrity must have been mind-boggling. And so, I believe that the Aceh situation should be resolved peacefully while respecting geographical or territorial integrity. Japan should like to provide indirect support to that. I understand that next year there will be general elections in Indonesia. As part of efforts towards democratization and in consideration of the stability for people's lives as well, I am sure that is very important and I would like to consider what Japan can do in order to support the general election as well. So, bearing all these in mind fully, we would like to further strengthen overall cooperation with Indonesia. Thank you very much.

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