Press Conference by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda Following His Visits to the United States and Singapore
November 21, 2007
MODERATOR: We will now start the press conference for the Prime Minister of Japan Mr. Yasuo Fukuda. First, Prime Minister Fukuda will give some opening remarks.
PRIME MINISTER YASUO FUKUDA: Ladies and gentlemen of the press, during this visit to Singapore I believe I was able to firmly mark the first step towards an active diplomacy vis-à-vis Asia. During these two days there have been numerous meetings and I was able to engage in frank, in depth exchanges of views with many Asian leaders, and built mutual trust.
During my visit to the United States last week, I discussed with President Bush that the stability and peace of Asia will be important not just for Japan but for the United States as well, and we agreed upon that. Building on that, I had meetings with the Asian leaders this time.
In my meetings with the ASEAN leaders, we welcomed the conclusions of the negotiations over the AJCEP, the Japan-ASEAN Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, and agreed to cooperate for its early entry into force.
I also stated that we are pleased to see the adoption of the ASEAN charter by ASEAN countries, and that Japan shall continue to provide strong support for ASEAN's integration efforts in the interest of ASEAN's further development and prosperity. At the East Asia Summit, or EAS, I called on all leaders to work together to realize a sustainable society in East Asia, and I also proposed to advance concrete cooperation in the area of the environment, such as response to climate change.
Furthermore, I reaffirmed that Japan shall exercise leadership to further advance regional cooperation in such areas as energy and youth exchange, among others. At the meeting, we adopted the Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment. I consider this an important achievement in the run up to the G8 Hokkaido Lake Toya Summit next year.
As for tête-à-têtes, I was able to have good talks with Premier Wen Jiabao of China for two hours including over lunch. We exchanged views on cooperative relations between our two countries and on resolving issues and also on the regional situation and global challenges.
I also had substantive talks with President Roh Moo-Hyun of the Republic of Korea, Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong of Singapore, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, and others. We discussed bilateral issues, but also discussed matters related to the region as a whole as well.
In my meeting with Prime Minister Thein Sein of Myanmar, I requested his government to redouble efforts for democratization. At the Japan-China-ROK Summit, we agreed to develop an action plan next year or thereafter to further step up our trilateral cooperation.
In my meeting with the leaders of Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam, I explained Japan's policy to assist with Mekong Region development.
Let me conclude my opening remarks by expressing my heartfelt gratitude to the government and the people of this beautiful Singapore for the very warm welcome and hospitality, and I am pleased that I have been able to deepen our friendship with this country. That is all I have to say in opening. Thank you.
MODERATOR: We will now entertain your questions. First we would like to ask a member of the Japanese press, and then a foreign press member, in that order. If you wish to ask a question please raise your hand, and if you are indicated, before asking the question please state your name and your affiliation.
QUESTION: Prime Minister, you visited the United States and now you are in Asia, and you have a philosophy of synergy between the US-Japan alliance and Asian diplomacy. In the relationship between Japan and the US, there are issues to be resolved such as regarding the DPRK, so how are you going to make this synergy concept more pervasive and enhance Japan's presence? In connection with that, Asian countries highly evaluate the Fukuda Doctrine. Are you going to come up with a new revised Fukuda Doctrine of your own?
PRIME MINISTER YASUO FUKUDA: A peaceful and prosperous Asia, an open Asia, will be in the interest not just of Japan but of Asian countries as a whole, and of the entire international community including the United States of America. From this perspective, Japan was taking the self-reliant efforts of the Asian countries as their basis. I believe in the spirit of self-reliance and mutual cooperation, in other words cooperating with each other, and at a time of need we need to really cooperate with the countries of Asia. The Japan-US alliance is the firm lynchpin of Japan's foreign policy, and, taking that as the foundation, we need to develop diplomacy towards Asia with integrity, and we believe that will also contribute significantly to the furtherance of our relations with China and the Republic of Korea. So the Japan-US alliance will be conducive in expanding the scope of activity for Japan in Asia, and also good Japan-Asia relations will be beneficial for the Japan-US alliance as well. On the basis of this philosophy, we shall further advance Japan's diplomacy vis-à-vis Asia.
You also asked about the Fukuda Doctrine. Next year will mark the 30th anniversary since the first Fukuda Doctrine. It is not that I am thinking of anything new, or a revised version. That said, there have been major changes since those days. Asia has changed significantly over the past three decades. Asia has become a far greater center of growth compared to 30 years ago. China also is rising rapidly. India also will likely grow significantly. Building on all these, Japan's Asia diplomacy needs to change qualitatively, so with that in mind we have to think about Japan's Asia diplomacy ahead.
MODERATOR: Now we would like to ask non-Japanese reporters for a question.
QUESTION: Prime Minister, could you tell us more about the climate change initiative that you proposed at the East Asia Summit today? How will this help the countries in the region balance growth with environmental protection? Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER YASUO FUKUDA: Countries in East Asia are going through rapid economic growth that Japan once experienced, but also are faced with serious environmental problems. At the East Asia Summit Meeting, I stated that, building on the basic philosophy of self-reliance and mutual cooperation which I referred to, I would like the East Asian countries to learn from Japan's experience and knowledge that enabled Japan to overcome serious pollution, and that Japan shall implement cooperative initiatives by providing leading-edge technology in the environment and energy areas, and help East Asian countries overcome the environmental problems. That is to say to help self-reliance, and also, where necessary, engage in mutual cooperation. I expressed this concrete cooperative initiative, and in order to achieve both economic growth and environmental protection at the same time, this initiative will be built on three pillars, that are support for achieving a low-carbon resource recycling society, promotion of a rich and diverse nature in East Asia, and support for intellectual infrastructure for the purpose of environmental protection toward the future.
More specifically, in the coming five years we will provide financial cooperation of more than US$2 billion for measures against air and water pollution in East Asian countries; we will organize an environmental experts team that will be dispatched to sites of serious pollution upon request, and consider drafting the necessary counter-measures, and also provide Japan's satellite images for forest management as well as measurement of greenhouse gases in East Asia, and also cooperate in developing environmental leaders in East Asia in the future. Through this initiative, we would like to strive for the realization of a sustainable society in East Asia.
MODERATOR: Next a member of the Japanese media please.
QUESTION: Prime Minister, in your meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao, it was requested that you visit China as soon as possible. But in the Diet right now, there is deliberation of the bill on the special measures refueling operational support. In the United States, you mentioned to President Bush that you wished to restart the refueling activities as soon as possible, and to do that there has been an extension of the Diet, and there might be reapproval in the lower house of this bill.
PRIME MINISTER YASUO FUKUDA: With regard to this new counter terrorism law, in other words, the maritime refueling law, we believe that this is indispensable for Japan's prosperity. In other words, it is one of the means to ensure Japan's prosperity. For Japan to live in the international community as a member of that community, that is one endeavor that Japan needs to make. Not only for the peace and stability of the international community, Japan attaches great importance to the fight against terrorism. I need to explain in full the importance of such operations to the Japanese Diet and would very much like to have the consent of the Diet. Of course, it is a matter of the Diet, and it is not for me to instruct the Diet to do this or that. The decision will be made by the will of the Diet and I will respect the will of the Diet, but from the vantage point that I mentioned, I very much hope that this legislative proposal will be passed as early on as possible.
MODERATOR: We would like to ask a non-Japanese member of the press to ask a last question.
QUESTION: Prime Minister, I have a question about Myanmar. Japan was personally affected by the recent crackdown; a Japanese journalist was killed. Do you think that Japan would like to impose any sanctions on Myanmar? Do you support sanctions? What kind of message did you deliver to Prime Minister Thein Sein? Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER YASUO FUKUDA: I am gravely concerned by the democratization and human rights situation in Myanmar. Especially, in spite of calls for restraint by the international community, force was used against the demonstrations recently, and it is most regrettable that that resulted in many casualties, including one Japanese citizen. It is important that the government of Myanmar now engage in serious efforts to improve the human rights situation and democratization by engaging in genuine dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi, and, from this perspective, I believe that it is important that the international community in concert support the efforts by Dr. Gambari, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General. I explained this position of Japan at the East Asia Summit Meeting, and also directly appealed to Prime Minister Thein Sein of Myanmar on this as well. Currently, the international society including Japan is making various efforts on Myanmar. Japan shall consider various measures building on the future developments and I believe it is also important for the international community to support the Government of Myanmar, if the Myanmarese government makes a positive movement towards democratization.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. With that we would like to close the press conference by the Prime Minister. Thank you for your cooperation today.
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