Press Conference by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on the occasion of the Asian-African Summit 2005 and the Commemoration of the Golden Jubilee of the Asian-African Conference 1955
I. Opening statement
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi: Thank you for coming late in the evening. It was most meaningful to attend the historic Asian-African Summit 2005. Today, I was able to actually observe on the ground Banda Aceh that was afflicted by the tsunami, and I believe that was also very meaningful. Also, in the margins of the summit meeting, I had valuable exchange of views with the co-chairs of the summit, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of the Republic of Indonesia, President Thabo Mbeki of the Republic of South Africa as well as President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Secretary-General Kofi Annan of the United Nations (UN), among others.
Also, today, I had a meeting with President Hu Jintao of the People's Republic of China and had a very frank exchange of views. I think that again was also very fruitful.
This 50th anniversary ceremony of the Bandung Conference where so many heads of states and governments gathered together, I think, was made possible by the great efforts made by President Yudhoyono, and I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to him for that. Also, I am most grateful to the warm hospitality of the people of Indonesia. I leave the rest to your questions.
II. Question on the talks between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and President Hu Jintao of the People's Republic of China
Q: You just mentioned that you had talks with President Hu Jintao of China. Was your objective to confirm the friendly relationship between the two countries been attained? Concerning the Japan-China relationship which is deteriorated by anti-Japan demonstrations, how are you going to improve the relationship?
Prime Minister Koizumi: With regard to the talks between myself and President Hu Jintao, I attended the talks with the aim of not being overwhelmed by temporary confrontations and difference of views or anti-Japan demonstrations and anti-China sentiments; but realizing how important it is for the two countries as well as for entire Asia and for the international community to improve the bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries. My aim from the start was to share this idea through the talks. I am confident that President Hu Jintao felt the same. I think the meeting was extremely fruitful, and the spirit was that we should together cherish the relations we have, and in various areas, we should continue to promote the cooperative relations between Japan and China. I believe it was a very good meeting.
III. Question on Japan's official development assistance (ODA)
Q: Yesterday, in your speech, you said you will raise the amount of your official development assistance (ODA) to 0.7% of Japan's gross national income (GNI) from the current 0.2%. How will you achieve this? Some say the move was motivated by Japan's bid to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council and also to counter China's increasing influence. Thank you very much.
Prime Minister Koizumi: I said we shall increase Japan's ODA to 0.7% (of Japan's GNI) which is currently around 0.2%. This is no easy task, and realizing this in a concrete way within a specified time limit would be very difficult. However, as we look into the future, Japan's ODA will be extremely useful and very important for the world's peace and stability. That is how I see it.
That being the case, in the past, Japan has actively provided ODA with the worsening fiscal circumstances in Japan. We now hear rising voices from the Japanese public, who gave a rather tough sentiment vis-à-vis ODA. There is a lot of debate within the Japanese Diet on how the ODA will be used effectively, so we shall be reviewing the provision of ODA. Therefore, it has not been easy for us to continue increasing ODA as we used to in the past. More recently, however, Japanese people are beginning to understand that it is the precious taxpayers' money. As it is taxpayers' money that is being used, this money needs to be used very effectively and efficiently in the recipient countries. I believe that on the receiving side, this understanding is permeating as well.
From here on, I believe that the Japanese public is beginning to understand that we need to raise, not reduce the amount of ODA. It is not possible to set a deadline for achieving the 0.7%, but since Japan's ODA is being appreciated by each recipient, to the extent the ODA is effectively and efficiently utilized and as it in fact will contribute to the world's peace and stability, Japan is fully aware of the need to increase its ODA. In cooperation with various countries concerned, Japan shall strive to increase its ODA.
IV. Follow-up questions on Japan-China bilateral meeting
Q: Earlier, Prime Minister, you mentioned that the Japan-China summit was quite fruitful. I have three questions to ask. First, it is about the anti-Japan demonstrations in China. There was a mention from Japan about compensation and apologies. How did you refer to this issue in the summit and how did China respond to that? My second question is about your visit to Yasukuni Shrine and also the Japanese Government's view on history. What kind of reference did China make on this? What kind of exchange took place? You invited Premier Wen Jiabao of China to Japan. What was their response?
Prime Minister Koizumi: On those three points, Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura of Japan and Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Zhaoxing of China actually discussed these points as well. Now, the talks between myself and President Hu Jintao does not have to be exactly the same as the foreign ministers' meeting. I have mentioned that the content of these two meetings do not need to be the same.
With regard to the anti-Japan demonstrations, I requested the Chinese side to take appropriate measures. I also requested that appropriate measures be taken to protect the Japanese Embassy, the Consulate and activities of the Japanese businesses and private sectors.
With regard to Yasukuni Shrine and the history issues, President Hu did take up these issues. At the same time, however, President Hu Jintao said that he did not intend to argue each and every point. I agreed with him on that. This is no place for us to debate each and every point. As this summit is firmly based on a broad perspective that friendly ties between Japan and China will be in the interest of not just our two countries but also for Asia and the international community as a whole, I did not refer to Yasukuni Shrine or the history issue.
With regard to the invitation extended to Premier Wen Jiabao to Japan, this is something that has been standing so I did not refer to that. We have not changed our position at all on that.
I have not changed any position on what I have been telling you.
V. Follow-up question on Japan's ODA
Q: I think it is a follow-up question. It seems that Japan has been ready to provide big assistance to developing Asian and African countries. For example, yesterday it was announced that Japan will double its ODA to Africa. But in return, what advantages does Japan expect to get in terms of political and economic ways? Thank you.
Prime Minister Koizumi: What merit would Japan's assistance to Asia and Africa have for Japan itself? Well, Japan's development and prosperity, I believe, can only be found in the world's peace and stability. It is not a question of what direct benefits Japan's assistance would have for Japan, but rather, what sort of contributions can Japan make to the peace and prosperity of the world. That is what we should ask ourselves.
Japan has developed as a pacifist nation. With the determination of the past 60 years since the end of the World War II (WWII), we shall become an economic power but never a military power. We have acted on that, and with that, we have contributed to peace-building and the prevention of conflicts around the world. That peaceful and stable development in the world leads to Japan's own peace and development. In other words, assisting the recipient country leads to Japan's stability and prosperity. With Japanese assistance, the recipient country will be able to grow through a stable political situation and Japan will benefit from that. It is with that stance that we shall continue to provide assistance.
VI. Question on Yasukuni Shrine
Q: You mentioned earlier that President Hu Jintao took up the issue of the Yasukuni Shrine. China has been saying that the visits to the Yasukuni Shrine have been a hindrance to the bilateral relationship between Japan and China. Your own decision is overshadowing the overall Japan-China relationship. What would you do to the visit to the Yasukuni Shrine?
Prime Minister Koizumi: With regard to the visit to Yasukuni Shrine, as I have been saying, I shall make judgment appropriately. There is no change to that position. On the perception of history, the question of Yasukuni Shrine and also with regard to the Taiwan issue, for the past 30 odd years, Japan has not made a slightest change in its position expressed in the Japan-China Joint Communique, the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People's Republic of China, and the Japan-China Joint Declaration. We believe that the degree of interdependence between our countries have never been deeper or as intense as it is now. We only see increasing people-to-people exchanges and also China replaced the US as our biggest trade partner in terms of trade amount. So Japan and China have never needed each other more as we do today, and we would like to further promote this sort of relationship. Instead of criticizing each other for the past and agitating hostile feelings, I believe that promoting friendly ties between us will be of greatest benefit to both of us. That was what we were able to confirm in the talks.
VII. Question on measures for Japan-China relations
Q: What specific measures have you and President Hu Jintao agreed to in order to ease the current bilateral crisis between your two countries and to overcome the anti-Japanese sentiment in China?
Prime Minister Koizumi: We discussed how the friendly ties between our two countries are of extreme importance for both of us. Indeed in China, as seen from those anti-Japan demonstrations, there is strong anti-Japanese sentiment. Also, from seeing such demonstrations, some Japanese regard China with anti-China sentiment or shall I say a sort of feeling of repellence against China. But overall, I believe without expressing in words both in Japan and China, I believe the majority of people understand that promoting friendly ties between our two countries is of the greatest benefit to both countries, especially those in the responsible positions in the Government. I believe we should have this common understanding that we should strictly refrain from agitating any such hostile sentiment. I believe that because of the recent developments, there is this stronger understanding on this among those in responsible positions in respective countries. Without being affected by such anti-Chinese or Japanese sentiments, we were able to share the recognition in the talks that the friendly ties between the two countries are of importance. I believe both of us should take to heart very firmly this awareness and strive to further promote the friendly ties between our two countries.
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