Opening Statements by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
and Prime Minister John Howard of Australia at the Joint Press Conference

1 May 2002

  1. Statement by Prime Minister John Howard of Australia
  2. Statement by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan
  3. Follow-up question concerning security relations
  4. Question concerning a free trade agreement
  5. Further question concerning security relations
  6. Additional questions concerning a free trade agreement
  7. Question in connection with the Kyoto Protocol
  8. Question regarding agriculture

I. Statement by Prime Minister John Howard of Australia

Prime Minister John Howard of Australia: The Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, the Prime Minister of Japan, and I and my senior colleagues have had lengthy discussions this morning. The relationship between Australia and Japan is a very close, diverse and, from both countries point of view, an extremely important relationship. Despite its strength, we in Australia believe, to use a phrase of my Foreign Minister's at the discussion this morning, we believe that we should be ambitious about the future of the relationship. And in that context, we discussed the security interests that both of us have in the region. Australia welcomes warmly Japan's contribution, some hundreds of engineers in East Timor and we see that kind of security involvement by Japan in the region in an extremely positive light, not only given the size and the strength of Japan in the region and in the world, but also given the common values that Australia and Japan have. And I repeated Australia's support for Japan becoming a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations.

The economic and trade relationship, of course, is very important. Japan for decades has been Australia's best customer, and I suspect that will continue. I hope it does for many decades into the future. I want to thank the business councils of the two countries, chaired respectively by Mr. Morgan of Australia and Mr. Murofushi of Japan, for the contribution that they have made to deepening economic ties between our two societies. We both want to see even deeper economic and trade relationships. Both the Prime Minister and I see the ultimate goal of a free trade agreement between our two countries as something to be worked towards. It will not be easy; it will need to be taken step-by-step; there are difficulties; clearly, an issue such as agriculture is one of those matters that will need to be worked through carefully. But both of us see it as a desirable goal to work towards, and we have specifically agreed that the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dr. Ashton Calvert, and his Vice-Minister counterpart from Japan will meet soon to discuss the framework for discussions and negotiations about future closer economic and trade relationships. It will not be a quickly achieved goal but it is a goal worth working towards.

Finally, can I say that the most important thing in the end about our relationship with Japan is that we have common values and common beliefs and practices. We are both liberal democracies. We have cooperated very closely in the fight against terrorism. We see the security relationship between our two countries vis-à-vis the United States as extremely important. And we again endorse the value of a trilateral security dialogue at a senior level, Vice-Minister, Foreign Minister-level, Foreign Affairs head-level rather, between Australia, Japan, and the United States.

But can I finally say to the Prime Minister how delighted I am on a personal basis for him to be here in Australia. He has been to Australia before on a number of occasions, but this is his first visit as Prime Minister. He is very, very warmly welcome, and it is nice to be able to return some of the gracious hospitality that he extended to me in Tokyo last August.

II. Statement by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan: At this time, I was greeted by the warm welcome extended by Prime Minister Howard as well as the distinguished representatives of the Australian Government, and I am very grateful.

The tete-a-tete meeting with Prime Minister Howard, I believe, was most candid and very useful. I explained to him about Japan's reforms. However fraught with difficulties they may be, I shall carry through such reforms. Prime Minister Howard has, with strong determination, carried forward his reforms. I have also been faced with numerous difficulties, but my enthusiasm and passion for these reforms and determination to work through reforms is the same. Reforms in Japan have been proceeding smoothly and I should like to further accelerate the pace without relaxing the reign on reforms. So I should like to further carry out reforms in order to contribute to the revitalization of the Japanese economy. I received very encouraging support from Prime Minister Howard.

Japan and Australia share common values, especially democracy, freedom, and as such we fight together against terrorism and together we are cooperating for the peace and stability in East Timor. So through our mutual cooperation we are making significant contributions and the Government of Japan highly value the significant contributions being made by Australia.

In January this year I delivered a speech in Singapore. At that time, I spoke of an East Asian community that "acts together and advances together." As a future orientation, we should pursue, in considering the further development and stability of the East Asian region in the future, I believe the central role that Australia, as a core member of the community, can play would be significant.

In the future, I hope that we will be able to build on concrete results that we will be achieving and further strengthen the cooperation between Japan and Australia. Prime Minister Howard expressed his concurrence.

I believe that Japan and Australia, in a creative partnership, need to cooperate, and with that common perception we should approach numerous issues such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), security issues, and so forth. We hope to further strengthen our partnership in these areas as well.

Between Japan and Australia, of course, we find numerous differences. And in many respects we are mutually complementary. I believe we will be seeing expanding economic cooperation between our two countries and we will explore all options for strengthening economic relations between our two countries. I believe that we saw eye-to-eye on this score as well.

I believe it was a very useful, very good meeting, and I am most gratified. I look forward to further growing this friendly relationship of mutual trust and contributing to our bilateral relations. Once again, thank you very much indeed for a very warm welcome. Thank you.

III. Follow-up question concerning security relations

Prime Minister Howard: Any questions?

The Sydney Morning Herald: Craig Skehan from The Sydney Morning Herald, my question is both to Mr. Koizumi and to Mr. Howard. The Australian Prime Minister referred to a new trilateral security dialogue. How would that work? Would it be based on an annual forum? What sort of issues would be considered? And do you expect an adverse reaction from China, given some of its past comments on this matter?

Prime Minister Koizumi: On security, I consider our relations with Australia very important. That is what I told Prime Minister Howard, especially today. In East Timor we highly appreciate the significant contributions that Australia has been making to the independence of East Timor and its further development or nation-building. And not just in East Timor, but more broadly we would like to cooperate with Australia in the area of security, although, of course, each of our countries would have a different role to play.

You also referred to China. Of course, we will continue to pay consideration to our relations with neighboring countries, but while doing so, in the area of military cooperation, of course, we are aware that Japan has serious constraints. In the area of military cooperation, I believe that Japan can play a role that is different from the role that other countries would play. On this and other issues I would like to continue to exchange views. Now, both our countries place emphasis on our security relations with the United States, but I believe that in our security relations with the United States we each have our differences. However, I believe that whilst realizing those different roles we each have different contributions that we can make to regional security.

IV. Question concerning a free trade agreement

Japanese journalist: Prime Minister Howard referred earlier to an FTA. I wonder what sort of views you exchanged in your meeting? I also understand that you agreed to launch high-level consultations at the sub-cabinet level. I wonder what specific issues you are going to discuss in that forum, agricultural issues?

Prime Minister Koizumi: On an FTA, in my tête-á-tête meeting with Prime Minister Howard, we did exchange views on that. In terms of our economic cooperation, bilaterally, setting our sight on future economic linkages, at different levels, at the sub-committee level, at the working level, at the senior working level, and so on, I think it is important that we continue to build on these dialogues and consultations. In the agricultural area, indeed, there are numerous and difficult issues. But I believe that these are not insurmountable problems. To begin with, we have to further grow the good relations we have between our two countries, and through consultations we should try to work towards a free trade agreement in the longer term. It is important that we carry out our mutual consultations on the basis of good relations and that we all do see expanding economic relations between our two countries. We should build on these concrete results so that at the end of the day, in the future, we shall be able to cooperate towards the objective of a free trade agreement at the end of the road.

V. Further question concerning security relations

Australian journalist: Prime Minister Howard, I would just like to follow up the question from Craig Skehan. You mention a trilateral security dialogue: US, Australia, Japan. What would that entail?

Prime Minister Howard: What is contemplated is not at this stage, and perhaps not in the immediate or medium-term future, a dialogue not at what we would call a ministerial-level but at a very senior officials-level. As to the precise form and shape of it, that is something that is to be further discussed, but it is a concept that we are positive about and was referred to positively in my conversation with the Prime Minister.

The earlier question was asked in the context of China: we do not see it having negative connotations. It is not designed in any negative sense so far as China is concerned, that is, to misread it. It is merely a natural expression of the fact that we have a number of security interests in common in the region, and it should not be seen beyond that.

VI. Additional questions concerning a free trade agreement

Financial Review: Tony Walker, Financial Review. Prime Ministers, first question to Mr. Howard and second question to Mr. Koizumi. Mr. Howard, why was specific reference to a free trade agreement left out of the communiqué and its appendix? And to Mr. Koizumi, what guarantees do we have of Japanese commitment to the negotiation of a free trade agreement if there is indeed no specific reference in the communiqué?

Prime Minister Howard: The language of the communiqué was so broad and so generic it could mean everything including the discussion of the free trade agreement. Communiqués are important, but I think the spoken word of political leaders at news conferences is just as important.

Prime Minister Koizumi: It is not important whether it is included in the joint communiqué or not. Already, in numerous areas, we are seeing progressing economic linkages between Japan and Australia. I think it is important that we build on these results. An FTA is not something that can be achieved overnight. It is important that as a long term objective we build on efforts one-by-one. That is the sort of discussion we had. Therefore, we do not feel the need to include it in the joint communiqué. In reality, in various areas, we expand our cooperation and we build on results. That is more important in the shorter term. And that, in the longer term, should lead or may lead to an FTA. If it did lead to an FTA that would be most desirable. That was the tone of our discussions.

VII. Question in connection with the Kyoto Protocol

Japanese journalist: A question about global warming. Prime Minister Koizumi, in your meeting with Prime Minister Howard, what sort of comments did you make with regard to the Kyoto Protocol, and what response did you get from Prime Minister Howard?

Prime Minister Koizumi: as far as Japan is concerned, we believe that the global warming issue is a matter of great concern. As you can see, in the name, Kyoto Protocol, the name of a Japanese city is used. We are proceeding with preparations so that the Kyoto Protocol will be ratified during this session of the Diet. We very much hope that Australia will also strive to be a member of the Kyoto Protocol. I expressed this desire of mine.

Prime Minister Howard: Could I just say in relation to that, Japan and Australia have the common objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, globally. So far as the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol is concerned, Australia's position is that we believe the inclusion of the United States and developing countries is important if you are to have a really comprehensive global agreement on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. That will not prevent Australia and Japan from working together, even though we do have some differences in relation to the Kyoto Protocol, which are understood and respected on both sides.

VIII. Question regarding agriculture

The Age: Tim Colebatch from The Age newspaper. My question is to Mr. Koizumi. Do you see in the long term a future in which Japanese farmers will not need subsidies to compete with the rest of the world? And if so, what kind of reforms are needed to bring that about?

Prime Minister Koizumi: The agricultural issue is indeed a very great issue for Japan. Also, when we look to the future of Japan-Australia relations, I believe it is an issue that Australia is most interested in.

Now, Japan is the world's largest net agricultural importer. If you look at petroleum, more than 90 percent of the petroleum energy that Japan uses is imported. If we look at the food sector: Well, the population of the world is going to increase, and former food exporters have now turned to importers. Now, Japan has a food-self sufficiency level of around 40 percent. The United States, Europe, and probably Australia as well, have 100 percent self-sufficiency. Japan is the largest net importer of foodstuffs. And on this food issue we see that there are more and more countries turning from exporters to importers and the population around the world is continuing to grow. Looking at this reality, Japan feels that it is necessary for the Japanese themselves to try and supply food to themselves as well. So, thinking of this, the issue of agricultural imports and the question of improving Japan's food self-sufficiency are two issues that we need to balance. That indeed is a part of Japan's major reform issues. Of course, our countries have different circumstances, but bearing these points in mind we should try to promote trade liberalization and strengthen economic linkages between our two countries and in dialogue with each other.

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