Joint press point
with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe
Prime Minister, it is a great pleasure to welcome you again at NATO Headquarters. Today is an important day for our partnership.
We just had a productive meeting with the members of the North Atlantic Council. Our discussions show how highly we value our relationship and how much potential there is to do more.
Today we signed an agreement that will take this relationship a step further. It will bring our practical cooperation to a new level, including in the areas of counter piracy, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.
Prime Minister, your personal commitment to our partnership is steadfast and goes back a long way.
Japan is our oldest partner from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.
For the last decade, Japan’s contribution in Afghanistan has been vital. We are grateful for your outstanding support to our efforts. We also appreciate Japan’s intention to continue to support development and security in Afghanistan, beyond 2014.
Japan’s contributions to the NATO Trust Funds, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, are also tremendously appreciated.
Our partnership is based upon shared values, a shared commitment to international peace and security, and to the principles of the United Nations and international law.
Today we are facing the gravest crisis to European security since the end of the Cold War. But this is not just about Ukraine. This crisis has serious implications for the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area as a whole.
And there is no doubt that the security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic and Asia-Pacific regions cannot be treated separately.
In this time of crisis, our dialogue with like-minded partners like Japan is key to address global security challenges.
Prime Minister, I thank you for your determination to contribute to international efforts towards global peace and stability. And I look forward to deepening our political dialogue and our practical cooperation.
(Japanese speakers were interpreted)
SHINZO ABE (Prime Minister of Japan): Today, I visited NATO Headquarters first time in the last seven years. And we had a very useful discussion with Secretary General Rasmussen. I was able to be present at NAC. Policy of a practical contribution to peace based on the principle of international cooperation: we have to implement that. So, to that goal, we signed the IPCP in the presence of Secretary General!
In the discussion with Secretary General, we talked about the anti-piracy in the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia. We will be doing the joint exercise with Japan self-defence force units and participating units of NATO’s Ocean Shield Operation.
And also we have the basic agreement on strengthening the collaboration in the field of gender by seconding the female government personnel to the headquarters of NATO.
Through the exchange of opinions regarding the Ukraine situation, we noted that there is a closer connection between Asia and the European security. So Japan and NATO share the basic value: the rule of law.
So at NAC, in my speech, I stated that I'd like to see enhanced cooperation with NATO which is the natural partner for Japan which has a panoramic perspective roadmap for the cause of peace and stability of the region and of the world.
We'd like to promote the concrete collaboration and cooperation with....
OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson): One question from the Japanese media.
Q: (Inaudible) Nakuko (?) from Kyodo News Agency. I have a question to Prime Minister Abe. In your presentation at NAC, you have shown your willingness to work on the legal preparedness on the question of collective self-defence and the collective security. And you have shown that you'll be careful about the ruling party consultation. In the final analysis, what is the timeline before you decide on the government policy?
I have a question to Secretary General Rasmussen regarding such approach shown by Prime Minister Abe, what is your assessment? How do you evaluate that?
SHINZO ABE: Regarding the collective self-defence, the Advisory Panel on the Construction of a Legal Basis for security is making the final stretch, final touching... touch work. And they will be presenting the report at the presentation at NIC (sic)...NAC. I have presented the concrete examples of relevant issues at stake. So regarding the direction of the discussion, what should we be discussing and so forth. I think the NATO side understood what we are after.
And I think there are some delegates who agree with our directionality. After the presentation of the report by the Advisory Panel, the government will show the directionality as the government and will bear in mind the views of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau. And we will consult with the ruling party and we will discuss how to go about it. But if the interpretation of the Constitution is to be made, then Cabinet will have to decide. And of course, there will have to be the discussion for the Diet.
It's not that a due date is set by what timeframe we should be concluding the discussion. There's no due date. And I'd like to see the discussion by the ruling parties.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: We welcome Japanese steps and initiatives to become a proactive contributor to peace. Japan is a very important economic actor in the world. Japan is very much dependent on free trade, open sea lanes, free and open communication lines. So it's only natural that Japan will also contribute to, for example, keeping our sea lanes open through counter-piracy operations.
So we share interests in countering piracy, countering terrorism. We share interest in disarmament. That's one element in the Individual Cooperation and Partnership Programme we have signed that we will strengthen cooperation on disarmament. We have programmes to destroy excess munitions, excess small arms and weapons.
I consider all these elements as a very important contribution to peace, security and stability in the world. And we welcome Japanese contributions to that.
OANA LUNGESCU: Associated Press.
Q: A question from Associated Press. Secretary General, NATO officials have said that Russia is now behaving like an adversary. Have things come full circle for the Alliance where protecting its members against Russia is once again job number 1 for NATO? And if I can address a question to Mister... to Prime Minister Abe, with all the security concerns that Japan has to worry about these days, is increased military activity by Russia, one of them? And what have you done about it if that's the case? Thank you.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Effective defence and protection of our Allies remains a core task for NATO. It's been the essence of our Alliance since it was established 65 years ago. It remains our core task.
This is the reason why we have taken steps to reinforce collective defence through enhanced air policing over the Baltic States; deployment of AWACs observation airplanes to improve our surveillance over Poland and Romania. You have seen more naval presence in the Black Sea. We will deploy ships to the Baltic Sea. So all in all you have seen more aircrafts in the air, more ships at sea. And you have also seen deployments of personnel on the ground. And we will not hesitate to take further steps if necessary to ensure effective defence and protection of our Allies.
But let me add to that, we will still be able to carry out all three core tasks of NATO as described in our Strategic Concept. Territorial defence is one of our core tasks. But another task is to be able to participate in this national crisis management. And we have also defined cooperative security as one of our core tasks. And we will continue to carry out those tasks as well.
SHINZO ABE: Thank you, let me explain the basic position of Japan. We will not tolerate any change of status quo through intimidation or coercion or force: Ukraine, Europe. This is not only applicable to Europe or Ukraine. This is applicable to East Asia. And it is applicable to the whole world. This is something that the whole world has to consider.
From that viewpoint, together with G7 countries, Japan is issuing a strong message. And we have come with two rounds of measures. As I said at the NAC meeting, on the 25th of May there will be a presidential election in Ukraine. And regarding the legitimacy of that election, the parties must recognize the legitimacy of the result of the election. It's very important. And the Russian side as well must have taken the legitimacy of this election. We have to be very careful in approaching this question so that the Russian side will also take the legitimacy of the election. So Japan will work with G7 countries and countries of the world in cooperation so that this issue will be resolved in a peaceful way.
I hasten to add: I work with the G7 countries. We'll act together. We are acting together with G7 countries. At the same time, in order to resolve this problem, we have to have dialogue with Russia which is very important in my opinion, in any way, in a peaceful way, through dialogue, this issue must be resolved. To that end, Japan will cooperate together with NATO and G7 countries.