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Gist of PM Abe’s news conference after Japan-U.S. summit, Sept. 26

The following is the gist of the news conference given by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in New York on Sept. 26:


Japan-U.S. relations


Japan and the U.S. have steadily increased investment in each other while expanding bilateral trade, deepening their economic interdependence.


Today, while Japan exports 1.74 million automobiles to the U.S., Japanese companies produce 3.77 million cars in the U.S. They employ 1.5 million workers there, making a significant contribution to the U.S. economy.


In the 18 months since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Japanese companies have decided to make $20 billion in additional investments in the U.S., which will create 37,000 new jobs. This is more than any other country in the world. All these efforts will contribute to the stable development and maturation of the economic relationship between our two countries that champion free trade. We must not turn the clock back. Instead we must deepen this relationship and further invigorate trade and investment between the two countries.


I shared with President Trump this overall assessment and we agreed at our summit meeting to start negotiations for a Trade Agreement on Goods (TAG). As a precondition to this, we confirmed that with regard to agricultural products, the U.S. will respect Japan’s position that its commitments in past economic partnership agreements will constitute the maximum level in future negotiations. At the same time, we also confirmed that additional tariffs on autos based on Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act will not be invoked while negotiations are going on.


We also agreed to resolve other tariff issues at an early date. We confirmed in our joint statement our strong determination to expand bilateral cooperation in dealing with unfair trade practices in e-commerce and a wide range of other areas. The TPP agreement is a forerunner in this undertaking.


Tit-for-tat trade restriction measures are not in the interest of any country. It is necessary to respect differences in the promotion of trade in order to build win-win economic relationships. The TAG talks will be different from all previous comprehensive free trade agreements (FTA). We would like to proceed with the talks in a manner that will achieve mutually beneficial results. I am confident that this will contribute to the expansion of trade and investment in both countries.


North Korea issues


Radical changes have taken place in the North Korea situation in the past year. We must add momentum to the new trend generated by the U.S.-DPRK summit in June and achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula promptly.


Furthermore, we will resolve the all-important abduction issue as soon as possible. The next step will be for me to have a face-to-face meeting with Workers’ Party of Korea Chairman Kim Jong Un. I am determined to crack the shell of mutual distrust, resolve the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues, and settle issues of the unfortunate past, in order to normalize diplomatic relations with North Korea.


I also had a very in-depth discussion with Mr. Trump on the Korean Peninsula issues on the evening of Sept. 23. We also talked about denuclearization at the summit meeting. We were able to conduct coordination on basic principles and our assessment of the present situation.


Cabinet reshuffle, LDP leadership appointments


I will make appointments for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership and reshuffle the cabinet on Oct. 2 after I return to Japan. The LDP is a treasure house of human resources. By giving as many people as possible the opportunity to play active roles based on a firm foundation, I would like to get off to a powerful start in promoting the building of a new nation beyond the Heisei Era.


What I mean by “firm foundation” is retaining Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretaries Yasutoshi Nishimura and Kotaro Nogami in the Kantei, for instance. I would also like to continue to have Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso as part of this foundation. However, with regard to the extent of this foundation, I will have plenty of time on my return flight (to Japan) to think carefully about this.

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