The following is the gist of the press conference given by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after the close of the extraordinary Diet session [on Dec. 9, 2019].
Japan-U.S. trade agreement
Japan achieved results in line with its national interests. U.S. tariffs will be reduced on a wide range of Japan’s industrial products, and the U.S. low-tariff quota for Japanese beef will be increased. The entry into force of the bilateral trade agreement, together with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and the Japan-EU economic partnership agreement (EPA) [which have already entered into force], will create an economic sphere covering approximately 60% of the global economy and based on free and fair rules. Taking advantage of this opportunity, we will vigorously support initiatives to develop new markets overseas.
We need to fully prepare for reconstruction from the repeated natural disasters that have hit Japan recently and for downward pressure from external factors, including the U.S.-China trade friction. We will develop solid economic measures worth 26 trillion yen. In the Reiwa Era, we will create a future where we enjoy peace of mind and growth.
Whether we make innovations in the areas of (the next-generation communications standard known as) 5G and communications technologies will directly impact Japan’s competitiveness and have a major impact on security and every other aspect of society. Without developing bold economic measures, we will not be able to create a [bright] future for Japan.
Japan and China have a major responsibility to ensure the peace, stability, and prosperity of Asia and the world. I share the understanding with Chinese President Xi Jinping that our nations should play such a role. Under the current situation in Asia, Japan is called to clearly express its will. Regarding the various outstanding issues we have with our Chinese neighbor, including intrusions into Japan’s territorial waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands and the detention of Japanese nationals, I will state what needs to be stated and strongly demand China handle the issues in a forward-looking manner.
Dissolution of the Lower House
The will of the people should be sought on major policies that directly affect their everyday lives. If I think that the time has come to seek the will of the people, I will not hesitate to move forward with dissolving the Lower House and calling a general election. I have the heavy responsibility of making sure that all events related to the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito take place without a hitch, including a ritual for Crown Prince Fumihito in April 2020. I will do everything in my power to fulfill that duty.
Situation in the Middle East
Preparations are now underway for (Iranian) President Hassan Rouhani to visit Japan. We are an ally of both the United States and a country that has enjoyed good ties with Iran for many years. Japan is being called on by the international community to harness its unique position to manage the situation. I will dedicate myself as much as possible to diplomatic efforts to alleviate tensions and stabilize the situation by persistently engaging in dialogue.
Japan is currently considering the concrete details of using Self-Defense Force assets to strengthen the framework for information collection under our plan to move forward with a Japanese initiative for the security of vessels affiliated with Japan. We will decide the government’s handling of the matter through full discussions between the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito. (Segments on social security, constitutional amendment, and the cherry blossom viewing party have been abridged.)