The President's News Conference With Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan in Toyako, Japan
Prime Minister Fukuda. We had a very substantive meeting with President Bush for about an hour. In the meeting, we first shared the view that the peace and stability in this region, in the past decades, have been maintained thanks to the Japan-U.S. alliance. We then reaffirmed that in the 71⁄2 years or so since the inauguration of the Bush administration in January of 2001, the alliance has deepened by leaps and bounds in security, economic, people-topeople exchanges, and other areas. And we agreed to further strengthen this alliance.
In the security area, cooperation between Japan and the United States grew more concrete, substantive, and broader in nature, as exemplified by the cooperation in the fight against terrorism and assistance for Iraqi reconstruction following 9/11, the agreement on and steady implementation of a roadmap for U.S. forces realignment, and the joint development of ballistic missile defense and successful intercept tests.
On North Korean issues, I told President Bush that the verification of their declaration is extremely important to realize complete nuclear abandonment by North Korea, that simultaneous settlement of denuclearization and the abduction issue will be important, and that to that end, Japan wishes to continue to cooperate closely with the United States. And President Bush concurred with me and told me that he will never forget the abduction issue.
I was encouraged to hear from him that the U.S. position on the abduction issue— that is to say a clear-cut support for Japanese position—remains unchanged, and that the United States will remain in close coordination with Japan on the issue. As agreed between us on the nuclear and abduction issues, we shall continue to deal with the issue, maintaining close coordination between our two countries.
On the economic aspects, the interdependence between Japan and the United States has grown closer than before. Since 2000, Japanese direct investment to the United States has increased approximately 30 percent. Japanese businesses in the United States have about 610,000 people on their payrolls, and U.S. direct investment in Japan also has increased approximately 60 percent.
I wish to also point out that mutual understanding between our countries has reached a high level at the grassroots level. I shall make sure to follow up the initiative I announced during my visit to the United States last year to step up in Japan-U.S. exchanges so that the foundation for our alliance will become unshakeable.
In order to further deepen this alliance, I explained to President Bush my belief that it will be important to further step up in policy coordination in Asia and bilateral cooperation in addressing global challenges, such as climate change, African development, and disaster reduction. And President Bush expressed his agreement on this.
On African development, we agreed that we should further step up our bilateral cooperation to increase the production of major crops in Africa, including doubling of rice production, and promote their trade and distribution.
On disaster reduction, following the recent spate of several natural—severe natural disasters in Asia in recent years, I wish to step up cooperation between our two countries to build up cooperation in Asia on disaster prevention.
On climate change, we also had discussions, and we have a common understanding that it is our common responsibility to leave the beautiful Earth to our posterity since this—climate change is one of the most severe challenges that human kind faces today, and that we shall continue to cooperate with the G-8.
And with regard to soaring food and oil prices, which are having negative impact on the world economy, we agreed there's a need for expeditious efforts on these fronts.
President Bush, please.
President Bush. Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your hospitality, and thank you for inviting us to this beautiful place. Laura and I are really looking forward to dinner with you and Mrs. Fukuda tonight. And I agree with your assessment that we had very important and fruitful discussions.
We discussed a variety of subjects, starting with the—our work together to make sure the Korean Peninsula, all the Korean Peninsula, is free of nuclear weapons. I am fully aware of the sensitivity of the issue here in your country. I am aware that people want to make sure that the abduction issue is not ignored, and that there are suspicions about whether or not the North Koreans will be fully forthcoming. I view this process as a multistep process that requires strong verification.
One thing is for certain, is that North Korea did provide a declaration of its plutonium-related activities and did blow up the cooling tower of its reactor at Yongbyon. That's been verified, and that also is a positive step. But there are more steps to be taken. We are concerned about enriched uranium and proliferation and human rights abuses, ballistic missile programs. I view this process as a multistep process where there will be action for action.
The Prime Minister gave me the book of Ms. Yokota. I had the privilege of meeting her in the Oval Office. I was deeply touched by her story about the abduction of her little girl. As a father of little girls, I can't imagine what it would be like to have my daughter just disappear. So, Mr. Prime Minister, as I told you on the phone when I talked to you and in the past, the United States will not abandon you on this issue.
We worked—we talked about Japan's contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I thank your Government and I thank the people of Japan for helping others realize the blessings of liberty. We talked about Iran and the importance of Iran to listen to the demands, the just demands of the world to verifiably suspend its enrichment programs.
We haven't had a chance to talk about Burma yet, but I intend to bring it up with the Prime Minister. I'm deeply concerned about that country. Their response to the recent natural disaster was unwarranted at best. And we urge the regime to free Aung Suu—Aung San Suu Kyi.
We talked about the G-8. And I believe this is going to be a successful G-8, Mr. Prime Minister. This is my eighth one. I've got a pretty good sense about whether or not a G-8 is going to be a success or maybe not such a success. This one is going to be a success.
We've got a lot to talk about. I appreciate very much your strong belief in the accountability aspect of this meeting. In other words, when people say they're— make a pledge to feed the hungry or provide for the ill, that we ought to honor that pledge. And I thank you for understanding that. And I also thank you for your concern about neglected tropical diseases as well as helping train health workers in Africa so that they can be compassionate citizens of their respective countries.
We'll talk about food and energy, of course. And then I've got two other subjects that I want to make sure we spend a fair amount of time on. One is the Doha round. It's an opportunity for us, Mr. Prime Minister, to promote free and fair trade, and it's going to be an essential part of the development agenda. And the truth of the matter is, we can give grants and— but the best way to help the impoverished around the world is through trade. It's a proven fact. And this is an opportunity to set up a successful ministerial in July—I think it's July 21st—for the Doha round.
And then I'm going to spend some time, of course, sharing my views about the environment and how we can advance our common agenda, and that—remind people that the United States and Japan really do lead the world in research when it comes to clean technologies.
I think I was sharing my views with some of the Japanese press when they were in the United States, Mr. Prime Minister, about how Japan is going to lead the world when it comes to battery technologies, and that I anticipate our country will be able to be using battery technologies in automobiles that look like cars, not golf carts, and which will save us a lot of, you know, reliance upon oil. And this will be a great opportunity to discuss that as well as our common desire to move our common agenda.
And so I want to thank you very much for your hospitality. And I appreciate very much your candid discussion that we had.
Q. I'm with NHK. Both of you have commented on global warming, and so I'd like to ask about that to both of you. First, Prime Minister Fukuda, were you successful in getting President Bush's agreement to cooperate—to get a G-8 agreement on long-term target to have a global—greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 globally?
So first that question, and second question for President Bush. Mr. President, you've been saying that participation of China and India, among others, will be essential for a long-term target. Do you think that—are going to cooperate on getting a G-8 agreement on long-term target this time? And also, as for assistance for African countries that are suffering from negative impact of global warming, I wonder what thoughts you have, President Bush.
Prime Minister Fukuda. Allow me to first respond. As I said earlier on the global warming issue, including long-term targets, I agreed with President Bush to continue to cooperate in the runup to the G-8. On whether G-8 will agree on long-term target or not, that is something that G-8 is continuing consultations. So at this stage what I wish to say is that we leaders will get down to in-depth discussions on this day after tomorrow.
President Bush. I'll be constructive. I've always advocated that there needs to be a common understanding, and that starts with a goal. And I also am realistic enough to tell you that if China and India don't share that same aspiration, that we're not going to solve the problem.
And so I appreciate the Prime Minister's leadership on this issue. And the United States will—we're working, working to see if we can come up with a constructive statement.
I didn't get your question on Africa. What was the question on Africa? Ask it again, please.
Q. Well, I wanted to ask for your thoughts, your views on support for Africa, which will be negatively affected by global warming. Do you have any plans for supporting Africa?
President Bush. ——starts with understanding that babies are needlessly dying because of mosquito bites, and therefore, wealthy nations ought to step up and provide mosquito nets, DDT, as well as medicine. My concern for Africa starts with knowing that too many people are dying of HIV/AIDS. And that's why the United States Congress joined the administration in supporting a $15 billion effort to help people get antiretroviral drugs, help orphans get help, and help put a—effective prevention program in place. The amount—number of people who have gone on antiretrovirals today has grown from 50,000 to 1.7 million people.
I'm concerned about people going hungry. And so we'll be very constructive in the dialogue when it comes to the environment. I care about the environment. But today, there's too much suffering on the continent of Africa, and now is the time for the comfortable nations to step up and do something about it.
U.S. Economy and Monetary Policy/Energy/Environment
Q. Thank you. Mr. President, oil prices are up. The economy is in a serious downturn. What can world leaders do? And would you approve of intervention to strengthen the U.S. dollar, which many people say is contributing to the rise in oil prices?
And, Mr. Prime Minister, do you believe that the U.S. is holding up moving forward on climate change?
President Bush. First of all, our economy is not growing as robustly as we'd like. We had positive growth in the first quarter; we'll see what happens here in the second quarter. But nevertheless, it's—we're not as strong as we have been during a lot of my Presidency. And so, as you well know, Toby [Tabassum Zakaria, Reuters], we passed a stimulus bill that is now in the process of passing money back to consumers, which had a positive effect and, hopefully, will continue to have a positive effect.
We're working with the Congress to get a housing bill out. We're—we passed uninsurance benefits—unemployment benefits—excuse me. And yet we got a problem when it comes to reliance upon foreign sources of oil. For 7 years, I've been trying to get the Congress to explore for oil domestically. Now is the time, when they come back from their Fourth of July vacations, to open up ANWR and open up the Outer Continental Shelf so that we can say to the world that we will do our part in increasing supply, so that we can transition from this period of reliance upon hydrocarbons to a new period of advanced technologies.
In terms of the dollar, the United States strongly believes in a strong dollar policy and believes that our—the strength of our economy will be reflected in the dollar.
President Bush. No, I just said the relative strength of our economy will be reflected in currencies.
Prime Minister Fukuda. With regard to global warming or climate change, the question was, what—how do I see U.S. response? Is that a correct understanding of your question? Well, between Japan and the United States, discussions are—been going on at various levels. The U.S., I believe, has not really lost a sense of direction, generally, and that between our two countries, we have consultations going on. And through these consultations, I think our views are gradually converging.
At the G-8 this time, well, I'll be chairing the meeting, so I've asked the President for his cooperation to this chair, and he has shown his kind understanding. What the results will be, well, we have to wait until the conclusion comes out at the meeting the day after tomorrow.
North Korea/Abduction of Japanese Citizens
Q. Aso, with the Kyoto News Service. On North Korea, I'd like to ask questions of the two leaders. First, President Bush, North Korea recently submitted their declaration on nuclear development programs, but that declaration did not include a declaration regarding nuclear weapons. Are you satisfied with that sort of declaration, Mr. President?
And also in connection with this—or in connection with the declaration, Mr. President, you expressed—no, you decided to notify Congress about removing North Korea from the status of state sponsors of terrorism list. There is rising concern about abduction in Japan. You said you will not forget about abduction, but would there be—after the removal of North Korea from the list, what sort of means will there remain for the United States to press North Korea to resolve the abduction issue?
Now, Mr. Fukuda, I wonder in your discussions you asked the President to rethink the President's decision to remove North Korea from the list. If not, why didn't you ask? Now, following the removal of North Korea from the list, what sort of specific cooperation would you seek from the United States to advance the abduction issue?
President Bush. North Korea is the most sanctioned nation in the world and will remain the most sanctioned nation in the world. And the way for them to get off their sanctions is to honor their commitments in a verifiable fashion.
Somehow there's this notion—inherent in your question is the delisting therefore took away their sanctions. That's just not an accurate statement on your part if you think that. I'm not assuming you do think that, but it's—they're a highly sanctioned regime. And they will—as I said, they've got a lot of obligations that they must fulfill in order for these sanctions to leave.
And that's why I said it is action for action. And the first step was taken. Now, one thing is for certain, I repeat—I don't know if you saw it on your—on the TVs here, but the destruction of the cooling tower was verifiable action. And that's a positive step. But as I mentioned in my opening statement, we have other concerns, and one such concern, of course, is the abduction issue.
Prime Minister Fukuda. Well, the North Korean declaration on their nuclear pro-grams—well, when you think about the abduction issue, I think the suggestion of your question—what you were suggesting is that we should seek U.S. to rescind that decision. Well, as far as nuclear issue is concerned, well, we have moved on to a new phase. And I think we need to make sure this will be successful because it will be in the interest of Japan as well. At the same time, in parallel, we need to bring the abduction issue to successful conclusion as well.
So against this backdrop of progress in the nuclear front, we need to also strive for progress on the abduction front as well. And to that end, we need to have good-faith discussions with North Korea. And so far, we have not seen any progress, but we need to engage in negotiations so that progress will be produced. Because abduction is not progressing, on the nuclear front we should not make progress—that is something we should not—we should avoid. And I believe we need to make progress on both fronts, because that will be important for Japan, and I think that will be necessary for North Korea as well.
2008 Beijing Olympics
Q. Good afternoon. Mr. President, I'd like to ask you a question about China. I was wondering if you could, first of all, explain a little bit about your thinking behind your decision to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics next month. And more generally, I'm wondering what you would say to the—your friends and allies in the United States who are very concerned about religious freedom and human rights in China, the situation in Sudan and Burma. What would you say to them of what has come from your approach to dealing with President Hu over the last 7 years?
And I'd also like to ask the Japanese Prime Minister whether you're paying close attention to the American election? And in particular, I'm curious if you can discern any differences right now between the two candidates as it relates to Japan, in particular, and more broadly, in terms of how they would approach Asia.
President Bush. I view the Olympics as a opportunity for me to cheer on our athletes. It's an athletic event. I've had the honor of dealing with the Chinese—two Chinese Presidents during my term, and every time I have visited with them, I have talked about religious freedom and human rights. And so therefore, my decision to go was—I guess I don't need the Olympics to express my concerns. I've been doing so.
I also believe that the Chinese people are watching very carefully about the decisions by world leaders, and that this—I happen to believe not going to the opening games would be—the opening ceremony for the games would be an affront to the Chinese people, which may make it more difficult to have a—to be able to speak frankly with the Chinese leadership. That's why I'm doing what I'm doing. And I'm looking forward to cheering the athletes. I think it will be—I think it would be good for these athletes who have worked hard to see their President waving that flag.
President Bush. You know, in some areas, we've made progress on a common agenda; other areas, we haven't. But nevertheless, I have been very clear in my view that, for example, a whole society is one that honors religion, and that people shouldn't fear religious people. After all, truly religious people love their neighbor—and that China benefits from people being able to worship freely.
It looks like there's some progress, at least in the talks with the Dalai Lama. And by the way, as you know, I'm the first President ever to have stood up publicly with the Dalai Lama and told President Hu Jintao I was going to. And he wasn't that pleased about it, but nevertheless, I said, "I believe in a religious freedom, Mr. President."
And so it's—and I hope I have a bilateral—I might have a bilateral with him here, and I bet I do when I'm in Beijing as well, and of course, the subject will come up.
Prime Minister Fukuda. Well, your question for me, was it along the same line as well? Well—and if that is the case— well, I—whether I'll attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games or not, I have not made any official announcement on this because the day after the opening ceremony of the Olympics, there is an important event in Japan, and I have to attend that important ceremony. And therefore— or event—therefore, I really have to make sure I would have time to get back for that. Now I know that I'll able to get back in time, so here for the first time, I will announce that I—announce officially that I will attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics.
Now—and in fact, the President said something to the same effect, that Olympics are a sport events, and we want people to really live up to the spirit of the sports, sportsmanship. And I certainly encourage that. And there are many aspiring athletes that will be going to Beijing, and I would like to cheer them on too, which I think is only natural. I don't think you really have to link Olympics to politics.
Now, there certainly may be problems with China, but even so, they are striving to improve things. They're on the way to improve things, and we'd like to closely watch how they do. In the past, Japan has come through various experiences, and the U.S. and others criticized Japan for certain behaviors. So we have had experience in that reality, and we are now here today. So we really have to be—have humility in asking ourselves, do we have the right to make those points to China and others?
Now, I would not hope that there will be a chaos in China. I would not want Chinese to become unhappy. We are neighbors, after all, and it will good for Japan if our neighbors are in a sound state as well. So with that in mind as well, I shall attend the opening ceremony.
NOTE: The President's news conference began at 5:13 p.m. at the Windsor Hotel Toya Resort and Spa. In his remarks, the President referred to Kiyoko Fukuda, wife of Prime Minister Fukuda; Sakie Yokota, mother of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted by North Korean authorities; Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma; President Hu Jintao and former President Jiang Zemin of China; and Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. Prime Minister Fukuda and some reporters spoke in Japanese, and their remarks were translated by an interpreter.
George W. Bush, The President's News Conference With Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan in Toyako, Japan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/277884