Abe: Specifically, first of all, in relation to the nuclear test that has been undertaken by North Korea recently and the attempt being made by North Korea to strengthen its nuclear capability, as well as to increase its capability for missiles as a means of delivery, I wish to discuss with President Obama how we might be able to check and stop these developments, and also how we might be able to change North Korea’s policy.
In that regard, I wish to be able to make the meeting between myself and President Obama in itself a message that we can send. At the same time, I wish to make the point that in the context of the enormously changing security environment in the Asia-Pacific, I wish to mention that strengthening and reinforcing the alliance between Japan and the United States will be able to contribute to peace and stability in the region.
Regarding trade, I believe that a free trading environment would be in the national interest of Japan. I believe that we need to capture and incorporate the growth potential that we have in the Asia-Pacific region for the growth of Japan going forward. Accordingly, I also wish to discuss the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] with President Obama.
Q: What are you hoping to hear from him that would allow Japan to enter those talks, and what do you think is the earliest that you would be able to enter the talks if you do?
Abe: In my meeting with President Obama, I would say one very important point would be whether I can be convinced on whether or not Japan’s participation in the TPP will have a positive effect on the national interests of Japan. The TPP is expected to have considerable effects in various different areas in Japan, so from that perspective, after my meeting with President Obama I intend to analyze the various effects that may be expected, and also analyze the prior consultations once again. Based upon these results, I’ll decide whether or not to participate at an appropriate time. Therefore, I would say my meeting with President Obama will be important in making that decision.
Q: So participation could come before the summer election?
Abe: I am not able to say anything definite regarding the timing at the moment, but what I can say is that I have no intention of making the upper house elections a central element in my consideration of whether or not to join the TPP. I say so because the timing of the elections is something that has a bearing on the interests of the LDP [Liberal Democratic Party] as a political party. But the decision on whether or not to join TPP negotiations is a matter that would have a bearing on Japan’s national interests. So I intend to make a decision based on consideration of Japan’s national interests, meaning that I wish to make the decision without considering the angle of the elections.
Q: You mentioned that not many prime ministers get a second chance. How are you different this time, and how do you think you’ve done so far in these couple of months?
Abe: During the election that just ended, and also at the time of elections for president of the LDP, the issue of the economy was one of the main topics. In that process, I advocated for a monetary policy that was somewhat different than the policy held by those in the mainstream in the Bank of Japan and in monetary policy. That has probably gained the support of those who felt we needed to do something to change the current situation. So that may have led me to be elected for the second time as president of the LDP.