2:58 P.M. JST
PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) Ladies and gentlemen, at the outset, may I begin by offering my condolence to the victims who lost their lives, as well as my sympathy to the people injured in the recent shooting incidents in Texas. I’d like to express my heartfelt solidarity to the people of the United States in this time of difficulty.
It was only one year ago — November, last year — that I met the President for the first time in the Trump Tower New York. Since then, I have had numerous opportunities to converse with the President on the margin of international meetings as well as countless talks on the phone. Indeed, how many hours of dialogue did we have? I believe that there has never been such close bonds intimately connecting the leaders of both nations as we do now in the history of Japan-U.S. alliance of more than half a century.
In particular, he received me with great hospitality last February on my visit to the U.S. at his villa in Florida. It became my unforgettable memory that we were able to discuss a variety of global issues over so many hours, quite frankly including several rounds of golf.
And it is my particular delight that this time I’m able to welcome my dear friend, President Trump, and Madam Melania Trump, to Japan. This first trip of President Trump to Asia is a historic visit in the current regional situation, which is ever more tense. And his first nation to visit on his tour is Japan. This made this historic significance even greater.
In this way, two of us were able to show to the rest of the world the unshakable Japan-U.S. alliance. Thank you, Donald.
For the last two days, I was able to have an in-depth discussion with Donald on a plethora of issues that the international community is faced with. In the discussion, overwhelming importance was occupied by the North Korean issue. We were in complete agreement as to the measures to be taken upon the analysis of the latest situation of North Korea giving a good amount of time.
Japan consistently supports the position of President Trump when he says that all options are on the table. Through the talks over two days, I once again strongly reaffirmed that Japan and U.S. are 100 percent together.
For more than 20-some years, the international community attempted dialogue with North Korea. At the time of framework agreement of 1994 and at the Six-Party Agreement of 2006, North Korea committed in abandoning their nuclear program. But each time, the promise was broken, which resulted in North Korea buying time for their nuclear and missile development while we were making efforts for dialogue.
There is no point in the dialogue for the sake of dialogue with North Korea. Now is the time not for dialogue but for applying maximum level of pressure on North Korea.
We completely agreed that, in order to make North Korea change their policy, Japan and U.S. must take leadership in closely collaborating with the international community so that we can enhance the pressure to the maximum level over North Korea through all possible means.
I agree with President Trump that we welcome China strengthening her pressure over North Korea, and it is incumbent upon China to play even greater roles to let North Korea relinquish their nuclear and missile development.
We reaffirmed once again the importance of further advancing trilateral cooperation among Japan, U.S., and the Republic of Korea — a country President Trump will visit tomorrow.
Before this press conference, President and Mrs. Trump were good enough to meet with the members of the families of abductees. I would like to render my heartfelt gratitude for their listening so intently to what the family members had to tell them.
Until the day when all the families of the abductees embrace their loved ones in their own arms — until that day, my mission is not complete. I’m sure that the families — I have renewed my resolve to work in full force to seek the resolution of this issue. I have decided to take our own additional sanction measures in our effort to seek the solution of the nuclear missile and the most important abduction issues of North Korea.
Tomorrow, there will be a decision of freezing assets of 35 North Korean entities and individuals. Going forward, Japan and U.S. will continue to cooperation closely for the early resolution of the North Korean issue.
I also discussed bilateral economic issues with President Trump. We welcomed that in the second meeting of Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue held last month between Deputy Prime Minister Aso and Vice President Pence. The importance of strengthening bilateral economic trade and investment relations was confirmed.
And we will go deeper into our dialogue. We agreed that we will continue our discussion in order to invigorate more the bilateral trade and investment, and enhance our cooperation in areas of law enforcement, energy, infrastructure, among others.
Japan and the U.S. are the two global economic leaders, occupying 30 percent of the global economy, sharing common values such as freedom and fairness. The significance of Japan-U.S. alliance is not limited on security front alone. In the economic field, it greatly contributes to the prosperity of the region and the world.
I, together with President Trump, shall work not only in the field of bilateral trade, but also lead in the high-standard rulemaking in trade and investment broadly in the Asia Pacific region. I am determined to see to it so that both Japan and U.S. strongly lead the regional and, eventually, the global economic growth by our cumulative efforts in creating fair and effective economic order in this region.
With the President, I discussed APEC and East Asia Summit meetings that we will going after this. Indo-Pacific region, covering the vast area of Asia Pacific through the Indian Ocean to the Middle East and Africa, is the growth center of the world, with more than half of the world population. The maintenance and enhancement of the maritime order that is free and open is critically important for the peace and prosperity of this region, and we concurred to strengthen our cooperation toward realizing free and open Indo-Pacific.
Under the unwavering Japan-U.S. alliance, I shall play a leadership role for the peace and prosperity of this region, hand -in-hand with President Trump. For the last two days, I had indeed very serious discussions with President Trump. I also had an opportunity to play golf with our top pro, Hideki Matsuyama, yesterday. Indeed the match was a neck-and-neck competition, in my opinion. What was the reality? I hope that Mr. Trump will give his evaluation.
The dinner where Mrs. Trump joined was in such a truly relaxed atmosphere that we almost forgot how time flew. I am greatly very much satisfied. I hope that they enjoyed the banquet later on, by all means.
Thank you very much. Thank you very much, President Trump. The floor is yours.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you very much. Well, thank you very much, Shinzo. And this has been a truly enjoyable trip and one where we’re accomplishing a lot.
And I agree with you that our relationship is extraordinary. And I agree with you also that there has never been such a close relationship between the leaders of two countries — these two countries, Japan and the United States. So it’s been great to be with you, and we’ll be spending a lot of time with you over the years.
Melania and I are deeply grateful for the warm welcome we’ve received in your remarkable country. And that’s what it is — it is a remarkable country. This is a land of incredible history, culture, tradition, and spirit.
First, let me congratulate you on your great success in the recent elections. You won very big and very easily, and I’m not at all surprised. We both share in common, really, a deep loyalty to our citizens and a deep faith in the destiny of our people and also our people and our countries working together.
I also want to take a moment to continue sending our thoughts, prayers, and deepest condolences to the victims of the horrific assault on a church in a beautiful area — so sad — Sutherland Springs, Texas. Such a beautiful, wonderful area with incredible people. Who would ever think a thing like this could happen?
So I want to send my condolences, the condolences of our First Lady. In tragic times, Americans always pull together. We are always strongest when we are unified. To the wounded and the families of the victims, all of America is praying for you, supporting you, and grieving alongside of you.
Prime Minister, I want to thank you and the people of Japan for your friendship. We have so many great things that we can accomplish together, and we are in the process of accomplishing those things.
It was a thrill for my daughter, Ivanka, to be able to participate in the World Assembly for Women and promote women entrepreneurship. Side-by-side, our two nations are advancing polices to empower women and harness the full potential of our great economies.
You were the first foreign leader to visit me shortly after my election, and now it is my pleasure to join you in your homeland to further strengthen the historic ties between our two great nations.
As you know, this is my first visit to the Indo-Pacific region as President — been here before — but as President, this has been my first and it is my first. And I am thrilled that my first stop was with you, great friend.
We’re going to other countries where I have also developed some great friendships, and we’re going to work to straighten a lot of things out, including trade, including military problems. We have a lot of things to work on. But this is a real honor to be with you, Shinzo.
Japan is a very special place. The Japanese people are thriving, your cities are vibrant, and you’ve built one of the world’s most powerful economies. I don’t know if it’s as good as ours. I think not. Okay? And we’re going to try and keep it that way, but you’ll be second.
And yet, for all of its modern splendor, the people of Japan maintain a profound respect for their rich culture, heritage, and traditions. Honoring the past, even as you blaze new trails into the future — very, very strongly looking into the future — is Japan.
You demonstrate every day that the respect for history and heritage is the true foundation for progress. Our nations share an enduring bond. America and Japan face many challenges, many opportunities. There are many things we face, but we will be facing them together, in friendship and as allies.
Most importantly, we’re working to counter the dangerous aggressions of the regime in North Korea. The regime-continued development of its unlawful weapons programs, including its illegal nuclear test and outrageous launches of ballistic missiles directly over Japanese territory, are a threat to the civilized world and international peace and stability.
We will not stand for that. The era of strategic patience is over. Some people said that my rhetoric is very strong, but look what’s happened with very weak rhetoric over the last 25 years. Look where we are right now.
Prime Minister Abe has also shared with me the tragic stories of Japanese young people who North Korea has abducted over the years. Together, we met with the parents of Megumi Yokota who was abducted as a young girl in 1977. No child should ever be subjected to such cruelty. No parent should ever have to endure 40 years of heartbreak.
We also had a young wonderful man in our country, Otto Warmbier. We all know the story of Otto; it’s a horrible story, a sad story. And we can’t let that happen. Cannot let that happen.
The United States of America stands in solidarity with the people of Japan against the North Korean menace. History has proven over and over that strong and free nations will always prevail over tyrants who oppress their people.
Our powerful and enduring U.S.-Japan alliance includes more than 50,000 members of the United States military stationed right here in Japan. In addition to that, we have 33,000 stationed in South Korea. American and Japanese military personnel train together, work together, and will stand together to defend the security and sovereignty of both of our countries.
I want to thank the entire Japanese people for acting as such gracious hosts and strong partners for our men and women in the armed forces.
America is also committed to improving our economic relationship with Japan. As President of the United States, I am committed to achieving a fair, free, and reciprocal trading relationship. We seek equal and reliable access for American exports to Japan’s markets in order to eliminate our chronic trade imbalances and deficits with Japan. We’re working on that — something we’ve all been working on very hard from the very beginning of our meetings.
As we continue to pursue closer economic ties, I believe it will create new and exciting opportunities to achieve greater prosperity in both of our nations and to advance new frontiers in science, medicine, and technology. The United States respects and honors Japan’s heritage and admires your deep well of perseverance.
I appreciate very much your acknowledging and stating the fact that the United States economy has done so well since our election on November 8th. Close to 200 million jobs. The highest stock market in our history. So many different things are happening for the better, including the cutting of massive amounts of regulation, which is one of the reasons that the market is reacting the way it’s reacting.
This mutual respect for culture and sovereignty will continue to bring our nations closer and closer together, and open up new avenues of cooperation and success.
Mr. Prime Minister, thank you again for inviting me today and for opening the arms of your majestic country to our American delegation, all of whom are right now in this room. I look forward to working side by side with you in friendship. We will have success like rarely seen between two countries — Japan and the United States of America, two very, very special places.
Thank you for having us. Thank you very much.
Q (As interpreted.) (Inaudible) from NHK. This is a question to Mr. Abe. Prime Minister and President Trump have agreed on maximizing the pressure toward the relinquishing of nuclear development by North Korea. Mr. Trump is going to Korea and China, and then there is going to be an APEC Leaders meeting. So, Mr. Abe, what is your idea about the significance of this bilateral summit meeting?
On the other hand, North Korea is still fixing its attitude, not responding to the relinquishing of nuclear development. What is necessary in order to avoid any accidental military confrontation?
PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) While Japan-U.S. alliance being the foundation of the regional peace and prosperity, precisely when Japan-U.S. partners strongly, the peace of this region becomes unshakeable. From that perspective, I consider that this time we were able to reaffirm strong bonds and ties between Japan and the United States on this opportunity of the visit of President Trump. This was quite significant for the regional peace.
On the North Korean situation, between President Trump and myself, we confirmed that we are together 100 percent. We will enhance the pressure that the entire international community exercises over North Korea to the maximum extent by both Japan and the United States collaborating and working toward China and Russia.
No one likes conflicts. I don’t like it; Mr. Trump neither. But North Korea continues its provocation against the international community, so we need to collaborate in the international community so that they change their policy. We must exercise our pressure.
And from the North Korea, we will change our policy, so please come to talk to us. I think this is what is most important that we expect. And we have a complete agreement with President Trump. And together with many countries, I’m sure that we share in the same thinking.
Also, the free and open maritime order based upon the rule of law is a foundation of the stability and prosperity of the international community. This time around, as the first leg of his tour in Asia, President and I were able to reaffirm that both countries will make efforts looking toward the Indo-Pacific, which is free and open — very significant. There will be APEC Leaders Meeting and EAS Summit Meeting. In these meetings, I’d like to take leadership in driving this kind of discussion.
So, free and open Indo-Pacific strategy — if any country would agree with this strategy, with whatever country we can collaborate for the implementation of this strategy. So we will continue to have partnership between Japan and the United States so that we can contribute jointly to the peace and stability of the region.
MS. SANDERS: For the United States’ first question, we’ll go to Steve Holland, from Reuters.
Q Thank you, sir. In response to the Texas shooting, what policies would you support to reduce these violent actions? Is gun control the answer?
And secondly, you spoke yesterday about the warmth of the North Korean people. What’s your message to their leader, Kim Jong-un, as you prepare to head to South Korea tomorrow?
And if I could ask the Prime Minister a question as well: Could you respond to what the President said this morning — that trade is not free and reciprocal with the United States? Thank you.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, as far as the North Korean people are concerned, Steve, I think that these are great people. They’re under a very repressive regime, and I really think that, ultimately — I can tell you this — that I hope it all works out. It would be better for everybody. Certainly would be better for North Korea, but it would be better for everybody. So we hope that’s going to take place.
As far as your second question, which is really the first part of your question, I think that mental health is your problem here. This was a very — based on preliminary reports — very deranged individual. A lot of problems over a long period of time. We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries.
But this isn’t a guns situation. I mean, we could go into it, but it’s a little bit soon to go into it. But, fortunately, somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it would have been — as bad it was, it would have been much worse.
But this is a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very, very sad event. These are great people, and a very, very sad event. But that’s the way I view it. Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) With President Trump, trade and economic matters — bilateral issues — we did discuss, on the economic matter, how U.S. and Japanese economies should be. There is dialogue going on between Mr. Aso and Mr. Pence. There were two meetings already.
So on the question of economy, together with President Trump, not only regarding bilateral trade, we would like to see the entire region of Asia Pacific — high-standard rulemaking is something that we want to pursue. So with both countries in this region, we will make efforts to create an economic order which is fair and effective so that, regarding the both economies mutually, we would like to see the mutual development of both economies
So in the United States, already since the start of Trump administration, partly thanks to the Japanese investment, 17,000 jobs have been created in the United States. So all countries in the world, vis-à-vis the United States, they make investment. But Japanese investment ranks, in terms of job creation. So the economic relations between the two countries may develop further, thereby creating jobs, thereby growing the economy.
So in creating both countries’ economies — Aso-Pence Economic Dialogue Framework would be quite relevant, and we’d like to see good outcome from that dialogue.
We will go back to the Japanese press for questions. Yes, please.
Q I have a question to President Trump. You met with the family members of abductees and you met with Hitomi Soga, actual abductee. How can you comment on your meeting with them? To North Korea, is there a possibility of U.S. military action? Suppose that the U.S. decides to go on it, the abductees’ rescue — how do you think about it once the military action is to be imminent?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I think it’s very sad. I look at what’s happened, and it’s a very, very sad thing. Who has ever heard of anything like this? Abducted by a hostile country for purposes of language, for purposes of — could be any number of another reasons. We’ll see what happens in terms of the ultimate conclusion.
But I did put it in my speech at the United Nations, and many people in Japan were really thrilled that I did because a lot of people thought that the folks we’re talking about were forgotten about. Like I say, the “forgotten people” — where they were, maybe they’re forgotten people. But I can tell you, your great Prime Minister did not forget. He didn’t forget at all.
So we’ll work together and see if we can do something. Now the spotlight is on and perhaps we can have some very good luck, and perhaps the regime itself would send them back. I think it would be a tremendous signal if Kim Jong-un would send them back. If he would send them back, that would be the start of something — I think, would be just something very special if they would do that.
But I spoke with people who were devastated, and they’ve been devastated for many years. They think they’re alive, but they don’t know. Probably makes it even tougher that way. But we’ll see what happens. Thank you.
MS. SANDERS: Thank you. The second question from the United States — Mark Landler, New York Times.
Q Thank you very much. My first question is to President Trump. Mr. President, you’ve spent the last two days reaffirming the U.S.-Japan alliance, and you’ve begun sketching out this vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific. But in two days, you’re going to travel to China, a country that is neither free nor open. So my question is, how can the U.S. be a force for freedom and openness in this region without inevitably coming into conflict with China?
And then, to the Prime Minister. Mr. Prime Minister, the President has spoken on many occasions in the past about hoping to see the Japanese take a strong role in their own defense. He’d like to sell Japan military equipment, and there have been press reports that the President was disappointed that the Japanese didn’t shoot the North Korean missile out of the sky — the one that was shot over Hokkaido. I’m wondering, did this subject come up? And what message did you have for the President about the role you’d like to see Japan take in its defense?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you, Mark. I will say, if I could just take a piece of the Prime Minister’s answer — he will shoot them out of the sky when he completes the purchase of lots of additional military equipment from the United States. He will easily shoot them out of the sky, just like we shot something out of the sky the other day in Saudi Arabia, as you saw. And that was a very rapidly moving missile shot out of the sky. That was a needle in the sky, and it was hit immediately and exploded without damage.
So one of the things, I think, that’s very important is that the Prime Minister of Japan is going to be purchasing massive amounts of military equipment, as he should. And we make the best military equipment, by far. He’ll be purchasing it from the United States. Whether it’s the F-35 fighter, which is the greatest in the world — total stealth — or whether it’s missiles of many different kinds, it’s a lot of jobs for us and a lot of safety for Japan and other countries that are likewise purchasing a lot of military equipment from us that, frankly, a year ago and two years ago were not.
As far as China is concerned, my relationship, as you know, with President Xi is also excellent. I like him a lot. I consider him a friend. He considers me a friend. With that being said, he represents China; I represent the United States. His views are different on things, but they’re pretty similar on trade.
The problem we have with China is that for decades they’ve been — you know, it’s been a very unfair — let me be very kind to previous administrations — it’s been a very unfair trade situation. Our trade deficit is massive. It’s hundreds of billions of dollars a year, anywhere from $350 billion to $504 billion, and that doesn’t include intellectual property. And we’ve already started discussions with China because it has to come down. It has to come down. And that has to do with, really, free trade, fair trade, or reciprocal trade.
And frankly, I like reciprocal the best of the group. Because when you explain to somebody that you’re going to charge tariffs in order to equalize, or you’re going to do other things — some people that don’t get it, they don’t like to hear that. But when you say it’s going to be reciprocal — that we’re going to charge the same as they’re charging us — the people that don’t want a 5 percent or a 10 percent tariff say, oh, reciprocal is fair — and that could be 100 percent. So it’s much more, Mark, understandable when you talk about reciprocal.
And reciprocal trade is very important to me. We have many countries, not just China or Japan, or so many others that we see. I mean, we have one country that charges us 100 percent tax if we sell things into that country, and yet when they sell the same product into our country, we charge them nothing. Now, I’ve been against that for a long time, and you will be seeing, we do things about it
Now, it also takes a period of time to do that, because, as you know, you have statutory limitations in time. You have to put out notices. You have to wait 90 days before you can put out the next, and then you have to wait another 120 days, and then a 30-day. Now, much of this has already been caught and caught up. Some of it was unnecessary, statutorily.
But you will be seeing things of countries that have been treating the United States and the United States worker and companies — because I view the companies not as a company, I view it as an extension of the worker — but that have been treating our companies, our country, and our workers very unfairly.
You will be seeing that the United States will take very, very strong action. It’s already started, but most of the legal foundation has now been done. And you’re going to see a very big difference, and it’s going to happen very soon. Because the United States, by many countries, has been treated very, very unfairly when it comes to trade.
Thank you very much.
PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) Regarding Japan defense equipment, a lot of them we purchase from the United States. The North Korean situation becoming very tough; the Asia Pacific security situation becoming very tough. We qualitatively and quantitatively, we have to enhance our defense capability. As the President mentioned, F-35A is a case in point. SM-3 Block IIA is another plan for purchase from the United States. Aegis vessels — the quality and the quantity must be enhanced. In that process, we will be buying more from the United States. That is what I’m thinking.
Now, North Korea: North Korea launched missiles. Immediately after that, we traced them; we were able to grasp and trace where they were going. Missile defense is something which is based upon the cooperation between Japan and the United States. Missile defense system is a cooperation between the two countries for the intercepting and shooting down. If it is necessary, of course, we will do that — if it is necessary. But in doing so, U.S. and Japan will closely coordinate our actions. Thank you.
Thank you very much. With this, we will end the joint press conference by the two leaders of Japan and the United States. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen of the press.
END 3:35 P.M. JST