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安倍晋三総理大臣が、英誌 Economist とのインタビューに応じて、自身の政治的信念や現下の課題についての認識を、率直に語った。その率直さが非常に印象的だったので、ここにその一部を紹介したい(Shinzo Abe talks to The Economist)。





The Economist: Typically, journalists hear from politicians about domestic policy and about foreign policy--two different strands. But it seems that you see it as all one. Is that the case? Do you look at Japan's being strong at home and strong abroad as a part of the same package?

Mr Abe: Well, from the time of my birth to when I reached my 30s, Japan was in its prime in terms of economic strength, growing very robustly, and with that background, Japan's showing in the world was growing too. At the time, I thought this good trend would continue for a very long time to come, and I also thought that Japan would be a country of much greater importance to the world. But it didn't turn out like that, because for the past 20 years, we've stagnated. During that time, we've seen the emergence of other strong global players. And so there is no way that we can separate our domestic policies from our diplomacy. We have to have a strong economy to have a strong diplomacy; and with strong diplomacy and a strong foreign policy, we can in turn ensure peace and stability in the region. And in the international community, our stronger influence will ensure smoother progress in [building relations and] getting things done.

To make sure Japan's competitiveness improves, I have already visited 50 countries, helping Japan boost its infrastructure-related exports to the rest of the world. It used to be ¥3 trillion two years ago, but that figure has grown to ¥9 trillion--a threefold increase. So economic diplomacy is also important. Economic diplomacy and foreign diplomacy should be done as one, and that's how I will continue.

The Economist: I'd like to come back to China in a minute, particularly your meeting with President Xi Jinping. But first we are all, as individuals, products of place and of our family's history. How does where you come from shape your world view, shape what you do? I mean, you are from Yamaguchi, and I just wonder what you think about the history of Choshu--I mean, are you a Choshu revolutionary yourself? And you sat on the knee of your grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, at the time of fierce anti-American protests, at the time of the signing of the security agreement with the United States [in 1960]. And later you were a private secretary to your father when he was foreign minister. Do you consider yourself in a line, carrying on a mission, something that needs to be accomplished? 

Mr Abe: I am proud of being someone from Choshu [the historical name for the region now covered by Yamaguchi prefecture], because at that time--even then--people in Choshu had a panoramic perspective of the world, not simply looking inward, but looking outside of Japan to the world's wider horizons. And they really had a sense of crisis that if things went on as they did, then the outside [Western] powers would colonise Japan. That was why they set out to bring down the Tokugawa shogunate.

Of course people at that time started out with the notion of wanting to keep foreigners out and [the Western threat at bay and] so forth. But at the same time they looked at the outside world and realised that in Japan modernisation simply had to take place. Big reform was a must for Japan, and that was why my Choshu forebears put their lives on the line to achieve that.

But what is right will not necessarily win majority support. And as you described, my grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, went ahead in the face of huge opposition with Japan's security pact with the United States. He believed strongly that the treaty would benefit stability and peace for the world as well as ensure economic prosperity for the world and Japan. At that time opposition to the treaty was very great, coming from the student movement as well as from the mass media. But my grandfather achieved what he intended to achieve, and right now most people hugely respect him for what he did.

And in terms of the economic policy that I have been pursuing, in regards to the monetary easing launched two years ago, almost everyone opposed it too.

The Economist: Let's talk about your policies. After the election what will your priorities be? You are going into the election at a time when people question Abenomics. Many Japanese think that you are going to the country just to consolidate your power and hang on for longer. But what will you do with that power once you have it after the election?  

Mr Abe: The mission given to me is to have Japan regain economic strength, overcome deflation and let the economy grow. There will now be much emphasis on carrying the growth strategy further. For instance, for decades nothing was done about deregulating the electricity market and reforming the agricultural co-operative [Japan Agriculture, JA]. But I aim to change those sectors. By gaining strength after the election--by winning the election--reforms will be accelerated--and they will include reforms related to medical care too. And I will of course resolutely forge ahead with labour-market reform--because time can't wait...because we're already seeing our population declining.

The Economist: Let's turn to China. It was of course a significant moment when you met President Xi Jinping for the first time at the APEC summit in Beijing. I have to say the expression on his face was extraordinary: as if there were a foul smell in the room. What was your feeling at the time you saw his expression?

Mr Abe: Well, my basic stance whenever I greet anyone is always to make sure that I have a smile on my face and as host to shake hands with my guest...But each leader has his own background connected to their home situation, so when I met President Xi, even though his expression was like that, I could understand why he wore it.

The Economist: So you are saying that his sour expression was for domestic consumption...

Mr Abe: Well, I don't know what to say about that...But the second time around I'm sure that we can be more charming towards each other.

Mr Abe: With regard to the comfort-women system which used to be in existence where people from the Korean peninsula were working: my heart always aches when I think about these people who were undergoing a very miserable time, a time of bad suffering.

But the second thing is that if Japan is defamed or Japan's honour is hurt based on these false grounds, then of course Japan needs to try to regain her honour.

And the third point, which is most important: the 20th century was a century in which women's human rights were much undermined and hurt, particularly during times of conflict and war. Come the 21st century, unfortunately some evidence is still continuing in that manner. I am of the view that the 21st century should be the century that is free from such matters as I've just mentioned.

As I have spoken at the UN, Japan is more than willing to make a contribution in Asia and around the world to protect the rights of women especially. We are determined to make a financial contribution as well. We will try our very best to protect the human rights of our women.

The Economist: Yes, but that's slightly away from the subject of comfort women. Do you accept that there was coercion for some women? There were women in Japanese military camps--as there had been all around the world: many were from Japan; many had volunteered; but many were also coerced. Is that something that you accept?

Mr Abe: During my first government the official Japanese government stance had been stated clearly, which was made into a cabinet-based decision that there was no evidence proving that there was an outfit abducting women or coercing the women in that way. So this is not my own personal stance, but it was the stance of the Japanese government then. And it's not a matter that belongs only to the then Abe government. The subsequent government of the Democratic Party of Japan stood by it too. No changes have been made.

But my... personally I believe there existed some crimes which were committed by some soldiers at that time

Mr Abe: Well I must say that I don't like it that everything involving Japan and South Korea tends to end up with only the matter of the comfort women. Because there is much more in the relationship between Japan and South Korea, such as people-to-people exchanges. Economic ties are strong, and there's the security front as well. The Japan-South Korea relationship is so important. It is so very regrettable that just one single issue is preventing the realisation of so much more in the region.

The Economist: All the more reason to resolve it...

Mr Abe: To date, Japanese prime ministers--that is to say the cabinet--have sent apology letters. And there's also the Asian Women's Fund, which covers medical expenses and so forth, and those women willing to receive it have been getting ¥5m per person. But we also we have a basic treaty signed back in 1965 between Japan and South Korea. Issues arising before that date were all resolved under that treaty in full and final form.

The Economist: Last question, and it has to do with this building [the Old Prime Minister's Residence, where Mr Abe refuses to live]. Because it is of course where Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai was assassinated in 1932, and that was in a way the start of that very dark period for Japan and Japanese civilian politics, and it's the ghosts from that period that still haunt this region and will resurface at next year's anniversaries. How can you as prime minister of Japan lay those ghosts to rest in a way that makes Japan and the Japanese hold their heads high in this region and in the world?

Mr Abe: So, you say ghosts. But ghosts don't exist. They're a figment of the imagination. And that really is proof of how far Japan has come over the seven decades since the end of the second world war. Japan is a country which knows the value of freedom and democracy and international law, and more than anything else we are a peace-loving country. And what Japan stands for has so far been overwhelmingly supported by most countries in Asia. Our policies are based on a spirit of international co-operation. Our proactive contribution to peace and that general movement is supported by most of the countries in Asia.