[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 43, Number 17 (Monday, April 30, 2007)]
[Pages 529-535]
[Online from the Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

<R04>
The President's News Conference With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan 
at Camp David, Maryland

April 27, 2007

    President Bush. Thank you. Welcome. Mr. Prime Minister, Shinzo, 
welcome to Camp David. I thank you very much for making the long 
journey. I also thank you for bringing your gracious wife to dinner last 
night.
    The Abes and Laura and I had a really good dinner. It was very 
relaxed. The Prime Minister married very well. I was so impressed by 
Akie's compassion, her intelligence. And I will tell you, Shinzo, that 
Laura feels like she has a new friend now, and so do I. So we're really 
glad you're here.
    We had the kind of discussion you'd expect allies to have. I would 
describe the talks as--first of all, Shinzo and I met alone for a good 
period of time. Our talks were very relaxed, but they were strategic. We 
think about the interest of our country, and we think about the interest 
of maintaining peace in the world. The alliance between Japan and the 
United States has never been stronger, and the Prime Minister and I will 
work hard to keep it that way. It's in the interest of our peoples that 
we work closely.

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    I told Shinzo one way to do so, of course, is to visit. I hope he 
comes to my ranch soon. I looked forward to welcoming here to Camp 
David, but I also look forward to taking him down there, where one might 
call it a little slice of heaven.
    We talked about the fact that our alliance--and it is a global 
alliance--is rooted in common values, especially our commitment to 
freedom and democracy. We discussed ways we can continue to partner 
together. There's no more important partnership than that through the 
six-party talks. We spent a lot of time talking about North Korea and 
our mutual desire for North Korea to meet its obligations. Our partners 
in the six-party talks are patient, but our patience is not unlimited. 
We expect North Korea to meet all its commitments under the February 
13th agreement, and we will continue working closely with our partners.
    In Iran, we speak with one voice to the regime in Iran. Our nations 
have fully implemented the sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security 
Council in response to Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. Further 
defiance by Iran will only lead to additional sanctions and to further 
isolation from the international community.
    Japan is the second largest donor to the people of Iraq and the 
third largest donor nation to the people of Afghanistan. And I thank 
you, Shinzo, and I thank the people of Japan for helping these young 
democracies survive in a troubled world. I firmly believe that we're 
helping lay a foundation for peace for generations to come.
    Over lunch, the Prime Minister and I will discuss his upcoming trip 
to the Middle East. I will remind him, he'll be traveling into an 
important region, where extremists and radicals are trying to prevent 
the hopes of moderate people, trying to stop the peaceful societies from 
emerging. I'm looking forward to hearing about your trip before you 
leave, and I'm looking forward to hearing from you after you've been 
there.
    Shinzo and I talked about trade and the Doha round. We have a lot of 
bilateral trade between our two nations. Last year, it totaled more than 
$270 billion, and that's positive for the American people and the people 
of Japan.
    Any time you have a lot of trade, there's always complicated trade 
issues. One such issue, of course, I brought up to the Prime Minister 
is, I'm absolutely convinced the Japanese people will be better off when 
they eat American beef. It's good beef; it's healthy beef. As a matter 
of fact, I'm going to feed the Prime Minister and his delegation a good 
hamburger today for lunch.
    But we also talked about the World Trade Organization and the Doha 
round and how Japan wants to be constructive in getting this round 
completed, not only to enhance the prosperity in our own countries but 
to help the developing world, help lift millions of people out of 
poverty.
    We talked about the environment and energy. I appreciated very much 
Shinzo's vision of using technologies to help our energy security, our 
economic security, and at the same time, be responsible stewards of the 
environment. There's a lot of work that Japan and the United States can 
do together, particularly in fields like emission-free nuclear energy, 
nuclear power. I mean, the truth of the matter is, if people really want 
to solve the issue of greenhouse gases, civilian nuclear power, powering 
our energy grids by nuclear power is the best alternative available. We 
can work on new technologies through our joint nuclear energy action 
plan and through the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership to bring 
technologies on the market as quickly as possible to assure people that 
we can deal with the waste, for example, in a responsible way.
    Over lunch I'm going to also remind Shinzo about my deep desire to 
have our folks driving automobiles powered by ethanol and biodiesels. 
And I'm going to share with him our strategy about reducing gasoline 
consumption in the United States by 20 percent over the next 10 years as 
a result of ethanol, as well as our cellulosic ethanol technologies that 
are hopefully coming to market quickly.
    All in all, we've had a very constructive, strong dialog, and I am 
really pleased you came. Mr. Prime Minister.
    Prime Minister Abe. Last night we were invited by George and Laura, 
and myself and my wife were able to enjoy a very wonderful time 
together. And today we had one-on-one

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meeting and also had a larger meeting. And we had very substantive 
discussions. The greatest--the biggest objective of this visit this time 
was to reaffirm the irreplaceable Japan-U.S. alliance and to make--grow 
this stronger as an unshakable alliance.
    President and the--I would like to thank the President and the 
American people for their very warm welcome yesterday. I visited 
Bethesda Navy Hospital and the Arlington Cemetery and prayed for the 
repose of the souls of those who died for the cause of stabilization and 
reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan and prayed for early recovery of 
those injured. And I would like to pay respect and express gratitude for 
the noble sacrifice the United States is making.
    And in our meeting, the President expressed his strong determination 
to carry through the task of Iraq's reconstruction. And I told the 
President that Japan understands and supports U.S. efforts of further 
stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq, and Japan will carry on its 
own efforts to the same end. I also told him that Japan will be with the 
United States at all times and that we feel proud as an ally of the 
United States.
    Through this meeting, I've renewed my determination to work with the 
United States on various challenges facing the international community 
on the basis of our common values. We were able to speak our minds with 
regard to our respective political convictions in the midst of this very 
open and free atmosphere at Camp David and I--and deepen our mutual 
trust.
    I explained to the President that as the mission that my 
administration, I will strive to move Japan beyond the post-war regime. 
As part of this endeavor, I explained to the President that I launched 
on the eve of this trip a blue-ribbon panel for the purpose of reshaping 
the legal foundation for national security in a way that will benefit--
that will befit the times, now that the security environment surrounding 
Japan is undergoing major change.
    With regard to the economy, I told the President that I'm determined 
to carry it through, structural reforms in Japan, because Japan's growth 
is important for the growth of the United States as well as the entire 
world. And I received strong words of support from the President for 
this direction that Japan is seeking.
    Now, we agree that we need to build on response to--we agreed that 
we need to build our response to the North Korean nuclear issue and the 
numerous challenges in East Asia on the Japan-U.S. alliance. And we 
agreed to step up cooperation in security, economic and cultural 
exchanges, and many other areas to further strengthen this irreplaceable 
alliance between Japan and the United States. And I welcomed the 
conclusion of documents that provide for the strengthening of concrete 
cooperation in such areas as the economy, cultural exchange, and nuclear 
energy.
    We did take a lot of time to discuss North Korean nuclear issues. We 
agreed to work together to realize a more peaceful and stable Korean 
Peninsula by making North Korea completely give up its nuclear weapons 
and programs through the six-party talks.
    With regard to the abduction issue, President Bush once again 
expresses unvarying commitment to support the Government of Japan, 
saying that to this day, the strong impressions he got when he met Mrs. 
Yokata around this time last year still remains. And I told President 
that before my departure this time, Mrs. Yokata had told me, ever since 
she last heard from her daughter, Megumi, that the most moving moment 
was her meeting with the President. So the President expressed his, as I 
said, unvarying commitment to support of the Government of Japan on this 
abduction issue.
    We agree that the current state of the six-party talks as well as 
North Korea's attitude towards the abduction issue are regrettable. And 
we'll work for closer coordination between our two countries to achieve 
progress.
    Let me also point out, as the President mentioned earlier, that an 
important progress has been made on the climate change issue. And I 
finalized with the President a joint statement on the subject matter. It 
is gratifying that we agreed--Japan and the United States agreed at the 
leaders' level to study jointly an intensified dialog on ways and means 
to make progress towards the ultimate objective of stabilizing 
greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, to resolve the 
environmental issues, and to resolve the

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greenhouse gas issue. I believe this represents an important progress.
    It is essential that the world community act on the climate change 
issue in concert, and Japan and the United States agreed to work 
together on this front. Thank you.
    President Bush. Two questions a side. Deb [Deb Riechmann, Associated 
Press], would you start off, please?

Six-Party Talks

    Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Some people are concerned that you're 
going soft on North Korea. You said you had----
    President Bush. Said--what did you just say? There's an echo in 
here.
    Q. Some people say you're going soft on North Korea.
    President Bush. Oh, okay. Yes.
    Q. You said you had unlimited patience with the regime. They've 
missed their deadline on shutting down their nuclear reactor----
    President Bush. No, I said our patience is not unlimited.
    Q. Not unlimited. My question, sir, is how long are you willing to 
wait to have them shut this down? Are we talking days, weeks, months? 
And----
    President Bush. No, I appreciate that very much. Do you want to ask 
the Prime Minister something too? It's an old U.S. trick here.
    Q. Prime Minister Abe----
    President Bush. Keep plowing through it. [Laughter]
    Q. ----are you worried that America is softening its stance on Kim 
Jong Il?
    President Bush. I have always believed that the best way to solve 
these difficult problems is through diplomacy. That's the first choice 
of the United States, to solve difficult problems diplomatically. I also 
believe that the best way for--and the difficult problem, of course, was 
to convincing the leader of North Korea to give up his nuclear weapons 
program.
    I also felt the best way forward was not for the United States to 
carry this diplomatic mission alone, and therefore, worked very hard and 
closely with our Japanese allies to convince others to come to the table 
beside the United States. And now we have what we call the six-party 
talks, which is the United States, Japan, and China and South Korea and 
Russia, all saying the same message to North Korea, that we expect you 
to honor agreements you made, which include not only stopping their--
locking down their plant but also dismantling their programs--and all 
programs--giving up weapons programs and weapons. That's what they've 
said they would do.
    We recently had a bump in the road to getting them to honor their 
agreement, and that is, there is a financial arrangement that we're now 
trying to clarify for the North Koreans, so that that will enable them 
to have no excuse for moving forward. And that's where we are right now.
    The interesting thing about our position is that if it looks like 
the North Korean leader is not going to honor his agreement, if it looks 
like that there are reasons other than the financial arrangements that 
will cause him to say, ``Well, I really don't mean what I said,'' we now 
have a structure in place to continue to provide a strong message to the 
North Korean. We have the capability of more sanctions. We have the 
capability of convincing other nations to send a clear message.
    So I like our position in terms of achieving this mission in a 
diplomatic way. And I want to thank the Prime Minister for being a 
strong advocate of sending a clear message to the North Korean leader 
that there's a better way forward than to defy the world.
    On all issues, there is a--whether it's this issue or any other 
issue--is that we will work with our partners to determine how long. But 
as I said, our patience is not unlimited. And that's the operative word 
for the leader in North Korea to understand. We hope he moves forward 
soon, obviously. Just like in--somebody asked me the other day, how long 
in Darfur? Well, the leaders will find out the definition of how long 
when we make it clear we're moving in a different direction. There's 
still time for the North Korean leader to make the right choice.
    Prime Minister Abe. Well, today this issue had very candid exchange 
of views. And our understanding of the issue and the direction we are 
pursuing, we completely see eye

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to eye on this matter, and we've had completely the same attitude. We'll 
continue to deal with the North Korean issue.
    Well, we have to make the North Koreans understand that unless they 
keep up their promise, the difficult conditions they find themselves 
under--the food situation and economic situation--they'll not be able to 
resolve those difficulties. And in fact, the situation would only 
worsen. So they need to respond appropriately on these issues, otherwise 
we will have to take a tougher response on our side.
    In agreement with the procedures set down by the six-party talks, 
we'll have to continue to watch whether the North Koreans will actually 
act. In our negotiations with North Koreans, we now have learned full 
well their negotiating ploys. And between Japan and the United States, 
we'll maintain close coordination for the resolution of this issue.

North Korea/Abduction of Japanese Citizens

    Q. Once again, allow me to ask questions related to North Korea. In 
Japan, the interpretation is that the United States have become softer 
on the BDA, Banco Delta Asia issue, and some people are concerned. Now 
Mr. Abe, in your meeting today, did you ask President Bush to step up 
the American pressures on North Korea?
    And a question for Mr. President--I understand the United States has 
agreed with North Korea to start negotiations on lifting the terrorist 
state designation. And is it right to consider that a precondition for 
lifting would be the abduction issue resolution?
    Prime Minister Abe. Well, to resolve the North Korean issues, of 
course, dialog is needed. But in resolving those issues and in 
negotiating with North Koreans, there is a need for pressure. And on 
that score, we--George and I fully agree. And we reaffirmed that point 
today. Should the North Koreans fail to keep their promise, we will step 
up our pressures on North Korea. And on that point, again, I believe we 
see eye to eye.
    As for the importance of the abduction issue, George and our 
American friends, I'm sure, are fully aware, and they understand our 
thinking, and they support our position. In resolving that abduction 
issue, as well, Japan and the United States will cooperate with each 
other when we need to cooperate with each other. And the President 
thinks the same way.
    President Bush. We have shown the North Korean leader that 
obstinance on this issue, that there's a price to pay. In other words, 
we have come together as a group of nations, all aiming to achieve the 
same objective, and that is for the leader to--of North Korea to 
verifiably give up the weapons programs that he has, just like he said 
he would do. And we have proven that we can work in a collaboration to 
deny certain benefits to the North Korean Government and people. That's 
what we've shown so far.
    I think it's wise to show the North Korean leader, as well, that 
there is a better way forward. I wouldn't call that soft; I'd call that 
wise diplomacy. It's his choice to make, ultimately, not our choice, as 
to whether he honors the agreement he agreed to. Our objective is to 
hold him to account. But he's got different ways forward, and we have 
made that avenue available for his choice. And so the meeting today, of 
course, is to hope for the best and plan for the worst. We're hoping 
that the North Korea leader continues to make the right choice for his 
country. But if he should choose not to, we've got a strategy to make 
sure that the pressure we've initially applied is even greater. That's 
our plan.
    And so it is--he ought to know that if he makes right choices, there 
is a way for him to be able to deal with a listing that our Government 
has placed on him; in other words, there's a way forward. And this is--
what you're referring to is the beginning of a process; it's the 
beginning of an opportunity for him to be in a different position, vis-
a-vis the United States Government, on a variety of fronts.
    Any discussion about ways forward, however, shouldn't--should not 
obscure my strong sentiment about the abductee issue. The Prime Minister 
mentioned how Mrs. Yokata was affected by her visit to the Oval Office. 
Well, I was affected by her visit to the Oval Office. It broke my heart 
to be in the presence of a Japanese mother whose love for her daughter 
has not diminished over

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time, and her grief is sincere and real. I remember her bringing the 
picture of the child as she remembers her, right there where I go to 
work every day, and sitting it on the couch next to her.
    So I'm deeply affected by her. She needs to understand that her 
visit added a human dimension to an issue which is obviously very 
important to the Japanese people. And I will never forget her visit, and 
I will work with my friend and the Japanese Government to get this issue 
resolved in a way that touches the human heart, in a way that--it's got 
more than just a kind of a diplomatic ring to it, as far as I'm 
concerned. It's a human issue now to me; it's a tangible, emotional 
issue. And thank you for bringing the question up.
    Toby [Tabassum Zakaria, Reuters].

Emergency Supplemental Appropriations

    Q. Mr. President, the Democrats have voted for a withdrawal 
timetable from Iraq, which you have said that you will veto. What ideas 
do you have for breaking this logjam going forward? And would you be 
willing to veto a second bill?
    President Bush. Well, first of all, I haven't vetoed the first bill 
yet. But I'm going to. And the reason why I'm going to is because the 
Members of Congress have made military decisions on behalf of the 
military. They're telling our generals what to do. They're withdrawing 
before we've even finished reinforcing our troops in Baghdad. They're 
sending, in my judgment, a bad message to the Iraqis and to an enemy 
and, most importantly, to our military folks. And so I made it clear I'd 
veto.
    And, by the way, they're adding spending that shouldn't belong in 
the bill in the first place. Maybe they're important issues, but they 
ought to be--these spending bills ought to be--or spending issues ought 
to be debated in the normal course of business. And so I've said this 
all along; my position has been consistent.
    I'm sorry it's come to this. In other words, I'm sorry that we've 
had this, you know, the issue evolve the way it has. But nevertheless, 
it is what it is, and it will be vetoed, and my veto will be sustained. 
And then the question is the way forward. And my suggestion is that--and 
I invite the leaders of the House and the Senate, both parties, to come 
down soon after my veto so we can discuss a way forward. And if the 
Congress wants to test my will as to whether or not I'll accept a 
timetable for withdrawal, I won't accept one. I just don't think it's in 
the interest of our troops.
    I think it--I'm just envisioning what it would be like to be a young 
soldier in the middle of Iraq and realizing that politicians have all of 
the sudden made military determinations. And in my judgment, that would 
put a kid in harm's way, more so than he or she already is. I really 
think it's a mistake for Congress to try to tell generals, our military 
experts, how to conduct a war.
    And furthermore, the idea of putting all kinds of extraneous 
spending on a bill, the bill--purpose of which is to fund our troops, 
is--I just don't accept that. So if they want to try again, that which I 
have said was unacceptable, then of course I'll veto it, but I hope it 
doesn't come to that. I believe we can work a way forward. And I think 
we can come to our senses and make sure that we get the money to the 
troops in a timely fashion. It's important to have a political debate, 
but as I've consistently said, we don't want our troops in between the 
debate. And Congress needs to get this money to the Pentagon so the 
Pentagon can get the money to the troops and so our readiness will be up 
to par and people--training missions will go forward.
    I know Congress, no matter what their position is on the war, 
doesn't want to affect readiness, and they don't want to affect the 
military families--I understand that--but they're going to if they keep 
trying to pass legislation that is--that just doesn't--that withdraws 
troops or micromanages the war.
    And so I'm optimistic we can get a bill, a good bill, and a bill 
that satisfies all our objectives, and that's to get the money to the 
troops as quickly as possible.

Japan's Comfort Women

    Q. Well, a question on the wartime comfort women issue. Mr. Prime 
Minister, on this issue, did you explain your thoughts to President 
Bush? And on this matter, did you talk about further factual 
investigations on

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the matter and any intent to apologize on the issue?
    Also, a question for Mr. President on the comfort women issue. From 
the view--perspective of human rights and Asian history perceptions, I 
wonder if you could express your thoughts or views.
    Prime Minister Abe. Well, in my meeting with the congressional 
representatives yesterday, I explained my thoughts, and that is, I do 
have deep-hearted sympathies that my people had to serve as comfort 
women, were placed in extreme hardships, and had to suffer that 
sacrifice; and that I, as Prime Minister of Japan, expressed my 
apologizes, and also expressed my apologizes for the fact that they were 
placed in that sort of circumstance.
    Now, the 20th century was a century that human rights were violated 
in many parts of the world. So we have to make the 21st century a 
century--a wonderful century in which no human rights are violated. And 
I myself and Japan wish to make significant contributions to that end. 
And so I explained these thoughts to President.
    President Bush. The comfort women issue is a regrettable chapter in 
the history of the world, and I accept the Prime Minister's apology. I 
thought it was a very--I thought his statements, Kono's statement, as 
well as statements here in the United States were very straightforward 
and from his heart. And I'm looking forward to working with this man to 
lead our nations forward. And that's what we spent time discussing 
today.
    We had a personal visit on the issue. And he gave his--he told me 
what was on his heart about the issue, and I appreciated his candor. And 
our jobs are to, obviously, learn lessons from the past. All of us need 
to learn lessons from the past and lead our nations forward. And that's 
what the Prime Minister is doing in a very capable way.
    Listen, we thank you all for coming. Appreciate your time. Have a 
nice weekend. Mr. Prime Minister, thank you.

Note: The President's news conference began at 11:09 a.m. In his 
remarks, he referred to Akie Abe, wife of Prime Minister Abe; Chairman 
Kim Jong Il of North Korea; and Yohei Kono, Speaker of Japan's House of 
Representatives. Prime Minister Abe and some reporters spoke in 
Japanese, and their remarks were translated by an interpreter.