May 15, 2017 10:16 pm JST

Abe seeks talks with Chinese, South Korean presidents at G-20 summit

Tokyo wants new UN sanctions if Pyongyang conducts nuke test

KOYA JIBIKI, Nikkei staff writer

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during an interview with BS Japan and CNBC at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on May 15.

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he wants to talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the summit of the Group of 20 major economies in Hamburg, Germany, in July.

An additional provocation by North Korea, following its launch of a ballistic missile on Sunday, is "highly plausible," Abe said Monday during a joint interview by broadcasters BS Japan and CNBC at the prime minister's office.

Saying that it is too early to hold six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear development program, Abe stressed the need for exerting "solid pressure" on the country to cause it to change tack and create a situation where Pyongyang responds sincerely to demands from the international community.

Japan will propose that the U.N. Security Council place additional sanctions on North Korea if Pyongyang conducts a sixth nuclear test, Abe said.

Abe also referred to his intention to hold talks with U.S. President Donald Trump during the G-7 summit in Taormina, Italy, in late May.

He said Japan and the U.S. need to work closely together "now that tensions are increasing in the Asia-Pacific region."

Abe also mentioned his willingness to hold an early summit between Japan, China and South Korea, in addition to his separate meetings with Xi and Moon.

Hopeful on TPP

On the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade accord, the prime minister said Japan will lead discussions to put the deal into effect with the 10 remaining participants following the withdrawal of the U.S.

"Japan will work with other nations in close cooperation while utilizing its centripetal force so that the countries can discuss what are the best solutions without excluding any options," Abe said.

"We want to stand together and show a clear direction" at the 11 countries' ministerial meeting in Vietnam at the end of this week, Abe said, expressing his hope that the U.S. will return to the TPP.

Asked about the possibility that Japan will participate in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Abe said Tokyo will make a decision on the issue through close cooperation with the U.S.

Pointing out concerns about the AIIB, such as whether it can ensure fair corporate governance, Abe said Japan will consider its participation "in a forward-looking manner" if such issues are settled. "At present, we are closely watching its work," he added.

Society 5.0

Abe also spoke about the Society 5.0 initiative to create a comfortable society by leveraging artificial intelligence and big data. He said the program -- which plays on Germany's Industry 4.0 initiative to innovate the manufacturing industry -- will be positioned as a core of a new growth strategy his administration will adopt in June.

"We will utilize AI and big data to overcome the challenges of an aging society and a declining birthrate," Abe said. "Society 5.0 for settling social problems will be the keyword."

The data that Japan collects from its efforts to cope with its aging society and falling birthrate, coupled with AI, should be used to help solve similar problems elsewhere in the world, Abe said.

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