Abe Pledges Greater Contribution

Prime Minister Abe held a news conference to explain more about his meetings and speeches. He once again emphasized that the influx of refugees into Europe was the largest issue at the General Assembly. Abe says Japan expresses its solidarity with countries that are dealing with the crisis.

"Japan is determined to make a major contribution by actively taking fundamental solutions for the refugee issue. We will provide economic assistance as well as cooperation in the areas of education, health and medicine."
Shinzo Abe / Japanese Prime Minister

He was asked whether or not Japan will accept more refugees.

"Before accepting refugees, we have to do more things like empowering women and the elderly, and increasing the birth rate. We have to implement more policies to that end. Regarding the refugee issue, Japan has to fulfill its responsibilities. We have to get rid of the root causes of refugees. Japan would like to make a contribution to eliminating such root causes."
Shinzo Abe / Japanese Prime Minister

Prime Minister Abe also said he will reshuffle the Cabinet and appoint officials of the main ruling Liberal Democratic Party on October 7th.

He said he will maintain the major framework of his administration while giving opportunities to as many people as possible.

NHK's senior political commentator Masayo Nakajima joins Catherine Kobayashi in the studio.

Kobayashi: Masayo, Abe has completed his trip. What do you think he was trying to achieve there in New York?

Nakajima: Abe spoke to reporters about his diplomatic successes. He took part in several UN meetings and held individual talks with world leaders. This was the first time he's been face-to-face with so many of his counterparts since Japan's new security legislation was enacted. It's a turning point in the country's postwar security policies. The new laws expand the role of Japan's Self-Defense Forces abroad. He explained during his visit that the new legislation will allow Japan to play a bigger role in world peace and security.

Kobayashi: What happened in the meetings between Abe and the other world leaders?

Nakajima: Abe believes it's important to improve the security environment through diplomacy, especially with neighboring countries. He met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Abe expressed his desire to resolve a long-standing territorial dispute between the 2 countries and sign a peace treaty. Russia controls the islands known as the Northern Territories. Japan claims them. But Abe could not specify if Putin's long-planned visit to Japan will happen this year. He's treading carefully after seeing Russia's ties with the West worsen over the Ukraine crisis.

Abe briefly talked with South Korean President Park Geun-hye on the sidelines of the UN meeting. They spoke about holding a trilateral summit with the Chinese premier, possibly next month. Ties between Japan and South Korea have been strained over their differing views on history and territorial boundaries. No official meeting could be arranged between the 2 leaders in New York, and there was no meeting between Japan and China at the summit level, either.

Kobayashi: It seemed that the Japanese government wanted Prime Minister Abe and the Chinese president to get together on the sidelines of the General Assembly, but that didn't happen. What's next for Abe?

Nakajima: There are many more important international meetings for Japan this year. Abe is expected to take part in some of them, such as the G20, the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and a UN climate change conference.

Domestically, as Abe made clear for the first time in the news conference, he plans to reshuffle his cabinet on October 7th. He seems to be trying to refresh the image of his administration. Public support for his cabinet dipped after the new security laws were enacted. Abe will also focus on the economy. He needs to regain public support ahead of next year's Upper House election. He's been saying he wants to include constitutional revision in his platform, and he'll need more support to see that goal realized.