The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1992Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Joint Press Conference with Jacques Delors and Kiichi Miyazawa – 4 July 1992

Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint press conference with Jacques Delors and Kiichi Miyazawa (Japanese Prime Minister), held in London on Saturday 4th July 1992.


Can I just say at the outset, we have had some very worthwhile discussions this morning and we will continue with those over luncheon, there are a number of matters we wish to talk about that we have not yet reached on our agenda.

I think it is fitting that the summit meeting with Japan this morning is one of the first events of the UK Presidency of the Community, it does underline very starkly, I think, the commitment to an open outward looking Community that all our European partners wish to build.

Japan, of course, is a very welcome guest here this morning, a major global power not just in economic and trade terms but also a major power in political terms as well. And Japan and the Community have in common a number of interests in close contact at the very highest level.

Our talks this morning have covered many of the global challenges that face both Japan and each and every nation in the Community: the need for early and successful conclusion of the GATT Uruguay round; the matters we need to discuss on economic assistance to central and Eastern Europe and the very welcome Japanese contribution there has been to the efforts of the Group of 24; the future of the countries in the former Soviet Union, it was very useful to get a Japanese perspective on those difficulties this morning; we had the opportunity of a brief discussion on global environmental problems and the scene as we perceive it after Rio.

We propose to continue our talks later and we have a number of key international issues still to discuss – Yugoslavia, China, Cambodia, the Middle East peace process and also, I think, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We very much welcome the active Japanese role in that and as you will know, Japan and the Community jointly tabled UN resolutions on the register of arms transfers.

So we have also had a good discussion this morning on the trade relationship, I think that is a central part of our relationship and it was worthwhile to spend some time on that this morning. I would like to stress a number of points about that, I would like to stress particularly the Community’s welcome for the inward investment there has been from Japan, we have a particular experience of that in the United Kingdom, 40 percent of Japanese direct manufacturing investment in the Community actually comes to the United Kingdom. We would welcome further Japanese investment and I know that is the view of our Community partners as well.

Japan is also the Community’s second biggest trading partner and we are often in competition in the trade sphere and I think between manufacturing nations that is as it should be. But we certainly support the Commission’s efforts to reduce the trade imbalance in Japan and to remove the remaining barriers to trade. And we were able this morning to welcome the steps taken by the Japanese government to improve access to certain sectoral markets.

These are matters that we will continue to discuss both today and in subsequent meetings both at political and at official level. Trade does remain the very core of the European/Japanese relationship but we do believe those economic questions should be discussed in the context of a wider dialogue involving political issues as well. Our aim for the community/Japanese relationship is quite clear cut and quite unambiguous, we want the relationship to be a long-term partnership based on shared value and objectives and to that end I think we had a useful series of discussions this morning.

QUESTION (Finnish Broadcasting Company):

Did you speak about the northern territories and did Japan get any sympathy for its idea that it should be a precondition for help for the Soviet Union?


We did touch upon the northern territories dispute, as we have in the past. It is essentially a bilateral dispute and can only be solved bilaterally between Japan and the Soviet Union and I think for the rest of us to take public positions would not assist in that bilateral settlement. The most important thing is that there is an agreement and there are very important discussions that lie not very far ahead, in September I think Prime Minister, between Prime Minister Miyazawa and President Yeltsin.

QUESTION (Peter Bale, Reuters):

Could you give the British attitude to Japanese wishes to take a seat on the United Nations Security Council and also elaborate on your views about GATT at this point having spoken to Mr Miyazawa?


The first point was not discussed at all this morning but it may be that it will come up in our bilateral discussions with Mr Miyazawa this afternoon. On the subject of GATT, we did touch on GATT, we spent some time on that. There is clearly an imperative to reach a conclusion to the GATT round as speedily as we possibly can, there are still some difficulties to be overcome, but I think we are sufficiently close to an agreement to make a real effort to get one and to get one without delay. There are a variety of reasons for that, not just the intrinsic desirability of an agreement on a Uruguay Round simply for the sake of having an agreement, but I doubt that there is any doubt in anyone’s mind that a GATT agreement would be a significant stimulus to world trade and as such particularly valuable at the moment when world trade is flagging, in many countries unemployment is rising and growth is falling. So I think there is the wider economic perspective for getting an agreement as well. It is also I think a particularly important matter from the United Kingdom point of view that that growth in world trade will not just be of benefit to the developing manufacturing nations of the world, but a very substantial part of that growth would go to the developing and third world.

So I think for political, economic and humanitarian reasons, there is every imperative to seek a conclusion to the GATT Round as speedily as possible. I believe it is possible, nobody should under-estimate the difficulties and the national interests that remain, but there was an eclectic agreement this morning that we should try and pursue as speedily as possible a satisfactory outcome.


Mr Miyazawa, according to a report yesterday President Yeltsin of Russia was critical of the Japanese attitude that Japan was not investing a single penny in Russia, what is your response? And my second question to Mr Major, in this joint press statement there is no mention about the northern territory problem, does this mean that the EC is reluctant to support the Japanese position in the Munich conference?


I can answer the second point very quickly. We will discuss the matters in the Munich conference at the Munich conference and not in advance of it.


With regard to your first question, Japan has already provided assistance amounting to as much as 2.65 billion and others and if President Yeltsin does not know of this then there must be something very strange.

QUESTION (Paul Reynolds, BBC):

Mr Major, would the failure to build a European Fighter Aircraft weaken European industry and if such an aircraft is not built would you seek Community funds for retraining the workers?


We do not yet have a decision on the European Fighter Aircraft, I read a great deal about what is going to happen to the European Fighter Aircraft. I have to say to you that we have had no formal communication yet from the German government about their position on the European fighter at all, I did see some reports that seemed to me to be a bit misconceived. We are talking to the Germans about the position on the European fighter and their Defence Secretary, Volker Ruhe, will be here in London at the beginning of next week and will be meeting Malcolm Rifkind. We are also talking to our partners from Spain and from Italy about the project. We made the decision some time ago that we needed an aircraft of EFA’s capability for military reasons, that was a decision the British government made some time ago. We believe it is certainly possible to reduce the costs of the European Fighter and we equally take the view that the alternatives to the European Fighter are likely to be more expensive, not less expensive, and will take longer to produce and cannot be produced in swifter time.

So it remains the fact that we still see the European Fighter an an important project, we must wait and discuss the matter further with our partners but I hope it will be possible to continue with it.


I have a question for you both, what is the government’s stance on the latest suggestion of President Bush to enlarge the G7 into G8 by including Russia?


I am aware of no formal proposal to do that. What happened last year was that President Yeltsin was invited to join the G7 so that the G7 could have discussions with another great world power after the conclusion of the G7 conference. That is what is happening again this year.


Two or three days ago I had a meeting with President Bush and that subject was not brought up in our discussion.

QUESTION (Peter Norman, FT):

Prime Minister, you said a few minutes ago that you want to see a GATT agreement as quickly as possible, does that mean that we can expect some sort of parallel negotiations at the Munich summit because after all there are going to be major players there, Secretary Baker, Mr Andriessen, that sort of thing?


I do not quite know what may be implied by parallel negotiations. I think it would be very surprising indeed if people did not discuss the present difficulties there are in the Uruguay Round whilst the major players, as you say, are there, but I do not know what the outcome of those will be but it would certainly be a matter I think that will be discussed, not necessarily in the main forum, that is a separate matter, but it will certainly be discussed I am sure in the bilateral meetings that will take place there.


I refer to paragraph 8 of the press release and see that there is support for the Middle East peace process launched at Madrid in October 1991. What projects do you have at the European level and with the Japanese to support the economy in the Occupied Territories of Palestine?

  1. DELORS:

The Commission has produced a document to the Council of Ministers of the Community in the case of peace in the Middle East to offer technical assistance, a common programme, economic concertation to the countries of the region and the Council of Ministers waits for the issue of the peace negotiation process to decide on the proposal of the Commission.

QUESTION (Jackie Ashley, ITN):

  1. Delors, could you confirm a story in today’s “Telegraph” here that the European Commission is going to repeal some of its laws, particularly on the environment and on animal welfare protection?
  2. DELORS:

No, not yet. we had only a meeting of the Commission. During this meeting, I repeat my proposals I made to the Heads of of Government over the dinner of the Council of Lisbon and also I explained to my colleagues what means in the communique of the Europeans Council of Lisbon and the Commission is prepared to follow and to apply the reorientation first for the new proposal of the Commission and also in parallel to study the content of the present legislation and possibly to revise this legislation but we must make a report to the European Council at the end of next year. Be sure that the Commission is very focused on this subject.

QUESTION (Reuters):

Prime Minister Miyozawa and Prime Minister Major, did you discuss Japan’s efforts to stimulate the economy and if you did, how do you assess Japan’s efforts? Prime Minister Miyozawa, how did you explain your plan to prepare a supplementary budget this autumn?


The Japanese economy is slowing down rather substantially and therefore even in the current budget we have significant front-loading of public works expenditure and about 70% of the entire public works expenditure for example will be spent in the first half of the year. If that is not sufficient as a stimulus, then we shall also introduce further resources for the purpose of public works investment, smaller businesses and so on as additional fiscal measures and, of course, the timing of such supplementary measures will depend on the timing of the effects of the permeation of the existing measures but I believe that it might be some time around the coming autumn.


If I can add to that on the part of the question directed to me, I think the Prime Minister set out some of the parameters of our discussion. In addition to that on economic stimulation, we did note that the domestic stimulation in Japan between 1985 and 1990 had played a material role in reducing the trade imbalances at present between the West European nations generally and Japan.

The point I was particularly keen to discuss with the Prime Minister was the 5-year growth target averaging at 3 1/2% a year and whether that was a practical growth target that Japan would be likely to hit and the implications that would have on the growth of world trade. The Prime Minister felt that that was a target that Japan could meet. He drew attention to the growth record in recent years and was confident that that average of 3 1/2% over the next 5 years would be met and that is of course extremely good news.

QUESTION (David Langton – Bureau of National Affairs):

I would like Prime Minister Major to elaborate if he could on the discussions on global environmental issues and perhaps M. Delors to clarify the EC’s position on EFTA countries that might want to join the EC particularly in regard to those that are just about to leave the International Whaling Commission because they are upset with joint decision-making at that body and whether they would fit into the EC comfortably with their whaling policies and perhaps you could clarify the EC whaling policy.

The second question is on EC-Japanese trade. Could you elaborate on whether you foresee that growing or declining in the coming years and whether that might be at the expense of the United States or either group?


On the environment collaboration, we were really reviewing the collective follow-up to Rio rather than necessarily examining new areas of collaboration though we did reach an agreement in principle that environmental control was a matter that involved us. It was clearly a global matter. There would need to be further collaboration in terms of research and more relevantly in terms of action and we were able to discuss that and some of the actions that were necessary. I put one or two propositions forward that will be considered and taken forward privately.

  1. DELORS:

On Norway, the first target for the government is to obtain the ratification of the new agreement on economic common space. For the application, we follow with great interest the discussion inside Norway. As you know, the Prime Minister, Mrs. Brundtland has opened a campaign of explanation in her party but also for public opinion and from the last news the Norwegian government intend to take a final position next November.


A simple question for Mr. Major. As you know, international public opinion thinks that the collapse of the former Soviet Union requires a stronger major role in a special way in international and political relationships and the same public opinion wants to know if Mr. Major, politically speaking, will be so brave and sensible to achieve this major political role through the European Community that is from the federalist point of view institutional and decentralise from the political point of view according to the principle of subsidiarity. What is the position?


I like your definition of a simple question!

I think there is no doubt that there has to be collective support in order to deal with the problems of the former Soviet Union. They are not problems that can be dealt with within the Soviet Union without external help; they are not problems that can just be helped bilaterally by the United States or by Europe. There is a collective need for help and it is for that reason that we have all collaborated in different ways, particularly through the Group of 24, to provide many billion dollars worth of assistance and why there are also the current discussions that are taking place between the IMF and the Russian Republic to determine the right sort of conditionality upon which Western aid will be made available.

The point of conditionality is perfectly clear: we need to ensure that the large resources that will be made available rightly in my view to assist the Soviet Union are properly used to accelerate the reform process. There is no point in those resources being made available unless the reform process itself accelerates. The difficult balance that has to be struck is to make sure that the conditionality we ask of the Russians is conditionality that they can meet and that the terms set are not so severe that they are politically undeliverable in Russia.

That is a matter that will have to be decided collectively; it is certainly a matter that will come up in discussion when Mr. Yeltsin is in Munich and it is a matter that has been discussed at official level between the IMF and representatives of the Russian Government.


[Not translated].


I don’t think there is going to be a difficulty about that. In terms of foreign policy matters, the position is quite clear. Where we can collectively agree foreign policy developments, whether in relation to the Soviet Union or elsewhere, the collective authority of the European Community is that much stronger than the individual position of any one, two or perhaps three or more member states so collectively, where there is a communal interest we will agree collectively but there will be areas where there are necessarily going to be bilateral matters between individual nation states within the Community that are not Community matters. The United Kingdom’s relationship with Hong Kong would be an example. You could find a similar example for a whole series of other countries within the Community. So there is no conflict of the sort you suggest there might be. There are areas of communal interest and there we will combine where it is appropriate to do so; where it is not appropriate to do so, we will conduct our foreign policy entirely bilaterally.


Prime Minister Miyazawa, in your meeting today I understand you explained Japan’s position on the Northern Territories. Were you able to gain the understanding of your interlocutors?


I called on Mr. Major to comment on this and I explained the background to this issue and the Japanese Government’s current position on this matter. This is not a matter which directly bears on our relations with the European Community and of course we have been discussing this matter in our bilateral relations with the member countries. We had a meeting with M. Delors as well this morning and therefore I took the opportunity to explain to him Japan’s views on this matter.


Prime Minister, will you be discussing world interest rates with the Japanese Prime Minister in your bilateral talks and will Britain be among those countries who are going to put pressure on Germany to bring down interest rates next week in Munich?


The discount rate in Japan I think is around 3 3/4%, something of that sort. We will discuss world trading matters and I think trading matters embrace a whole series of issues. Whether that particular matter will be substantive to the discussion, I am not sure.

As to next week, we must wait for next week and see.