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Abe urges promotion of free trade in UN speech

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25, 2018, at the United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe used his United Nations General Assembly speech here on Sept. 25 to present his determination to strengthen the global free trade regime over the coming three years as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Japan.

"In the three years to come, I will do my very best to strengthen the free trade system, Abe said in the address.

The prime minister looked back over the postwar history of Japan, when the country benefited greatly from open and free international trade and grew into a major economic power. "After the war, Japan itself was a nation that enjoyed remarkable growth, basking in the advantages of trade as the beneficiary of a free and open economic system," he said.

He also emphasized that Japan's mission is to expand free trade across the globe. "Should Japan, the country that reaped the greatest benefits of all under this system, ever fail to support maintaining and strengthening that system, who else should we wait for to rise in support of it? Japan's responsibility is tremendous indeed. That is also Japan's mission, " said the premier.

Abe talked about Japan's achievements of pulling together the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade zone and signing the economic partnership agreement between Japan and the European Union. He furthermore indicated his intention to pursue the Free, Fair and Reciprocal (FFR) ministerial trade talks with the United States.

Meanwhile, Abe called for North Korea to proceed with its promised denuclearization . He expressed his willingness to have a direct meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a bid to solve the abduction of Japanese nationals by Pyongyang's agents." In order to resolve the abductions issue, I am also ready to break the shell of mutual distrust with North Korea, get off to a new start, and meet face to face with Chairman Kim Jong-Un," Abe said. He also touched on his planned visit to China in October to stabilize bilateral ties.

Abe emphasized his country's contribution to the Middle East peace process by announcing a plan to invite some 10 Palestine junior high school teachers from Gaza to Japan for a training course in peace education.

"Teachers who find themselves in Japan, a place so different for them both culturally and historically, will naturally put the situation in Gaza and the Middle East into a wider perspective, enabling them to see their own hometowns and region anew," Abe said. "It goes without saying that for peace, efforts must be made on both sides. But hopefully this program of ours will impart a means of hope to the teachers from Gaza and the children in their care."

As for the Group of Twenty (G20) summit meeting to be held in the western Japan city of Osaka in June next year, the prime minister said that he will try to lead discussions at the meeting to tackle global issues including environmental problems.

(Japanese original by Yu Takayama, Political News Department)

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