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Last Updated: Monday, 8 January 2007, 14:12 GMT
Transcript: Shinzo Abe interview

Shinzo Abe
The following is the transcript of an interview with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, conducted by BBC Tokyo correspondent Chris Hogg.

Question: How much of a threat is North Korea to Japan and to the rest of the world at the moment?

Japan cannot tolerate North Korea owning nuclear weapons nor the means to deliver them. That would be a serious threat, not only to Japan but to the entire region, and also a threat to the non-proliferation regime.

Q. How will you persuade the European governments that you are talking to that they need to take an active interest in the problems on the Korean peninsula?

If the North Koreans are to possess nuclear weapons that may lead to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and that could fundamentally undermine the non-proliferation regime, which may then lead to more problems regarding Iran for example. We believe that international co-operation, including co-operation with European countries and Nato member countries, is essential in order to prevent this happening. The North Koreans are not just causing nuclear and missile problems. They have also abducted many Japanese nationals. We believe that this abduction issue is a grave infringement of basic human rights. Among the abductees is a young 13-year-old girl and, according to testimonies given by abductees, there are also some Europeans among the abductees. We therefore believe that all countries around the world need to address this issue from a human rights perspective.

Q. As well as raising the abduction issue, you have been very clear in the past that Japan needs, in your words, a more assertive foreign policy. Can you understand that some nations are worried when they hear Japan needs to be more assertive on the world stage?

This is the sixtieth year since the promulgation of the new Japanese constitution. Japan throughout these years has upheld freedom and democracy as well as basic human rights and we have pride in that fact as well as self-confidence. Building on that I believe Japan needs to discuss what we need to do and what we can do in the interests of more peace and stability around the world. I believe that we will be able to gain the understanding as well as the confidence of the world regarding Japan's assertiveness.

Q. And part of this is you visiting Nato during this trip, how important is a strategic alliance with Nato for Japan?

We very much welcome the decision that was made at Nato's Riga summit that they would deepen partnership with non-Nato countries, including Japan. Japan is in fact already co-operating with Nato member countries, for example in Afghanistan. Japan has also co-operated in the Indian Ocean as well. By deepening the partnership between Japan and Nato member countries we shall be able to address various problems, regional conflicts and also peace building. I believe that through stronger partnership between Nato and Japan we shall be able to contribute to peace in this region and around the world.

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