Noda talks down yen on eve of visit to Korea

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Noda talks down yen on eve of visit to Korea

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Yoshihiko Noda

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said in an exclusive interview with the JoongAng Ilbo on Monday that he is watching the appreciation of the yen with concern, indicating a possible intervention by the Japanese government in the foreign currency market.

“We will take no option off the table [regarding the yen’s appreciation] and will take decisive action if necessary,” he said. Noda declined to comment on what level he would like to see the yen at.

The interview, conducted a day before Noda arrived for a two-day visit to Korea yesterday, was the second one-on-one interview he gave to any media outlet since taking office on Aug. 30.

Throughout the interview, held at the prime minister’s office in Nagatacho, Tokyo, Noda expressed his affection toward Korea, revealing that his wife is an avid fan of Korea’s young, good-looking male celebrities and that he is a fan of Korean cuisine.

Noda uses the nickname “loach,” a bottom-feeding fish, as an expression of his humility. Noda said he hopes to taste Korean loach soup during his visit.

Noda is scheduled to have a summit with President Lee Myung-bak today in what will be the second Lee-Noda meeting after one at the UN General Assembly last month.

Noda said he respects Lee for his broad perspective on global issues and his experiences in business and industry and hopes to have in-depth discussions with him over such issues as a Korea-Japan free trade agreement and North Korea.

“I chose Korea as the first country to visit for a bilateral summit,” he said.

Noda said he would bring to Korea five volumes of royal protocols from the Joseon era as a token of bilateral friendship. The books are among 1,205 Uigwe books looted during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea, which Japan is scheduled to return by Dec. 10.

Touching on thorny historical issues with Korea, Noda reiterated his position that official visits to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo by the Japanese prime minister or cabinet should be restrained in consideration of the impact they have on international relations. But he also showed a conservative side, talking positively of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces.

“I was born to a Self-Defense Force soldier father and have grown up watching many Self-Defense Force members working day and night,” he said.

About Seoul’s proposal to hold talks about compensation for Korea’s “comfort women,” or wartime sex slaves, Noda reiterated that the issue was resolved with a compensation agreement reached with Korea in 1965. “It is as it is,” he said.


By Kim Hyun-ki, Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

“이 대통령 12월 일본 오면 나머지 문화재 전달”… ‘미꾸라지 총리’ 한국 오자마자 추어탕 첫 식사

노다 일본 총리 취임 후 첫 해외 방문, 한국으로

일본의 노다 요시히코(野田佳彦·54) 총리는 17일 오후 중앙일보와 단독 인터뷰를 하고 “현재의 편향된 엔고(円高) 흐름을 우려하며 투기적인 움직임이 없는지 주시하고 있다”며 엔고 저지를 위한 외환시장 개입 가능성을 내비쳤다. “모든 조치를 배제하지 않고 필요할 때 단호한 행동을 취할 것”이라는 것이다. 이번 인터뷰는 노다 총리의 방한(18~19일)에 앞서 이뤄졌다. 노다 총리는 지난 8월 30일 총리 취임 후 일본 내에서 모든 일본 언론 및 외신과의 단독 인터뷰에 응하지 않았으나 첫 인터뷰로 본지를 택했다. 그는 인터뷰 내내 자신의 첫 정상회담 방문국으로 결정한 한국에 대한 애정을 내비쳤다. 인터뷰는 도쿄 나가타초(永田町)에 있는 총리관저 4층 접견실에서 이뤄졌다.

# 한국과의 관계 진전, 일본에 매우 중요

 -왜 첫 해외 방문국으로 한국을 택했습니까.

 “무엇보다 한국과 일본은 기본적 가치, 동아시아 지역의 평화와 번영 확보 등 이익을 공유하고 있습니다. 한·일 관계를 전진시키는 게 두 나라 양측에 매우 중요한 거죠. 가장 중요한 이웃 나라인 한국과 이 같은 생각을 함께 나누고 협력관계를 구축하고 싶다 생각했습니다.”

 -19일 이명박 대통령과는 어떤 의제에 중점을 두고 깊숙한 이야기를 나누실 생각입니까.

 “일·한 경제동반자협정(EPA·‘한·일 FTA’를 지칭)을 비롯한 양국 경제 문제, 그리고 북한 문제에 대한 대응입니다.”

 -이 대통령에 대한 인상은 어떻습니까.


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