Attendance of Mr. Takeaki Matsumoto, Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the 41st Mercosur Summit Meeting and Courtesy Call on Fernando Lugo, President of the Republic of Paraguay (Overview)
June 29, 2011
1. Attendance at the Mercosur Summit Meeting
On June 29 (local time), Mr. Takeaki Matsumoto, Minister for Foreign Affairs, participated in the 41st Summit Meeting of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) in Paraguay for the first time as Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs. Following the Leaders and Ministers of the Member and Associate Member States, Minister Matsumoto delivered a speech at the Meeting. He expressed his gratitude to the Mercosur members and other participating countries for their support in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake and stressed the importance of strengthening economic ties between Japan and Mercosur. The gist of the speech is as follows (full text in Japanese, English, Portuguese, and Spanish):
(1) General Remarks
- It is a great honor to be invited to the Summit, which marks the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty of Asunción.
- I hope to take advantage of my first visit to South America as an opportunity to further strengthen relations between Japan and Mercosur.
(2) Great East Japan Earthquake
- I appreciate all the support from the participating countries since the disaster. Japan will aim for a future-oriented creative regeneration.
- The disaster offered an opportunity to realize how closely the Japanese economy is connected with the world. Japan will advance its open reconstruction.
- Japan is and will remain open for business and travel. Visits to Japan would be most welcome.
- Japan will remain committed to providing the international community with sufficient information on the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plants in a timely manner.
(3) Strengthening Economic Ties with Mercosur
- Promoting economic partnership as a pillar of the New Growth Strategy has become even more important since the disaster.
- Japan takes a great interest in strengthening bilateral economic relations. Closer economic ties between both sides have great advantages for Mercosur as well.
(4) Initiating Japan-Mercosur Dialogue for Closer Economic Relations
- I propose launching a dialogue between Japan and Mercosur as a forum for exploring possibilities to promote bilateral relations in a wide range of economic fields, including trade and investment.
- The dynamism of Mercosur will contribute to Japan's open reconstruction and new growth.
2. Courtesy Call on President of the Republic of Paraguay Fernando Lugo
Prior to the Summit Meeting, Mr. Takeaki Matsumoto, Minister for Foreign Affairs, paid a courtesy call on H.E. Mr. Fernando Lugo Mendez, President of the Republic of Paraguay for approximately 15 minutes from 10:45 AM (local time). The meeting was also attended by Foreign Minister of Paraguay Lara Castro as well as State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan Chiaki Takahashi. The gist of the meeting is given below. After the first session of the Summit Meeting of Mercosur, Minister Matsumoto and Mr. Lara Castro signed the Exchange of Notes (E/N) concerning the Food Security Project for Underprivileged Farmers under the grant aid scheme.
(1) Bilateral Relations in General
(a) At the beginning, President Lugo expressed his honor to welcome Minister Matsumoto to Paraguay. Referring to the long history of friendship between Japan and Paraguay, President Lugo expressed his gratitude for economic cooperation from Japan. He attributed the economic growth of Paraguay, which exceeded 15 percent last year, to Japan's presence in the country.
(b) In response, Minister Matsumoto stated that it was an honor to be given the opportunity to visit Paraguay and pay a courtesy call on President Lugo. Minister Matsumoto described his visit as timely because this year marked the bicentennial of Paraguay's independence. Noting the more than 70-year history of Japanese immigration, he expressed his appreciation to President Lugo for the hospitality extended to Japanese immigrants by the Government of Paraguay and expressed his hope to build a win-win relationship between the two countries. He also welcomed Paraguay's decision to adopt the Japanese standard of Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting, recalling that an experimental broadcast had started on May 14.
(2) Great East Japan Earthquake
Minister Matsumoto reiterated his gratitude to President Lugo as well as the Government and the people of Paraguay for their support after the Great East Japan Earthquake. He said he was aware that tofu made from soybeans from Paraguay had been delivered to the affected areas in Japan.
Minister Matsumoto appreciated the invitation to the Mercosur summit meeting and expressed his intention to propose establishing a dialogue aimed at strengthening economic relations between Japan and Mercosur.
(4) Economic cooperation
(a) Minister Matsumoto stated that a wide range of cooperation, including technical cooperation, would benefit both countries. In response to President Lugo's reference to JICA's cooperation, he noted that Japan was the top donor to Paraguay and unveiled a plan to sign an Exchange of Notes with Paraguay concerning the provision of fertilizers.
(b) In response, President Lugo offered his gratitude for Japan's cooperation in all sectors. He stressed the importance of signing the E/N as it was aimed at helping subsistence small farmers in Paraguay.
President Lugo concluded the meeting by once again expressing his gratitude to Minister Matsumoto for coming all the way from Japan.
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