Foreign Minister Nakasone's Visit to Cambodia and Laos

Mekong-Japan Exchange Year 2009

January 12, 2009

1. Itinerary

January 10 (Sat)

  • Departure from Japan and arrival in Bangkok.
  • Talks with H.E. Mr. Kasit Piromya, Foreign Minister of Thailand (at Bangkok International Airport).

January 11 (Sun)

  • Courtesy call on H.E. Mr. Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia.
  • Talks with H.E. Mr. Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia.
  • Signing of economic cooperation project agreements; attendance at handover ceremony for Japanese demining machines.
  • Attendance at opening ceremony of Mekong-Japan Exchange Year 2009 (above in Phnom Penh).
  • Talks with H.E. Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Lao PDR.
  • Signing of economic cooperation project agreements.
  • Attendance at welcome reception for the annual meeting of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) (above in Vientiane).

January 12 (Mon)

  • Departure from Vientiane and arrival in Japan.

2. General Overview

  • These were the first bilateral visits by a Japanese foreign minister to Cambodia and Laos since June 2005 and November 2003, respectively.
  • As this visit marked the start of Mekong-Japan Exchange Year 2009, Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone agreed with dignitaries in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos on the importance of Japan-Mekong cooperation. (Foreign Minister Nakasone handed over badges commemorating the exchange year.) Foreign Minister Nakasone welcomed Cambodia's proposal to host the second Japan-Mekong Foreign Ministers' Meeting. (This proposal was also supported by Laos.)
  • Foreign Minister Nakasone's visit to Thailand was the first ministerial-level visit to Thailand since the inauguration of the new administration of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
  • Dignitaries in the countries visited placed importance on relations with Japan, expressed gratitude for various support from Japan, and commented that Foreign Minister Nakasone's visit would lead to the further strengthening of bilateral relations.
  • Foreign Minister Nakasone once again declared Japan's stance of offering positive support for the clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance in Cambodia and Laos. (He announced assistance for clearance of unexploded ordnance [approximately 70 million yen] to Laos and attended a handover ceremony of Japanese demining machines in Cambodia.) Foreign Minister Nakasone also agreed to cooperate with Laos toward the early enforcement of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
  • Each country confirmed their positions of continuing to support Japan's international cooperation efforts, such as the response to the present global economic and financial crisis, the North Korea issue, and reform of the United Nations Security Council.

3. Overview by Country (excluding items mentioned in 2. above)

(1) Thailand (talks with Foreign Minister Kasit)

  • Bilateral relations: Since the number of Japanese tourists has been declining following the temporary closure of Bangkok International Airport last year, Foreign Minister Nakasone requested that the Thai government make efforts to restore confidence. Foreign Minister Kasit expressed his hope that, through the adoption of transparent policies, antigovernment demonstrations like last year's would not occur again.
  • Japan-ASEAN relations: Foreign Minister Nakasone requested that the East Asia Summit (EAS) and other meetings be held soon. Foreign Minister Kasit stated that he wanted the EAS and other meetings to be held in the second half of April and wanted to make preparations to hold them soon.

(2) Cambodia (courtesy call on Prime Minister Hun Sen and talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong)

  • Economic cooperation: Foreign Minister Nakasone stated that Japan's stance of supporting Cambodia's social and economic development remained unchanged. (He also announced support for a water-supply infrastructure project in Phnom Penh [approximately 3.5 billion yen].) The Cambodian side expressed high praise and gratitude. Prime Minister Hun Sen strongly requested that Japan quickly implement support for the "Southern Economic Corridor" and, in particular, the Second Mekong Bridge Construction Project and the National Road No. 1 Improvement Project. Foreign Minister Nakasone stated that these projects would be steadily implemented, bearing in mind the joint statement between the leaders of the two countries.
  • Khmer Rouge trial: Foreign Minister Nakasone stated that Japan was making efforts to have the government's budget proposal approved by the cabinet and enacted so that it can provide approximately \2.4 billion (approximately $21 million) to the UN budget and that Japan hoped for a speedy and fair tribunal. The Cambodian side expressed gratitude for Japan's generous support for the Khmer Rouge trial.

(3) Laos (talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Thongloun)

  • Invitation: Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun conveyed an invitation from Lao Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh for Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso to visit Laos.
  • Economic cooperation: Foreign Minister Nakasone announced support including a nonproject grant (approximately 1.2 billion yen) and assistance for climate change countermeasures and restoration and reconstruction work for Mekong River flood damage. Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun expressed deep gratitude.
  • Promotion of investment and trade: Foreign Minister Nakasone and Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun agreed that the first meeting of the joint committee of the Japan-Laos investment agreement would be held in the spring of this year.
  • Japan-Mekong cooperation: Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun explained that various events were scheduled in commemoration of the Mekong-Japan Exchange Year, including a meeting of women parliamentarians from Japan and the Mekong region.

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