Meeting between Mr. Masahiko Koumura, and The Hon Simon Crean MP, Minister for Trade of Australia

January 25, 2008

 On January 22 (Tue), Mr. Masahiko Koumura, Minister for Foreign Affairs, held talks with The Hon Simon Crean MP, Minister for Trade of Australia, now visiting Japan, from 5:00-5:40 p.m.  The gist of their talks was as follows.

1.  Bilateral Relations in General

      Both ministers agreed that the Japan-Australia relationship was an important strategic partnership in the Asia-Pacific region that should be further developed.  They decided to strengthen cooperation and further promote the relationship in the following fields.  

    (1) Japan-Australia EPA Negotiations

      The ministers agreed to aim for results beneficial to both countries and to solve the problem on goodwill basis for both sides, while paying attention to sensitivity especially in agricultural matters.

    (2) WTO Doha Round

      Mr. Crean, after emphasizing that there would be a window of opportunity toward areas such as an agreement in the coming few months, and that it was important to aim for an agreement in agriculture, stated that Australia would like to cooperate with Japan in the field of services, especially in financial services.

      Mr. Koumura said that Japan, headed by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, is committed to an early conclusion of the Round, and as the Round is at a crucial moment, Japan hoped that a positive message would be announced for the promotion of the talks at the WTO informal ministerial meeting at the Davos Forum.

    (3) Measures against spread of counterfeit /pirated goods

      Mr. Koumura said that further international cooperation on this matter was important, and that he would like to promote cooperation between Japan and Australia in the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement initiative.  In response, Mr. Crean said he valued the initiative taken by Japan and the United States, as the aspect of law enforcement was especially important.

2.  Regional Cooperation and Other Matters  

    (1) APEC

      Mr. Crean said that the Rudd administration attaches importance to APEC and wants to aim at its reinvigoration by the cooperation of Japan and Australia, and that from that viewpoint the fact that Japan will host APEC in 2010 will be important.  In response, Mr. Koumura stated that the ministerial and summit meetings held in the last APEC meeting in Sydney were fruitful.  He added that it would be important for such countries as Japan, the US and Australia to cooperate in leading the discussion.

    (2) Climate Change Issue

      Both ministers agreed that the two countries would cooperate with each other in discussing this issue constructively.  Mr. Koumura said that Japan welcomed Australia’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and that Japan, as the G8 chair, intended to contribute to building a framework in which all the major emitters of greenhouse gases would participate.  Mr. Crean said that the climate change issue was not only an environmental problem but also had an economic aspect and that Australia would welcome Japan’s taking an initiative as the G8 chair because this issue was one of those in which Prime Minister Rudd himself was interested.

3. Whaling Issue

    (1) Mr. Crean said that Japan and Australia were able to cooperate harmoniously concerning the issue of crew members of the Sea Shepherd and that Australia would cope with this issue so as not to have an adverse effect on amicable bilateral relations between the two countries, although they had different views on this issue.  Mr. Koumura stressed that he and Mr. Stephen Smith, Australian Foreign Minister, had agreed on that point completely when they had telephone talks the other day.   

    (2) In addition, Mr. Koumura urged Australia’s cooperation to prevent such harassment from recurring because such an act was very dangerous.  He asked the Government of Australia to take appropriate measures in accordance with Australian domestic law when the Sea Shepherd calls a harbor in Australia.

    (3) In response, Mr. Crean said that Australia thought that the incident was unfortunate, as it had been urging the Sea Shepherd to practice self-restraint although the vessel was not registered in Australia.  Mr. Crean also stated that the Government of Australia would decide on how to deal with the vessel when it made a port call in Australia, based on the conclusion reached by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), after studying the related information being compiled by the AFP.