Japan-Belgium Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
April 7, 2010
On April 7 (Wed), Mr. Katsuya Okada, Minister for Foreign Affairs, held a meeting and dinner with Mr. Steven Vanackere, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Belgium, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Iikura House. An overview of the meeting, in which Minister Okada and Deputy Prime Minister Vanackere exchanged views regarding bilateral relations, cooperation on the international arena, and regional affairs, is as follows.
- Minister Okada began by welcoming Minister Vanackere to Japan and stating that Japan and Belgium enjoyed a favorable relationship. He said that he regarded as the ideal chance for the two countries to deepen bilateral relations that the Prime Minister Yves Leterme and Minister Vanachere visited at the same time. In response, Minister Vanackere thanked Minister Okada for taking time out of his busy schedule, and stated that he would like to make his visit an opportunity to further deepen the favorable relations between Japan and Belgium.
- Minister Okada stated that the current favorable economic relationship is the basis of the bilateral relations between Japan and Belgium, and that it is important to further develop the investment environment in both countries and aim for the expansion of balanced investment in both directions. He also said that the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is vital for the overall development of the economies of both countries, and that he would like to agree to launch a joint study towards the Japan-EU EPA at the coming Japan-EU Summit. In response, Minister Vanackere said that he understands Japan’s position and that Belgium places importance on the progress in both tariffs area and non-tariffs area. In addition, responding to interest on the part of Minister Vanackere, Minister Okada explained the basic orientation of the Hatoyama Administration’s foreign policy.
- Regarding the cooperation on the international arena, Minister Okada and Minister Vanackere exchanged views on the following matters.
(1) On the subject of nuclear disarmament, Minister Vanackere said that Belgium supports a “world without nuclear weapons,” and introduced the discussion regarding the abolishment of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.
In response, Minister Okada stressed that it is vital to reduce the role of nuclear weapons as a mid-term initiative towards a “world without nuclear weapons”, and Minister Vanackere agreed on this point.
(2) Regarding UN Security Council reform, Minister Vanackere said that Japan takes responsible actions in the international society and that it is appropriate for Japan to become a permanent member. He also said that he hopes to cooperate for early reform of the UN Security Council. In response, Minister Okada thanked Minister Vanackere for his support for Japan’s becoming a permanent member, and also said that he hopes to work together towards reform.
- Regarding regional affairs, Minister Okada and Minister Vanackere exchanged views on the following matters.
(1) As for Afghanistan, Minister Okada said that the stability and reconstruction of Afghanistan is the most pressing issue for the international society, and that the re-integration of former Taliban soldiers is particularly vital. In response, Minister Vanackere explained the extension of the dispatch of the Belgian army, and praised the valuable Japanese aid to Afghanistan. Minister Okada and Minister Vanackere also agreed that the Government of Afghanistan itself should play an important role, and exchanged views regarding plans to provide substantial aid to civilians.
(2) Regarding Africa, Minister Vanackere presented an analysis of the current situation in the Great Lakes region, mainly focused on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In response, Minister Okada explained Japan’s aid to Africa, which was highly evaluated by Minister Vanackere.
(3) In addition, Minister Okada and Minister Vanackere also exchanged views regarding ASEM and the situation in Myanmar.
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