Japan-China-ROK Foreign Ministers' Meeting (Overview)

April 20, 2012

The Trilateral Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Japan, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) was held on April 8, 2012, in Ningbo, China. Mr. Yang Jiechi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, chaired the meeting, which was also attended by the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koichiro Gemba, the ROK Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Kim Sung-hwan, and other officials. The outline of the meeting is as follows.

1. Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Cooperation

(1) Progress and Future Direction of Trilateral Cooperation

The three foreign ministers of the three countries welcomed the participation in the meeting of Secretary-General Shin Bong-kil of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat, expressing their expectation that the Secretariat would contribute to the promotion of trilateral cooperation.
Specifically, they discussed the following issues among others.

  1. 1) With the negotiations for the Trilateral Investment Agreement having been substantially concluded, , the three ministers shared the view that they would prepare for the signing of the agreement during the Trilateral Summit Meeting and to continue discussions on the early launch of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement among China, Japan and ROK (CJKFTA).
  2. 2) Minister Gemba reiterated his appreciation for considerable assistance China and the ROK gave to Japan after the Great East Japan Earthquake, and requested that the two countries lift or mitigate restrictions they impose on imports (of Japanese products) and on passage of travelers to Japan at an early date on the basis of scientific rationality in light of the latest state of affairs.
  3. 3) Minister Gemba said Japan would like to work with China and the ROK for the realization of low-carbon growth, taking advantage of the East Asia Low-Carbon Growth Partnership Dialogue which Japan would host on April 15, and obtained support from the Chinese and ROK sides.
  4. 4) Referring to negotiations for the Japan-China Search and Rescue Agreement concluded in principle at the end of last year, Minister Gemba said Japan would like to continue cooperation among the three countries to secure maritime safety.
  5. 5) The foreign ministers shared understanding about the importance of people-to-people exchanges, including those of universities and the youth, and about the possibility of pursuing cooperation in the energy area.

(2) Preparations for the Trilateral Summit Meeting

The foreign ministers concurred on the need for acceleration of preparations for the success of the 5th Trilateral Summit Meeting to be held in China later this year.

2. Regional and Global Issues

(1) Northeast Asia Situation

Referring to the launch of a missile which North Korea called a "satellite," Minister Gemba said that if North Korea dared to conduct the launch, it would be a clear violation of the relevant U.N. Security Council Resolutions and undermine the trend of dialogue. He added that the international community should urge North Korea to exercise self-restraint. The three foreign ministers had in-depth exchanges of views on the issue, concurring on the need to continue to make maximum diplomatic efforts to urge North Korea to refrain from the launch and the need to continue close cooperation among the three countries. Also, Minister Gemba expressed his gratitude to China and the ROK for their understanding and cooperation concerning the abduction issue, and request their continued cooperation.

(2) East Asia cooperation

Minister Gemba said the East Asia Summit (EAS) should be developed into a leaders-led forum that confirms the common ideas and fundamental rules of the region thus connecting its outcome to tangible cooperation. He also stated that, while being mindful of the studies on the East Asia Free Trade Area (EAFTA) and Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA), we should accelerate discussions towards commencing the negotiation.

(3) International Economic Situation

Minister Gemba said Japan would like to closely cooperate with the two countries through such means as discussions under the ASEAN Plus Three to strengthen the Chiang Mai Initiative in order to avoid a spillover of the European sovereign debt crisis to Asia.

(4) Climate Change

Minister Gemba said Japan welcomed the outcomes of the COP17 and that Japan would like to actively contribute to international discussions aimed at building a future framework for all countries to participate, especially taking into account the important achievements of COP17 such as the proposed formation of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. China and the ROK supported his view.

(5) Disarmament and Non-proliferation

Minister Gemba said it was important to take concrete actions toward the next NPT Review Conference in 2015 and noted the importance of a moratorium on the production of fissile material for weapon purposes, the early commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, the improvement of transparency in nuclear arms and the early entry into force of the CTBT. The three foreign ministers also commended the specific progress toward the strengthening of nuclear security made at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.

(6) MDGs

Minister Gemba said that in addition to the need for accelerated efforts to achieve the MDGs by 2015, it is important to consider cross-sectoral elements concerning post-MDG international development goals after 2015 such as human security, equity and gap reduction, sustainability, and growth and job creation. Both China and the ROK said they would like to actively contribute to post-MDG discussions.

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