Prime Minister Abe’s Visit to Europe
A powerful partner in “diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map”
Japan and Europe share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights, and are partners that act together to achieve global peace and prosperity, based on those values. Additionally, as a result of its language strengths, historical background and others, Europe is a connecting point linking together the regions of the world, including Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Europe also possesses a capacity to make itself heard that shapes international opinion, an ability to form standards in major international frameworks, and an economic scale that accounts for 30% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).
From that perspective, Europe is a powerful partner in the “diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the word map” that Japan advances, and as shown in the subheading of Japan’s joint press statement with the European Union (EU), Japan and Europe are partners that act together. As a result of the latest visit to Europe, collaboration and cooperation in the following five mainstay areas was strengthened in particular.
1. Contributing to the world through “Abenomics”
In the meetings with the leaders of the countries, it was clear that expectation and interest in Abenomics remain high.
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Japan’s accession to the Organization for the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Prime Minister Abe gave a keynote address at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting as the Chair. He strongly presented the current economic and fiscal policies of Japan, as well as Japan’s contribution to the global economy. The speech generated great expectation from all the countries. Additionally, at the Welcoming Dinner Hosted by the City of London, Prime Minister Abe gave a detailed explanation of the achievements Abenomics has produced in the one-year period since he gave remarks in the same location in June last year. Those attending highly praised Japan’s efforts and achievements.
Prime Minister Abe also confirmed the strengthening of cooperation between Japan, which has been revived as a result of Abenomics, and the European economy, which is beginning to regain its strength. He held lively exchanges of views with members of Europe’s business community in Germany, the U.K., France and Belgium, and they shared the view that they would invigorate mutual investment and promote innovation via combined wisdom.
Furthermore, during his visit to Europe, Prime Minister Abe himself conveyed his desire to reach agreement in principle on the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) during 2015 on various occasions and with the leaders of each country the importance of the early conclusion of a comprehensive and high-level EPA.
2. Putting into practice the concept of Proactive Contribution to Peace through Japan-Europe security cooperation
As is clear from the Ukraine situation, the security environments surrounding Japan and Europe are closely linked and becoming increasingly severe. Shared global challenges, such as the “rule of law” in the oceans, are also growing more serious.
In Prime Minister Abe’s speech at the North Atlantic Council (NAC), the principal decision-making body within NATO, and in meetings with the leaders of the countries and organizations he visited, he fostered common recognition on the security environments surrounding Japan and Europe, and consistently received strong praise and support for Japan’s security policy under the banner of “Proactive Contribution to Peace.”
As Japan puts “Proactive Contribution to Peace” into practice, Europe is an important partner with shared values. Through this trip to Europe, Prime Minister Abe reaffirmed the principles of adhering to the “rule of law” and freedom of the seas with all the countries.
Concrete progress was made in security cooperation not only bilaterally with each of the countries visited, but also with NATO and the EU, which are engaged in the security of the region overall. For example, Prime Minister Abe shared views on specific cooperative projects, including cooperating on the EU’s activities for the peace and stability of Republic of Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo and other countries, holding joint exercises with NATO and the EU in order to deal with piracy in the seas off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, and cooperating with the U.K. and France on defense equipment technologies.
3. Enhancing gender-related cooperation between Japan and Europe towards the realization of “a society in which women shine”
Fully utilizing the power of women is a key concept in making the 21st century an era of peace and prosperity, and Japan is now ardently working to bring about “a society in which women shine.” As Europe is a pioneer in women’s issues, in his meetings with the leaders of the countries and organizations he visited, Prime Minister Abe raised the topic of women from the two angles of Womenomics and women’s participation and protection in the field of security.
As a key outcome, Prime Minister Abe affirmed cooperation toward the success of the “International Symposium on Creating a Society in which Women Shine” scheduled to be held in Japan in September, including participation by European female leaders who are active in a wide-range of fields. He also shared the view that female government personnel will be dispatched to NATO’s headquarters.
4. Sharing the cultural attractiveness of both Japan and Europe
It is important for Japan and Europe to disseminate their respective cultures, which are underpinned by their way of thinking and sense of values, in order to deepen mutual understanding.
As an example, taking the opportunity of visiting Europe, Prime Minister Abe held a reception to showcase Japanese cuisine at the official residence of Japan’s Ambassador to France that was attended by French President François Hollande, and conveyed the “spirit” that is unique to Japan, such as “Umami,” which is now becoming a common term, its sense of the seasons and its hospitality.
Additionally, Prime Minister Abe once again expressed his determination to jointly spread the globally-common values that are ingrained in sport and to promote the Olympic Movement for 2020 through his meetings with the leaders of the countries he visited. He did so by signing a memorandum of understanding on cooperation on the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games and inspecting the legacy of the London Olympic Games while in the U.K.
5. Enhancing collaboration with the G7 members towards the G7 Brussels Summit
Ahead of the Brussels G7 Summit next month, the situation in Ukraine has grown more tense and it is extremely important that the approaching Ukrainian presidential election takes place peacefully and democratically. Prime Minister Abe carried out frank discussions regarding the Ukraine situation in his meetings with the leaders of the organizations and countries he visited.
All the countries highly praised that Japan is demonstrating solidarity with European countries, and expressed gratitude for Japan’s support of Ukraine. Additionally, they shared the view that in order to stabilize the situation in Ukraine, Ukraine’s own political and economic stability is essential and should be supported. Furthermore, where relations with Russia are concerned, despite differences in nuance from country to country the prevailing view was that the door for dialogue with Russia should remain open, and that Russia should be encouraged to fulfil its role as a responsible member of the international community.
Based on the results in the five mainstay areas above that were achieved in this visit to Europe, Japan will further strengthen its collaboration and cooperation with Europe as a powerful partner for acting together to achieve global peace and prosperity, in the “diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the word map” that Japan advances.