Japan-EU Relations

January 20, 2015
Meeting between Minister Kishida and Mr. Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of European Commission 1
Meeting between Minister Kishida and Mr. Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of European Commission 2

On January 19, from 5:20 p.m. to 6:05 p.m. (local time), Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was on his visit to Brussels, held a meeting with Mr. Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission. It must be noted that although First Vice-President Timmermans had formerly served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and known Minister Kishida then, this is the first meeting between them since Mr. Timmermans’ appointment as the First Vice-President on November 1 last year. An overview of the meeting is as follows:

1. Beginning

Minister Kishida congratulated Mr. Timmermans on his appointment as the First Vice-President, and also stated that he was pleased to meet him again since the NPDI Ministerial Meeting held in April last year. Moreover, Minister Kishida stated that Japan had pledged never to wage a war again based on the reflection of the past World War, had made a great contribution to the peace, stability and prosperity of the international society as a peace-loving nation over the 70 years since the end of the war, and Japan’s orientation as a peace loving country would never sway. Minister Kishida also stated that the European Union (EU) is a credible and important partner with whom Japan can act together and that Japan would closely cooperate to further strengthen Japan-EU relationship under the new administration.

In response to the above, First Vice-President Timmermans congratulated Minister Kishida on his reappointment as the Minister for Foreign Affairs and stated that his visit to Hiroshima for the NPDI Ministerial Meeting was one of his most important memories of his days as the foreign minister of the Netherlands. Also, he stated he had carefully read Prime Minister Abe’s message, which was delivered at the beginning of this year, which marks the 70th year of end of the World War II. He continued by affirming that Japan and the EU share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, rule of law, and human rights and that such fundamental values should be protected together.

2. Japan-EU relationship

A. Minister Kishida and First Vice-President Timmermans confirmed that based on the agreement between leaders in the 22nd Japan-EU Summit Meeting held last May, concrete follow-ups had been implemented in the fields of security, economy and global issues and at the same time shared the view that they would promptly arrange the date with a view of holding the Meeting in the first half of this year.

B. Regarding the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), Minister Kishida stated that, as agreed in the Japan-EU Summit Meeting held last November, he wished to accelerate negotiations together, aiming to reach agreement in principle during this year.  In response to this, First Vice-President Timmermans stated that the Japan-EU EPA is important not only from a trade perspective but also from a viewpoint of the strategic partnership and that he intended to make efforts from that angle.

C. Moreover, Minister Kishida stated that the Japan-EU Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA), which will form a foundation for further strengthening the broad-ranging cooperation, is important to render the Japan-EU relationship more enduring and high level, and wish to work together with the EU for an early conclusion of the SPA.

D. In addition, Minister Kishida requested the EU to ease and lift restrictions on food imports from Japan, on a scientific basis, which have been maintained since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

3. Regional and international situation

Minister Kishida and First Vice-President Timmermans exchanged frank views on the situation in Asia, Russia and Ukraine. In regards to the situation in Ukraine, Minister Kishida highly appreciated the EU’s efforts for the settlement of the Ukraine issue, and efforts for reform and economic modernization of Ukraine and stated that the Government of Japan would actively work on the situation , emphasizing the unity of G7 and in collaboration with the EU.

In response to this, giving an explanation on the efforts by the EU, First Vice-President Timmermans stated that the EU would like to continue its cooperation with Japan.

Back to Japan-EU Relations