Minister Kishida’s Visit to Spain (Overview)
On Tuesday, January 7 and Wednesday, January 8, Minister Kishida paid an official visit to Spain, the first foreign country he visited this year, to mark the 400th Anniversary of Japan-Spain Relations. He held a Japan-Spain foreign ministers meeting with H.E. Mr. García-Margallo, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and attended a working dinner with him. He had also an audience with His Majesty the King Juan Carlos, and paid a courtesy call to President of the Government of Spain Rajoy. An overview of these events is as follows:
1． Foreign ministers’ meeting, and working dinner (January 7)
(1) At the beginning of the meeting, Minister Kishida stated the purposes of his visit to Spain:
(i) He chose Spain as the first destination of his visits to foreign countries this year to mark the 400th Anniversary of Japan-Spain Relations;
(ii) As we now see quite active exchanges of visits of very important persons between the two countries, especially the visit of His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Japan to Spain, and that of President of the Government Rajoy to Japan last year, we would like to maintain this momentum;
(iii) A joint statement by the leaders of Japan and Spain released last October serves as a guideline for the bilateral relationship for the five years ahead, and Japan is going to work for steady implementation of the statement. This visit constitutes the achievement of a cooperation contained in the statement; and
(iv) Thanks to the cooperation of Spain, Japan participated in the Ibero-American Summit last year as an observer. Japan would like to develop more in-depth cooperation with Spain concerning Central and South America.
(2) Politics and security
Minister Kishida explained, among others, proactive contribution to peace under the Abe administration, the National Security Council set up last December, the National Security Strategy, and the new National Defense Program Guidelines, stating that cooperation with Europe, especially Spain, is important when Japan implements these security policy programs. Minister García-Margallo expressed his understanding.
(3) Cooperation for Central and South America
When Minister Kishida commented that emerging markets in Central and South America were rapidly developing, and that what is essential for both Japan and Spain is to capture the potential benefits of their economic growth, Minister García-Margallo responded that he was quite glad to see steady development of dialogues between Japan and Spain at their diplomatic missions abroad in Central and South America, and further in Asia and the Middle East.
(4) Economy (Japan and Spain, and EU)
Minister García-Margallo explained Spain’s recent efforts for economic reform. In response, Minister Kishida welcomed the Rajoy administration’s strong pursuit of a range of economic reforms resulting in improvement of the Spanish economy.
For the Japan-EU EPA, the regular Japan-EU Summit held in November reached an agreement to aim at a comprehensive and high-level EPA. Minister Kishida invited Minister García-Margallo to confirm strong commitment to achieving such partnership. Minister García-Margallo responded that he hoped for progress to be made in negotiations both for the EPA and SPA, and that, as stated in the conclusion of the regular Japan-EU Summit, he expected ambitious agreements to be concluded.
(5) Situations in East Asia
(i) In terms of East Asian situations, Foreign Minister Kishida explained about Japan-China relations, North Korea, and Prime Minister Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.
(ii) In terms of North Korea, Minister Kishida, stating that Japan will never accept its nuclear capability and that the country should faithfully and completely implement a series of resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, asked Spain for its understanding of, and cooperation in, the abduction problem as it is a serious issue concerning the sovereignty of Japan and life and safety of its people. Minister García-Margallo said Spain supports the position of Japan and has the same idea as Japan.
(6) Cooperation concerning the Security Council
Minister Kishida also explained efforts Japan had so far exerted for reform of the Security Council, and, mentioning Japan’s intention to make continued efforts, asked Spain for its cooperation and support. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation García-Margallo stated his country endorses efforts to reform the Security Council.
2． Courtesy visit to Prime Minister Rajoy (January 8)
(1) At the beginning, Foreign Minister Kishida expressed his pleasure at visiting Spain as the first destination of his visits to foreign countries this year on the 400th Anniversary of Japan-Spain Relations, stating he was greatly pleased to see quite active exchanges of visits of very important persons between the two countries all through the memorial year, especially the visit of His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Japan to Spain, and that of the President of Government Rajoy to Japan last year. He also referred to the significance of the foreign ministers’ meeting the previous day, where the foreign ministers had confirmed follow-up to the joint statement released by the two countries’ leaders during the President of the Government Rajoy’s visit to Japan.
(2) President of the Government Rajoy responded to Minister Kishida by welcoming Minister Kishida’s visit to Spain, stating that it was a great honor to accept his visit as his first destination this year, that his visit to Japan last year had been of great significance, and that he appreciated the successful visit of His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Japan to his country.
(3) Minister Kishida, mentioning this was his first visit to a foreign state after Japan having set up the National Security Council and formulated the National Security Strategy, stated that cooperation with Spain is important especially in Japan’s pursuit of proactive contribution to peace based on the principle of international cooperation.
(4) Minister Kishida stated the ongoing recovery of the Spanish economy is helpful to the global economy, showing respect to the President of the Government Rajoy for his leadership. He added that, especially for making growth of both Japan and Spain steadier and more robust, cooperation between the two countries in renewable energy and other fields, and concerning Central and South America, should be further deepened as agreed by the two leaders before.
(5) President of the Government Rajoy, expressing his pleasure in seeing Japan and Spain exchange opinions through their embassies, especially those in Central and South America, stated that cooperation between the two countries is of great significance. He also explained about initiatives Spain had been engaged in for recovery of its economy.
(6) Prime Minister Rajoy and Minister Kishida also shared the view that Japan and Spain would work together for an early conclusion of negotiations on the Japan-EU EPA, and confirmed their shared position on the North Korea problem. Lastly, Prime Minister Rajoy extended a cordial invitation to Prime Minister Abe, expressing his expectations of a visit to Spain by Prime Minister Abe.
3． Audience with His Majesty the King Juan Carlos (January 8)
(The audience was also attended by His Royal Highness the Prince of Asturias.)
(1) At the beginning, His Majesty the King Juan Carlos, welcoming Foreign Minister Kishida on his visit to Spain on the 400th Anniversary of Japan-Spain Relations, a memorial year, expressed his hope for an ever-growing relationship between the two countries.
(2) His Royal Highness the Prince of Asturias commented that the visit of His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Japan to Spain was a wonderful event, which greatly impressed people in Spain, adding that he himself also looked forward to visiting Japan this year.
(3) Foreign Minister Kishida stated that Spain is the first destination of his visits to foreign countries this year, the 400th Anniversary of Japan-Spain Relations. He also expressed his gratitude to His Majesty and His Royal Highness for their cordial reception of His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Japan on his visit to Spain last year, commenting that the long and close friendship between the imperial and royal families is of tremendous value to the bilateral relationship. Minister Kishida, referring to the commitment reached by the governments of Japan and Spain during the visit of President of the Government Rajoy to Japan last year that they should promote mutual exchanges between young people, the bearers of the future and interchanges in academic fields, tourism, and sports, said that cooperation would be promoted in fields in which Japan and Spain have strengths, especially renewable energy, medical services, and infrastructure.
4． Other events
Minister Kishida was interviewed by El PAÍS,one of the most influential newspapers in Spain, and TVE, a state-run broadcasting station. He also visited the exhibition Japonism, held as one of the commemorative projects celebrating the 400th Anniversary of Japan-Spain Relations.