Japan-Finland Relations

March 10, 2016

On March 10 from 6:50 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, held a Summit meeting with Mr. Sauli Niinistö,President of the Republic of Finland, who is currently visiting Japan. The overview of the meeting is as follows.

The two leaders also issued the “Joint Statement on a Strategic Partnership between Japan and the Republic of Finland as Gateways in Asia and Europe,” which confirmed their intentions to promote strategic cooperation in a wide range of areas, including political and security issues, economy, and the Arctic.

1. Opening Remarks

(1) Prime Minister Abe welcomed the visit by President Niinistö to Japan and commented that Japan placed emphasis on its relation with Finland, which shares universal values such as the rule of law and displays impressive knowledge and results in relation to the active engagement of women in society and other policy areas to which Japan attaches importance. Prime Minister Abe added that Japan was interested in significantly advancing the strategic cooperative relationship between the two countries through President Niinistö’s visit to Japan.

(2) In response, President Niinistö expressed gratitude for the assistance provided by Japan when the Finnish economy faced difficult conditions in the 1990s, and stated that the two countries shared values and ideas, and that he would like to expand cooperation in a wide range of fields, including innovation and technology, based on a strategic partnership.

(3) The two leaders described the relation between Japan and Finland as a “Strategic Partnership as Gateways in Asia and Europe,” and confirmed their intentions to significantly advance cooperative relations in the international community, including in relation to the Arctic.

2. Political and Security Issues

(1) Prime Minister Abe explained the security policies of Japan, and President Niinistö voiced support for Japan’s “Proactive Contribution to Peace” and for Japan assuming a larger role in the international community.

(2) The two leaders confirmed their intentions to share knowledge related to peace-keeping operations (PKO) and agreed to strengthen dialogue and cooperation in the areas of security and defense.

3. Economy

(1) The two leaders confirmed their intentions to cooperate for an early conclusion of negotiations related to the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA).

(2) Both leaders agreed that the two countries could serve as base camps for their respective companies in Asia and Europe. Mentioning the presence of representatives from Finnish companies accompanying the President on his visit to Japan, the two leaders expressed their expectations for the development of cooperation among companies from the two countries.

Additionally, the two leaders agreed that it was important to conclude a Social Security Agreement at the earliest possible time to further improve business conditions and confirmed the importance of reaching an early conclusion of the intergovernmental negotiations on the agreement.

4. Regional Conditions

(1) With regard to North Korea, the two leaders discussed the ballistic missile launches that occurred on the day and strongly condemned this type of behavior by North Korea which gravely undermines the peace and stability of the region and the international community.

(2) Both leaders confirmed that they could not tolerate unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea and South China Sea, and affirmed the importance of the rule of law.

(3) The two leaders also exchanged opinions on Russia, and while they confirmed the necessity of continuing measures against Russia in relation to the situation in Ukraine, they agreed that Russia’s constructive involvement was essential to resolving various issues, including those in the Middle East, and that it was important to continue dialogue with Russia.

Additionally, Prime Minister Abe explained that he planned to visit Russia at an appropriate time and hold discussions with Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, to which President Niinistö responded that he would support Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Russia and direct dialogue with President Putin.

5. Cooperation in the international community

(1) The two leaders confirmed that further utilization of the Northern Sea Route and development of the Barents Region, among other initiatives, could provide significant economic opportunities for both countries, and that they intended to cooperate broadly on issues concerning the Arctic, in areas such as environment and security, in light of Finland's upcoming chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

(2) The two leaders also confirmed their intentions to cooperate in the “NB8 + Japan” framework as a supplement to their bilateral relation.

(3) President Niinistö commented that finding ways to control the influx of refugees to Europe was a very difficult issue. Prime Minister Abe expressed Japan’s solidarity with Europe as a partner sharing fundamental values. He further stated that Japan would make contribution as a responsible member of the international community, and explained Japan’s assistance measures.

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