The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)
Summit Meeting with the Nordic-Baltic 8 (NB8)
On October 17, from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is visiting Milan to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit Meeting, held a meeting with the Nordic-Baltic 8 (NB8) leaders. The overview of the meeting is as follows.
The following participants took part in the meeting:
- Republic of Estonia
- Prime Minister Mr. Taavi Rõivas (Chair, NB8 coordinating country)
- Republic of Finland
- Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Alexander Stubb
- Republic of Latvia
- President Mr. Andris Bērziņš
- Republic of Lithuania
- Prime Minister Mr. Algirdas Butkevičius
- Kingdom of Norway
- Prime Minister Ms. Erna Solberg
- Kingdom of Sweden
- Prime Minister Mr. Stefan Löfven
- Ambassador of Iceland to Italy Ms. Berglind Ásgeirsdóttir (non ASEM member)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Head of Department for Asia, Oceania and Latin America Mr. Christian Dons Christensen
1. Opening remarks
Estonian Prime Minister Rõivas, who served as Chair, said he is pleased to use the important ASEM as an opportunity to hold the NB8 plus Japan Summit Meeting. He stated that Japan is a special partner, and the Northern European region, currently achieving dynamic growth in Europe, wants to cooperate with Japan on various challenges faced by the international community. In response, Prime Minister Abe also welcomed the first Summit Meeting between Japan and the NB8, stating that Japan and the NB8 share fundamental values such as the rule of law, as well as common agendas such as sustainable utilization of the Arctic region, support for active participation by women, and an emphasis on innovation. Prime Minister Abe expressed his view that Japan places a high value on the relationship with the Nordic and Baltic region as part of "diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map," and wants to share knowledge on various challenges and contribute to the international community as "a country that is a forerunner in finding solutions."
2. Regional affairs
- (1) Regarding the situation in Ukraine, the participating countries cited the need to make the peace process decisive, and the necessity for the international community to avert a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and to support the implementation of reform. Prime Minister Abe stated that Japan emphasizes the rule of law, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. He also commented on Japan's assistance measures, and said it will be necessary to continue to respond with both pressure and participation in order to ensure that the peace process moves forward.
- (2) Concerning the East Asia situation, Prime Minister Abe mentioned the three principles relating to "the rule of law at sea" that he proposed at the Shangri-La Dialogue, stating that the international community needs to support the ASEAN's integrated response, and needs to encourage China to comply with international rules and play a more constructive role. The participating countries said that the role that Japan is playing in regional stability, and the role of ASEAN and other fora, are both important.
3. Arctic cooperation
The participating countries shared the view that the Arctic has high potential which is attracting interest from various perspectives, including the environment, energy, transportation, and security, although the region is also environmentally fragile. They confirmed that Japan and the NB8 will cooperate in Arctic issues.
Prime Minister Abe expressed gratitude for support of Japan's participation as an observer at the Arctic Council, and explained that Japan will strengthen international joint research with Nordic and Baltic countries by utilizing Japan's scientific technology.
4. Active participation by women
Prime Minister Abe introduced the "World Assembly for Women in Tokyo: WAW! Tokyo 2014" held last month, and stated he intends to steadily implement the proposals that were agreed to at the event, and to create a global movement supporting active participation by women. The participating countries expressed their views that measures for encouraging the social advancement of women and participation in childrearing by men are needed, and that the role of women needs to be supported through education in developing countries. They confirmed that Japan and the NB8 will deepen cooperation in this field.
5. Innovation (including IT)
The participating countries uniformly cited the importance of innovation, and shared their views that life sciences and technologies are indispensable in aging societies, and that economic growth can be promoted through the public and private sectors working together to advance innovation. Prime Minister Abe stated that the NB8 countries have a comparative advantage in fields such as IT, medical treatment, design of soft power content as represented by Moomin, renewable energy, and tourism resources. Prime Minister Abe also touched on demand for Japanese technologies and goods, and explained that Japan will cooperate on people-to-people exchanges and reciprocal promotions in order to promote mutual understanding among companies and citizens and draw forth the potential of both Japan and the NB8.
Lastly, Prime Minister Rõivas highly appreciated the share of recognition regarding regional affairs and the challenges shared between Japan and the NB8. Additionally, Prime Minister Abe stated that a framework for exchanging views regularly with the NB8 is significant, since NB8 has an influence on shaping international opinion and resolves challenges with unique initiatives. He also pointed out that the NB8 is not a substitute for bilateral relations with each country, but rather, it complements and strengthens those relations. The participating countries confirmed that coordination on the items discussed at the meeting will be strengthened, and that they will work together to resolve the various other challenges shared by the international community.