Foreign Minister Kishida Visit to Cuba
(Overview and Evaluation)
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, visited Cuba from April 30 to May 3, 2015. The overview and evaluation of the visit is as follows.
2. Overall Evaluation
(1) Through this visit, the first-ever by a Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan-Cuba bilateral relations entered a new level. Minister Kishida conveyed and proposed the following three points.
(i) Initiation of full-fledged grant aid: Minister Kishida stated that provision and development of medical equipment and devices should be the first candidate for grant aid and that surveys in this area will be implemented from the autumn. This initiative was welcomed by the Cuban side.
(ii) Strengthening of economic relations: Both sides confirmed that a public-business sector joint comittee will be established. Accompanying Minister Kishida on this visit to Cuba were approximately 30 representatives of Japanese companies. These representatives attended the meeting with H.E. Mr. Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, Vice-President of the Council of Ministers and directly conveyed their requests relating to development of the business environment.
(iii) Strengthening of cooperation in the international arena: Both sides confirmed the establishment of a "Japan-Cuba Consultation on UN issues".
(2) Courtesy calls on H.E. Mr. Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State and H.E. Mr. Fidel Castro Ruz, former President of the Council of State.
(3) In the meeting with Vice-President Cabrisas (also attended by corporate representatives), the necessity of development of the business environment was conveyed and the two sides agreed on the establishment of a public-business joint commitee.
(4) The Japan-Cuba Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was the third occasion for Minister Kishida to meet with Foreign Minister Rodríguez. Covering issues such as United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reform and North Korea, Minister Kishida engaged in a frank exchange of opinions with the Foreign Minister of Cuba.
(5) Minister Kishida welcomed and expressed support for the developments in United States-Cuba relations, noting that these would contribute to the stability and development of the region. Minister Kishida also noted that Japan has always been actively involved in and supportive of reforms in Cuba and expressed support for the various moves in Cuba that are currently being advanced.
3. Overview of Major Events
(1) Japan-Cuba Foreign Ministers’ Meeting; Luncheon hosted by Foreign Minister Rodriguez
(ⅰ) Minister Kishida expressed his pleasure of meeting with Foreign Minister Rodríguez again. He expressed the wish to elevate Japan-Cuba relations to a new level, and to this end, announced that full-fledged grant aid to Cuba would be initiated, in addition to which he proposed the establishment of a public-business sector joint committee to strengthen economic relations, and the establishment of a "Japan-Cuba Consultation on UN issues" to enhance dialogue on various international issues.
(ⅱ) Foreign Minister Rodríguez stated that the first-ever visit to Cuba by a Japanese foreign minister had served to drive forward bilateral relations. He welcomed the proposals made by Minister Kishida and stated that Cuba seeks to cooperate closely with Japan under a new United Nations dialogue framework.(ⅲ) In addition to the above, the ministers engaged in a frank and wide-ranging exchange of views on bilateral relations and the regional and international situation, including UNSC reform, North Korea as well as disarmament and non-proliferation.
(2) Courtesy calls on H.E. Mr. Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State and H.E. Mr. Fidel Castro Ruz, former President of the Council of State
(ⅰ) Minister Kishida expressed pleasure at being the first-ever Japanese foreign minister to visit Cuba, and conveyed to President Raúl Castro that in his meeting with Foreign Minister Rodríguez it had been agreed that Japan and Cuba will strengthen dialogue and cooperation to elevate bilateral relations to a new level.
(ⅱ) President Raúl Castro welcomed the historic visit to Cuba by Minister Kishida and expressed his intention to broadly strengthen bilateral relations, including economic relations. He referred specifically to various challenges, including the debt issue, the actualization of Cuba’s economic system and United States-Cuba relations.
(ⅲ) Former President Fidel Castro welcomed Minister Kishida and recalled his visit to Japan in 2003, during which he visited Hiroshima, speaking about the damage caused by nuclear weapons. Former President Fidel Castro also raised issues such as disaster prevention and agriculture, in addition to which he noted that Japanese people are extremely hard wokers, Japanese products are outstanding and that Japan and Cuba has always shared friendly relations.
(3) Meeting with H.E. Mr. Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, Vice-President of the Council of Ministers
(ⅰ) Expressing his hope to strengthen economic relations between two countries, Minister Kishida underlined the importance of improving the business environment in Cuba, and the interest in the Mariel Special Economic Development Zone and the new Foreign Investment Law. Minister Kishida also explained that a full-fledged grant aid would be initiated and that the launch of a public-business sector joint comittee had been proposed.
(ⅱ) Expressing their great interest in Cuba, the representatives of Japanese companies in attendance stated that they were ready to accept young engineers and others from Cuba for training, and conveyed to the Cuban side request of Japanese side which will strengthen economic relations.
(ⅲ)Vice-President Cabrisas stated that he was pleased to meet with Minister Kishida again so soon, his visit to Cuba together with a delegation of Japanese companies symbolized the start of a new era, Cuba was committed to strengthening its economic relations with Japan, and that the Cuban people highly appreciated Japan for the high quality of its products and as a country that honored its commitment. Vice-President Cabrisas also welcomed the start of the grant aid and agreed to establish a new framework for dialogue that is suited to the new era.
(4) Other meetings and visits
(ⅱ) (2) Meeting with delegates of Japanese companies
An active exchange of opinions took place with delegation of Japanese companies, concerning the transformation in Japan-Cuba economic relations, the potential of Cuba, the future outlook and business sectors of particular interest.