Japan-Panama Summit Meeting
On April 4, commencing at 6:20 p.m. for approximately 35 minutes, Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, held a summit meeting with H.E. Mr. Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez, President of the Republic of Panama, during his official working visit to Japan. The overview of the meeting is as follows. The meeting was attended by Mr. Yasutoshi Nishimura, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Kotaro Nogami, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, among others.
After the summit meeting, the leaders held a joint press announcement. Following that, a banquet hosted by Prime Minister Abe took place in a relaxed atmosphere, and the conversation touched on a broad range of topics relating to the bilateral relationship.
1. Opening remarks
(1) Prime Minister Abe welcomed President Varela’s return to Japan after three years since his previous visit, emphasized that Japan and Panama share universal values and are important partners with a long relationship of 115 years, and stated that Panama is geopolitically important country having the Panama Canal.
(2) In response, President Varela expressed his gratitude for the invitation to Japan. The President agreed that both countries are partners sharing values such as democracy and stated that having met with Prime Minister Abe for five times during his term, bilateral relations were strengthened.
2. Bilateral relations
(1) Prime Minister Abe stated that Japan-Panama economic relations constitute a model for Japan’s efforts to enhance connectivity with Latin America and the Caribbean in a multifaceted manner. Prime Minister Abe expressed Japan’s intention to work with Panama as a partner across the Pacific Ocean based on our shared values.
(2) Prime Minister Abe also conveyed that the commencement of operation of the expanded Panama Canal in 2016 has further increased Panama’s importance for Japan from the perspective of energy security, and expressed his intention to continue close consultations with Panama regarding the use of the Panama Canal, an international public good.
(3)Prime Minister Abe also stated he was glad that the introduction of Japan’s monorail technology was formally decided for the Panama Metro Line 3 project, for which a signing ceremony was held during President Varela’s previous visit to Japan and he requested to continue to support the early start of the project, in order to meet the expectations of the people of Panama.
(4) In response, President Varela welcomed the fact that many Japanese companies have operating in Panama, and stated that they would like to continue working for the efficient and economical operation of the Panama Canal.
(5) President Varela also expressed an appreciation again for Japan’s assistance in the Panama Bay Purification Plan, the Panama Canal Expansion Project, and the Panama Metro Line 3 Project, and stated that he was looking forward to visiting the vehicle for railway manufacturing plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture, which is also the hometown of Prime Minister Abe, tomorrow.
[Reference] Panama Metro Line 3 project
(ⅰ) This project constructs Line 3 connecting the western side of the metropolitan area of Panama and downtown Panama City, by introducing high quality monorail cars and system which have been operated commercially as a fully safe and reliable urban transportation system. The project seeks to improve the urban transportation function of the metropolitan area and reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the objective of contributing to sustainable economic development in Panama.
(ⅱ) Following the Japan-Panama Summit Meeting held during President Varela’s previous visit to Japan (2016), an exchange of notes (E/N) and a loan agreement (L/A) for the ODA loan “Panama Metropolitan Area Urban Transportation Line-3 Development Project” were signed in the presence of the two leaders.
(ⅲ) In August 2018, Hitachi, Ltd, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Ansaldo STS (Hitachi’s subsidiary), as the Nominated Subcontractor, signed an agreement with Metro de Panamá S.A. to be awarded a contract for the monorail cars and system. The agreement was approved by the Cabinet of the Government of Panama.
3. Cooperation in the international arena and regional affairs
(1) The leaders discussed regional affairs, including the North Korea situation. In addition, Prime Minister Abe sought Panama’s understanding and cooperation for the early resolution of the abductions issue and obtained President Varela’s support.
(2) The leaders shared the view that the two countries will deepen their cooperative relationship in the international arena, including United Nations Security Council reform.