Foreign Minister Motegi Visits Uruguay
On January 6, commencing at 3:00 p.m. local time (3:00 a.m. on January 7 Japan time) for approximately one hour and thirty minutes, Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, who is currently visiting Uruguay, held a meeting with H. E. Mr. Francisco Bustillo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay. Following this, at 5:00 p.m., (5:00 a.m. on January 7 Japan time), he paid a courtesy call to H. E. Mr. Luis Lacalle Pou, President of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, for 30 minutes. Additionally, prior to the meeting and courtesy call, at 11:30 a.m. on the same day (11:30 p.m. on January 6 Japan time), Minister Motegi also held a 20-minute discussion with officials from the Organizing Committee for the Centennial of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and Uruguay and with the President of the Japanese Association of Uruguay. The overview of these meetings is as follows.
During this visit, describing Uruguay as a model for values such as democracy can take root and as a promoter of free trade, Minister Motegi affirmed that he would use the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Uruguay as an opportunity to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries, with a view to maintaining and strengthening a free and open international order based on the rule of law.
1. Meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Bustillo
- (1) At the outset, Minister Motegi said that he was very pleased to visit Uruguay on the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the first visit by a Japanese Foreign Minister to Uruguay in 35 years. He added that he hoped to further promote exchanges between the two countries with a wide range of events to mark the centenary, including the planting of cherry trees and the issuing of commemorative stamps. In response, Minister Bustillo extended his welcome and expressed his hope that the 100th anniversary celebration would be an opportunity to forge even closer relations between the two countries over the next 100 years.
- (2) Minister Motegi said that Japan-Uruguay relations have been broadening and developing in such areas as culture and the economy, partly due to the fact that Uruguayans of Japanese descent (Nikkeis) have served as a “bridge” between the two peoples. He also referred to the need to further improve the business environment, including the development of legal frameworks, such as via the signing of a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement on the day. Minister Bustillo stated that economic relations with Japan have grown markedly closer, including the start of reciprocal exports of beef. He also welcomed the activities of Japanese companies and expressed his appreciation for Japan’s support to date, including measures to combat the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
- (3) The two ministers also exchanged views on the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), North Korea, and the situation in the East and South China Seas. Stating that Uruguay serves as an exemplary model for how the fundamental values that the countries share can take root, they affirmed that they would work together for a free and open international order based on the rule of law. Minister Motegi also asked for understanding and cooperation in achieving a swift resolution of the abduction issue, for which Minister Bustillo offered his support.
- (4) Following the meeting, the two ministers signed the Japan-Uruguay Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement, which stipulates that the customs authorities of the two countries will provide reciprocal support for trade facilitation measures and effective border control. They also unveiled a logo to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japan-Uruguay diplomatic relations, designed with motifs from each country’s national flag.
2. Courtesy Call to President Luis Lacalle Pou
- (1) At the outset, Minister Motegi said that although the two countries are far apart in terms of physical distance, they are important partners who share fundamental values, with a long history of friendship. He said that from the standpoint of his involvement in trade issues, he was personally deeply moved at being able to visit the country where the Uruguay Round of the GATT was launched. In response, President Lacalle Pou welcomed Minister Motegi’s visit to Uruguay on the centenary of Japan-Uruguay diplomatic relations, and stated his intention to use this opportunity to further strengthen bilateral relations.
- (2) Minister Motegi expressed his respect for Uruguay’s progress in becoming one of the leading free and open economies in Latin America, saying that he hoped to continue working together to promote free trade and to develop commerce and investment. President Lacalle Pou responded by stating that he would like to further strengthen economic and trade relations with Japan.
- (3) Minister Motegi explained Japan’s FOIP initiative and stated that he would like work together for a free and open international order based on the rule of law. He also asked for understanding and cooperation in achieving a swift resolution to the abduction issue, for which President Lacalle Pou offered his support.
3. Meetings with Chairman Hodara of the Organizing Committee for the Centennial of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and Uruguay and President Koki Kunizawa of the Japanese Association of Uruguay
- (1) Minister Motegi expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the organizing committee in planting cherry trees and other commemorative projects, and expressed his respect for the contributions of people of Japanese descent in overcoming various difficulties and hardships to serve as a “bridge” for the development of Uruguay and the promotion of friendship and trust between the two countries.
- (2) Chairman Hodara and President Kunizawa expressed their fullest thanks for Minister Motegi’s visit. Afterwards, they celebrated the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Uruguay, and exchanged opinions on how to boost bilateral relations in a wide range of areas, including politics, the economy, and culture, for the next 100 years.