Japan-Laos Relations

Japan-Lao PDR Summit Meeting and Lunch Hosted by Prime Minister Abe

May 28, 2016

On May 28, commencing at 1:00 p.m. for approximately 30 minutes, Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, held a Japan- Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) Summit Meeting, which continued on to a working lunch at approximately 2:30 p.m. with H.E. Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of the Lao PDR , who is on a working visit to Japan. The overview of the meeting is as follows.

1. Opening remarks

Prime Minister Abe started the meeting by congratulating Prime Minister Thongloun on his appointment as Prime Minister, and thanking him for starting off the discussions at the G7 Summit Outreach Meeting as the ''top batter'' from the standpoint of an ASEAN presidency holder and contributing to the success of the Outreach Meeting. Prime Minister Abe then stated that he sincerely welcomes this official visit to Japan by Prime Minister Thongloun, intends to cooperate with Prime Minister Thongloun in order to rapidly develop Japan-Lao PDR relations, and hopes that his visit to Lao PDR for an ASEAN-related summit meeting in September will be made an official visit and that Japan and Lao PDR can thereby further strengthen relations.       

In response, Prime Minister Thongloun thanked Prime Minister Abe for the invitation to the G7 Ise-Shima Summit Outreach Meeting, commented that he is honored Prime Minister Abe has taken time out his busy schedule to hold this summit meeting, and expressed his congratulations on the fact that the Summit ended in success under the leadership of Prime Minister Abe. Prime Minister Thongloun also stated that although this is his first appointment as prime minister, he hopes to further promote the traditionally friendly relations between Lao PDR and Japan, and he expressed his condolences on behalf of the government and people of between Lao PDR regarding the victims of the Kumamoto earthquakes.  

Prime Minister Abe thanked Prime Minister Thongloun for his condolences regarding the Kumamoto earthquakes.

2. Bilateral relations

Economics and development cooperation relations

Next, Prime Minister Thongloun stated that he hopes the Strategic Partnership with Japan will be deepened, and conveyed his profound appreciation for the Official Development Assistance (ODA) that the Government of Japan has provided Lao PDR thus far. Prime Minister Thongloun also mentioned that Lao PDR will agree to the formulation of the ''Japan-Laos Joint Development Cooperation Plan,'' and expressed his gratitude regarding the fact that Japan is carrying out the Japan-Mekong Connectivity Initiative and has announced the ''Initiative for Expanding the Export of High-Quality Infrastructure'' amounting to approximately 200 billion dollars. Prime Minister Thongloun then pointed out that Japan, as the largest donor of ODA for many years, has assisted with development in Lao PDR, and asked for the continuation of such assistance. Prime Minister Thongloun added that he is happy about the recent entry into force of the Air Services Agreement, and welcomes the attendance of Prime Minister Abe to the ASEAN-related summit meeting this September. 

In response, Prime Minister Abe stated that as demonstrated by the agreement to establish a ''Strategic Partnership'' between Japan and Lao PDR last year, Japan is focusing very closely on Lao PDR, which is located at the center of the Mekong Region, and strengthening regional connectivity will be key for development. Prime Minister Abe added that Japan has announced the ''Initiative for Expanding the Export of High-Quality Infrastructure'' amounting to a total of approximately 200 billion dollars, and intends to cooperate with Lao PDR in this regard.               

Furthermore, Prime Minister Abe commented that Japan will support the development of institutions and human resources based on the Japan-Mekong Connectivity Initiative, and this month, Japan will begin supporting the Project for the Construction of Bridges in the East-West Economic Corridor. In addition, Prime Minister Abe stated that Japan has recently decided to assist with study abroad programs for young government officials of Lao PDR, and he is looking forward to the establishment of direct flights based on the entry into force of the Air Services Agreement.

3. Cooperation in the region and international arena

Over lunch, the two leaders exchanged frank opinions concerning cooperation in the region and international arena, in relation to the South China Sea, North Korea, and so on. Prime Minister Abe commented that since Lao PDR is serving as the presidency holder of ASEAN this year, Japan is focusing very closely on ASEAN unity. Prime Minister Abe then conveyed his hopes regarding the leadership of Prime Minister Thongloun and expressed a message of full support for Prime Minister Thongloun going forward.           

Prime Minister Thongloun responded by stating that he appreciates Japan's support for Lao PDR as the presidency holder, and pointed out that the ASEAN Community was established just last year. He added that the unity of ASEAN is important, and in light of this, Lao PDR will closely exchange opinions with all of the countries concerned, and work hard for the building of agreements that are acceptable to all of the relevant countries.

4. Other

Lastly, Prime Minister Abe commented that he expects that the Laos Festival, which will be held in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo starting on May 28, will provide an opportunity to deepen understanding regarding Lao PDR, and is looking forward to meeting with Prime Minister Thongloun once again in Lao PDR in September. 

In response, Prime Minister Thongloun commented that he is looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Abe to Lao PDR in September.