Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida’s Interview with The Report Mongolia of Oxford Business Group
Mongolia, July 2014
Two of a kind
OBC talks to Fumio Kishida, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Japan
Q. Looking forward, What will be Japan's strategy to developing its ties to Mongolia?
A. As everyone in Mongolia is aware of, many Mongolian sumo wrestlers have had great success in Japan since the 1990s. Mongolia is therefore a country that Japanese people have a great affinity for. Additionally, will never forget that Mongolia has extended warm support to Japan in the wake of natural disasters, including the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Japan highly appreciates that Mongolia, a country bordered by China and Russia, views Japan as its third neighbour and attaches importance to deepening the relationship between our two countries. During Mongolia’s transition to democracy and to a market economy since 1990, Japan, as the largest official development assistance donor, has consistently offered wholehearted support. As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed on the occasion of his visit to Mongolia in March 2013, the Japan-Mongolia relationship is built on the “three spirits of freedom and democracy, peace and mutual benefits. The two countries have developed this relationship based on the common values that we share. To further strengthen good relations, Mongolia and Japan will enhance mutual understanding and trust through multi-layered and strategic dialogue. With this relationship as a linchpin, the two countries will promote cooperation not only bilaterally, but also in regional and international forums.
Q. How will the Mongolia-Japan strategic partnership programme for 2013-2017 affect the bilateral relations between both countries?
A. In 2010, on the occasion of President Ts. Elbegdorj’s visit to Japan, Japanese and Mongolian leaders agreed to strengthen their strategic partnership as a shared diplomatic objective of the two countries. Through Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Mongolia in March 2013 and Prime Minister N. Altankhuyag’s visit to Japan in September 2013, the two governments established the Japan-Mongolia Mid-term Action Plan, which aims to strengthen and develop our partnership as a mutually beneficial and complementary relationship. The two governments affirmed their commitment to implement the programme by 2017.
Japan believes our two governments have successfully laid down a more precise vision for their strategic partnership by giving it greater specificity in the Mid-term Action Plan, which comprises the three pillars of politics and security; the economy; and cultural and people-to-people exchanges. In particular, the development of our economic relations is one of the areas the two countries attach the highest hopes to.
Q. What sectors of Mongolia's economy present greater investment opportunities for Japanese companies?
A. Mongolia has achieved remarkable economic growth supported primarily by the progress in mineral resources development. We think there is great potential for economic cooperation between Japan, a country with world-leading technological capabilities, funds and economic development experience, and Mongolia, a country with a young population, abundant resources, and potential for unlimited growth.
On the occasion of his visit to Mongolia, Prime Minister Abe proposed the Erch Initiative, under which Japan suggested extending cooperation to the investment and business environment. In the Mid-term Action Plan, the section on economic cooperation also articulated items noted in the Erch Initiative, namely, cooperation in areas such as the environment, mineral resource and infrastructure. In addition, items regarding cooperation in wide-ranging areas, such as finance, tourism, disaster management, agriculture and livestock, were incorporated into the Plan. Japan expects that bilateral trade will expand through the steady implementation of the plan and through the improvements in the two countries’ investment environment, driven by initiatives such as the Japan-Mongolia Economic Partnership Agreement currently under negotiation.