Sharing fundamental values such as democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, Japan and Europe are strategic partners with leading roles in fostering the stability and prosperity of international society. It is important for Japan to advance cooperation and further strengthen bilateral relationships with the countries of Europe, notably the United Kingdom (UK), France, Germany, and Italy, which are members of the G8, as a means of strengthening the foundation upon which the international community effectively responds to global issues amidst the current international situation with its numerous elements of instability, including the economic slowdown and recession resulting from the impacts of the financial crisis, and security threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In addition, Japan shares numerous fields and geographical areas of concern with both the European Union (EU), which has increased its influence through advancements in integration and taken an active role in international discussions regarding the issues surrounding Georgia and the financial crisis, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which has undergone changes in its character since the Cold War, expanding its area for fostering peace and stability beyond Europe and the Atlantic region to Afghanistan and other locations. It is important for Japan to further advance its political dialogues and cooperation with these entities at a full range of levels. In addition, Japan is utilizing regional frameworks to move forward with dialogues and cooperation in political and economic fields with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic states.
In June, Prime Minister Fukuda visited Germany, the UK and Italy. In holding substantial consultations with the leaders of these countries and fostering personal relationships of trust, he laid extremely important stepping stones that also contributed to the success of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July. In October, Prime Minister Aso attended the Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 7), where the strengthening of the cooperation between Asia and Europe in addressing the financial crisis was reaffirmed.
Many leading European political figures also visited Japan, including visits at the head of state and government and foreign minister levels of the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and the EU (the Presidency of the Council of the EU and the European Commission) on the occasions of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July and the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting Kyoto in June, confirming cooperation in the area of climate change and various other fields. It is important to deepen favorable Japan-Europe relations into increasingly concrete cooperative relations by continuing to hold close exchanges of views with European countries and institutions.