Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Tuesday, August 14, 2018, 5:20 p.m. Lima, Republic of Peru
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: This was my first visit to Peru since assuming the position of Minister for Foreign Affairs. In addition to a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs Nestor Popolizio, I paid a courtesy call on President Martín Vizcarra. During the meeting, I stated that I would like to continue our traditionally amicable relations under the Vizcarra administration, and would like to cooperate as an important partner for promoting free trade.
Since next year is the 120th anniversary of the systematic immigration of Japanese nationals to Peru, 2019 will be positioned as the Japan-Peru Friendship Year, and we would like to deepen relations between our two countries toward this. As the platform for cultural and artistic aspects, I stated that the first office of the Japan Foundation in the Spanish-speaking countries in South America would be established in Lima.
Japan supports starting the review for Peru’s participation in the OECD. I have expectations that strengthening relations with the OECD would boost Peru’s domestic reform efforts and lead to further improvement of the business environment. I stated that Japanese companies have strong intentions for investment in Peru’s mining sector, and that we would like cooperation with Peru’s industry, government, and academia to make contributions to the development of Peru’s comprehensive disaster prevention, urban transportation infrastructure, etc. President Vizcarra indicated very strong intentions for improving urban transportation, and Japan would like to accelerate cooperation for this.
This year marks the 60th year that Japan began assistance to Peru. Japan has been providing assistance to Peru centered on the areas of economic system infrastructure improvement, correcting disparities, the environment, and disaster prevention, and Peru is now the largest recipient country of Japan’s ODA in Central and South America. Going forward, we would like to firmly implement cooperation that Peru needs.
Also, we confirmed firm cooperation not only in bilateral relations, but also for Security Council reform in the United Nations as well as the issues of nuclear disarmament, North Korea, and Venezuela.
In addition, following the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I received the Order of the Sun of Peru, the highest award in Peru.
Reporter: Talk of the TPP has been touched upon for some time. You have spoken about free trade including the TPP for some time, and I believe Peru is oriented in the same direction. However, amidst the appearance of the trend of protectionism centered on the United States, you have often spoken about promoting free trade, so how will you maintain and protect it? Please tell us if you have anything specific.
Minister Kono: I believe there is no doubt that free trade greatly contributed to the post World War II global economy. Naturally, it was very regrettable that the United States, our partner that was expected to firmly expand that, withdrew from the TPP, but Japan and Peru are cooperating and would first like to have the prompt entrance into force of the TPP11. Within the Pacific Alliance, which Peru assumed the presidency of in July 2018, the remaining Colombia has made a declaration of intention to participate in the TPP, so we would like to firmly strengthen cooperation with the Pacific Alliance in Central and South America. In addition, if the TPP can be brought into force promptly, Thailand and Indonesia in ASEAN as well as the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea have indicated their interest, so we would like to firmly create a wave toward the promotion of free trade through the expansion of the TPP.
Reporter: Peru has the second largest community of people of Japanese descent in Central and South America, and tomorrow you will have talks with the community. What are your thoughts on strengthening Japan’s relations with the countries of Central and South America through cooperation with the Nikkei community?
Minister Kono: The Japanese people and people of Japanese descent who immigrated overcame various hardships and have built up trust in society in the countries of Central and South America. This can also be said for Peru, and I believe it is fine to say that the trust in the societies in Central and South America countries for the Nikkei community is connected to trust in Japan, their original country.
As the Nikkei community’s generations gradually change, Japan would like to support the movement to create networks in the new generation. We can see that the movement by the young generation creates networks for the Nikkei community not only within certain countries, but also cross over country borders. By helping create diverse networks through various invitational programs and social media in each region, we would like to strengthen cooperation between Japan and the Nikkei communities in Central and South American countries, as well as the Nikkei community that crosses over country borders. In addition, I believe the leadership exhibited by the young generation in different fields will build new trust in Japan.