Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Friday, October 12, 2018, 6:05 p.m. Dili, The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: My visit marks the first visit to Timor-Leste by a Japanese Foreign Minister since the country’s restoration of independence. It is the first time since then Minister for Foreign Affairs Yohei Kono visited Timor-Leste in 2000 just before its independence.
For me, personally, this is my second visit to Timor-Leste. I last visited Timor-Leste 17 years ago as a member of the election observation mission in 2001. The cityscape of Dili that I saw from the car window was totally different from when I last came. I am happy to see the progress of its development.
Japan has made significant contributions to the development of Timor-Leste since its independence, including the dispatch of civilian police officers and engineering units of the Self-Defense Forces to the peacekeeping operation (PKO).
I also saw firsthand that Japan was subsequently able to contribute to the growth of Timor-Leste’s economy through various official development assistance (ODA) projects.
Minister of State of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers Pereira is currently the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. Minister Pereira and I shared the view that our two countries will enhance bilateral cooperation in a variety of areas, such as politics and security, economy and infrastructure, tourism, people-to-people exchanges and human resources development, and maritime issues, as well as strengthen collaboration on regional and international issues.
In particular, with regard to human resources development, following our meeting, Minister Pereira and I signed an exchange of notes regarding scholarships to enable young government officials from Timor-Leste to study at Japanese graduate schools.
In the economic and infrastructure sectors, a short while ago I attended the inauguration ceremony of the Hinode Bridge in upper Comoro River and welcomed the opening of the bridge.
We shared the view that concrete cooperation would be advanced in the maritime area under a trilateral consultation framework comprised of Japan, Timor-Leste, and Indonesia.
We confirmed cooperation on realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific.
In addition, Minister Pereira expressed support for Osaka’s bid to host the World Expo 2025, for which I am very grateful.
I then paid a courtesy call on President Lu-Olo and Prime Minister Ruak, respectively.
I also attended the inauguration ceremony of the Comoro Bridge or Hinode Bridge, which was held in the presence of Prime Minister Ruak. I expect that the Hinode Bridge over Comoro River will serve as a foundation for the economic activities of Timor-Leste and strengthen connectivity.
This evening, I will attend a dinner hosted by Minister Pereira. Tomorrow, I will visit the Port of Dili and a national hospital.
Reporter: Japan is advancing the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy with priority, as was mentioned in your remarks. Could you please explain what outcomes you expect from strengthening the relationship between Japan and Timor-Leste?
Minister Kono: Timor-Leste is a precious partner of Japan sharing common values, including freedom, democracy, and fundamental human rights. I expect that the strengthening of Timor-Leste’s maritime law enforcement capabilities and having Timor-Leste as a partner for implementing anti-piracy measures and securing a free and open maritime order will also contribute to the stability and prosperity of this region.
To this end, Japan will make contributions in the areas of Timor-Leste’s human resources development, personnel contributions, and strengthening of connectivity.