Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko

Sunday, May 5, 2024, 6:52 p.m. Nepal (Kathmandu)

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs: After visiting three African countries and France, I visited two Southwest Asian countries in closing of this overseas visit. First, I would like to provide an overview of my visits to Sri Lanka and Nepal, followed by a review of this overseas visit.

In these visits to Southwest Asia, I aimed for an opportunity to translate this visit to strengthening Japan’s contribution to sustainable development of the region. In addition, we shared recognition on cooperation in the international arena and global issues, including regional affairs, Women, Peace and Security (WPS), UN Security Council reform, and disarmament.

In Sri Lanka, I paid a courtesy call on the President and the Prime Minister, and held a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. On debt issues, I stressed the importance of debt restructuring in a transparent and comparable manner, and explained the outlook for resuming yen loans. In addition, while visiting Colombo Port, where many people and goods have passed through since long ago, I expressed that the Government of Japan will support the port’s continued development as an independent key junction of transportation hub by providing vessel equipped with sonar to be used for compiling maritime chart and the like.

In Nepal, I also paid a courtesy call on the President and the Prime Minister, and held a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. I conveyed that Japan will continue to support Nepal’s sustainable development. Specifically, we concurred that the two countries will work together to start to use the Nagdhunga Tunnel, first tunnel in Nepal. We also concurred to create momentum toward the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Nepal in 2026.

This is not widely known, but Japan and Sri Lanka have a long history of friendly relations. For example, at the San Francisco Peace Conference, Sri Lanka’s representative encouraged Japan’s reentry into the international community by quoting Buddha. Furthermore, Nepalese students have been studying in Japan since 120 years ago. By visiting Nepal and Sri Lanka, I truly felt that friendship backed by such accumulated history is what links Japan with Southwest Asia and forms a strong bond between us.

During this overseas visit, underlying consistent themes were the economy, maritime affairs, and connectivity, I visited three countries in Africa, two in Southwest Asia, as well as France, where the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting was held. I focused on diplomacy as a bridge between the Global South and like-minded countries including the G7.

To give a specific example, each country expressed strong interest in the situations in Ukraine, the Middle East, and East Asia. They also candidly expressed their views on what the international community should do, with the recognition that each of themselves will inevitably be affected by international conflicts. I stated that peace is indispensable for the basis for economic development, that modern international conflicts affect us no matter where they occur, and that we must address them while adopting a holistic perspective.

In addition, I heard from people working overseas, including those involved with Japanese companies, who reminded me of the importance of creating regional hubs for the sake of enhancing economy and connectivity. By focusing on universities, hospitals, ports, and libraries, we need ideas and energy to develop advanced initiatives into an integrated and expanded effort, rather than leave them as individual, separate efforts.

This is the perspective from which we would like to roll out initiatives, including concretizing the work of the officials in charge of cross-border economic affairs whose appointment I announced prior to this visit, as well as the creation of entry points to disseminate information and promote understanding of Japan through libraries, which was inspired by my visit to a municipal library in Madagascar. These ideas at the local level would not have been possible without personally witnessing actual conditions and hearing from the people there.

On this visit, I visited countries located at the nexus of sea and land along a wide arc of the Indian Ocean. Through these visits, I truly felt the significance of expanding the spirit of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) that is based on the rule of law. Acting on the trust we have built with these countries, I would like to promote diplomacy that only Japan can do in order to lead the international community toward peace and development.

That is all from me.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: In your visits to Africa and Southwest Asia, you deepened ties with Global South countries in areas including the economy and maritime affairs. China is likewise bolstering its influence in developing countries. Through the series of Foreign Ministers’ Meetings, please tell us what role you felt Japan is expected to play in relations with the Global South, as well as what challenges felt Japan faces in this regard.

Minister Kamikawa: During this visit, I held discussions with foreign ministers and other officials from Africa and Southwest Asia on the importance of democracy and a free and open international order based on the rule of law. On the basis of these, we concurred that we will make efforts together for sustainable development, regional peace and stability, and addressing global challenges.

Through the series of meetings, Japan has reaffirmed the importance of advancing multifaceted diplomacy that emphasizes diversity, inclusiveness, and connectivity, while meticulously addressing the challenges that the countries of the Global South face.

As the international community is becoming more divided and confrontational, it is extremely important to deepen our involvement in the Global South in this manner. In this context, I believe that I could deliver this powerful message through my visits to three African countries and two in Southwest Asia.

Reporter: Japan announced plans to deepen cooperation with Sri Lanka on maritime safety, including by providing vessel equipped with sonar. Sri Lanka is located at a strategic point on the sea lanes. What sense of crisis do you feel about current maritime affairs? Nepal, on the other hand, is a landlocked country. What importance did you feel that deepening friendly relations with Nepal through this visit has for Japan’s diplomatic strategy?

Minister Kamikawa: As the international community is becoming more divided and confrontational, maintaining and strengthening the free and open international maritime order based on the rule of law has become a major issue. In addition, risks including natural disasters and ocean environment conservation have arisen in recent years.

In this perspective, Japan is making efforts toward the realization of the FOIP. Cooperation in maritime security is an important element, one part of which is providing Sri Lanka with sonar-equipped vessels. In the future, we will actively engage in cooperation toward strengthening connectivity in areas including the law of the sea, the rule of law, and distribution.

The autonomous development of Nepal, a landlocked country located between the great powers of India and China, will contribute to stability across the entire region. Japan has supported Nepal’s development, keeping this in mind for a long time.

In 2026, Nepal will graduate from being a Least Developed Country (LDC). That same year, Japan and Nepal will mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Japan will take these opportunities to further develop our relationship with Nepal while supporting its efforts to build a resilient society.

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