VISIT BY MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS YOHEI KONO TO SINGAPORE, INDONESIA, AND EAST TIMOR
May 8, 2000
Minister for Foreign Affairs Yohei Kono visited the Republic of Singapore, the Republic of Indonesia, and East Timor from April 28 to May 2. The following is a summary and assessment of the visit.
In Singapore and Indonesia, Minister for Foreign Affairs Kono's objectives were to exchange views on the respective bilateral relationships and regional situations and to explain Japan's the view on the upcoming G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit as well as desire to reflect Asia's perspectives at the Summit and to ascertain the two countries' views based on that of Japan. In East Timor, as the first Japanese Cabinet minister to pay a visit, Foreign Minister Kono aimed at reiterating Japan's commitment to continue supporting East Timor's independence and nation-building efforts as much as possible. His tour of the city of Dili was to gain insights on ways Japan can offer future reconstruction and development assistance.
2. Visit to the Republic of Singapore (April 29 and May 1)
Foreign Minister Kono visited Singapore ahead of his Indonesia and East Timor -visits as well as after these visits, meeting both Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Foreign Minister S. Jayakumar twice on separate occasions.
With regard to regional situations, Foreign Minister Kono explained the achievements of his visits to Indonesia and East Timor and exchanged views with the Singaporean leaders. Specifically, he reached an agreement in principle with Foreign Minister Jayakumar on assistance to human resources development in East Timor under the framework of the Japan-Singapore Partnership Program for the 21st Century (JSPP21). With regard to the bilateral relationship, the two Ministers confirmed the state of progress of a study group on a Japan-Singapore free trade agreement.
As for the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit, Foreign Minister Kono explained the three pillars of themes -- greater prosperity, deeper peace of mind, and a greater world stability -- while the Singaporean leaders pointed out that issues to be explored should include the expansion of trade and investment, global financial system, and a falling birthrate.
3. Visit to the Republic of Indonesia (April 29)
Foreign Minister Kono met with President Abdurrahman Wahid and Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab.
With regard to the bilateral relationship, Foreign Minister Kono announced concrete assistance to the Indonesian Government's efforts to maintain Indonesia's territorial integrity (disbursement of $1 million to the World Food Program (WFP) in response to the U.N. appeal in the Maluku crisis) based on the reconfirmation of continued support for Indonesia's reform efforts on the occasion of President Abdurrahman Wahid's recent visit to Japan. He also pointed out the importance of implementing the Indonesian Government's agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to carry out economic reform and explained Japan's assistance policy (start of preparatory negotiations on an investment protection agreement and consideration of the early implementation of special yen - loans in keeping with the desires of the Indonesian Government). As for the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit, Foreign Minister Kono made detailed explanation of the three pillars of themes, and the Indonesian leaders expressed that issues to be taken up should include drug abuse and arms control and disarmament.
4. Visit to East Timor (April 30)
Foreign Minister Kono met with Sergio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), and Xanana Gusmao, president of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT). He explained Japan's policy of support for East Timor's reconstruction and development, including the early implementation of tangible aid and assistance to human resources development (support through JSPP21 and for East Timorese students in Indonesia). The East Timorese representatives expressed their appreciation for Japan's support measures. Foreign Minister Kono also expressed his intention to raise the issue of East Timor in some form at the Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit. He also met with Japanese aid workers and heard reports of local conditions, and toured the city of Dili to inspect the state of damage and reconstruction (including a visit to an elementary school).
5. Overall Assessment
The main achievements of the visit are as outlined above. It was significant that the foreign Minister had extensive exchanges of views on issues related to the G8 Summit with the leaders of Singapore and Indonesia--two important Southeast Asian countries, -- and that Foreign Minister Kono, chair of the Meeting of Foreign Ministers, was able to directly see the conditions in East Timor. The two separate visits to Singapore also attained significant results, as they enabled the Foreign Minister to complete an initiative of assistance for East Timor through the JSPP21 framework (proposing the idea on the initial visit and reaching agreement in principle on the return visit following up to his East Timor visit).
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