Joint Press Statement on Japan-Lao PDR Summit Meeting
- Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, and Prime Minister of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Bouasone Bouphavanh, held a summit meeting in Tokyo on May 14, 2007.
- Recalling the half century of friendly relations between the two countries, the two leaders discussed how to further strengthen the bilateral relationship and address regional and global challenges together.
- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reaffirmed the importance of the fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, basic human rights, rule of law and good governance for the long-term economic prosperity. Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh praised Japan's role as a pacifist country after World War II including Japan's assistance to Lao PDR and supported Japan's active role in the international arena. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appreciated Lao PDR's support for Japan on various international issues.
Cooperation for Strengthening the Bilateral Relationship
- Recalling the "Japan-Mekong Region Partnership Program", the two leaders shared the view that Japan's Official Development Assistance and the trade and investment by the Japanese private sector were important for the sustainable economic growth of Lao PDR. Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh expressed his deep gratitude to Japan's assistance to Lao PDR and reiterated his determination to further advance economic reforms for the economic prosperity of Lao PDR, emphasizing the importance of its ownership.
- Recognizing the key role investment plays in promoting development, Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh expressed his strong commitment to achieving a favorable investment environment in Lao PDR, including a fair application of regulations. In this regard, the two leaders decided to accelerate the negotiation on the bilateral investment agreement to realize its early conclusion and announced the launching of a "Japan-Lao PDR Public and Private Dialogue" by the end of this year.
- Recalling "Japan's Country Assistance Program for the Lao PDR", the two leaders acknowledged that Lao PDR needs to improve basic socio-economic infrastructure, poverty reduction and capacity building. In the context, the two leaders welcomed the fact that the two countries would be able to sign and exchange Notes on the Project for the Construction of Hinheub Bridge and the Project for Human Resource Development Scholarship on May 16. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his intention to continue assistance to Lao PDR in these fields and announced that Japan decided to provide the UXO Lao office and the Mines Advisory Group with approximately one million USD through Japan ASEAN Integration Fund to clear the unexploded ordnance which constitutes obstacles to development in Lao PDR.
- The two Prime Ministers shared the view that a more integrated regional economy would contribute to the sustainable development of Lao PDR. Regarding this, Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh highly valued Japan's support for the Mekong Region Development under the Japan-Mekong Region Partnership Program, including assistance for the East-West Economic Corridor that was almost completed by the opening of the "Second Mekong Friendship Bridge" and for the "Development Triangle". He also emphasized the importance of infrastructure development and foreign direct investment for the salient economic development of the Lao PDR, expressing his strong wish and commitment to develop Special Economic Zone in other areas besides Savannakhet to make full use of the Second Mekong Friendship Bridge and highways under East-West Economic Corridor framework. He also stated the Lao Government's commitment to most effectively use the infrastructure built under Japan's aid by promoting such reforms as the harmonization of customs procedures and the mutual recognition of vehicles for cross-border transportation.
- The two leaders also emphasized the importance of an enhanced integration of Lao economy into the world economy. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his support of Lao PDR's accession to the World Trade Organization.
- Recognizing that mutual understanding is a basis for a close relationship between the two countries, the two leaders confirmed their willingness to have more frequent high-level visits and to strengthen policy dialogue at senior official levels. In this regard, the two Prime Ministers decided on an early conclusion of the mutual visa exemption for diplomatic passport holders. The two leaders also stressed the importance of people to people contact, including youth exchanges, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that Japan would aim to invite 1,000 Lao youth to Japan in the coming five years under various programs including the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) Program. The two Prime Ministers expressed their hope that Lao students who have studied in Japan or learned Japanese would play a more active role in various fields in Lao PDR. In this context, Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh valued Japan's positive consideration of the Project for the Construction of Lao-Japan Budo Center for the purpose of the promotion of the Japanese traditional sports "Budo", and also expressed his intention to utilize effectively the Budo Center in various occasions including the SEA GAMES 2009.
- The two leaders shared the view that an increase in tourists from Japan to Lao PDR would contribute to enhancing mutual understanding as well as to the development of Lao PDR. In this context, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe valued the Lao Government's decision to extend the visa exemption for Japanese visitors staying for a short period in Lao PDR. Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh announced sending a high-level mission to explore establishing a Lao tourism promotion office in Japan.
Cooperation for addressing regional and global challenges
- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appreciated efforts of Lao PDR as the country coordinator for ASEAN-Japan Dialogue Relations and expressed his support for the establishment of ASEAN Community by 2015 and its pivotal role in the regional cooperation in East Asia. Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh expressed his appreciation for Japan's continued support for ASEAN integration through narrowing development gaps among ASEAN members as well as Japan's initiative in regional cooperation in partnership with ASEAN including under the framework of the East Asia Summit. Furthermore, the two Prime Ministers welcomed the recent progress in the negotiation of the ASEAN Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, in particular the fact that, at the AEM-METI meeting in Brunei, the ASEAN and Japanese Economic Ministers confirmed that ASEAN and Japan mutually accepted the modalities in principle.
- Regarding the situation on the Korean peninsula, the two Prime Ministers shared the view that the agreement reached at the Six-Party Talks on 13 February 2007 should be expeditiously implemented by all parties concerned. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explained his policy to settle the outstanding issues of concern between Japan and DPR Korea including the abduction issue and to advance the negotiations to normalize Japan-DPR Korea relations. Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh expressed his understanding and sympathy toward humanitarian concerns of the Japanese people including the abduction issue and wished that both sides would settle this bilateral issue as soon as possible by peaceful means. Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh expressed his understanding of Japan's efforts regarding this issue in the United Nations.
- The two Prime Ministers expressed their commitments to work together actively towards the realization of the reform of the United Nations, including its Security Council through the expansion of both its permanent and non-permanent membership. In this context, Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh reiterated the Lao PDR's support to Japan's permanent membership in the expanded UN Security Council. He also expressed the Lao PDR's support to Japan's non permanent membership of the Security Council for the term 2009-2010. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his sincere gratitude for the continued support by Lao PDR. He congratulated and welcomed the Lao PDR's election for the Executive Board of the UNDP for the period 2008-2010 and hoped for a close cooperation between the two countries in the Board.
- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe valued Lao PDR's efforts to contain the outbreak of avian influenza and Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh expressed his gratitude for Japan's assistance totaling approximately 400,000 USD through UNICEF and WHO in responding to the appeal launched by the Government of Lao PDR on March 8, 2007.
- Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh expressed his appreciation to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Government and people of Japan for the warm, honored and cordial hospitality extended to him and the Lao delegation.
- Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh extended an invitation to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to visit Lao PDR. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appreciated the invitation and stated that he would consider it at a good opportunity.
Tokyo, May 14, 2007
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