Visit to Japan of Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand
(Outline and Evaluation)
20 April 2001
1. Outline and Evaluation
(1) Between 11 April (Wed) and 16 April (Mon), Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand paid her first official visit to Japan in her capacity as Prime Minister.
(2) During her visit, Prime Minister Clark held meetings with Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and Minister for Foreign Affairs Yohei Kono among others, and visited Fukuoka and Hiroshima Prefectures, and the city of Osaka, where she immersed herself in a busy schedule, meeting with and exchanging views with a variety of political and business leaders.
(3) The visit by Prime Minister Clark was significant in that it was recognized at the leader level how important it is to promote friendly and cooperative relations between Japan and New Zealand.
2. Points of Discussion in Meetings with Prime Minister Mori and Foreign Minister Kono
(1) Bilateral relations
Leaders' Meeting -- Prime Minister Mori noted that bilateral relations were founded on a sound and friendly basis, with active exchanges taking place in a wide variety of areas, including politics, economics and culture. He stated that while differences on some issues remain between the two countries, he wanted only to further cooperative efforts to make the bilateral relationship even closer. Prime Minister Clark noted that for New Zealand, Japan represented its most mature partner in Asia, affirming that she would like to expand bilateral relations in such areas as education, tourism, scientific technology and forestry, and propose that discussion be held on these issues at the next Japan-New Zealand senior working-level consultations.
Meeting with Foreign Minister Kono -- Prime Minister Clark commented that both countries were building close cooperative relations in wide-ranging areas and that despite the presence of some issues, including those on which they could agree and the few on which agreement was not possible, these issues should also be viewed in the overall context of their favorable bilateral relations. Prime Minister Clark noted that she considered further enhancement of bilateral relations also possible in areas of culture, education and people exchange, and not only in economic fields, remarking that she would like to propose three points: (1) exchange between national museums; (2) promotion of artist exchange and assistance for Japanese artists resident in New Zealand; and (3) the rental of fine arts from the Ohara Museum of Art for the opening of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery in Christchurch. She also noted her delight at the vibrant exchange of youth taking place through the working holiday system, the Japan Exchange and Teaching program (JET) and exchanges between schools. Foreign Minister Kono stated the need for promoting mutual understanding regarding the cultural background between the two countries.
(2) Pacific Region
Leaders' Meeting -- Prime Minister Clark highly evaluated Prime Minister Mori's initiative regarding Pacific nations and observed that New Zealand was making efforts such as improving the ability of Pacific island nations to govern. With respect to the Republic of Fuji, the Solomon Islands, the Independent State of Papua New Guinea and other countries, Prime Minister Mori expressed his gratitude for cooperation in the provision of information and evacuation of Japanese nationals. He further noted that he would like to continue to liaise closely with New Zealand.
Meeting with Foreign Minister Kono -- Foreign Minister Kono expressed his appreciation for New Zealand's cooperation in the provision of information regarding the situation in the Pacific island nations and during the evacuation of Japanese nationals from the Solomon Islands, and noting Japan's deep relations with the Pacific island nations, stated Japan would be committed to continue its active response. Prime Minister Clark affirmed that New Zealand was seeking ways in which to offer assistance given the difficult situations in Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and other countries.
(3) East Timor
Leaders' Meeting -- Prime Minister Clark noted that New Zealand was making a significant human contribution in East Timor relative to its national capacity and expressed her gratitude for Japan's enormous economic contribution.
Meeting with Foreign Minister Kono -- Prime Minister Clark expressed her appreciation for Japan's financial contribution, affirming the need in East Timor for the continued assistance of the international community, a United Nations (UN) presence and renewed commitment from countries. Foreign Minister Kono stated that it was possible for countries to contribute in various areas and that Japan would continue to make human contributions, including technical cooperation, not only financial contributions. Furthermore, Foreign Minister Kono commented that it was essential the international community offered assistance to East Timor, and paying his respects to New Zealand's active stance, affirmed that Japan would like to consider areas of possible cooperation with New Zealand.
Leaders' Meeting -- Prime Minister Clark stated that New Zealand intended to promote the creation of a whale sanctuary in the South Pacific. Prime Minister Mori responded that Japan's position on the issue of whaling was that if resources were rich enough, it would use them while maintaining appropriate levels.
(5) Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol
Leaders' Meeting -- Prime Minister Mori expressed his strong concerns about the influence the United States declaration of nonsupport for the Kyoto Protocol would have on negotiations, and requested that Prime Minister Clark as a member of the umbrella group make all due efforts. Prime Minister Clark responded that New Zealand was hopeful that the United States would return to the negotiating table.
Meeting with Foreign Minister Kono -- Foreign Minister Kono highlighted the current crucial stage of discussions toward the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol in 2002, and noted the importance of persuading the United States to return to the negotiating table. Prime Minister Clark responded that in order for the United States to return to negotiations, it was important to assess what exactly they opposed and that New Zealand would use its central position between Europe and the United States as a means to this end.
3. Other Meetings and Regional Visits
(1) During her visit to Japan, Prime Minister Clark exchanged views with Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Nobutaka Machimura, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Yoshio Yatsu, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Takeo Hiranuma, President of the Democratic Party of Japan Yukio Hatoyama, Chairman of Keidanren Takashi Imai, and President and CEO of NTT DoCoMo Keiji Tachikawa.
During her visit to Japan, Prime Minister Clark toured Fukuoka and Hiroshima Prefectures, and the City of Osaka (from 14 to 16 April). During the tour, she exchanged views with political and business leaders. In addition, she visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and attended the opening ceremony of the New Zealand Honorary Consulate-General in Osaka.
Back to Index