Visit by Prime Minister Mori to South Asia
(Summary and Assessment)

August 28, 2000
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  1. Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori visited Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and Nepal from August 19 to 25. The visits to Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India were the first by a Japanese Prime Minister since the trip by Toshiki Kaifu 10 years ago. The visit to Nepal was the first ever by an incumbent Japanese Prime Minister. Japan's relations with these countries have been somewhat limited, compared with other Asian countries, and the visits to India and Pakistan were made in situations where Japan has continued to adopt economic measures against India and Pakistan since they conducted nuclear tests in May 1998. Despite this, Prime Minister Mori received a red-carpet welcome in all countries he visited. This highlighted anew the historical ties between South Asia and Japan, the strongly favorable light in which the countries of the region regard Japan, and the large expectations they have of Japan.
  2. The visit was made in the light of the region's expanding importance for Japan to promote relationships of friendly cooperation in various areas, including politics, economics, culture, and personnel exchange. Significant progress was made in all countries, and the visit proved to be very timely. With India in particular, whose strategic importance in the international community is now mounting, Japan sought to forge a new partnership in the twenty-first century and to strengthen cooperative ties. The Global Partnership between Japan and India in the 21st Century--detailing broad areas of multilateral cooperation--which Prime Minister Mori agreed on with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a significant achievement. As part of the partnership, agreement was reached to promote cooperation in information technology with India, a country at the vanguard of the IT revolution, will result in broadening the bilateral relationship.
  3. Pakistan is faced with a number of difficulties in domestic politics and economy and with regard to terrorism. In the light of the traditionally friendly ties between Japan and Pakistan, Prime Minister Mori called on Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf to work for progress in the areas of democratization, nuclear nonproliferation, and countermeasures against terrorism in order to be actively engaged in the international community and to avoid becoming isolated. Chief Executive Musharraf pledged to do his utmost to bring out reforms in the domestic economy, to fight terrorism, and to practice good governance. Prime Minister Mori's frank and friendly advice was regarded positively by Pakistan, and it is hoped that the meeting created a foundation for future bilateral dialogue.
  4. Prime Minister Mori clearly explained Japan's stance regarding nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation issues, including the signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, to the leaders of India and Pakistan. Both leaders confirmed the continuation of their moratorium on nuclear tests until the CTBT goes into effect. While they indicated their intention to do their best to build a consensus toward the signing of the CTBT, they made no specific commitment regarding a timetable. A decision was made, therefore, not to review Japan's economic measures. Willingness was expressed, though, to pledge additional yen loans to India to two existing projects and to consider a positive step for an additional yen loan to an existing project, taking into account such factors as the state of its economy, in order to urge the two countries to make further efforts to sign the CTBT. It is hoped that these measures will lead to additional progress in nuclear nonproliferation and to a full eradication of economic measures.
  5. Based on the conclusions of the Group of Eight Kyushu-Okinawa Summit, Prime Minister Mori strongly encouraged India and Pakistan to reopen dialogue with one another. Both countries recognized the need for dialogue in principle, but given the conflicting claims regarding "cross-border terrorist acts" in Kashmir, dialogue is not likely to resume any time soon. Prime Minister Mori expressed concern over the high tension between India and Pakistan and indicated Japan's intention to help build trust in South Asia and to support the activities of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), demonstrating a readiness to become more fully engaged in the region.
  6. Bangladesh and Nepal are a stable presence in South Asia. They expressed profound gratitude to Japan's assistance for their countries' democratization and economic development efforts, and Japan announced its commitment to keep supporting these countries in the future. The respective bilateral relationships were strengthened through confirmation of cooperation on such issues as nuclear nonproliferation, regional stability, and reform of the United Nations. Prime Minister Mori's visit to Nepal was only for a half day, but because this was the first-ever visit by an incumbent Japanese Prime Minister, he received a very warm welcome, with schoolchildren and other citizens lining the streets along the route the Prime Minister traveled. Because of time limitations, Prime Minister Mori was unable to visit Sri Lanka. Diet member Hosei Norota, who was accompanying Prime Minister Mori, visited the country as the Prime Minister's special envoy and sought the understanding of President Chandrika Bandaranaika Kumaratunga and other Sri Lankan government leaders.
  7. The leaders of all countries expressed their strong expectations of the countermeasures against the digital divide and infectious diseases, which Prime Minister Mori took the initiative in announcing at the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit. They also had high praise and great gratitude for a plan under which 5,000 youths--including high school students--would be invited to Japan over five years and other exchange programs between Japan and South Asia, including the Mori Fellowship. In 2002 Japan will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic ties with India and Pakistan and the thirtieth anniversary with Bangladesh, and the three countries extended an invitation for the Emperor and Empress to visit them on that occasion. There is a need to steadily implement these initiatives from now on.

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