Japan-Thailand Summit Meeting (Overview)
February 6, 2009
(Photo courtesy of Cabinet Public Relations Office)
Prime Minister Taro Aso held summit talks and hosted a dinner for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of Thailand, who was in Japan on a working visit, on Friday, February 6, from 6:30 to 8:40 p.m. at the Prime Minister's Official Residence. The following is a summary of their discussions.
- The two leaders agreed to strengthen bilateral Japan-Thailand relations by enhancing political dialogue and reached a working agreement on a bilateral treaty for the transfer of Japanese and Thai prisoners. Japan announced it would provide a 63 billion yen loan to Thailand for the construction of the Red Line mass transit rail system in Bangkok.
- Prime Minister Abhisit expressed his firm resolve to restore international confidence in Thailand.
- Prime Minister Abhisit praised Prime Minister Aso's plan to provide development assistance to Asian countries, which he unveiled at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2009 in Davos. The two leaders also agreed that Japan and Thailand, which is now serving as the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), will work together closely in addressing the global financial crisis.
- The two leaders agreed to enhance Japan-Thailand cooperation for the development of the Mekong region.
- The two leaders exchanged views on regional and international issues, including Myanmar and UN Security Council reform.
1. Bilateral relations
1) Prime Minister Aso and Prime Minister Abhisit agreed to further strengthen the relationship between Japan and Thailand and to work together to promote stability and development in the international community and the region.
2) The two leaders agreed to enhance political dialogue by energizing ministerial and vice-ministerial talks with the aim of further strengthening the bilateral relationship and welcomed a working agreement on a treaty to transfer Japanese and Thai prisoners through cooperation in the judiciary sector.
3) Prime Minister Aso stressed the importance of restoring the trust of Japanese tourists, whose numbers fell after the temporary closure of Bangkok International Airport, and the willingness of Japanese companies to invest in Thailand. He welcomed Prime Minister Abhisit's announcement that Thailand is making efforts to regain the confidence of the international community and expressed his hope for further measures along these lines.
4) Noting that Japan is Thailand's biggest trade and investment partner and that more than 1 million Japanese tourists visit Thailand every year, Prime Minister Abhisit said that the purpose of his current visit was to inform Japan of Thailand's current political and economic situation. He also described Thailand's economic stimulus package and remarked that the political situation in Thailand has been moving in a positive direction since he took office. He added that efforts are being made to lend an ear to Japanese companies and that, when necessary, talks between the relevant cabinet ministers and representatives of Japanese companies are held.
5) Prime Minister Aso stated that Japan's economic relations with Thailand are extremely important and, from this perspective, expressed hope for the creation an even better investment environment that takes into account the views of Japanese companies. He also expressed hope that a quick solution can be found to issues in specific areas, such as steel imports, and asked that consideration be given to ensuring the smooth application of the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement.
6) Prime Minister Abhisit expressed his hope that Japan would provide cooperation in improving Thailand's transportation infrastructure. In response to a request from Thailand for assistance in constructing an underground transportation network in Bangkok, Prime Minister Aso announced that Japan would provide a 63 billion yen loan for the construction of the Red Line mass transit network in Bangkok.
2. Japanese-ASEAN relations
(1) Prime Minister Abhisit noted that Thailand is the chair of ASEAN this year and that the National Assembly of Thailand has already approved the ASEAN Charter. He also stated that Thailand would host the ASEAN Summit at the end of February and that Thailand would like to work together with Japan at the upcoming ASEAN-related summit meeting. He reported that Prime Minister Aso's offer of official development assistance to Asia, which was unveiled at the Davos Forum, is well-known throughout Asia and that Thailand is keen to cooperate as a partner.
(2) Restating a point he made at the Davos Forum, Prime Minister Aso said that although attention is now focused on the crisis in the financial sector, the impact of the crisis on the real economy must be watched closely. He said it was vital that the participants in the upcoming East Asia Summit reach agreement on a powerful message that Asia will continue to serve as a center for growth and convey this message to the rest of the world. Prime Minister Aso noted that he had relayed this message to Thailand through his personal envoy and stressed his determination to continue cooperating with Thailand.
(3) In response, Prime Minister Abhisit agreed that the impact on the real economy must be monitored and stated his intention to overcome the current crisis by eliminating trade barriers and expanding trade.
3. Japan-Mekong Relations
(1) At the start of the meeting, Prime Minister Aso presented Prime Minister Abhisit with a badge commemorating Mekong-Japan Exchange Year 2009. The two prime ministers each wore the badge during their talks.
(2) Prime Minister Aso stated that Japan places importance on cooperation with the Mekong region to narrow the development gap among ASEAN countries and that it wanted to work with Thailand to contribute to regional development by supporting measures to enhance the flow of goods between Thailand and the rest of the Mekong. He noted that moves were underway to speed up distribution channels through the development of information technology and that Japan would like to provide cooperation in this field as well.
(3) Prime Minister Abhisit noted that Thailand would also like to play a role in Japanese cooperation with the Mekong region and that infrastructural improvements were important in this regard. He expressed appreciation for the role Japan has played in the development of the Mekong region and said that in cases where problems arose, Thailand would like to cooperate by working together with Japan to find solutions.
4. Other Issues
(1) Views were exchanged on regional and international issues, including Myanmar, the reform of the UN Security Council, and the border issue between Thailand and Cambodia.
(2) Prime Minister Aso requested that Thailand support Japan's bid to host the 2016 Olympics in Tokyo.
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