The 20th Japan-EU Summit Reaffirms Solidarity and Determination to Deepen Political and Economic Relations

May 28, 2011

On May 28, Prime Minister Naoto Kan of Japan, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso held the 20th Japan-EU Summit in Brussels. They reaffirmed their solidarity in the aftermath of the disaster which struck east Japan on March 11 and expressed their determination to strengthen political and economic relations between Japan and the EU. On the occasion of the summit, Japan and the EU hosted the second Japan-EU English Haiku Contest. The contest provided an excellent opportunity for mutual exchange between Japan and the EU through Japanese culture. Furthermore, President Van Rompuy introduced his own haiku at the joint press conference following the summit meeting, expressing his solidarity with post-disaster Japan.

(1) Year of Solidarity and "Kizuna" (the Bonds of Friendship)

The EU side suggested that this meeting be the “Kizuna Summit” and offered their words of sympathy to Japan for the damage the Great East Japan Earthquake inflicted. The Japanese and EU leaders shared the view that expanding and deepening their cooperative relations as well as closer bonds of friendship as global partners who share fundamental values and principles would contribute to peace and prosperity throughout the world. Prime Minister Kan expressed his appreciation for the heartfelt support and solidarity extended by the EU in the aftermath of the March 11 disaster.

(2) Strengthening Comprehensive Bilateral Relations

The Japanese and EU leaders agreed to start the process for negotiations for a deep and comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), addressing all issues of shared interest to both sides, including tariffs, non-tariff measures, services, investment, intellectual property rights, competition and public procurement. The leaders agreed not only on the strengthening of Japan-EU relations in the economic field, but also agreed on the importance of steady development of bilateral relations in the political field. The leaders, for example, agreed to start the process for negotiation for a binding agreement covering political, global, and other sectoral cooperation as well. In addition, the specific areas in which they decided to work together include nuclear safety and disaster management as well as counter-piracy and assistance to Afghanistan. Regarding the EU's current import restrictions on Japanese products, Prime Minister Kan requested the measures be based on solid scientific evidence and asked for a relaxation of such restrictions. The EU agreed that the measures should be based on scientific evidence.

(3) Partnership in Addressing Global Challenges and Regional Issues

The Japanese and EU leaders exchanged views on a wide range of global issues, including nuclear safety, energy, climate change, and the global economy. In light of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plants in particular , the leaders agreed to work together to ensure the highest level of nuclear safety worldwide and reinvigorate energy cooperation.

Prime Minister Kan explained that Japan would build the country's energy policy on four pillars: nuclear power, fossil fuels, renewable energy and energy efficiency. With regard to nuclear power, he expressed his commitment to further improve nuclear safety on the basis of a thorough investigation concerning the recent accident.

The Japanese and EU leaders also discussed ways to further the Japan-EU partnership in addressing regional issues, including the situations in the Middle East and North Africa, nuclear issues in Iran, North Korea's uranium enrichment activities, the abduction issue, and relations with China.

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