Visit to the French Republic by Prime Minister Naoto Kan
May 25, 2011
On Wednesday, May 25, Prime Minister Naoto Kan paid an official visit to the French Republic. The trip marks the first time in four years that a Japanese Prime Minister has officially visited the country, and is the result of an invitation from H.E. Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic. The ceremony to welcome the Prime Minister was held at 11:35 a.m. at Les Invalides. From noon, the Prime Minister met with H.E. Mr. François Fillon, Prime Minister of the French Republic, for about 50 minutes, and from 01:00 p.m. the Prime Minister participated in a 60 minute working lunch summit meeting with President Sarkozy.
1. An outline of the summit meeting between the Prime Minister Kan and President Sarkozy is as follows.
- (1) At the start of the meeting, President Sarkozy expressed his solidarity and support for the Japanese people in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake. In response, the Prime Minister expressed his gratitude to France as the chair of the 2011 G8 Deauville Summit for putting solidarity with Japan on the discussion agenda and giving him the opportunity to give opening remarks at the summit meeting to be held the following day. The two leaders agreed that the visit of the Prime Minister to France was an opportunity to further deepen bilateral ties, that they would set up strategic talks between the two countries’ Foreign Ministers, and that they would start formal negotiations on the agreement between Japan and France concerning security measures for the protection of classified information.
- (2) On the topic of nuclear safety, the Prime Minister stated that Japan will aim to establish the world’s highest levels of nuclear safety while thoroughly investigating the causes of the nuclear accident. He also said that Japan would share the information and lessons learned with the international community and lead international discussion on the topic. Regarding Japan’s future energy policy, the Prime Minister explained that Japan would proceed with the establishment of a four-pillar policy that adds renewable energy and energy conservation measures to the measures already in place for nuclear energy and fossil fuels. On the nuclear accident, the Prime Minister explained that with the cooperation of the international community, Japan is working to settle the situation and stabilize the nuclear power stations in Fukushima. He thanked France for the support given related to the clean up of highly irradiated water. Highlighting the state of Japan’s economy as the key to recovery and revitalization efforts, the Prime Minister also requested cooperation on the easing of trade restrictions, noting that Japan is thoroughly implementing safety control measures for all exports. In response to the above, President Sarkozy underlined the importance of the contribution made by nuclear energy to France’s power supply, and stated that France would be cooperating with Japan to heighten safety standards related to nuclear power.
- (3) The Prime Minister explained that he wants to move forward with Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations; as such EPA would contribute to the strengthening of the Japan-France relationship and the reconstruction of the Japanese economy. President Sarkozy responded that, while France wishes to enter into such EPA with Japan, he wishes to see further efforts made by the Japanese side with regards to issues such as the import of French beef and non-tariff barriers.
- (4) The two leaders shared the view that they should move forward with the reform of the United Nations Security Council. The Prime Minister requested cooperation on gaining wide support for the initiative on this matter. President Sarkozy responded positively. In addition to the above, the two discussed the Japan-China relationship, the situation in East Asia – including in relation to North Korean issues – and the possibility of Japan-France cooperation in the G20.
2. Many of the subjects discussed during the meeting between Prime Minister Kan and Prime Minister Fillon overlap with those explained above. The following is an outline of all other issues.
- (1) Prime Minister Kan thanked Prime Minister Fillon for visiting the Embassy of Japan in France after the Great East Japan Earthquake to offer condolences and words of support to Japanese citizens residing in France.
- (2) Prime Minister Fillon expressed his hope to visit Japan in the autumn. Prime Minister Kan answered that he would welcome the visit.
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