Foreign Minister Gemba's Visits to France, UK & Germany (Oct. 15-20)
<Outline & Evaluation>
1. Overall Outcomes of Visits
(1) France, the United Kingdom and Germany are major European countries with which Japan shares fundamental values and which, as is Japan, are responsible for the peace, stability and prosperity of the international community. With this recognition, Minister Gemba’s purpose of the visit to these countries is to discuss a wide range of challenging issues facing the international community, with the global balance of power changing today, and exchange opinions on possible courses of action. Taking advantage of the frameworks of Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue, he also had discussions with France in view of a future visit to Japan by President François Hollande and with the UK to follow up the outcomes of Prime Minister David Cameron's visit to Japan earlier this year, focusing on concrete ways of bilateral cooperation with each country.
(2) Minister Gemba had a very frank exchange of views with his counterpart in each of the three countries concerning regional situations, including in the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, deepened mutual understanding, shared perceptions on many issues, and confirmed courses and measures to be taken for furthering their cooperation in future. Regarding the current Japan-China relationship, Minister Gemba made a thorough explanation of Japan's position and concurred with his European counterparts on the necessity to resolve the situation peacefully and in accordance with international law.
(3) In the wake of rising European interest in the Asia-Pacific region, Minister Gemba agreed with France to start the Japan-France Dialogue on the Pacific Region and with the UK and Germany to have more frequent consultations at various levels concerning the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.
(4) Minister Gemba thoroughly explained Japan's position on the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), helping deepen the European countries' understanding on its necessity.
(5) During his visit to Europe, Minister Gemba sent a message five times through the local press, including contribution of an opinion article to the French newspaper Le Figaro, announcement of a joint press communique by the Japanese and French ministers, an interview with the Financial Times of the UK, an interview with BBC World TV of the UK, and a joint press conference with the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, deepening understanding by the people of the countries regarding Japan's positions on various international issues.
2. Country-by-Country Outcomes of Visits (excluding issues mentioned above)
(1) France (Oct. 16-17)
In France, Minister Gemba paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and held the second Japan-France Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue with Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius. During the Strategic Dialogue, the two ministers had a frank exchange of views aiming at constructing “exceptional partner relations” based on shared universal values such as democracy and the rule of law.
- - The two ministers concurred on the launch of a “Japan-France Dialogue on the Pacific Region” and discussed the dispatch of Japanese Ambassador to France Ichiro Komatsu to New Caledonia as part of a specific plan for Japan-France cooperation in the South Pacific.
- - In view of President Hollande's future visit to Japan, the two ministers shared the recognition that the two countries would continue discussions on specific plans for cooperation for the next five years or so, focusing on three main areas – politics and security, the economy and culture – and issued the Japan-France joint press communiqué (attached).
(2) UK (Oct. 17-18)
In the UK, Minister Gemba had a working dinner and held the first Japan-UK Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue with Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague. During these sessions, the two ministers exchanged views on a broad range of issues, such as the international situation that included the regional situation in the Asia-Pacific, cyberspace in which Secretary Hague had shown a strong interest, and the Japan-EU EPA.
- - Concerning the EPA, Secretary Hague expressed the UK's continued support for starting negotiations and advised Minister Gemba about how to proceed with the matter in the future.
- - On the international front, in view of the UK assuming the presidency of the G8 in 2013 and Japan holding the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development(TICAD V), the two ministers concurred on the need for cooperation between Japan and the UK for the development of Africa in particular.
- - Regarding bilateral cooperation focusing on the defense and nuclear sectors based on the Japan-UK Joint Statement issued in April during Prime Minister Cameron’s visit to Japan, the two ministers confirmed progress and concurred on the need for continued cooperation.
- - After the Strategic Dialogue, Minister Gemba participated in a luncheon hosted by Minister without Portfolio Kenneth Clarke and exchanged views primarily on economic issues.
(3) Germany (Oct. 18-19)
In Germany, Minister Gemba held a foreign ministers' meeting and a working luncheon with Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Guido Westerwelle. During the meetings, the two ministers exchanged views on a wide range of issues, including the regional situation in the Asia-Pacific and other international issues, the Japan-EU EPA, and the Middle East.
- - Minister Gemba made a thorough, well-timed explanation on the Asia-Pacific situation to Minister Westerwelle who just returned from his China visit on Oct. 10-11.
- - The two ministers announced after their meeting that they concurred on an early start of negotiations for the Japan-EU EPA.
- - In addition, Minister Gemba participated in a breakfast meeting hosted by Mr. Volker Kauder, Chairman of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag and an aide to Prime Minister Angela Merkel. They shared the recognition that Japan-EU EPA negotiations should be started at an early date, with remaining issues to be addressed in the course of the negotiations.
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