Achievements of Prime Minister Hashimoto's Visit to Latin American Countries

September 10, 1996

I. Overview

  1. Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto visited five Latin American countries " namely, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Peru, and Costa Rica " between August 20 and 30, 1996. Prime Minister Hashimoto held meetings with the Presidents of each country and met with local residents of Japanese descent and members of the local Japanese community. In Costa Rica, Prime Minister Hashimoto attended a luncheon meeting with some of the Central American Presidents.
  2. This was the first visit to Mexico by a prime minister since Mr. Toshiki Kaifu went in 1989, the first to Chile since Mr. Nobusuki Kishi went in 1959, and the first to Brazil and Peru since Mr. Zenko Suzuki went in 1982. The visit to Costa Rica was the first ever by a Prime Minister of Japan.
  3. All governments heartily welcomed the Prime Minister, and the visits received top coverage daily in local newspapers and on television news programs.
  4. Immediately prior to Prime Minister Hashimoto's departure, an abducted Japanese business executive in Mexico was released safely. The Prime Minister expressed his gratitude to the Mexican President for the cooperation of Mexican police authorities in securing the businessman's release, and he requested that additional steps be taken to secure the safety of Japanese-affiliated companies in the country.

II. Significance and Evaluation

  1. The visit by Prime Minister Hashimoto was aimed at forging a Partnership for a New Era between Japan and Latin America, based on the recognition that Latin American countries hold the key to the development of global society in the twenty-first century. The importance of Latin America was reconfirmed with the witnessing of rejuvenation in the countries visited engendered by the efforts made beginning around 1990 toward democratization, economic reforms, and economic integration.
  2. Latin American leaders voiced their high expectations of Japan, expressing their hope for a stronger relationship with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. The visit to Latin American countries by the Prime Minister was praised highly as the manifestation of Japan's interest in the region.
  3. Japan recognizes the importance of actively contributing to the development of Latin America as a means of reinforcing its ties with the United States, which has very close interests in Latin America. For this reason as well, the Prime Minister's recent visit was of great significance.

III. Achievements of the Visit

1. Furtherance of Friendly and Cooperative Ties with the Countries of Latin America

  1. A formal announcement was made of the state visit by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress to Brazil and a visit to Argentina next year. The President of Brazil expressed his hearty welcome for the visit. Invitations for a visit by Their Majesties were also extended by the Governments of Mexico and Peru.
  2. Invitations were extended to the Presidents of Chile, Mexico, and Peru to visit Japan on the Centennial of Friendship with Chile in 1997 and with the centennials of Japanese emigration to Mexico and Peru in 1997 and 1999, respectively. The respective Governments invited members of the Imperial Family to visit their countries to mark the centennial.
  3. The first high-level meeting between Japan and MERCOSUR (Mercado Comœn del Sur) was scheduled for early October to discuss the topic of regional economic integration. All countries expressed their goal of attaining "open integration."
  4. d. The JapanDLatin America Friendship Program was announced. Under this program, 250 persons will be invited to Japan over the next five years. Furthermore, 50 junior government officials will be invited in fiscal 1997.

2. Strengthening Cooperation on Global Political and Economic Issues

  1. Agreement was reached to promote so-called South-South cooperation, under which Japan cooperates with Latin American efforts to provide assistance to other developing countries.
  2. Policy dialogue will be deepened on such issues as U.N. reform and the World Trade Organization. Consensus was reached to continue talks to secure the conformity of Brazil's automobile policy with WTO standards.

3. Expanding Cooperation on the Resolution of Global Issues

  1. Environment: Exchanges of Note were signed for six yen loan projects totaling ´113.0 billion to Mexico, Brazil, and Peru.
  2. Food: An announcement was made that a survey mission will be dispatched by the end of March 1997 to enhance cooperation with Brazil's cerrado agricultural development plan.
  3. Welfare: The Initiative for a Caring World, which Prime Minister Hashimoto proposed at the Lyon Summit, was introduced. The leaders of the respective countries expressed their active support for the initiative.

4. Promoting Exchange Between Asia and Latin America

  1. Strong interest was expressed in "the Latin America Symposium--Strengthening Ties Between Asia and Latin America" which will be held in Japan next year under the cosponsorship of the Inter-American Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of Japan.
  2. As for membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, strengthening of cooperation was pledged with Mexico and Chile, who are already members. Japan expressed its support for Peru's strong desire for membership in APEC, adding an explanation that acceptance of new participants is frozen between 1994 and 1996 and that there are some countries who are opposed to expanding membership.

5. Assistance for Latin Americans of Japanese Descent

  1. Latin Americans of Japanese descent have been recognized as valuable assets for both Japan and Latin American countries. The Prime Minister was enthusiastically welcomed by local residents of Japanese descent and by members of the Japanese community in each country.
  2. Positive consideration by the Prime Minister will be given to the construction of a Japan-Brazil Academy and a Japan Culture Center, strongly sought by S‹o Paulo residents of Japanese descent, as they will be valuable in maintaining the cultural and linguistic heritage of the residents. The idea for the academy was brought up in the meeting with the Brazilian President the following morning, who responded positively to the idea.

IV. Future Issues

  1. The achievements of Prime Minister Hashimoto's visit should be followed up.
  2. In the light of the importance of the countries of Latin America and the high expectations they have of Japan, senior-level policy dialogue including summit meetings should be further reinforced.
  3. Awareness and understanding of Latin America in Japan should be promoted.

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