On December 15, from 9:15 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a meeting with Mr. Thongsing Thammavong, Prime Minister of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, who was visiting Japan to attend the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit Meeting. The outline of the meeting is as follows.
1. Overall bilateral relations
At the outset, Prime Minister Abe expressed once again his gratitude for the cooperation by Prime Minister Tongsing at the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit the previous day, as well as for the warm welcome extended during Prime Minister Abe's visit to Laos last month. Prime Minister Abe expressed his hope to cooperate closely with the Lao side on broadly strengthening the comprehensive partnership between the two countries, in anticipation of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2015. In addition, in connection with a scheduled visit to Kagawa Prefecture by Prime Minister Thongsing, Prime Minister Abe touched upon a project to improve livelihoods in Laos, using the Marugame "uchiwa (fan)" -making technique, and mentioned that he will be pleased if the "monozukuri (craftsmanship)" that Japan is so proud of contributes to Laos.
In response, Prime Minister Thongsing expressed gratitude for Japan's hospitality, and said that he was honored to meet with Prime Minister Abe bilaterally again this month following the visit by the Japanese Prime Minister to Laos last month. He also handed out samples of Marugame "uchiwa" fans produced in Laos to the participants of the meeting.
2. Political and security issues
Both leaders shared the view that both sides will coordinate their schedules, with the intention of holding politico-military (PM) dialogue as early as possible in 2014. Prime Minister Abe said that he would like to further strengthen dialogue on political and security issues, through frameworks such as this.
3. Economic issues and development cooperation
Prime Minister Abe stated that the Japan will continue to support economic and social development of Laos, referring to the signing of an exchange of notes on four development cooperation projects (the Vientiane International Airport Terminal Expansion Project, Ninth Poverty Reduction Support Operation (PRSO), the Project for Construction of Sekong Bridge and the Project for Supporting Unexploded Ordnance Clearance.). In response, Prime Minister Thongsing expressed his appreciation for Japan's support to Laos to date and the four projects signed at this occasion.
Prime Minister Abe mentioned the decision to provide 223 tonnes of rice to flood victims in Laos based on the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) Agreement. Also, from the standpoint of encouraging Japanese companies to enter Laos, Prime Minister Abe requested to Prime Minister Thongsing his cooperation regarding the opening of a JETRO office in Vientiane in 2014. Prime Minister Thongsing welcomed the signing of a memorandum of cooperation regarding the opening of a JETRO office in Vientiane, and expressed hope that investment into Laos from Japan will be further promoted.
4. People-to-people and cultural exchanges
The two leaders shared the view that both countries will cooperate closely toward the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2015.
They welcomed the fact that measures to ease visa requirements on both sides, announced during Prime Minister Abe's recent visit to Laos, are being implemented. Prime Minister Abe also announced a decision to waive visa requirements for Lao official passport holders.
They shared the view that formal negotiations on an air services agreement will commence, in anticipation of the commencement of direct flights between the two countries.
5. Regional issues
The two leaders exchanged views on regional and international situations, including the issue of the South China Sea. Prime Minister Abe explained Japan's position regarding China's establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone.
Prime Minister Abe requested the support of Laos on the UN resolution on the situation of human rights in North Korea.