Japan-Laos Foreign Ministers' Meeting
May 4, 2016
On May 4 (Wednesday) from 3pm local time, Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, during his visit to the Lao People's Democratic Republic, had a meeting with H.E. Mr. Saleumxay Kommasith, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, for about one hour and 15 minutes. Key points from the meeting are as follows.
1 Bilateral relationship
(1)Opening remarksForeign Minister Saleumxay offered words of condolence for damage caused by the recent earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture. He welcomed Foreign Minister Kishida's visit to Lao PDR, and called for further reinforcement of the ''Strategic Partnership (PDF) '' between the two countries.
In response, Foreign Minister Kishida expressed gratitude for the Minister's condolences for the Kumamoto Earthquakes as well as appreciation for the Foreign Minister's Statement on the recent earthquakes issued by Lao PDR as the ASEAN presidency country. He also offered congratulations to Foreign Minister Saleumxay for his assumption of the Foreign Minister position and commented that he intends to make utmost efforts to support Foreign Minister Saleumxay, who is serving as the chair of ASEAN-related Foreign Minister meetings. Additionally, Foreign Minister Kishida stated that he would like to cooperate with Foreign Minister Saleumxay to strengthen the ''Strategic Partnership'' between Japan and Lao PDR.
(2) Visits by officialsForeign Minister Saleumxay commented that Japan and Lao PDR upgraded the bilateral relationship to a ''Strategic Partnership,'' on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. He mentioned that official visits are taking place even at the top-level with the planned attendance by H.E. Dr. Thongsing Sisoulith, Prime Minister of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, to the G7 Ise-Shima Summit Outreach Meeting in May 2016. Foreign Minister Saleumxay pointed out that bilateral interaction is becoming stronger at various levels, and that arrangement of a direct flightpath between Japan and Lao PDR would contribute to future cultural interaction and advancement of economic activities between the two countries.
Foreign Minister Kishida expressed a favorable view of various types of cooperation between the two countries and realization of frequent visits by officials from the two countries and appreciation for the planned attendance by Prime Minister Thongloun at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit Outreach Meeting at the end of May. He also noted that Japan hopes that Lao PDR will contribute actively to discussions as the ASEAN presidency country. Foreign Minister Saleumxay agreed with this point.
(3) Economy and economic cooperationForeign Minister Kishida explained that Japan intends to continue to support efforts by Lao PDR toward graduation from least developed countries, based upon the 8th Five-year National Socio-Economic Development Plan (PDF) , and hopes to realize a ''Partnership for Quality Infrastructure '' and ''Industrial Human Resource Development Cooperation Initiative '' in Lao PDR as well. Additionally, Foreign Minister Kishida noted that 2016 is the inaugural year for the ASEAN Community and explained that he announced the Japan-Mekong Connectivity Initiative in a ASEAN Policy speech in Bangkok on May 2 that calls for further efforts to promote regional integration through enhanced connectivity. He commented that Japan hopes to collaborate closely with Mekong countries in implementing high-quality infrastructure projects and giving detailed assistance in other areas such as system improvements and human resource development.
Foreign Minister Kishida also proposed formulation of a Joint Development Cooperation Plan that presents the direction of middle and longer-term development cooperation between the two countries from the perspective of the promotion of further cooperation with Lao PDR and expressed Japan's interest in coordinating with Lao PDR on specific content.
In response, Foreign Minister Saleumxay commented that Japan's assistance, explained in detail by Foreign Minister Kishida, should contribute to socioeconomic advances in Lao PDR and expressed appreciation for Japan's assistance thus far on behalf of the Government and people of Lao PDR. Foreign Minister Saleumxay also voiced appreciation for and agreement with the Joint Development Cooperation Plan as an initiative that should benefit the country's five-year plan, and expressed agreement with the Japan-Mekong Connectivity Initiative too because it incorporates the position of Lao PDR as an inland country and contributes to the improvement of connectivity.
2 Cooperation in regional and international arenas
(1)ASEANForeign Minister Kishida explained that Japan fully supports ASEAN initiatives under the Lao PDR presidency, such as the eight priority areas for further integration and correction of gaps , and stated that Japan is emphasizing urgent regional issues, particularly 1) reinforcement of the ASEAN Community and 2) steady implemention of efforts to strengthen the East Asia Summit (EAS) in related meetings this year.
(2)Strengthening the East Asia Summit (EAS)Foreign Minister Kishida welcomed the launch of an EAS Ambassadors' Meeting in Jakarta and explained that it is important to strengthen EAS follow-up and preparation mechanisms.
In response, Foreign Minister Saleumxay commented that Lao PDR is also emphasizing the EAS as a forum for fostering regional trust.
(3) Maritime securityForeign Minister Kishida explained that the South China Sea is directly linked to regional peace and prosperity and is a source of shared concern for the international community including Japan, and stressed the importance of the three principles of the rule of law at sea. He also emphasized the importance of ASEAN unifying to send a strong message on this issue. The two Foreign Ministers agreed on the importance of the peaceful resolution of conflicts based on international laws and ASEAN's centrality and integration.
(4) North KoreaForeign Minister Kishida stated that the continuation of nuclear weapon and missile development, including ballistic missile launches by North Korea, is unacceptable and that it is important to strengthen pressure on North Korea by strictly implementing the Security Council resolutions and taking other measures, and that Japan hopes to cooperate with ASEAN regarding the abductions issue and human rights violations by North Korea.
In response, Foreign Minister Saleumxay voiced shared concern about North Korea and his country's existing stance against the abductions, offering condolences to abduction victims.