Japan-Laos Summit Meeting
On June 12, commencing at 6:45 p.m. for approximately 30 minutes, Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, held a meeting with H.E. Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, who was visiting Japan, at the Prime Minister’s Office. The overview of the meeting is as follows. The meeting was also attended by Mr. Yasutoshi Nishimura, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Kotaro Nogami, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Kentaro Sonoura, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, and others. Following the meeting, the two leaders attended a cooperation document signing ceremony and conducted a joint press announcement.
1. Opening remarks
Prime Minister Abe expressed his pleasure to meet Prime Minister Thongloun again following a meeting in November last year and to hold this fourth summit meeting with him. Prime Minister Abe stated that Japan and Laos were “strategic partners” not only bilaterally but also intentionally in order to pursue the peace, stability, and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region, and so he would work together with Laos on the issues of the region and the international community.
In response, Prime Minister Thongloun stated that he feels honored to meet Prime Minister Abe again, that he was grateful for receiving a warm welcome when Prime Minister Abe is so busy, and that he would further develop the relations between the two countries together with Prime Minister Abe, and to cooperate as a good partner in ASEAN.
2. Economic cooperation
Prime Minister Abe noted that he was promoting steady implementation of the Japan-Lao PDR Joint Development Cooperation Plan, which was adopted in September 2016. Regarding human resources development, he mentioned cooperation in order to assist young government officials from the Lao PDR with studying abroad, and mentioned support for UXO Lao, the organization in charge of the disposal of unexploded ordnance in Laos. Furthermore, regarding support for fiscal stabilization, he stated that the two countries commenced joint policy research in the macroeconomics and fiscal fields from March this year, that they were continuing ongoing cooperation such as the Fourth Value Added Tax Seminar to be held next week, and that he expected these efforts to strengthen the tax collection capacity and lead to stable tax revenue of the Government of Laos.
In response, Prime Minister Thongloun stated that he was pleased that the number of Japanese companies doing business in Laos had been increasing in recent years, acknowledged that Japan is the Lao PDR’s top donor, and expressed that the Lao PDR highly appreciates and is grateful for the provision of Official Development Assistance (ODA). Prime Minister Thongloun stated that in addition to infrastructure and human resources development and a large number of other projects, Japan has been dispatching JICA experts and Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers to the Lao PDR, and these cooperation have contributed greatly to the socio-economic development of Laos. He further stated that he is grateful that the cooperation to support fiscal stabilization has also been essential for the development of Laos.
Prime Minister Thongloun stated that the plan for a highway between Vientiane and Hanoi was an important project for Laos, which is landlocked country, and requested the support of Japan for the project. Prime Minister Abe replied that he intended to work on strengthening connectivity of the region.
3. Cooperation in the regional and the international arenas
The two sides also held a candid and meaningful exchange of views concerning challenges in the regional and international arenas, including North Korea and the South China Sea. Prime Minister Abe explained about cooperation under the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” and Prime Minister Thongloun stated that the leadership of Japan is important, and that Laos also intended to participate actively in the discussions in ASEAN. Additionally the two leaders held exchanges of views, including on the point that it is important for the international community to cooperate to draw concrete actions from North Korea for the comprehensive resolution of outstanding issues of concern, and then they confirmed the importance of an early resolution of the abductions issue.