11th Mekong-Japan Ministerial Meeting
On August 3, commencing at 4:48 p.m. (local time) for approximately 50 minutes, Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, attended the 11th Mekong-Japan Ministerial Meeting held in Singapore, serving as chair. The overview of the meeting is as follows (The attendees from the Mekong region countries consisted of Mr. Sok Siphana, Advisor to the Royal Government of Cambodia (on behalf of H.E. Mr. Prak Sokhonn, Senior Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation); H.E. Mr. Saleumxay Kommasith, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic; H.E. Mr. Kyaw Tin, Minister for International Cooperation of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar; H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand; and H.E. Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam).
1. Opening Remarks
Minister Kono extended his condolences to the many victims of the collapse of a dam in southern Lao PDR last month and the heavy rain in Mekong countries. Minister Kono then announced that the 10th Mekong-Japan Summit would be held on October 8 and 9, 2018 in Tokyo and that Mekong-Japan Exchange Year 2019 would be held next year. Minister Kono hoped that frank exchanges of views could be held on future Mekong-Japan cooperation in order to establish a new cooperation strategy at the Mekong-Japan Summit.
2. Japan-Mekong Cooperation
Minister Kono and the Foreign Ministers of the Mekong countries noted on the quantitative assessments of the key projects (PDF) of the Japan-Mekong Connectivity Initiative, and based on the reviews of Japan-Mekong cooperation under the New Tokyo Strategy 2015, reconfirmed that Japan-Mekong cooperation was contributing significantly to the development of the Mekong region, including connectivity strengthening. The Foreign Ministers of the Mekong countries once again expressed appreciation for Japan’s cooperation over many years and hoped for further cooperation.
In addition, Minister Kono and the Foreign Ministers of the Mekong countries exchanged views regarding the future direction of Japan-Mekong cooperation, while taking into account the aforementioned reviews. Minister Kono and the Foreign Ministers of the Mekong countries identified connectivity, people, and the environment as the three new pillars of Japan-Mekong cooperation and agreed to work towards the adoption of a new strategy which is in line with the three pillars at the 10th Mekong-Japan Summit.
3. Regional and International Situations
(1) Minister Kono made the following remarks:
i. Peace and stability in Rakhine State in Myanmar is an international concern, and it is important that the Government of Myanmar makes tangible progress in repatriation of displaced people with the UN’s involvement. The Government of Japan welcomes establishment of the Independent Commission of Enquiry by the Government of Myanmar and signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UN agencies for the repatriation of the displaced people. Japan will continue to provide utmost support to Myanmar’s efforts to collaborate with the Mekong countries in this regard.
ii. Japan will continue to work with the Mekong countries towards the peaceful resolution of the issue of North Korea and disputes in the South China Sea. With regard to the issue of North Korea, it is necessary to continue to urge North Korea to take concrete actions towards the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges. The full implementation of the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions is essential. Japan will work with the Mekong countries in supporting the process between the U.S. and North Korea. Japan seeks the understanding and cooperation for the early resolution of the abductions issue from the Mekong countries.
(2) In response, the Mekong countries welcomed the Inter-Korean Summit in April 2018 and the subsequent U.S.-North Korea summit meeting, and stated that it is important to continue to implement the measures based on the UNSC resolutions toward the complete denuclearization of North Korea. Several countries expressed their understanding for the early resolution of the abductions issue.