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Last Update : Monday, Dec 12, 2016

JapanGov Weekly

Ministry of Foreign Affairs [Monday, Dec 5, 2016]

Japan-Singapore Summit Meeting

On December 1, commencing at around 6:00 p.m. for approximately 45 minutes, Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, held a Japan-Singapore Summit Meeting with H. E. Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam, President of the Republic of Singapore, who is paying a state visit to Japan. The overview of the meeting is as follows. Mr. Kotaro Nogami, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, among others, attended the meeting.

(1) In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Abe expressed his heartfelt welcome for President Tan’s state visit to Japan, and explained that he feels extremely happy that 50th anniversary events are being held on a large scaleOpen a New Window this year to celebrate the milestone of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Singapore. Prime Minister Abe stated that he hopes to make this visit to Japan by President Tan and his wife an opportunity for further elevating the relationship between Japan and Singapore in preparation for the coming half century.

In response, President Tan expressed the view that the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations holds special meaning for both countries, and he intends to deepen the relationship of friendship and cooperation in a broad range of fields in the future also.

(2) In addition, Prime Minister Abe noted that over the last half century the relationship between the two countries has developed broadly, not only in the political and economic fields but in the fields of cultural and intellectual exchange also. Furthermore, Prime Minister Abe explained that he hopes to bring about concrete discussions at the Vice-Minister level meeting of the relevant ministries that will be held this fiscal year in order to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the fields of land, sea, and air transport, and infrastructure. Prime Minister Abe expressed his high hopes that Japan’s Shinkansen system will be adopted for its high speed rail project as a symbol of cooperation between the two countries, explained that he hopes to continue collaborating with Singapore. Prime Minister Abe stated his interest in continuing to strengthen collaboration with Singapore on the development of LNG bunkering facilities. Furthermore, Prime Minister Abe welcomed the conclusion of a bilateral local currency swap agreement between the Bank of Japan and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

In response, President Tan explained that Japan is an important partner to Singapore on the trade and investment fronts, expressed great appreciation for Japan’s Shinkansen technology, and stated that the local currency swap agreement will be significant in terms of enhancing the stability of the financial system.

(3) In addition, Prime Minister Abe explained that the Japan Creative Center (JCC) is a symbolic project that was founded at the initiative of himself and H.E. Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, and it is central to the 50th anniversary commemorative events. Furthermore, Prime Minister Abe expressed expectation that the JCC will further evolve and develop in the future as a base for promoting Singapore, which leads cultural and intellectual exchanges. Following this, Prime Minister Abe expressed appreciation for the progress in cooperation in the fields of culture, science and technology, and academic exchange. Prime Minister Abe also welcomed that the number of people visiting Japan under the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme has reached 300, that the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program made a port call in Singapore recently, as well as the signing of a letter of intent on joint research in the medical field in October and the recent signing of memorandums between universities. Additionally, Prime Minister Abe explained that he hopes to elevate the relationship between the two countries to a higher level towards the coming half century, building on the 50th anniversary commemorative events, which include issuing a joint commemorative stamp and the creation of a commemorative pamphlet by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) about Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Singapore.

In response, President Tan expressed appreciation for these activities, which are befitting of the era of the JCC amid the growing interest in Japanese culture, and welcomed progress with cooperation in the fields of science and technology and academic exchange.

(4) In addition, the two leaders also exchanged views on regional peace and stability, and confirmed the importance of peacefully resolving disputes in the South China Sea and the necessity for the international community to coordinate in order to increase pressure with regard to North Korea’s provocative actions through the strict implementation of the relevant resolutions. Furthermore, the two leaders shared the view that they will cooperate on bringing the TPP into effect promptly and concluding the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) so that the flow of free trade is not reversed.

Cabinet Secretariat [Monday, December 5, 2016]

Press Conference on the Upcoming Meeting with the President Obama of the United States and Visit to Pearl Harbor

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office on the upcoming meeting with the Honorable Barack H. Obama, President of the United States of America, and a visit to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

The Prime Minister said at the press conference,

“On December 26 and 27, I will visit Hawaii and hold a summit meeting with President Obama.

Over the past four years, President Obama and I have worked hard together to develop every facet of Japan-U.S. relations and for the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and world. The message that President Obama delivered on his visit to Hiroshima toward a world without nuclear weapons is something that is still taken to heart by many Japanese people.

I would like to make the meeting in Hawaii an opportunity to sum up the last four years and send a message to the world about the significance of further strengthening our alliance toward the future. This final summit meeting will be the culmination of our work together up until now.

In addition, I will visit Pearl Harbor with President Obama. The visit will be to offer our prayers for the repose of the souls of those who perished there.

We must never again repeat the devastation of war. I want to exhibit that resolve toward the future.

At the same time, I would like to make this visit an opportunity to show the significance of the reconciliation between Japan and the United States. The Japan-U.S. Alliance has become an ‘Alliance of Hope’ in which our two countries work together as a global alliance to tackle the various issues faced by the world. The value and significance of the Japan-U.S. Alliance is unchanging, for the past, present, and future. The meeting this time will be a significant opportunity to confirm that.”

In addition, in response to a question about the decision on the schedule for the visit, the Prime Minister said,

“Last year marked the 70th year since the end of World War II. I addressed a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, where I communicated my thoughts and feelings on that 70-year anniversary. I have continuously thought that I would like to communicate the significance and symbolism of a visit to Pearl Harbor, and the importance of reconciliation. At the same time, I have also been thinking that I would like to hold a summit meeting to look back on the past four years with President Obama. During the short meeting we had in Lima in November, we confirmed and agreed that we would hold a summit meeting in December and that the two of us would visit Pearl Harbor.”

Ministry of Foreign Affairs [Tuesday, December 6, 2016]

Panel Discussion: “The Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”

A panel discussion "The Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea(DPRK)- Current Situation and Initiatives by the International Community "co-sponsored by Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea(ROK), the United States(USA) and the European Union(EU), was held in the UN Headquarters (New York) on December 1, 2016(local time).

At the panel discussion, a broad-ranging discussion was held on the human rights situation in North Korea including the abductions issue and measures that should be taken by the international community, with the participation of panelists from the UN and co-sponsoring countries etc. Representing the Government of Japan, Mr. Katsunobu Kato, Minister in charge of the Abduction Issue participated as a panelist and stressed to the international community the gravity of the abductions issue and the urgency of rescuing the abductees facing the fact that the abductees and their family members are aging. During the event, there was an active discussion about the international coordination toward improving the human rights situations in North Korea, including realizing the return of all the abductees at the earliest possible date.

This panel discussion was livestreamed on UN WEB TV.

Opening Remarks:
H. E. Mr. João Vale de Almeida, Head of the Delegation of the EU to the United Nations

H.E. Ms. Gillian Bird, Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Minister Katsunobu Kato, Minister in charge of the Abduction Issue, Government of Japan
Ambassador Lee Jung-hoon, Ambassador-at-large on North Korean Human Rights, Government of the ROK
Ms. Signe Poulsen, Representative, OHCHR Office in Seoul
Ambassador Robert R. King, Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues, Government of the USA
Ms. Param-Preet Singh, Associate Director, International Justice Program, Human Rights Watch

Closing Remarks:
H. E. Mr. Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations

Approximately 130 participants (government officials, academics, civil society and press)