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JapanGov Weekly

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Eighth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM8) Leaders’ Declaration

Foreign Affairs, Saturday, May 19, 2018

Overview

1. Leaders and representatives of Japan and Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Members including Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Fiji, French Polynesia, Republic of Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Republic of Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu (hereinafter referred to as the “Leaders”) met in Iwaki, Fukushima, Japan on 18 and 19 May 2018, for the Eighth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM8). The Leaders expressed their appreciation to the co-chairs, Prime Minister Abe of Japan and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi of Samoa, current Chair of the PIF, for leading PALM8 to a success. The Leaders welcomed the first participation of French Polynesia and New Caledonia in the PALM as full Members of the PIF.

2. The Leaders also expressed their appreciation to Fukushima Prefecture and Iwaki-City for their warm hospitality. The Leaders welcomed and supported the steady progress on reconstruction of Fukushima Prefecture and Iwaki City from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

3. The Leaders conveyed deepest condolences and sympathy to all the people who have been affected by the recent disasters in the Pacific, including the devastating earthquakes in Papua New Guinea, the volcanic eruptions in Vanuatu, and Tropical Cyclones Gita, Keni and Josie, which have affected Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji. Leaders expressed strong solidarity with all those who are confronting the far-reaching consequences of these extreme events.

PALM Process and Strategic Vision for an Enduring Partnership

4. The Leaders renewed their strong commitment to the robust partnership between Japan and the PIF Members, a partnership underpinned by historic bonds and mutual trust. The Leaders appreciated the significant role which the PALM process has played for over two decades in providing a platform upon which this partnership has been continuously strengthened. The Leaders reaffirmed their determination to strengthen their collective efforts to enhance this important partnership and the PALM process through dialogue and cooperation to better meet the evolving opportunities and challenges of the region. The Leaders welcomed Australia and New Zealand’s acknowledgement of the centrality of the Forum Island Countries (FIC) to the PALM dialogue with Japan.

5. The Leaders affirmed that long-term efforts to shape their partnership through the PALM process will be guided by the following shared vision:

Maintaining stability through rules-based order : commitment to the respect for sovereignty, rule of law, and peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law;
Pursuit of enduring prosperity: self-sustained and sustainable economic development underpinned by open markets and facilitation of trade and investment, strengthened connectivity and enhanced resilience of societies;
Strengthening the flow of and exchanges between peoples: active people-to-people exchanges to enhance mutual understanding, assist development and invigorate economic activities; and,
Supporting regional cooperation and integration: advancement of robust regional institutions, with a view to greater regional cooperation and integration.
6. The Leaders emphasized the importance of the leadership and ownership of PIF Members in shaping the future of the Pacific Islands Forum region. Japan acknowledged the commitment of the PIF Members to regional cooperation and collective action, as articulated in the “Framework for Pacific Regionalism”, to realise the vision of the PIF Leaders for a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity. Japan acknowledged the commitment of the PIF Leaders to their shared stewardship and collective approach as the ‘Blue Pacific’ to ensuring regional security, prosperity and the environmental integrity of the Pacific Ocean.

7. Prime Minister Abe expressed the unwavering determination of the Government of Japan to continue supporting the FICs in areas that best reflect their needs, utilizing means that leverage Japan’s strength. The FIC Leaders expressed appreciation for Japan’s long-standing record of consistent fulfillment of its commitments.

8. The Leaders recognised the importance of making continuous efforts to expand and deepen relations between Japan and the PIF Members, through enhanced dialogue and engagement, including through high-level mutual visits which serve to strengthen bilateral relationships. The PIF Leaders highly valued Japan’s enhanced diplomatic presence in the region over the past years.

9. Prime Minister Abe took note of the important role of sub-regional efforts in addressing common challenges of respective sub-regions and expressed his intention to pursue closer coordination with such efforts.

Maritime Order based on the Rule of Law, and Sustainability of Ocean Resources

10. The Leaders underscored the importance of a free, open, and sustainable maritime order based on the rule of law in the Pacific and acknowledged that it will contribute to peace, stability, resilience and prosperity of the region. In this regard, the PIF Leaders welcomed Japan’s active and constructive contribution to cooperation and development in the Pacific region, including through new initiatives such as its “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy,” which consists of three pillars: (a) promotion and establishment of the rule of law and freedom of navigation; (b) pursuit of economic prosperity through strengthening connectivity; and (c) commitment to peace and stability such as cooperation in the fields of maritime safety and disaster risk reduction.

11. The Leaders reiterated the importance of all states respecting international law including freedom of navigation and overflight and other internationally lawful uses of the seas. They also emphasised the importance of states making and clarifying their territorial and maritime claims based on international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and exercising self-restraint and resolving disputes by peaceful means without resorting to the threat or use of force.

12. The Leaders reaffirmed their intention to closely coordinate in the area of maritime security and safety to ensure a maritime order based on the rule of law in the Pacific Ocean. The Leaders reiterated the importance of capacity building for the FICs in the areas of maritime safety and maritime law-enforcement, including border control and protection. In this context, Prime Minister Abe announced the launch of a capacity building program for the FICs on maritime law enforcement and on implementation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions regarding North Korea, which will be implemented in coordination with FICs and their established institutions and frameworks.

13. The Leaders emphasised that states have the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment and to take necessary measures to protect and preserve rare or fragile ecosystems as well as the habitats of depleted, threatened or endangered species and other forms of marine life.

14. The Leaders reiterated the critical importance of integrated approaches to sustainable development, management and conservation of the ocean and its resources, to promote sustainable economic development and ensure food security.

15. The Leaders recognised the importance of science-based management of fishery resources, taking account of relevant environmental and economic factors. Taking note of the latest scientific fisheries stock assessments by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Leaders reaffirmed their intention to continue cooperation in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to ensure sustainable use of highly migratory species, such as tuna, billfish and pelagic shark stocks, including identifying possible opportunities for development of joint proposals on issues of key importance.

16. Building on the long-standing record of collaboration in the field of fisheries, the Leaders reaffirmed the importance of the enduring cooperative relationship that aims to develop fisheries including through mutually beneficial fishing arrangements, as appropriate, between Japan and the PIF Members that ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources in the Pacific. In this context, Japan noted the commitment of the PIF Leaders in implementing zone based management within their Exclusive Economic Zones in accordance with international law including UNCLOS to ensure the sustainable management of fisheries.

17. The Leaders expressed their commitment to deepening cooperation on monitoring control and vessel surveillance (MCS), taking into account existing MCS frameworks in the region, in order to eradicate and combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which undermines a major source of revenue for the FICs and threatens the sustainability of fisheries stocks.

18. The Leaders emphasized the importance of developing an international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) under UNCLOS which does not undermine relevant existing legal instruments and frameworks as well as relevant global, regional and sectoral bodies.

19. Prime Minister Abe announced Japan’s intention to implement capacity building measures, implemented in collaboration with FICs and their established frameworks and institutions as appropriate, for 500 people for the next 3 years to assist the FICs to ensure free and open maritime order based on the rule of law, and sustainability of ocean resources in the region.

Strengthening the Basis for Resilient and Sustainable Development

20. The Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to continuing cooperation towards the universal implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the “SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (S.A.M.O.A) Pathway,” the Paris Agreement adopted under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development. The Leaders acknowledged the efforts by the PIF Members and regional agencies to progress the region’s implementation of these commitments through the Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Development.

21. The Leaders shared the view that efforts to achieve resilient and sustainable development will require addressing climate change with a sense of urgency. Given the existential threat and pressing contemporary security challenges that climate change poses to the future of the region, especially for island countries, the Leaders:

expressed their intention to strengthen their leadership role in international negotiations to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue the efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;
reiterated their firm commitment to finalising the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement adopted under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at COP 24 in 2018;
committed to participating actively in the Talanoa Dialogue process, and to sharing knowledge for achieving the commitments of all Parties to the Paris Agreement;
stressed the importance of continued efforts, including investments, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy efficiency and the effective use of renewable energy in the FICs to increase their energy ratios; and
underscored the necessity to mobilise financial support for climate change action, that is commensurate with the needs of the FICs, from a wide variety of sources, including through simplified and improved access to climate finance and through mobilizing private sector investment.
22. The Leaders reaffirmed the importance of strengthening efforts to integrate climate change and disaster risk reduction considerations into resilient development, and acknowledged the initiative of the PIF in endorsing the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific.

23. The Leaders shared views that climate change is one of the most pressing contemporary security challenges especially for island countries as stated in the Majuro Declaration, and that the UN system, including the UNSC, should address these challenges. In this regard, the PIF Leaders welcomed Japan’s initiative as the President of the UNSC in December 2017 to host an open debate on “the Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Addressing Complex Contemporary Challenges to International Peace and Security”.

24. The Leaders welcomed the accreditation of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board, and the accreditation of Secretariat of the Pacific Environmental Programme (SPREP) as a Regional Implementing Entity for the GCF and the Adaptation Fund. The PIF Leaders welcomed Japan’s commitment to continuing comprehensive support in tackling the challenges posed by climate change, and encouraged continued contributions to the GCF.

25. Prime Minister Abe expressed Japan’s intention to support the FICs’ efforts to achieve low carbon development such as through continued implementation of the “Hybrid Island Programme.”

26. The PIF Leaders welcomed continued assistance by Japan towards the construction of the Pacific Climate Change Center (PCCC), and the development of capacity building programs to be offered through the PCCC.

27. The Leaders shared the views on the vulnerability of the Pacific region to natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, floods and typhoons/ cyclones, and stressed the necessity of enhancing cooperation on disaster risk reduction, especially for building resilience. The Leaders reiterated the importance of sharing lessons learned from past experiences in disasters, and the need for continued collaboration, welcoming initiatives such as the gender-based training on Women in Disaster Management.

28. Prime Minister Abe committed to continue extending humanitarian assistance/disaster relief in times of crisis triggered by natural hazards in the region. The PIF Leaders welcomed this assistance from Japan, including to the countries recently affected by disaster events. The Leaders also welcomed various initiatives under “World Tsunami Awareness Day” on 5 November.

29. In reaffirming the importance of sustainable development, management and conservation of environment, the Leaders:

expressed their commitment to comprehensive and integrated efforts to address environmental issues, including promotion of environmentally sound waste management and 3R (reduce, reuse and recycle) policies, conservation of biodiversity and sustainable development of natural resources;
stressed the need for all Pacific Rim countries to take active steps to conserve the marine environment including through prevention and reduction of marine litter, in particular plastics, in the Pacific Ocean; and
recognised the importance of addressing the increasingly serious problems associated with shipwrecks and particularly those in the PIF Members affected by shipwrecks and unexploded ordnance from World War II.
30. The Leaders noted the value of the Japanese Technical Cooperation Project for Promotion of Regional Initiative on Solid Waste Management in Pacific Island Countries (J-PRISM) in sustainably managing waste on the islands and reducing land-based sources of pollution to the marine environment. The Leaders also acknowledged the outcome of the recommendation and capacity building on sustainable management of coral reefs and coastal ecosystems in Palau through Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) and its potential to be adopted by other FICs.

31. The Leaders shared the view that efforts to achieve resilient and sustainable development will also require enhanced cooperation in the fields of: health, including areas of infectious and non-communicable diseases; education; gender; information communication technology (ICT) ; trade and investment; and tourism. In this regard:

The Leaders stressed the importance of cooperation to elevate the quality of medical services and the welfare of the people of the FICs and to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage through access to better diagnostics, better screening, essential medicines and medical equipment, and human resource development:
The FIC Leaders welcomed Japan’s assistance in the area of ICT through the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT) and looked forward to further cooperation in this area;
The Leaders expressed their intention to redouble their efforts to promote trade and investment, including those by Small and Medium Enterprises, and welcomed the efforts by the Pacific Islands Centre (PIC), the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and all trade and investment related bodies of the FICs;
The FIC Leaders welcomed Japan’s effort to dispatch business missions to the region and Japan’s hosting of the Japan-PIC Economic Forum on 17th May in Tokyo. The FIC Leaders further reiterated their resolve to continue efforts to improve the business environment; and
The FIC Leaders welcomed Japan’s effort in convening the Japan-Pacific Island Countries Tourism Ministers meeting, and its commitment to cooperate on specific and practical activities, including with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, to benefit the tourism sector.
32. The PIF Leaders welcomed Prime Minister Abe’s commitment to enhancing regional connectivity through resilient quality infrastructure development and provisions of means of transport in order to fully tap the economic potential of the region. The Leaders underscored the importance of developing quality infrastructure including sea ports and airports in an open, transparent, non-exclusive and sustainable manner, in accordance with international standards, which also respect sovereignty and peaceful use of such infrastructure.

Connecting Pacific Citizens

33. The Leaders underscored the importance of strong personal bonds developed through active people-to-people and cultural exchanges, in particular among the youth, to deepen mutual understanding and trust, and in turn establish an enduring relationship between the people of Japan and the PIF Members.

34. The Leaders discussed efforts to encourage two-way movement of people between Japan and the FICs. In this regard, the Leaders welcomed the re-launch of direct flights between Japan and Fiji, and expressed support for a third flight service to Narita via Federated States of Micronesia by Papua New Guinea. The Leaders also welcomed the important work of the local governments of Japan to build networks with the FICs and supported direct engagement with their Pacific counterparts.

35. The FIC Leaders welcomed the decision by Japan to introduce multiple entry visas in relation to all the FICs.

36. Prime Minister Abe expressed his deep appreciation for the intention of the FIC Leaders to continue cooperation to address issues related to their shared past including repatriation of the remains of the war dead from World War II, clearance of unexploded ordnance, and maintenance of government-built monuments for the war dead as appropriate. The Leaders shared the view that jointly addressing these issues will help consolidate the foundation upon which Japan and the FICs continue to build future-oriented relations.

37. The Leaders reaffirmed their intention to strengthen people-to-people exchanges and cooperation in the field of sports in light of Japan’s hosting of the Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In this regard, the FIC Leaders appreciated Japan’s efforts through its initiative called “Sport for Tomorrow.” In addition, the Leaders shared the view that they would consider holding a ministerial meeting on sports cooperation in such field as para-sports.

38. The Leaders emphasised the importance of Japanese language education in the FICs and Prime Minister Abe expressed his willingness to continue to provide support in the area, including towards launching of a Japanese language course in the University of South Pacific. The FIC Leaders welcomed such efforts by Japan.

39. Prime Minister Abe reiterated Japan’s commitment to providing human resource development to the FICs, which draws upon Japan’s unique strengths, in order to provide effective and enduring means to assist their resilient, sustainable and self-sufficient development. In this context, the FIC Leaders appreciated the vital roles played by the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) and Senior Volunteers. Prime Minister Abe also expressed Japan’s intention to continue “Pacific-LEADS”.

40. The Leaders decided to pursue the possibility of strengthening human resource development of the FICs through on-the-job trainings in Japan under existing scheme.
The Leaders discussed the value of promoting skills enhancement and labour opportunities for the FICs, and Japan committed to sharing information on any schemes it currently has in place and details on which countries are eligible, what the conditions are for participation and what types of jobs are covered.

41. The Leaders welcomed youth exchanges between Japan and Pacific island countries in science and technology fields through the Sakura Science Plan since 2016.

Cooperation in the International Arena

42. The Leaders expressed shared appreciation for continued cooperation between Japan and the PIF Members on initiatives and efforts in international fora as well as multilateral institutions.

43. Prime Minister Abe expressed support for the FICs’ increasing presence in the international arena, including through the hosting and chairing of international conferences such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting to be hosted by Papua New Guinea in 2018, Asian Development Bank Annual Meeting to be hosted by Fiji in 2019 and Our Ocean Conference to be hosted by Palau in 2020.

44. The Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the UN Secretary-General’s agenda to reform the UN to make it more efficient, transparent and accountable. The Leaders expressed their shared interest in maintaining an appropriate presence of the UN in the Pacific region.

45. The Leaders reaffirmed the need to further enhance the legitimacy, effectiveness and representativeness of the UNSC to better reflect the realities of the international community in the twenty first century. They expressed their determination to engage constructively in the work of the intergovernmental negotiations towards an early realisation of the reform, including through expansion of both the permanent and non-permanent categories of its membership, and emphasised the need to launch text-based negotiations during the seventy second session of the UN General Assembly. The PIF Leaders reiterated their support for Japan’s bid for permanent membership in the UNSC.

46. The Leaders underlined their commitment to seeking further cooperation to address transnational security challenges, including nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and counter-proliferation, illicit trade in conventional weapons, terrorism and other transnational organised crime, violent extremism and cyber security. The Leaders expressed their intention to pursue the possibility of greater defence and security exchanges and cooperation.

47. The Leaders appreciated all the efforts to date by the international community towards the current developments surrounding North Korea. The Leaders welcomed “Panmunjeom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula” issued at the Inter-Korean Summit in late April 2018, which confirmed their common goal of the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and expressed hope that the planned US-North Korea Summit in June would deliver North Korea’s concrete actions for such goal. The Leaders strongly called on North Korea to immediately take concrete actions in accordance with UNSC resolutions. The Leaders expressed their commitment to exerting continued pressure on North Korea, including by fully implementing and enforcing the UNSC resolutions. In particular, the Leaders expressed deep concerns about North Korea’s sanctions evading tactics including “ship-to-ship transfers” and emphasised the need to accelerate their own efforts in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions, including by deregistering North Korean trading or fishing vessels currently flagged on their shipping registers, with development partners supporting FICs in their efforts. The Leaders stressed the importance of seeking a peaceful and diplomatic resolution towards complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including biological and chemical weapons, and ballistic missiles as well as related facilities of North Korea. The Leaders also expected that the announcement by North Korea to discontinue nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) test fires and dismantle its nuclear testing facility would soon lead to its concrete actions in this regard. The Leaders emphasised the importance of addressing humanitarian concerns, including the immediate resolution of the abductions issue.

48. The Leaders acknowledged the call for the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The Leaders also expressed their intention to seek ways to cooperate on detection of nuclear tests and possibly on sharing data of nuclear radiation in the Pacific Ocean.

Cooperation Activity during PALM 8 period

49. Prime Minister Abe stated that Japan has fulfilled its pledge at PALM7 by providing more than 55 billion yen, and implementing human resource development and people-to-people exchanges of 4,000 people with the FICs over the past three years.

50. Prime Minister Abe announced Japan’s commitment to continuing implementation of robust development assistance as before, in keeping with the achievement mentioned above. Prime Minister Abe pledged to implement high-quality assistance that draws its unique strength to bring direct benefits to the people and the society of the FICs both in soft and hard components by taking into account important factors such as sustainability and economic viability. Prime Minister Abe also pledged Japan’s intention to implement human resource development and people-to-people exchanges of more than 5,000 people from the FICs over the next three years, based on the recognition that investment to human capital is the most effective, efficient and enduring mode of support for the bright future of the FICs.

Way Forward

51. Building on the strength and resilience of the partnership, which has steadily developed under the PALM process for more than two decades, the Leaders renewed their determination to strengthen collaboration and engagement through policy dialogue and working on the areas specified in this Declaration in order to ensure the success of the shared future in the decades ahead.

52. The Leaders stressed the importance of continuing to seek effective ways to monitor and follow up the progress under the PALM process. They decided to hold the fourth Ministerial Interim Meeting before the PALM9 in order to follow-up and evaluate the implementation of the key PALM8 outcomes and to progress preparation for the PALM9.The PIF Leaders offered to host the fourth Ministerial Interim Meeting. The Leaders welcomed Japan’s proposal to host PALM9 in Japan in 2021. Prime Minister Abe expressed the intention to propose the timing and venue for PALM9 at the fourth Ministerial Interim Meeting.


 
 

Address by H.E. Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan,
at the Eighth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM 8)

Foreign Affairs, Saturday, May 19, 2018

My friends, the PALM8 Summit has now begun.

May I ask the leaders of New Caledonia and French Polynesia to stand up?

We wish to welcome your participation with a round of applause.

And Prime Minister Tuilaepa, it is an honor to be chairing with you our PALM8 Summit.

The Pacific Islands Forum, which met recently in Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s country of Samoa, has come up with a new concept of “Blue Continent.”

It means the "Pacific Ocean." It is an expression, isn't it, brimming with great respect for the vast blue ocean.

Let us all champion “saving the blue” more, embracing the same passion by which we urge people to “save the green.”

That is because the ocean is crying out in despair.

PCBs are being detected in high concentrations in creatures dwelling at a depth of 10,000 meters below the ocean surface. The medium for this? Some say that's microplastics.

Plankton and shellfish have decreased in number, because the seawater has gotten less alkaline, and that's because humankind has had the oceans absorb an inordinate amount of carbon dioxide.

And, in a mere 40 years, marine resources subjected to illegal and reckless overfishing have also increased to three times the previous level.

This is taking place not only in high seas but also within your own EEZs, with lawless foreign fishing vessels continuing their indiscriminate activities.

Then there is the issue of deep sea bed resources. Even though the development of such resources might well damage marine ecosystems in an irreversible way, we have yet to have a governance system that needs to be put in place.

Acidification of the ocean and sea level rise impact PALM nations directly. And should the seas become a lawless place, the nations of PALM will suffer a serious blow.

Once again, may I call upon you to make the PALM process a venue for finding solutions for those problems we all share.

In order to prevent the degradation of our seas and the trampling of the rule of law, shall we not take a step forward towards action?

Three years ago here in Iwaki, Fukushima, I made a pledge to you.

I promised that Japan would carry out a minimum of 55 billion yen, or roughly 460 million US dollars, in assistance and also engage in human resource development and people-to-people exchanges of 4,000 people.

To build Pacific Climate Change Centre, or PCCC, on the campus of SPREP, headquartered in Samoa, for the purpose of fostering specialists prepared to take on climate change, is one part of that PALM7 commitment I made to you.

Let me now tell you that the PCCC had its groundbreaking last week, and I wish to celebrate that with you all. The Centre will be of foremost international importance as a base for keeping a watchful eye on climate change.

We all know that climate change is among the most urgent concerns for Pacific island nations. Japan's cooperation on this matter through Taranoa Dialogue, for instance, will continue, I assure you.

Resolute in our determination that safeguarding the sea and safeguarding the planet and humankind are one and the same, my country will continue to make efforts with you all.

Where Japan wishes to place emphasis from now is, first of all, in establishing the rule of law in the maritime order.

Since ancient times, it is the Pacific Ocean that has given us blessings of the sea. And it is the rule of law that gives protection to the nations, big and small, for their inherent rights.

Japan will be unstinting in its assistance towards improving countries’ capacity to “protect the sea,” including each country’s legal enforcement capabilities.

I would like to ask all the leaders here to give special consideration to Japan’s fishing activities. At the same time, regarding assistance to enhance your guarding capabilities and your capacity to conserve resources, I believe Japan has a role it can play with confidence and pride.

Second, Japan will work to develop quality infrastructure in both “hard” and “soft” aspects so that you are able to realize sustainable prosperity in a self-reliant manner.

And third, we will enhance people-to-people exchanges further and work together with you all to cultivate leaders who will shoulder the future of the PALM nations. Over the next three years, until we gather for the next PALM, Japan intends to work to foster human resources and exchanges for more than 5000 people.

My friends, it is nothing more than an artificial, expedient custom to distinguish between one stretch of water we call the Pacific Ocean and another we deem the Indian Ocean. The two are one and the same, as a matter of course.

It was the ancestors of the PALM peoples that in the long-distant past brought about the “confluence of the two seas” through trade.

There is a theory that a word in Tanzania, “huti,” was originated from the Polynesian word “punti,” both of which mean “banana.”

Bananas found their way from the Pacific islands to the eastern coast of Africa. It was the ancestors of the PALM peoples, the greatest ocean navigators the world has ever known, that brought them there.

The “Blue Pacific” where we make our home is one and the same as the “Blue Indian Ocean.” Opportunities and possibilities coexist in these two seas, and the questions to be worked out and the growing crises stretch across both oceans, unable to be separated.

On this occasion, shall we not -- each and every one of us -- take on an expansive oceanic identity by which we view the two oceans holistically?

That will expand our field of vision geographically. It will impart to us a viewpoint by which we look at the system of the vast seas with a very long term perspective.

It has been 21 years since the PALM process began.

We have arrived here just as if we were in a long-distance relay race, passing the baton along as we run.

The PALM process is an unbroken stream that flows thanks to the efforts of countless people in both Japan and Pacific island nations, including those at the grassroots level as well as those in business and academia. I wish to end my remarks to you by expressing my heartfelt thanks for the tireless efforts of those who have come before us.

Thank you very much.


 
 

Japan-Fiji Summit Meeting and Other Events

Cabinet Secretariat, Wednesday, May 16, 2018

[Provisional Translation]

On May 16, 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hosted a summit meeting and other events with the Hon. Rear Admiral (Retired) Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, at the Prime Minister’s Office.
The two leaders attended a salute and guard of honor ceremony, followed by a summit meeting. Thereafter, the leaders held a joint press announcement.


 
 

Japan-Samoa Summit Meeting and Other Events

Cabinet Secretariat, Tuesday, May 15, 2018

[Provisional Translation]

On May 15, 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hosted a summit meeting and other events with the Hon. Tuilaepa Fatialofa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Independent State of Samoa, at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The two leaders attended a salute and guard of honor ceremony, followed by a summit meeting. Thereafter, the leaders held an award presentation ceremony and a joint press announcement, and exchanged uniforms of their countries’ national rugby teams.


 
 

Chinese Culture Exhibition and Welcome Reception for the Premier of the State Council of China in Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People's Republic of China

Cabinet Secretariat, Thursday, May 10, 2018

[Provisional Translation]

On May 10, 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, together with H.E. Mr. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, attended the Chinese Culture Exhibition and the Welcome Reception for the Premier of the State Council of China in Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People's Republic of China held in Tokyo.

The Prime Minister said in his address at the reception,

“I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations on behalf of the Government of Japan to Premier Li, Chairman Sadayuki Sakakibara of the Japan-China Exchange Promotion Executive Committee, as well as all the guests gathering here tonight, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People's Republic of China. I would also like to once again extend my warmest welcome to Premier Li on his Official Visit to Japan.

With Premier Li, I held a frank and candid exchange of views for nearly two hours yesterday. Our summit meeting was fruitful and achieved many outcomes. We truly produced many concrete results, including on the installation of the Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism, which had been an issue for over 10 years, a social security agreement, an agreement on the joint production of movies, financial cooperation and measures aimed at expanding rice exports. We successfully demonstrated that leaders can deliver great results by meeting together and having frank and candid dialogue. Nevertheless, this is the first visit to Japan in eight years of the Premier of the State Council of China. It is unfortunate that it took this long even though the distance between our two countries is just a little over three hours by airplane. As we are close neighbors, we have various issues between us; of course, we also have different views over these issues. We shall develop relations of perpetual peace and friendship between our two countries on the basis of various principles. Just 40 years ago, our predecessors in Japan and China drafted Article 1 of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship as such. With this Treaty serving as a major compass, Japan-China relations have sailed forward like a boat in the steady development of friendly relations despite experiencing headwinds on occasion. Proof of this can be found in the fact that Premier Li and I attend this 40th anniversary reception together and celebrate friendly relations between our two countries.

Even though we have had a number of toasts already, after this I would like to offer one more. I hope you will join me.

At yesterday’s summit meeting, Premier Li compared Japan-China relations with a boat and said that he hopes to have this boat set sail again and voyage as far as possible. I am in complete agreement. 40 years ago both Premier Li and I were young men in our 20s. At that time, then-Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda and then-Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping, two of the great politicians, ratified the Treaty of Peace and Friendship here in Tokyo, creating a compass for Japan-China relations for the four decades. It was not solely work done by these politicians. I must call your attention to the significant efforts made by many others from various fields of Japan and China behind the scenes, including business people and those from organizations promoting Japan-China friendship. I would like to once again express my deepest respect and gratitude for the efforts of our predecessors. Today, we who live in the present time bear the important responsibility to create a new compass for Japan-China relations aimed at the coming 40 years for the youth of both countries who are to shoulder the next era. From competition to cooperation. In setting sail for the future of Japan-China relations, both countries have entered an era of cooperation from this day forward. That is what I would like to stress here. If Japan and China work together, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish. I firmly believe that we can fulfill a larger responsibility in various issues facing the region and the world. To address the robust demand for infrastructure in Asia, at the summit meeting, we agreed to establish a committee across ministries and agencies and between the private and public sectors, and a forum where the public and private sectors can meet under the leadership of myself and Premier Li. I would like to ask for the full cooperation of the business community, including the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), which generously hosted today’s reception, to steadily advance infrastructure cooperation between Japanese and Chinese companies across all of Asia. I also hope that all of you can join me on my next visit to China. There are much greater merits to cooperation than competition. Lastly, I would like to once again give my word that our two countries now share this broad vision and, with an eye on the next 40 years, will elevate Japan-China relations to a new level for the youth in the new era.

It is important for us to engage in mutual exchanges, visit each other’s country, and truly see the actual conditions. Among the people joining us from China today, some of you might have a misunderstanding that Shinzo Abe is somewhat of a scary person. But those whom I have met directly with end up saying that Mr. Abe is a nice person. I look forward to deepening exchanges with China and learning more about one another, and while building trust, transitioning from the era of competition to an era of cooperation, and together developing both our countries, the region and the world.
As I stated earlier, I too would like to offer a toast. I would like to once again toast the further development of Japan-China relations.”


 
 

Visit to Hokkaido by the Leaders of Japan and China

Cabinet Secretariat, Friday, May 11, 2018

[Provisional Translation]

On May 10, 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Hokkaido together with H.E. Mr. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China.

On May 11, the two leaders attended the Third Japan-China Governors’ Forum in Sapporo City. Afterwards, they visited a plant of an automobile manufacturing company in Tomakomai City, followed by their visit to Eniwa City. Lastly, Prime Minister Abe saw Premier Li off at New Chitose Airport.

In his address at the Third Japan-China Governors’ Forum, the Prime Minister said,

“Thank you very much for inviting us to the Third Japan-China Governors’ Forum today.

First and foremost, I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations on the success of this forum, with the attendance of Premier Li. I would like to express my respect for all the hard work of Governor Kiyoshi Ueda of Saitama Prefecture, President of the National Governors’ Association, and Ms. Li Xiaolin, President of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, in organizing this forum.

Today, the Governors and Vice Governors of Sichuan, Hebei, Liaoning, Heilongjiang, and Jiangxi Provinces of China are attending this forum. Taking this opportunity, I would like to extend my sincere and warmest welcome to all of you to Japan.

I hope that you will have fruitful exchanges of views together with the Governors in attendance from Hokkaido, Iwate, Yamagata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Toyama, and Tottori Prefectures of Japan.

Furthermore, I also want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Governor Harumi Takahashi for the wonderful hospitality given to Premier Li during his visit to Hokkaido.

I always look forward to visiting Hokkaido. Hokkaido is a particularly popular destination for many of the 7.36 million Chinese tourists who visited Japan last year. The Chinese film, ‘If You Are the One (Fēichéng Wùrǎo),’ which is set in Hokkaido, became a major hit in 2008. This title sounds really good; it makes me remember my own youth a little bit. I was told that this film sparked a Hokkaido boom among young people in China. This has given us a major hint in further bolstering local city exchange between the two countries.

Exchanges between sister cities of Japan and China began immediately after the normalization of diplomatic relations, starting with the sister city agreement between Kobe City and Tianjin City in 1973. There are now over 360 pairs of sister cities between Japan and China.

Such exchanges between local cities have continued to serve as a bond connecting the two countries, which has remained unbroken, and a constant source of friendship between our two countries no matter the circumstance of the Japan-China relations. These exchanges have been passed down from one generation to the next.

I was told that the main focus of today’s forum is how to carry out local government exchange moving forward, given the new situation surrounding our two countries. In particular, regional vitalization is indispensable to overcome a declining birthrate and the ageing of society, which are serious issues faced by both countries. I have raised regional revitalization as one of the most important policy issues and exerted my efforts on job creation and the increase of the birthrate as well as other relevant issues. I have heard that Premier Li is also making use of his experiences in Henan and Liaoning Provinces to promote equitable development, including poverty reduction, across all of China.

Towards the promotion of local economies and tourism as well as the creation of a resilient society, Japan and China could refer to each other’s experiences with these issues and undertake effective policies, putting our heads together. It is important that we materialize our ‘Mutually Beneficial Relationship based on Common Strategic Interests’ in a visible manner.

For instance, by bringing together Japan’s know-how in health care and China’s drone technology, it would be possible to improve health care and alleviate the impact of personnel shortages in sparsely populated areas, wouldn’t it. The possibilities for cooperation between our two countries are expanding significantly. Today, I hope that you will bring together your collective wisdom and have a lively discussion on new forms of local government exchanges and regional cooperation between Japan and China.

Last but not least, I would like to express my profound respect and appreciation to everyone in attendance today who are working hard on the front lines of local city exchange between our two countries on a daily basis. It is my sincere hope that today’s forum will be a great success.”


 
 

Press Conference on the Summit Telephone Talk with President Trump of the United States and Other Matters

Cabinet Secretariat, Thursday, May 10, 2018

[Provisional Translation]

On May 10, 2018 (11:12AM), Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office.

On the Japan-U.S. Summit Telephone Talk with the Honorable Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America, the Prime Minister said,

“This morning, I received a telephone call from President Trump and we held a Japan-U.S. Summit Telephone Talk. I offered my congratulations on the major accomplishment of the release of the three Americans who had been detained by North Korea. As this release reflects North Korea’s constructive attitude, I would like to welcome this development.

While I would like to refrain from touching upon the details, I received a detailed explanation from President Trump on Secretary of State Pompeo’s exchanges with North Korea. I explained to President Trump the overview of the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting and the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting as well as the Japan-China Summit Meeting held yesterday, regarding our detailed and thorough exchanges of views, and information on the Inter-Korean Summit and the China-North Korea Summit Meeting as well as our responses toward the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting.

This time, three Americans held by North Korea were released. Meanwhile, unfortunately, concerning the issue of the abductions, many abductees still remain in North Korea. I would like to exert every possible effort to resolve the abduction issue through Japan-U.S. and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation, while also collaborating with China.”

In addition, regarding an appearance at the Diet by Mr. Tadao Yanase, former Executive Secretary to the Prime Minister, as an unsworn witness, the Prime Minister said,

“Concerning the issue related to the opening of a veterinary school in a National Strategic Special Zone, Dr. Tatsuo Hatta, the Chairman of the private sector members of the Council on National Strategic Special Zones, and the rest of the private sector members, all stated at the Diet that nothing inappropriate occurred within the entire process at all, as I have already stated as well. While I could not directly follow this morning’s Budget Committee meeting because I had the Japan-U.S. Summit Telephone Talk along with the preparation and post-meeting analyses, I believe Former Executive Secretary Yanase has answered and will answer honestly, and also hope he would reveal everything.”


 
 

Courtesy Call from a Delegation from the Japan-Korea Economic Association

Cabinet Secretariat, Monday, May 14, 2018

[Provisional Translation]

On May 14, 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received a courtesy call from a delegation from the Japan-Korea Economic Association at the Prime Minister's Office.

In his address, the Prime Minister said,

“Annyeong hashimnikka (Good afternoon). Good afternoon, everyone. I would like to extend my welcome to you who are visiting Japan.

First, I would like to congratulate Chairman Kim (of the Korea-Japan Economic Association) on being awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun. I also would like to thank you for reiterating in front of the press during your remarks today that the Abe administration has good relations with President Moon Jae-in.

The Japan-Korea Business Conference is celebrating its landmark 50th meeting. Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have maintained our close economic relations as this business conference has continued regardless of the overall state of Japan-ROK relations. I would like to express my gratitude for the hard work of everyone here in the business circles, including Chairman Kim and Chairman Sasaki (of the Japan-Korea Economic Association).

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Japan-Republic of Korea Joint Declaration on a New Japan-Republic of Korea Partnership towards the Twenty-first Century. President Moon recently made the first visit by a President of the ROK to Japan in seven years, and we had an extremely good summit meeting. During that summit meeting, we confirmed that Japan and the ROK would continue to develop future-oriented relations. I have high hopes for making various exchanges even more active, including the parliamentary exchanges worked on by Chairman Nukaga (of the Japan-Korea Parliamentarians’ Union), who is also in attendance today. I ask for the continued cooperation of everyone in the business circles in order to further deepen our economic relations. Thank you.”


 
 

Japan-Korea Business Conference

Cabinet Secretariat, Tuesday, May 15, 2018

[Provisional Translation]

On May 15, 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the 50th meeting of the Japan-Korea Business Conference held in Tokyo.

The Prime Minister said in his address,

“Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado, Chairman of the Korea-Japan Economic Association Kim Yoon, Chairman of the Japan-Korea Economic Association Mikio Sasaki, and all of the representatives of Japanese and Korean business circles, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the participants gathering here today on this landmark 50th meeting of the Japan-Korea Business Conference.

This Japan-Korea Business Conference have held consecutive fifty meetings without a single cancellation, alternately in Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK), regardless of the overall state of Japan-ROK relations. In that sense, the development of this conference parallels the history of Japan and the ROK strengthening our economic relations after the normalization of our diplomatic relations. The roles that this Conference has played over the last half century cannot be understated. Various exchange programs, including the Japan-ROK high school eorganized by the Korea-Japan and Japan-Korea Economic Associations The Japan-ROK Youth exchange camps and other exchange programs have also made tremendous contributions to the expansion of people-to-people exchanges between our two countries.

Last week, the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting was held in Tokyo, and President Moon Jae-in made the first visit to Japan by the President of the ROK in seven years. Taking this opportunity, we also held a Japan-ROK Summit Meeting, where we once again confirmed that our countries would continue to build future-oriented Japan-ROK relations.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Japan-Republic of Korea Joint Declaration on a New Japan-Republic of Korea Partnership towards the Twenty-first Century that was signed by then Prime Minister Obuchi and then President Kim Dae-jung of the ROK. President Moon Jae-in and I have instructed the designated authorities respectively to give due consideration over a new form of Japan-ROK relations toward the 20th anniversary of this Joint Declaration in October.

Diverse and active economic exchanges and people-to-people exchanges are crucial for the development of such future-oriented Japan-ROK relations. Japan and the ROK are each other’s third largest trading partner, and we are now seeing collaborations between companies of the two countries in a variety of fields. In recent years, companies of Japan and the ROK have been jointly expanding their businesses in third countries in the fields such as nature development and infrastructure development. Moreover, common challenges that Japan and the ROK are facing, such as the ageing of society and declining birthrate, energy, and environmental issues, could all present great business opportunities in the future. I strongly hope that companies of Japan and the ROK will engage in collaborations even further and become the hub of the creation of new ideas, new products, and new services.

In addition, at the recent Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting, the three countries shared the view that we would continue to collaborate toward the conclusion of a high quality Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) within this year and for the acceleration of negotiations on a Japan-ROK-China free trade agreement (FTA). The Government of Japan will promote initiatives in order to encourage economic partnerships between our two countries.

With respect to people-to-people exchanges, more than 9 million people traveled between Japan and the ROK last year, a historic high. In particular, the number of visitors from the ROK to Japan has increased at a rapid pace in recent years and the ROK is second to only China in the number of visitors to Japan each year. I myself went to the ROK to attend the Opening Ceremony for the PyeongChang Olympic Games and watched an ice hockey match. I saw many Japanese people at the stadium. On the days that followed, many Japanese continued to go and watch the PyeongChang Olympic Games and the subsequent Paralympic Games. The close friendships between athletes from Japan and the ROK deeply moved people around the world. In particular, as noted a moment ago, the scene of Ms. Nao Kodaira and Ms. Lee Sang-hwa congratulating each other after their speed skating tournament was very moving for many people across the globe. I would like to express my sincere congratulations once again on the success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and my respect for all the hard work of everyone in the ROK involved with these Games. By carrying forward this momentum to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, I hope that exchanges between the people of our two countries will develop even further.

In this way, economic exchanges and people-to-people exchanges are the foundation of the Japan-ROK relations. The Government will continue to work hard to promote such exchanges between our two countries.

Lastly, I would like to conclude my remarks on behalf of the Government of Japan by wishing for the further success of the Japan-Korea Business Conference and the further development of our two economies as well as the further promotion of exchanges of businesspersons between Japan and the ROK. Thank you very much.”


 
 

Courtesy Call on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Presentation of the Joint Recommendation by the EU- Japan Business Round Table (BRT) Co- Chairmen

Foreign Affairs, Wednesday, May 16, 2018

On Wednesday, 16 May, for approximately 10 minutes from 11:35 a.m., Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received a courtesy call from the EU-Japan Business Round Table (BRT) Co-Chairman Kazuo Tsukuda (Senior Executive Adviser of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.) and Mr. Danny Risberg, (Chairman of the European Business Council in Japan (EBC) and representing BRT Co-Chairman). The summary of the meeting is as follows:

1. At the beginning of the meeting, Mr. Risberg handed Prime Minister Abe a set of Joint Recommendations to the Government of Japan and the EU, which was adopted at the BRT Annual Meeting this year.

2. Subsequently, Co-Chairman Tsukuda briefed Prime Minister Abe on the discussions at the BRT Annual Meeting r and expressed the BRT’s hope that the finalisation of negotiations of the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) contribute to strengthening the free trade system and to creating more business opportunities, not only in Japan and the EU but also in other areas of the world.

3. Furthermore, Co-Chairman Tsukuda explained that taking into account the eventual expansion of business opportunities after the entry into force of the Japan-EU EPA, the BRT discussed topics such as digital economy, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and regulatory cooperation, and requested both the Government of Japan and the EU to continue cooperation at a high level.

4. Mr. Risberg stated that the BRT hopes for an early signing and entry into force of the Japan –EU EPA, and wishes that in a time of instability, Japan and the EU could exert leadership by demonstrating that free, fair and rules-based trade is the foundation of a mutually-beneficial and close collaboration.

5. Finally, Prime Minister Abe expressed his gratitude for the efforts made by both Co-Chairmen, who will finish their terms this year, and stated that he would like to continue the utmost, government-side effort towards an early signing and entry into force of the Japan-EU EPA. He also stated that Japan would like to strengthen its economic relationship with the EU through working closely with industries.


 
 

Courtesy Call from the Speaker of the Hawaii House of Representatives and His Delegation

Cabinet Secretariat, Wednesday, May 16, 2018

[Provisional Translation]

On May 16, 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received a courtesy call at the Prime Minister’s Office from Mr. Scott Saiki, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the State of Hawaii, United States of America, and his delegation.


 
 

Courtesy Call from Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Parliament of the Czech Republic, and Others

Cabinet Secretariat, Wednesday, May 16, 2018

[Provisional Translation]

On May 16, 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received a courtesy call at the Prime Minister’s Office from Mr. Radek Vondráček, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Parliament of the Czech Republic, and others.


 
 

Headquarters for Ocean Policy

Cabinet Secretariat, Tuesday, May 15, 2018

[Provisional Translation]

On May 15, 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held the 17th meeting of the Headquarters for Ocean Policy at the Prime Minister’s Office.

At the meeting, discussions were held on the draft Third Basic Plan on Ocean Policy and on draft measures to strengthen Japan’s capacity in Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). There was also a report on key measures implemented in FY2017 based on the Basic Low-water Line Protection Plan.

Based on the discussions and the report given at the meeting, the Prime Minister said,

“Over the past five years, under the Second Basic Plan on Ocean Policy, we have executed our efforts on protection of the maritime environment and preservation of our remote islands as well as marine resource development, seeing the ocean as part of the global commons and an unexplored frontier.

Recently, in the midst of the increasingly severe maritime situation, the whole Government must work in unity to protect the territorial waters and maritime interests of Japan, and also maintain and develop open and stable seas. Meanwhile, the importance of the Arctic continues to grow in terms of hopes for marine resource development, and as the next frontier.

In response to the changing maritime situation, under the Third Basic Plan on Ocean Policy that we will approve today, we will step up our efforts for the realization of comprehensive maritime security by strengthening our MDA capacity, and for the utilization of oceans for the purpose of industries, and for our Arctic policy, positioning the challenge toward a new oceanic state as our policy direction.

For Japan, a country surrounded on all sides by the ocean, ocean policy is a matter of vital importance. Its success or failure is directly tied to our national interests. I would like to ask Cabinet members to share that recognition, and under this new plan, fully coordinate with each other in making further efforts for the implementation of these measures.”


 
 

Exchange of Diplomatic Notes for the Entry into Force of the Protocol Amending the Agreement between Japan and the Czech Republic on Social Security

Foreign Affairs, Thursday, May 17, 2018

1. Diplomatic notes for the entry into force of "the Protocol Amending the Agreement between Japan and the Czech Republic on Social Security" (signed on February 1, 2017) were exchanged on May 16, 2018 in Prague. With this exchange, this Protocol will enter into force on August 1, 2018.

2. The Protocol amends part of the current Agreement, which entered into force in 2009

(1) To further eliminate the problem of the compulsory coverage under the social security systems of both countries by clarifying the category of employees temporarily detached.

(2) To adjust the wording of the text along with the entry into force of the law in Japan, which unified the relevant employees’ pension systems into the Employees’ Pension Insurance.

3. It is expected that the entry into force of the Protocol will further promote human and economic exchanges between Japan and the Czech Republic.

 
 

METI Minister Seko Holds Meeting with H.E. Dr. Paik Ungyu, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy, ROK

METI, Wednesday, May 9, 2018

On May 8 (Tue.), 2018, Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, held a meeting with H.E. Dr. Paik Ungyu, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy, Republic of Korea (ROK), taking the opportunity of Minister Paik’s visit to Japan to attend the Seventh Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit.
Minister Seko held a meeting with Minister Paik, at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), taking the opportunity of Minister Paik’s visit to Japan to attend the Seventh Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit.

At the meeting, both sides confirmed that Japan and the ROK will continue to closely collaborate for the early conclusion of a high-quality RCEP agreement. Moreover, they held discussions on enhancing the relationship between the countries, including cooperation in the field of energy.

Following this, Minister Seko requested on scientific grounds that Minister Paik immediately eliminate import restrictions that the ROK has imposed on Japanese marine products, including those from Fukushima Prefecture.

They reached consensus that the countries will bring forward future-oriented discussions in parallel with advancing appropriate management of various pending issues between Japan and the ROK.


 
 

Signing of Grant Agreement for Afghanistan: Supporting road improvements in Kabul through a partnership with UNOPS

JICA, Monday, April 23, 2018

On April 23, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a grant agreement with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) to provide grant aid of up to 1.25 billion yen for the Project for Improvement of Access in the South-East Area of Kabul City.

The project will expand and rehabilitate an existing road connecting the southwest and east areas of Kabul, construct a new bridge, and build a traffic intersection, thereby alleviating urban traffic congestion and stimulating the transportation of goods, contributing to the economic development of Afghanistan.

Approximately two million in 1999, the population in the central part of Kabul exceeded four million in 2017 and is projected to continue increasing. The transportation volume is increasing steadily in proportion to the population increase, but the road and bridge infrastructure has not kept pace. The trunk road network of Kabul is radial with a concentration of traffic toward the city core, through which traffic travelling east-west passes, and has particularly severe traffic congestion due to narrow road width, hindering the smooth flow of urban traffic and the goods transportation network.

The project will alleviate traffic congestion with a road connecting the southwest and east areas of Kabul, and contribute to improvements in road traffic between Kabul and other major cities, and community stability through better goods transportation, and to improvements in the lives of residents who live in the Kabul area.

In addition to this project, JICA is combining technical cooperation to construct roads and strengthen maintenance and management capacity, comprehensively supporting road improvements, maintenance and management in Kabul.

 
 

Clashes in Gaza (Statement by Press Secretary Norio Maruyama)

Foreign Affairs, Tuesday, May 15, 2018

1. Japan is deeply concerned about the reports of violent clashes which occurred on May 14 in Gaza between the Israeli security forces and Palestinian demonstrators protesting against the moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, causing more than 50 Palestinian deaths and many injuries. Japan is closely following the developments with concern.

2. Japan calls on all parties concerned not to escalate the situation.

3. Japan believes that the issue should be resolved through efforts of both sides to build mutual trust and through negotiations between them. Japan stresses that all parties concerned need to continue efforts to achieve peace based on a two- state solution.