Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 165 (November 25, 2004)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
Visit to Chile
Having left Japan on Friday, November 19, it took me about 24 hours to get to Santiago, the capital of Chile. After spending four nights there, I arrived back at Haneda Airport late last night.
Santiago is a magnificently beautiful city at the foot of the Andes, and I had a breathtaking view of snow-capped mountains some 6,000 meters in height from my hotel window. Chile, which is halfway around the globe from Japan, is just now entering summer. In the pleasantly dry weather, the lovely lilac of the jacaranda blossoms was animating the streets.
Leaders of the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific region assembled in Santiago to take part in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting on November 20 and 21 to discuss various topics, including promotion of free trade agreements (FTA), counterterrorism measures, and energy issues.
In addition to the APEC meetings, I also held bilateral meetings with President George W. Bush of the United States, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Hu Jintao of China. In the respective meetings, we frankly exchanged opinions on global peace and security, economic and cultural exchanges, and promotion of friendly cooperative relations.
Particularly on the issue of North Korea, I reconfirmed with the leaders of the US, Russia and China to work on North Korea in a peaceful and diplomatic manner through the Six-Party Talks so that North Korea becomes a responsible member of the international community and understands that there is no benefit to it possessing nuclear weapons and that dismantlement instead is in its best interest.
Japan will continue to stand together with the US, Russia, China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in comprehensively solving the issues of abduction, nuclear weapons and missiles under the concept of "dialogue and pressure."
On November 22, the day following the conclusion of the APEC Leaders' Meeting, I met with President Ricardo Lagos of Chile and members of the National Congress. We exchanged views on further promotion of the friendly and cooperative relations between Japan and Chile. At the meeting with President Lagos, we agreed to launch a joint study group comprising members of the business community, academia and government to consider the conclusion of a FTA between our countries.
Japan is second only to the US as Chile's largest trading partner, with exports of marine products such as salmon, as well as copper ores. Recently, Chilean wine has gained quite a following in Japan, and, likewise, Japanese restaurants in Santiago have become popular with the crowds, catapulting their number from just a handful to 70 in the last few years.
Japan and Chile are on opposite ends of the globe. When it is winter in Japan, it is summer in Chile; when it is nine o'clock in the morning Japan time, it is nine o'clock at night Chile time. Our relationship, therefore, is one of complementarity rather than competition. I am confident that the conclusion of a bilateral free trade agreement will significantly broaden the possibilities of growth for both countries.
Immediately after my return to Japan, the specific policies will be decided on the three-part reform package, which is at the heart of the reform principle "leaving to the regions what they can do," and I will depart this weekend for Vientiane, the capital of Laos, to attend the ASEAN+3 (Japan, China and ROK) Summit Meeting.
I have a very busy schedule this week, both domestic and abroad. Throughout, I will continue with my diplomatic efforts at international meetings and in talks with world leaders to protect the national interest of Japan and to ensure peace in the world and security of Japan.
* The title of this column "Lion Heart" is a reference to the Prime Minister's lion-like hairstyle and his unbending determination to advance structural reform.
- Japan-Chile Summit Meeting and Press Conference Following the
APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting (November 22, 2004)
- The Second Day of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting
(November 21, 2004)
- The First Day of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting
(November 20, 2004)
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