On 13–14 May 2019, the State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andris Pelšs, was on a visit in Japan on an invitation from the Japanese side. The State Secretary met with the Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Kenji Yamada, the Director General for Europe at the Foreign Ministry, Yasushi Masaki, as well as the chairman of the Japan-Latvia parliamentary cooperation group, Hirofumi Nakasone, and members of the group.
To discuss the ways to intensify economic cooperation, Andris Pelšs met with the Chair of the Committee on Europe at Japan Business Federation, Keidanren, Hitoshi Ochi, and representatives from the largest Asian investor in Latvia, Mitsui & Co. The State Secretary called on businesses to actively use the opportunities offered by the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, which came into force on 1 February, with the latest statistics already demonstrating growth in trade between Japan and EU Member States.
The State Secretary also took part in a round table organised by the Waseda University and the Embassy of Latvia on current developments in foreign policy. The event was also attended by exchange students from Latvia. In the conclusion of the visit, Andris Pelšs gave an interview to JIJI Press, one of the leading Japanese media.
Discussions with Japanese officials covered a broad range of topics – bilateral relations, regional security challenges, Japan’s cooperation with the EU and NATO, and other issues on the international agenda, including the UN Security Council reform. The Japanese side expressed its appreciation of Latvia being the first EU Member State to ratify the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Japan. The State Secretary on his part confirmed the EU’s interest in a continued deepening of cooperation with Japan, including in the matters of defence, connectivity, and multilateral relations.
The officials from both countries were unanimous that Latvia and Japan were equally-minded strategic partners linked by shared values and principles. It was underlined that the bilateral cooperation was growing increasingly intensive, which was evidenced by an active exchange of the highest-level visits. Andris Pelšs expressed appreciation of the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe being the first foreign leader to visit Latvia during its Centenary year.
The State Secretary congratulated Japan on the beginning of the new Reiwa Era, and he confirmed that an invitation had been received to the President of Latvia to attend the coronation ceremony for the new emperor. Andris Pelšs also underlined the need for a continued cooperation between the Baltic States and Japan, or in the format of the “3+1” dialogue. State Secretary Pelšs invited Japanese partners to the next meeting in that format to be held in Riga this autumn.
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