On 2 July 2021, the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, welcomed the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Toshimitsu Motegi, who had arrived in Latvia on an official visit. During their meeting, the Foreign Ministers discussed bilateral cooperation between Latvia and Japan, the relations between the European Union and Japan, as well as the latest international developments.
The Ministers praised the close cooperation between the EU and Japan, and they underlined the common goals of the strengthening of multilateralism, democracy and human rights, as well as developing economic cooperation. The Ministers focused in particular on the recent EU-Japan Summit, which gave the opportunity for both parties to agree on forming a Green Alliance. This historic commitment will stimulate practical cooperation on climate action while also setting an example for other partners on the path to climate neutrality. The Ministers devoted special attention to the dialogue between the Baltic States and Japan, as well as between NATO and Japan, and they spoke of their interest in maintaining a regular political dialogue at various levels seeking thereby enhanced coordination between Latvia and Japan as like-minded countries.
The Ministers expressed satisfaction with the active bilateral economic dialogue, welcoming investments by Japanese companies Marubeni (MM Capital Infrastructure Fund) un Mitsui&Co in Latvia’s energy and transport sectors, as well as Japan’s preparedness to engage in the Rail Baltica project. We are interested in building a deeper business contacts including through cooperation projects in connectivity, life sciences and green technologies, Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs asserted. He added that the EU-Japan Economic Partnership, the Connectivity Partnership and the Green Alliance create good preconditions for such work. Digital solutions developed in Latvia have already gained recognition in Japan, and there are good prospects for further cooperation, Edgars Rinkēvičs pointed out.
The Ministers discussed the possibilities of expanding bilateral cooperation in education and research, as well as culture, where close links have already been established.
In a discussion covering current issues on the global and regional agenda, Edgars Rinkēvičs presented Latvia’s position on developments in the EU’s neighbourhood, including those on Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Minister Rinkēvičs welcomed the intention of the Japanese government and businesses to connect with the Three Seas Initiative. The Ministers were in agreement on the need to seek synergy between the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and Japan’s policy of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP).
Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed appreciation for the good cooperation with Japan in international organisations, and, in particular, support from Japan for initiatives advanced by Latvia in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The relationship between Latvia and Japan and lines for further action are set out in the Joint Statement by both Ministers which was published after the meeting.
During his visit, the Foreign Minister of Japan also met with the Prime Minister of Latvia, Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš, and together with the Foreign Minister of Latvia, he laid flowers at the Freedom Monument as well as taking part in a joint tree planting ceremony to symbolically commemorate the beginning of the next centenary of friendship between Latvia and Japan.
As part of his regional visit, Foreign Minister Motegi attended the G20 Summit in Italy and visited Estonia. The Minister is now leaving Latvia for Lithuania. This is the first visit by a Japanese Foreign Minister to the Baltic States.
This year marks 100 years of friendship between Latvia and Japan going back to 1921 when Japan was among the first states on the Supreme Council of Allied Powers that recognised Latvia’s sovereignty de jure.
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