On Monday, 5 March, Solvita Āboltiņa, Speaker of the Saeima, during her official visit to Japan met with Kenji Hirata, President of the House of Councillors of the National Diet of Japan, and Takahiro Yokomichi, President of the House of Representatives of the National Diet of Japan, and emphasised that although Latvia and Japan are geographically distant countries, they have established very successful political dialogue, which is a good basis for joint projects in the sphere of culture and closer economic cooperation.
“The year 2007, when Their Majesties Emperor and Empress of Japan visited Latvia, was a historical turning point in our bilateral relations,” noted Āboltiņa and stressed that the exchange of high-level visits and regular dialogue in different areas and diverse formats will continue to attest to the good relations between both countries.
When addressing the issue of inter-parliamentary cooperation, public officials expressed their readiness to continue close cooperation in the future as well. Speaker Āboltiņa extended an invitation to Kenji Hirata to visit Latvia and expressed hope that in the near future it will be possible to organise a state visit of the President of Latvia to Japan.
When recalling the earthquake that hit Eastern Japan a year ago and its consequences, the Speaker declared that “back then we followed the development of events with human sympathy; both the government and society wanted to help Japan, even if only symbolically”. Āboltiņa also expressed admiration for the great strength, unity and determination of the Japanese people to deal with the tragedy and its consequences; she also expressed her conviction that this tragic event will make Japan only stronger because “such tragedies unite people and cause them to muster all available national resources”.
The economic situation in Latvia was discussed during the meeting with Takahiro Yokomichi, President of the House of Representatives, and Speaker Āboltiņa noted that Latvia is one of the countries which was hit hard by the economic crisis. “Unlike other European countries, Latvia cut its budget expenditures and implemented structural reforms in due time; currently Latvia’s experience serves other countries as an example of how to overcome the crisis, and its macroeconomic indicators are steadily improving,” said the Speaker.
In order for Latvia to attain its strategic goal in 2014, namely to join the Euro Area, it is essential to ensure stability within the Euro Area and on the global market because that can have an impact on Japan as well as other countries, said Āboltiņa. “We have to make use of every opportunity to develop our economic cooperation, and during this visit we will try to identify new ways of cooperating in the area of energy”.
When addressing bilateral collaboration in the spheres of culture and education, the Speaker emphasised that close ties have been established between the people of Japan and Latvia, and events organised by the Japanese Embassy enable Latvian people to learn about Japanese culture and arts through exhibitions, concerts and cinema. Āboltiņa extended her gratitude to the Japanese government and Embassy for giving Latvian students an opportunity to study the Japanese language and to learn about Japanese culture and philosophy within the framework of the Asian Studies Programme, which has become very popular.
Speaker Āboltiņa pointed out that as the European capital of culture in 2014, Riga could attract Japanese tourists to Riga and thus the entire Baltic-Nordic region. Latvia is an attractive tourist destination which can be reached quite easily because Riga airport is one of the most active in the region, and Latvia can offer competitive tourism services.
Āboltiņa noted with satisfaction the successful cooperation that has been established between Riga and Kobe, as well as Rūjiena and Higashikawa.
On 3 to 9 March, Solvita Āboltiņa, Speaker of the Saeima, is on an official visit to Japan on the invitation by Kenji Hirata, President of the House of Councillors of the National Diet of Japan. During the visit, Āboltiņa is meeting with His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Naruhito; Kenji Hirata, President of the House of Councillors of the National Diet of Japan; Takahiro Yokomichi, President of the House of Representatives of the National Diet of Japan; Yukio Edano, Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan; as well as members of the Japan - Latvia friendship association.
Saeima Press Service