Speaker Āboltiņa: Successful political dialogue between Latvia and Japan is a good foundation for further economic cooperation

(16.07.2014.)
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“Despite the geographical distance, Latvia and Japan have a long history of cooperation, and successful political dialogue is a good foundation for further economic cooperation, as well as joint cultural and educational projects,” said Solvita Āboltiņa, Speaker of the Saeima, during her meeting in the Main Building of the Saeima with Masaaki Yamazaki, President of the House of Councillors of the National Diet of Japan, who is on an official visit to Latvia. 

A regular exchange of high-level visits also attests to successful cooperation between Latvia and Japan. When the Emperor and Empress of Japan paid their first visit to Latvia in 2007, it marked a historical turning point in the bilateral relations between Latvia and Japan. “We highly appreciate the fact that this is the second time Latvia is visited by a president of the Diet of Japan, and we are also pleased with the recent visit of the Chairperson of the Japan-Latvia Parliamentary Friendship Group of the National Diet of Japan to our country,” Speaker Āboltiņa told her Japanese colleague, emphasising that Latvia is interested in continuing to strenghten bilateral relations with Japan.

In discussing economic relations between Latvia and Japan, the Speaker of the Saeima said that the road of successful cooperation is paved not only by an active political dialogue but also by a range of Latvia’s competitive advantages. “Thanks to Latvia’s advantageous geographical location and our experience in cooperation with Russia and CIS countries, Latvia can serve as a bridge linking the markets of the European Union and Russia, thus also giving unique expansion opportunities to Japanese businesses.” Speaker Āboltiņa also mentioned Latvia’s well-developed transport infrastructure, specifically emphasising its three ice-free ports, the region’s fastest growing airport and a railroad connection with Russia. 

In discussing security issues, Speaker Āboltiņa informed Mr. Yamazaki that in the beginning of July the Saeima convened an extraordinary session and adopted on an urgent basis the State Defence Financing Law, which provides for a gradual increase of funding for national defence to reach 2% of GDP by 2020. The Speaker of the Saeima also stressed that Japan is a important partner of NATO in ensuring peace and security throughout the world. 

Speaker Āboltiņa informed Mr. Yamazaki about Latvia’s upcoming presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2015, emphasising that one of our top priorities will be the Eastern Partnership and cooperation with Central Asian countries. “During Latvia’s presidency we will organise, together with the business sector, a Baltic – Japan business forum, to which the Prime Minister of Japan and representatives of Japanese companies are invited,” said the Speaker of the Saeima, expressing the conviction that the forum would give both countries an opportunity to agree on specific steps in further bilateral cooperation. Mr. Yamazaki acknowledged that he would pass on the invitation to the Prime Minister regarding his possible participation in this forum. 

Cooperation between Latvia and Japan in the area of culture was also discussed during the meeting. The Speaker of the Saeima expressed her gratification that at present, while Riga is the European Capital of Culture, it is hosting the World Choir Games, in which Japan is also represented.  

“Latvia is interested not only in Japanese culture and traditions but also possibilities to learn Japanese. We see considerable potential in the area of education, especially as regards student exchange; we would like to boost Japanese exchange student visits to Latvia based on concluded agreements between universities, as well as on an individual basis,” noted Speaker Āboltiņa. 

In view of the high percentage of female representation in politics and business in Latvia, Mr. Yamazaki expressed the wish to adopt Latvia’s experience in dealing with gender equality issues. 

During the meeting, the President of the House of Councillors of the National Diet of Japan invited Speaker Āboltiņa to attend the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. 

From 16 to 19 July the President of the House of Councillors of the National Diet of Japan is on an official visit to Latvia. In the course of the visit, Mr. Yamazaki will meet with Andris Bērziņš, President of Latvia, and Ina Druviete, Minister for Education and Science. The delegation will also lay flowers at the Monument of Freedom, visit the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Latvia, the Musuem of the Occupation of Latvia and the Latvian War Museum, as well as view the historical Old Town of Riga and Rundāle palace.

Photos from the meeting are available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/saeima/sets/72157645308763768/
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Saeima Press Service

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