Japan Digest #280
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Japan on December 20 and 21.
He came by accepting the invitation of the Japanese government.
When PM Abe held a meeting with President Rouhani, Abe explained the purpose of his administration’s plan to dispatch one destroyer and one P-3C of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force to the Middle East, and asked for President’s understanding.
Abe also made it clear that the area of JMSDF’s operations does not include the Strait of Hormuz or Persian Gulf.
Reportedly, Rouhani appreciated PM Abe’s thorough explanation and ground work to Iran before his cabinet’s final decision of the operations as “very transparent”.
The media reported that the two leaders also talked about the Iran nuclear issue and the U.S.-Iran relationship, for which PM Abe has been offering a role of go-between.
Taking the chance of the Japan-China-Korea leaders’ conference, PM Abe held a separate meeting with President Moon Jae-in of Korea in Chengdu of China on December 24.
It’s been 15 month since the two leaders officially met last time.
The two countries relationship got tensed in October last year when the Korean Supreme Court ordered Japanese companies to compensate Korean people who were recruited for civil engineering work that was awarded to those Japanese companies during the World War II.
Since the two countries made an agreement in 1965 to settle all the war related claims for compensation by Japan’s lump sum payment to normalize the diplomatic relationship, the Japanese government has been asking the government of Korea to solve this discrepancy.
Then, the Abe administration, in July of this year, decided to tighten its export control against Korea.
Although the administration explained that the war compensation issue and the export control are two different ones, the Korean side took it that Japan gave tit for tat, leading to Japanese goods boycott campaigns in Korea, and to dramatic decreases of Korean visitors to Japan.
Abe and Moon agreed during the meeting to diplomatically solve these issues as quickly as possible.
They also agreed to cooperate with each other to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea.
This year’s trilateral meeting was held in Chengdu of China on December 24.
Premier Li Keqiang hosted the meeting inviting PM Abe and President Moon Jae-in.
The three leaders discussed on the regional security issues and economy and trade issues.
Reportedly, the three agreed to accelerate the Japan-China-Korea FTA negotiations, while there was a bit of gap with regard to RCEP (ASEAN+6 (Japan, China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India) economic partnership).
As to Indian Prime Minister Modi’s recent expression of his dissatisfaction to the current terms and conditions of the partnership agreement, PM Abe insisted on the necessity of keeping India in RCEP while the other two leaders did not necessarily stick to it.
Also, the three agreed on denuclearization of North Korea, but its approach varied among the three.
PM Abe insisted that Japan continues the sanction against North Korea and fully supports the U.S. approach against it, while China rather insisted on the necessity of relaxing the sanction and shift to more dialogue and discussion.
Moon Jae-in also seeks for reconciliation policy, and economic collaboration projects with North Korea.
Abe asked Premier Li and President Moon to support Japan in solving the North Korean abduction issue, and the two leaders shared the Japanese concern.
Apart from the summit, PM Abe met with Chinese President Xi Jing Ping on December 23.
He extended an invitation to President Xi to visit Japan as state guest in April next year.
The two agreed on the necessity to denuclearize North Korea, while PM Abe requested that China stops the operations by Chinese government ships near the Senkaku Archipelagos, and that the Chinese government releases Japanese who are detained by the Chinese government as quickly as possible.
Abe also expressed concern against the Hong Kong situation.
Counting down the effectuation of the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement in January next year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery announced its estimate how the agreement would affect the Japanese agricultural industries.
It estimated that around 60 billion yen to 110 billion yen (US$0.6 to 1 billion) of the Japanese agricultural products would be replaced by the imports of U.S. products.
The largest impact is anticipated for beef products, followed by milk and dairy products, and pork products.
The TA will reduce the tariff of beef from the current 38.5% step by step, and eventually to 9% in 2033.
Construction of the new National Stadium was completed on November 30, and an opening event was held on December 21.
The stadium was designed by Mr. Kengo Kuma, and featured by its wooden roof structure as a sort of a symbol of harmony with the nature.
This stadium is going to play the role of the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.