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Political relations

Political relations

France and Japan engage in regular political dialogue on all key international issues of the day: regulation of the world economic and financial system and efforts to improve global econmic governance through the G20 summit meetings, tackling climate change, international security issues (combating terrorism and piracy, peacekeeping, regional crises). The two countries also maintain frequent political contacts on the margins of major multilateral meetings such as the G8, G20 and United National Assembly General. France supports Japan in its aims to take on new political responsibilities on the international stage.

Bilateral political dialogue is based on the Declaration for a New Franco-Japanese partnership, adopted during President Chirac’s visit to Tokyo in March 1995. Consultations between the two countries are based on high-level strategic dialogue at regular intervals, taking place alternately in France and in Japan, and which was elevated to ministerial level in January 2012. The meetings provide an opportunity to address the key international issues of the day, and in particular the issues of non-proliferation (Iran, the future of the six-party talks on North Korea) and bilateral cooperation. Annual discussions are also held at Ministry Secretariat-General level. There is also extensive dialogue on strategic and defence issues (annual "2+2" consultations between the respective Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministries).

France and Japan also work closely together on the question of UN reform and France supports Japan’s candidacy for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

The partnership between Japan and Europe is gaining in substance. The EU-Japan summit held in Tokyo in April 2008 underscored the common approach to multilateral issues, while the 2009 Prague summit was devoted mainly to tackling the global recession and addressing international climate issues in preparation for the Copenhagen Climate Conference. The Tokyo summit in April 2010 resulted in the establishment of a joint High-Level Group to identify options for the comprehensive strengthening of all aspects of Japan-EU relations and create a framework for the replacement of the EU-Japan Action Plan to expire in 2011. The Brussels summit in May 2011 decided to launch a framework study on a potential free-treade agreement between the European Union and Japan. The mandate to negotiate such an agreement was adopted at a meeting of the Cuncil of Foreign Ministers at the end of November 2012. Negotiations are due to be officially launched at the next EU-Jpaan summit, to be held in Tokyo in the first quarter of 2013. An EU-Japan Strategic Dialogue on Asia was instituted in 2005, and supplemented in 2006 by a similar dialogue on Central Asia.

On the bilateral front, 2008 saw the 150th anniversary of Franco-Japanese relations (Treaty of Amity and Commerce of 9 October 1858). The anniversary was marked by a visit by the French Prime Minister to Tokyo on 10-12 April 2008. The visit provided an opportunity for promoting Franco-Japanese partnerships in new and innovative areas, including in particular decentralised cooperation, cooperation on development aid to Africa through partnerships on the ground and joint consultation, as well as economic and technological cooperation with a bilateral symposium held in November 2008 and a strengthening of partnerships between French and Japanese competitiveness clusters.

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster of 11 March 2011, the French President visited Japan on 31 March as a demonstration of solidarity with the Japanese authorities and people on the part of France, the G8 and the G20, then under a French presidency. Prime Minister Naoto Kan paid an official visit to Paris on 25 May, on the margins of the G8 summit in Deauville, while his French opposite number François Fillon visited Japan in October of the same year. During his visit, the two countries issued a Joint Statement on Nuclear Power and Energy Policy, establishing bilateral dialogue on energy policy. In January 2013, the French President spoke by telephone to the newly elected Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Shinzo Abe. During the conversation, the President expressed his wish to develop the global partnership between France and Japan in all areas, political, economic and cultural.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Alain Juppé, visited Japan on 13-14 January 2012 for talks with his opposite number, Mr. Koichiro Gemba, in the first of the strategic dialogue sessions at ministerial level.

Attending the Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan held in Tokyo on 7-8 July 2012, Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius began his first official visit to Asia in Japan, a step designed to underscore France’s commitment to strengthening Franco-Japanese relations. During his visit, he had talks with both Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koichiro Gemba.

The two Ministers met again on 16 October in Paris for the second Franco-Japanese strategic dialogue session, where they also discussed plans for a five-year road map with three main aims: reinforcing political dialogue, developing economic cooperation and intensifying cultural exchanges.

Updated on : 31.01.13

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