Good evening. Let me first express my sincere gratitude to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his hospitality. It is a great pleasure to be here in Tokyo today. This is our first Summit with Japan since President Juncker and I took office last year. The summit reflects the value of our relations with Japan, one of our closest global like-minded partners and friends, not just in this region, but in the world.
Two years ago, we took a major step by launching negotiations on a Strategic Partnership Agreement. This will cover political cooperation and include an ambitious Free Trade Agreement. These agreements together will build a strong foundation for taking our Strategic Partnership forward over the next decade. We agreed to drive the negotiations forward because there is still a way to go if we are to get the ambitious deal we both want.
While trade and investment remains an anchor in our relations, I am pleased that we are also enhancing our security partnership. This is on the backdrop of Japan’s own review of its security policies with the aim of becoming a more ‘proactive contributor to peace’.
Japan is already providing concrete support to European Union crisis management missions in Africa. Our navies have carried out a number of joint counter-piracy exercises in the West Indian Ocean. These are very promising steps, which I hope will allow us to move from coordinated parallel actions to full-fledged Japanese participation in EU crisis management missions.
Climate change is another shared challenge. In view of the Paris Summit in December, the European Union looks forward to an ambitious input from Japan – reflecting Japan’s economic size and technological leadership. And showing that Europe is not alone in this.
We also discussed the situation in Ukraine. Japan and the European Union are united in our support for the Ukrainian people, in our commitment to uphold the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
We also have to help the countries in the Middle East and Africa in their struggle with radicalism and terror. The conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other troubled areas pose a direct threat to Europe’s security, and indeed to Japan’s, as the tragic events in recent months have shown. I was shocked by the brutal murders of two Japanese hostages by Da’esh.
Prime Minister Abe briefed us on the security situation in East Asia. We agreed that disputes must be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law. We discussed the need to build peace and security and to boost regional cooperation in East Asia.
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War both in Europe and in Asia, we have reflected on the lessons of history. Understanding history, reconciling peoples and cooperating between countries, especially former opponents, is important to secure peace, stability and prosperity.
We cherish the friendship and common values we have with Japan and we are resolved to take this partnership forward. The opportunities now on the table give me optimism in taking our Strategic Partnership to the next level. Thank you.