Japan's Abe in historic visit to Latvia

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the first-ever visit of a sitting Japanese PM to Latvia January 13, a little over a month after his Latvian counterpart Maris Kučinskis made history in the other direction when he visited Tokyo. 

Abe stopped-off in Latvia following a visit to neighboring Estonia yesterday and en route to Lithuania as part of a regional tour that lasts until Wednesday.

Following talks between the two Saturday in Riga, Abe described the two nations as “close partners in freedom, democracy and civil rights” and said Latvia would be of great interest to Japanese businesses and investors one a Japan-EU trade agreement is in place.

"Riga will be one of the countries that Japanese businesspeople will be interested in because it is a logistics centre," Abe said.

Abe added that the two countries would develop relations in the area of defense too, announcing: “Next month [Latvian] defense minister Bergmanis will visit Japan to discuss potential cooperation.”

Kučinskis also noted that “Latvia and Japan are similar thinking countries” with great potential to enhance their cooperation and voiced support for Japan in view of the threat posed by rogue state North Korea, calling for “normalized relations on the Korean peninsula.”

Following the statements, Japanese government spokesman Norio Maruyama told LSM that numerous other topics had been discussed.

Asked if Japan would get involved with the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence, based in Riga, following an announcement that it was planning to develop its relationship with NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defence Center of Excellence in Tallinn, Maruyama said that though not commitment had been made, it was a possibility.

"We have an individual program between Japan and NATO and are discussing in which fields Japan has something to contribute to NATO... we are ready for every cooperation that both sides consider important and in this regard the communications centre will be identified as one of the possible important areas for discussion of cooperation between Japan and NATO which we have to consider very seriously," he said.



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