Japan Foreign Affairs Minister Takei Shunsuke attends CARICOM COFCOR

Japan Foreign Affairs Minister Takei Shunsuke attends CARICOM COFCOR

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Caribbean: Takei Shunsuke, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, attended the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council on Foreign Relations and Community Relations (COFCOR) meeting held in Jamaica and met with dignitaries from each country, from May 15 to 17, 2023.

According to the Japan Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago, summary of the visit is as follows:

State Minister TAKEI visited Jamaica to attend the 26th CARICOM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (COFCOR) held on May 16 and 17 as a non-regional country and delivered a speech at the COFCOR Foreign Sessions on May 17. In his speech, State Minister Takei indicated that Japan has been cooperating with small island states to overcome their vulnerabilities based on the CARICOM Policy announced in 2014, which holds a perspective beyond the per capita income level. He additionally expressed that 2024 would be the “Japan-CARICOM Friendship Year 2024” to further strengthen exchanges between Japan and CARICOM countries and unveiled the logo for the Japan-CARICOM Friendship Year 2024. Furthermore, State Minister Takei stated that Japan, as G7 Presidency, will work with CARICOM countries to address global issues such as climate change, to strengthen the functions of the United Nations, including Security Council reform, and to maintain and strengthen a free and open international order based on the rule of law. The participating foreign ministers welcomed Japan’s participation in the session as the G7 presidency and expressed their gratitude for Japan’s support in overcoming the vulnerabilities peculiar to small island states.

On the June 17, State Minister Takei met with Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, the chair of COFCOR. Minister Johnson-Smith welcomed State Minister Takei’s visit to Jamaica and appreciated his attendance at COFCOR which signified the importance Japan places on CARICOM, and expressed her gratitude for Japan’s support to the small island states considering their vulnerability. State Minister Takei stated that the two countries, which will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2024, will strengthen bilateral relations in various fields based on the “J-J (Japan-Jamaica) Partnership” and confirmed that the two countries would strengthen cooperation in the international arena. Both parties also exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine and East Asia and agreed to continue to work closely together.

In addition, on the occasion of his attendance at COFCOR, State Minister Takei met individually with the Foreign Ministers for 9 out of the 14 CARICOM member countries (Jamaica, Belize, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, Haiti, Dominica, St Vincent, Grenada, and Suriname), including the above-mentioned Jamaica, as well as with the CARICOM Secretary-General. The summaries of the meetings are as follows. State Minister Takei also met with the Foreign Ministers for Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados at a luncheon.

Saint Lucia
On the 16th, State Minister Takei met with Alva Romanus Baptiste, Minister for External Affairs, International Trade, Civil Aviation and Diaspora Affairs of Saint Lucia. State Minister Takei stated that St Lucia is an important partner that shares values and principles with Japan and that he hopes to work together to maintain and strengthen a free and open international order based on the rule of law. He also explained that Japan is cooperating with Caribbean countries toward sustainable development from the perspective of overcoming the vulnerabilities peculiar to small island nations. Minister Baptiste expressed his gratitude for Japan’s support in overcoming the vulnerabilities of small island countries, including St Lucia, and requested continued cooperation. He also expressed his welcome to State Minister Takei’s visit to St Lucia, which was scheduled in the coming days. Both parties also exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine and East Asia and confirmed their continued cooperation bilaterally and through the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

St Kitts and Nevis
On the 16th, State Minister Takei held a bilateral meeting with Dr Denzil Llewellyn DOUGLAS, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Economic Development and Investment of the Federation of Saints Christopher and Nevis. State Minister Takei stated that St Kitts and Nevis is an important partner that shares values and principles with Japan and that he hopes to work together to maintain and strengthen a free and open international order based on the rule of law. He also explained that Japan is cooperating with Caribbean countries for sustainable development from the perspective of overcoming the vulnerabilities unique to small island nations. Minister Douglas expressed his gratitude for Japan’s support in overcoming the vulnerabilities of small island states, including St Kitts and Nevis, and expressed his wish to receive Japan’s cooperation in promoting discussions of the issue in the international community. Both parties also exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine and East Asia, including North Korea, and agreed to continue close cooperation.

Dominica
On the 17th, State Minster Takei met with Dr Vince Henderson, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Business, Trade and Energy of the Common Wealth of Dominica. As Dominica will hold the chair of CARICOM later this year, State Minister Takei expressed his desire to deepen cooperation not only bilaterally but also with CARICOM in areas such as disaster prevention, climate change, and fisheries. He also explained that Japan is cooperating with Caribbean countries for sustainable development from the perspective of overcoming the vulnerabilities peculiar to small island nations. Minister Henderson extended his gratitude for Japan’s assistance to the Caribbean small island states in overcoming their vulnerabilities and expressed his hope that the assistance would continue, with an explanation of the importance of the fisheries industry in the region. Both parties exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine and East Asia and confirmed that they would continue to cooperate bilaterally as well as through CARICOM and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
On the 17th, State Minister Takei held a meeting with Senator Keisal M Peters, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. State Minister Takei stated that St Vincent is a maritime nation like Japan and is an important partner that shares values and principles. He expressed that he wishes to continue to work with St Vincent, which currently holds the presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), to maintain and strengthen a free and open international order based on the rule of law. He also explained that Japan is cooperating with the Caribbean countries toward sustainable development from the perspective of overcoming the vulnerabilities peculiar to small island nations. Minister Peters expressed her gratitude for Japan’s support in overcoming the vulnerabilities of small-island states, including St Vincent, referring to the emergency assistance provided at the time of the eruption of the Soufriere volcano, and expressed her wish to continue strengthening bilateral relations including interactions at the grassroots level. Both parties also exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine and East Asia and agreed to continue close cooperation.

Grenada
On the 17th, State Minister Takei held a meeting with Joseph Andall, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade & Export Development of Grenada. State Minister Takei stated that Grenada is an important partner that shares values and principles with Japan and that he wishes to deepen cooperation not only bilaterally but also with CARICOM in areas such as disaster prevention, climate change, and fisheries. He also explained that Japan is cooperating with the Caribbean countries for sustainable development from the perspective of overcoming the vulnerabilities unique to small island nations. Minister Andall expressed his gratitude for Japan’s support in overcoming the vulnerabilities of Small Island countries, including Grenada, and requested continued cooperation in the areas of climate change, disaster prevention, and fisheries. Both parties exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine and East Asia and agreed to continue close cooperation.

Suriname
On the 17th, State Minister Takei met with Albert R Ramdin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation of Suriname. State Minister Takei welcomed the bilateral meeting following the Japan-Suriname Foreign Ministers’ meeting last September on the occasion of the UN General Assembly and expressed his wish to deepen cooperation bilaterally with Suriname, which is an important partner that shares values and principles, as well as with CARICOM, in areas such as disaster management, climate change, and fisheries. Both parties also exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine and East Asia and agreed to continue to work closely together.

CARICOM Secretariat
On the 17th, State Minister Takei met with Dr Carla Natalie Barnett, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community, and exchanged views on Japan-CARICOM relations, economic cooperation, and cooperation in the international arena. State Minister Takei stated that CARICOM countries, which share fundamental values with Japan, are important partners, and expressed his wish to further deepen Japan-CARICOM relations in preparation for the Japan-CARICOM Friendship Year 2024, along with the cooperation of the CARICOM Secretariat. Dr Barnett, referring to the long history of cooperation between Japan and CARICOM, spoke highly of Japan’s support for small island developing countries considering their vulnerability and expressed her desire to cooperate in discussions in the international community based on such an approach. Both parties agreed to take the opportunity of the Year of Exchange to further promote cooperation and personnel exchange in the international arena.