Saturday, January 13, Vilnius – President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, who arrived on an official visit to Lithuania. The meeting focused on international security issues and possible options to create a new format 3+1 for cooperation between the Baltic States and Japan aimed at promoting the development of defense, economic and scientific contacts.
According to the President, the Baltic States and Japan – all of which have complicated and unpredictable neighbors – understand that only unity, respect for international law and the courage not to give in to aggressors can secure peace. The new cooperation format between the three Baltic countries and Japan offers an opportunity to promote closer value-based relations as well as to strengthen security and well-being in the region.
As it faces threats posed by North Korea, Japan is investing more in defense and cooperation with NATO. Japan is NATO’s global partner. In 2016, Japan’s naval vessels visited Klaipėda. The President and the Prime Minister exchanged views about closer cooperation ties between NATO and Japan across a whole range of fields, including cyber security.
Japan’s economic focus on Lithuania and the region is growing. Lithuanian-made lasers have become a quality mark in Japan. The two countries work closely together in life sciences, medicine and innovation. According to the President, the EU-Japan free trade agreement, expected to become effective next year, will provide for many new opportunities. Lithuania was an active participant in negotiating this agreement, which will bring direct benefits to our businesses. It will eliminate more than 90 percent of customs duties and other trading barriers, opening up a modern 127 million strong market to Lithuanian companies. New prospects are created by Lithuania’s expanding financial technologies sector, which has attracted the interest of Japan. The Lithuanian startup Widerfi has worked its way to Tokyo where it will provide the guests of the 2020 Olympic Games with access to high-speed internet for local prices.
Lithuania stands out among other countries of the region by its unique historical bonds with Japan. Japanese consul Chiune Sugihara, who worked in Kaunas during World War II, was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations for saving Jews. Lithuania remembers Japanese journalists who reported about our fight for freedom as well as the solidarity and humanitarian support extended by the Japanese people to Lithuania in January of 1991. According to the President, these historic bridges continue bringing the people of Lithuania and Japan closer together. The growing interest of Japanese travelers in Lithuania demonstrates their wish to get to know our country better.
The Prime Minister extended greetings and best wishes from the Emperor of Japan Akihito to the Lithuanian people. Emperor Akihito visited Lithuania in 2007.