Bilateral Political Consultations between Spain and Japan XXI Spain-Japan Forum on "Society 5.0: a human-centered technological society"
The State Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Fernando Valenzuela and his Japanese counterpart, the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kenji Kanasugi, held a meeting for bilateral political consultations today in Castellón de la Plana, in which they addressed the main aspects of bilateral relations, as well as issues of common interest in the international agenda. These are the first political consultations of a "strategic" nature, a level at which the bilateral relationship was raised on the occasion of Prime Minister Abe's visit on 16.10.18. These are also the first political consultations between Japan and Spain of the Reiwa Era, after the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito in May of this year, whose international celebrations in Tokyo were attended by Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain last October 2019. These political consultations give continuity to and deepen the excellent dialogue with the Japanese authorities, which was already shown in the meetings held by His Majesty the King with Prime Minister Abe and by Minister Borrell with his counterpart, the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Motegui, in October. 

These consultations coincided with the twenty-first edition of the Spain-Japan Forum, under the title "Society 5.0: a human-centered technological society" in Castellón. Likewise, this meeting recently entailed a twinning with the Japanese town of Ube.  The Forum, attended by some 250 people from multidisciplinary fields of Spanish and Japanese civil society, addressed issues such as technology and global power balances, ethics and artificial intelligence or entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems, among others.

During the political consultations held today in Castellón, the State Secretary underlined that our bilateral relations progressed almost smoothly for over 150 years and are now excellent, being Spain one of the European countries with the oldest diplomatic relations with Japan. He welcomed the closeness between the Spanish and Japanese peoples, who share values and a very similar worldview, in support of multilateralism, free trade and a global order based on mutually shared rules.

The State Secretary stressed that, in recent years, we have reached a high-density relationship. Japan's greater attention to the EU and its Member States is a strategic opportunity that Spain has used to become a relevant interlocutor, with a concerted policy in increasingly diversified fields, structured dialogues and high-level visits.

During the meeting, the potential of our economic relations, which are growing in all areas, was also highlighted. Japan is currently Spain's second largest trading partner in Asia and Spain is Japan's sixth largest supplier of goods in the EU. In 2018, 6,000 million euros on bilateral trade were exceeded. Spanish exports to Japan doubled in the last decade -from 1,213 million euros in 2009 to 2,527 million in 2018- with a coverage rate of 61%. During the consultations, the possibility of further deepening into possible joint operations of companies from both countries in third-party markets was raised, with special interest in Africa. Likewise, both congratulated themselves on the constant growth of tourism between both countries -in 2018, 550,681 Japanese tourists visited Spain, 24% more than in 2017. Spain is sure that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will reinforce this positive trend.

Both stressed the importance of the relationship between the EU and Japan and expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the last EU-Japan Summit in April 2019 in Brussels. Spain defends a deeper and closer relationship between Japan and the EU, especially within a volatile regional and international framework, as evidenced by the entry into force in 2019 of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) between Japan and the EU, and the signing in October 2019 of the EU-Japan Connectivity Partnership, the first that the EU signs in the world. These agreements will provide a large zone for the enhancement of bilateral cooperation and collaboration in a broad spectrum.

The State Secretary stressed that the consolidated Japanese regional prominence in Asia and the Pacific and the growing policy of EU projection in these geographical spaces offer opportunities for greater collaboration and bilateral geostrategic interaction, developing the instruments that link us starting from our affinities. State Secretary Valenzuela and his counterpart also addressed human rights issues of mutual interest and the international agenda.


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