Message from Japanese Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko on Her First Visit to Thailand as Foreign Minister

FM Kamikawa
    Greetings to Thailand!  I am delighted to arrive in Bangkok today, having chosen Thailand, along with four other Southeast Asian countries, as my first bilateral destination since assuming the position of Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs on September 13.  Memories of visiting Thailand holds a special place in my heart.  I still remember well my visit to Thailand in 2018 as Minister of Justice to strengthen cooperation in international arbitration and other legal matters, which led to a good exchange of views with the Minister of Justice of Thailand along with a visit to Thailand’s juvenile correctional facility.
    Japan and Thailand have a long history of amicable exchange spanning over 600 years. Since then, our relationship and cooperation have evolved in synch with the times, developing into a multi-tiered relationship, with our Imperial and Royal Families serving as a strong foundation, involving active exchanges amongst our people at all levels.
    After the Second World War, few Thai people had ever set foot on Japan, even as many Japanese businesses flooded into Thailand to expand their operations.  In sharp contrast, today, many Thai business associates and consumers visit Japan to enjoy our cherry blossoms, snow, and culinary experience.
    Last year, our two countries celebrated the 135th anniversary of our amicable diplomacy and raised our bilateral relationship to a "Comprehensive Strategic Partnership", in alignment with the needs of the era ahead of us.  We stand at a critical juncture in history.  To respond better to emerging challenges, our two countries are set to enhance cooperation in emerging areas such as climate action, energy and food security.  Japan and Thailand can enhance cooperation with a greater sense of urgency, leveraging each other's strengths, to tackle these emerging issues.
    With the inception of the new Administration in Thailand, my intent is to further strengthen our bilateral relations under a renewed partnership.  During my mission, I plan to exchange views on regional and global issues with the newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Parnpree, touching on the future of our bilateral relations with Thailand and ASEAN.  

I hope to touch upon two points in particular during my visit:

    First is to deepen our existing relations.  Economic relations between our two countries are extremely strong, with about 6,000 Japanese companies operating in Thailand, making it one of our companies’ largest business bases in Southeast Asia. Japanese companies have invested roughly 3.5 trillion bahts in Thailand cumulatively over the past 40 years, accounting for about 40% of cumulative foreign investment in the country.  In addition, Japan has long supported the development of Thai infrastructure that now constitutes part of peoples’ daily lives, such as Suvarnabhumi Airport and Thailand's urban railroads.  My intention is to further promote such resilient bilateral partnerships and cooperation.

    My second aim is to enhance collaboration with regard to regional and international affairs.  As the world faces multiple crises, we must work to maintain and strengthen a free and open international order, based on the rules of law.  Located in the heart of the Mekong region and positioned between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Thailand is geopolitically important for the realization of such an international order.

    Thailand, as a key country in the region, has taken the leadership in launching ACMECS, a framework for economic cooperation among the Mekong countries.  Japan and Thailand are key partners in facilitating a stable and sustainable development of this region, and we intend to continue supporting Thailand in such efforts.  We will also work with Thailand on emerging issues common to all countries, such as combatting the proliferation of disinformation in the region and working toward decarbonization .
    This year marks the 50th anniversary of Japan-ASEAN Friendship and Cooperation Since 1973. Japan and ASEAN have worked closely together for peace and stability, development, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region under a strong partnership known as Heart to Heart Partnership.  Japan and ASEAN will set out a new vision for the relationship at the Commemorative Summit for the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation in Tokyo this December.  Japan and Thailand, and Japan and ASEAN, will together strive to cooperate toward addressing common challenges faced by the international community, while building a prosperous region, free from force and coercion under a common respect for freedom and the rule of law.
    There was a famous Japanese explorer named YAMADA Nagamasa from my district of Shizuoka Prefecture, who gained considerable influence in the Ayutthaya Kingdom at the beginning of the 17th century.  He was a chieftain of a village in the city of Ayutthaya who was given a high official rank by the King for his achievements in promoting trade between the two countries.  Just as YAMADA Nagamasa contributed toward the promotion of bilateral relations between Japan and Thailand, my intent, as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, is to contribute toward the further development of our bilateral relations for future years.