Remarks by President Charles Michel at the press conference following following the EU-Japan summit in Tokyo

Dear prime minister, dear Fumio,

It’s a pleasure to meet you and your team for our 28th Japan-EU Summit. Thank you for your warm welcome to Tokyo.

Today we discussed the deepening strategic and economic partnership between the European Union and Japan. We addressed our bilateral relations and important regional and global challenges, and how best to coordinate our responses.

The EU and Japan are truly like-minded partners. Together we represent a quarter of global GDP. We have a deep and dynamic relationship, united by the fundamental values of democracy and rule of law. Japan is our closest strategic partner in the Indo-Pacific region.

And Russia’s war against Ukraine has shown that deeper cooperation is not a luxury, it’s a vital necessity. Today’s summit was an opportunity to build on this momentum. And to maximise the full potential of our partnership across a wide range of issues.

This summit takes place as Russia continues to savagely attack the people of Ukraine. We have responded in close coordination, to condemn Russia and to impose punishing sanctions.

I would like to thank you, dear prime minister, and Japan, for your solidarity. Together, we are providing significant humanitarian, financial and military support to Ukraine and its people.

We also discussed our cooperation to prevent the circumvention of sanctions and to combat disinformation. And we are convinced that those responsible for war crimes must be and will be brought to justice. We also discussed the global impact of the war on energy and food security.

Our cooperation in Ukraine is critical in Europe, but it’s also important in the Indo-Pacific, and we also want to deepen our consultations on a more assertive China. We believe that China must stand up to defend the multilateral system that it has benefited from in developing its country.

This summit also shows our leadership in upholding multilateralism, including through reforms of multilateral bodies, such as the UN, the WTO and WHO.

We also discussed ways to boost our cooperation in security and defence. Japan is the only Asian partner specifically mentioned in the Strategic Compass, our roadmap for bolstering our common European security and defence. And we have already successfully conducted joint naval exercises in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea; we want to pursue this further.

In the digital domain, the launch of our digital partnership today is a milestone. In fact, it’s our first digital partnership with any country. It will help us achieve our shared goals in many key areas.

We are extremely pleased on the innovation and research front. Japan has expressed its interest in being associated with our Horizon Europe programme. EU and Japanese students and scholars will benefit from this greater cooperation. Sharing knowledge, know-how and expertise highlights our excellent like-minded cooperation.

We are also banding together to protect our planet and speed up the transition to climate neutrality. Last year we launched our ambitious EU-Japan Green Alliance and now we are focused on implementing it.

We also discussed concrete ways to get the most out of our connectivity partnership, in energy, digital, transport and people-to-people connections.

The EU and Japan have a powerful trade relationship. The EU’s and Japan’s economic partnership is one of the EU’s key trade deals. And now, we want to maximise the untapped potential of this agreement, from animal health and food security to energy cooperation and geographical indications.

Tomorrow, I will be in Hiroshima, prime minister Kishida’s home town. In these challenging times, symbols matter. We will pay tribute to the victims of the atomic bomb. The prime minister has long been a strong voice for a nuclear-free world. And I want to clearly reaffirm that our actions, in times of conflict, must for ever be guided by the tragic history of Hiroshima. In the light of the war in Ukraine, this will be an important moment to send a powerful message of peace and of hope.

Thank you.

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