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Meeting with Prime Minister Kishida of Japan - President Meloni’s press statement

Tuesday, 10 January 2023

Good afternoon everyone.

I wish to thank the Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, for coming to visit us. 

We have had a long meeting, which will continue over lunch, once again showing that, despite the geographical distance between us, Japan is and remains not only a friend but also a partner of key strategic importance for Italy. I am therefore particularly pleased to have had this opportunity to sit down and speak with Prime Minister Kishida after the various international meetings we have had over the last weeks. 

As I said, we have had a long meeting, based on the excellent bilateral relations between Italy and Japan: trade between our two countries amounts to more than EUR 12 billion per year, underpinning an increasingly strong partnership in political, industrial, technological and cultural fields; we reinforced this even further recently in the sector of defence. In fact, I wish to recall, as we have of course also discussed, that on 9 December last year, together with the United Kingdom, we launched the Global Combat Air Programme, the aim of which is to develop a sixth-generation aircraft. This will have important benefits for production sectors, also in a civil context and in the field of scientific research. 

During our meeting today, and I believe this is very important, we have agreed to elevate our relations to the status of strategic partnership. I believe this is a significant step, involving a strengthening of our contacts at all levels as well as new opportunities and prospects for our citizens and businesses. 
An initial concrete result of this decision will soon be seen with the launch of a bilateral Foreign Affairs-Defence consultation mechanism, which will allow us to strengthen the exchange of analyses and information - bilateral cooperation on all the global and regional issues of mutual interest.
We also agreed on the need to strengthen our ‘trade’ relations in various sectors, including the cultural sector, which will benefit (and I believe this is another important element) from the upcoming conclusion of an agreement for the co-production of films. Both our countries boast a very important cinema industry and we want to work together. 

A strong convergence of views has emerged during Prime Minister Kishida’s visit regarding the main points for Japan’s G7 Presidency, which is obviously the most important matter on the agenda. As of 1st January, Japan holds the 2023 Presidency of the G7 and, as you know, Italy will take over the G7 Presidency in 2024, and I believe this can further strengthen our relations.

In addition to guaranteeing full support for Ukraine against Russia’s war of aggression, we also want to work with the Japanese Presidency on a number of priorities proposed by Japan, which I completely agree with: protecting the international rules-based order; relaunching and deepening relations with countries from the ‘Global South’ (you have already seen how much attention Italy is paying to the African continent, for example); strengthening economic security and supply chains; fighting climate change; the energy transition. There are many challenges requiring a lot of work by everyone. 

We will be discussing all these matters further over lunch: issues related to international politics, starting with the consequences of the war against Ukraine; we have also spoken, and will continue to speak, about stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific. I believe this region is fundamental for our future; it is an increasingly strategic area, but is also a macro-region with important issues to be resolved, including, I believe, and as we have spoken about, North Korea’s missile and nuclear programme, which continues to cause serious concern. 

In short, there are very many matters to be discussed, but I believe we can say that our positions are strongly aligned and that this partnership between Italy and Japan, which has always been strong, is today taking important and strategic steps forward. 

My thanks go to Prime Minister Kishida, to his delegation and, of course, to all of you.

[Courtesy translation]