"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Press Conference by Prime Minister Kishida on the Japan-Saudi Arabia Summit Meeting and Other Matters

[Place]
[Date] July 16, 2023
[Source] Prime Minister's Office of Japan
[Notes] Provisional translation
[Full text]

(On the Japan-Saudi Arabia Summit Meeting)

In the meeting with H.R.H. Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we not only confirmed the importance of stabilizing the energy market, but also agreed to fundamentally deepen cooperation in the areas of clean energy such as solar, hydrogen and ammonia, as well as critical minerals deemed indispensable for decarbonization. Specifically, H.R.H. Prince Mohammed and I agreed to launch the Lighthouse Initiative by utilizing Japanese technology to make the Middle East region a global supply hub for clean energy and critical minerals, as proposed by the Saudi side. Through this new initiative, we will move beyond the conventional energy relationship between Japan and Saudi Arabia as oil-consuming and oil-producing countries, and deepen it into a new global partnership in the era of decarbonization. We hope to promote cooperation with a view to decarbonizing the growing Asia region as a whole.

We also confirmed that under the "Japan-Saudi Vision 2030," a comprehensive framework for cooperation between the two countries, we will accelerate cooperation in a wider range of areas, including the above-mentioned clean energy, advanced technology, tourism and entertainment.

On the diplomatic and security fronts, I stressed the importance of maintaining and strengthening a free and open international order based on the rule of law, which was confirmed at the recent G7 Hiroshima Summit, and we confirmed that the two countries will continue to work closely together to achieve peace and stability. I believe that the Foreign Ministerial-level Strategic Dialogue, which the two countries agreed to establish during this visit, will be one of the effective frameworks for further strengthening our bilateral cooperation.

Regarding one of your questions about whether I had raised human rights issues and whether we had discussed them, let me point out that the Saudi Vision 2030, which is a strategic document for Saudi Arabia, includes elements such as equal opportunities for everyone regardless of gender and age, and transparency in governance. H.R.H Prince Mohammed and I discussed efforts to realize the Saudi Vision 2030, and exchanged views on the current status of social reforms in Saudi Arabia. Thank you.

(On the roles that Japan can play as China accelerates its engagement in the Middle East region)

In the Middle East region, there are signs of easing tensions, such as the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to normalize diplomatic relations. At the same time, however, there are still some difficult issues at present, such as the Palestinian issue and Iran's nuclear activities. Building on the foundation of friendly relations it has built over the years with Palestine and other countries in the Middle East region, Japan hopes to continue to play its unique roles in easing tensions and stabilizing the situation in the region.

In the latest meeting as well, H.R.H Prince Mohammed and I confirmed our commitment to strengthening cooperation between the two countries for the stability of the region. We also confirmed the establishment of the Foreign Ministerial-level Strategic Dialogue between the two countries and the holding of regular meetings of foreign ministers with the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council).

Japan hopes to continue to strengthen its engagement for the stability of the Middle East region. I recognize that there are many more such roles that Japan should play.

´╝łOn what to expect from the Summit Meetings in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Qatar)

I plan to visit the UAE and Qatar right after this. The UAE has set a goal of achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and is actively working to address climate change, including by chairing this year's COP28 (28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). The country has shown strong interest in utilizing Japan's advanced technologies in a wide range of areas, such as space, artificial intelligence (AI) and healthcare.

Qatar, for its part, is working on human development, industrial diversification and sustainable economic development toward the realization of a knowledge-based economy under its National Vision for 2030. In these Summit Meetings, in addition to our conventional cooperation in the energy sector, I hope that we will confirm that we will actively support the realization of green transformation, industrial diversification and human development through the use of Japan's advanced technologies. This is something that I hope will be confirmed in the meetings. And on the diplomatic and security fronts, I hope that we will confirm the importance of maintaining and strengthening a free and open international order based on the rule of law.

In both countries, I will be accompanied by members of an economic mission. They will be invited to participate in business events with participants from the public and private sectors. In order to further strengthen our relations with each of the two countries, it is important to incorporate their growth energy and promote people-to-people exchanges. We hope that these visits will serve as opportunities to strengthen ties in both public and private sectors, and to expand business opportunities for Japanese companies. That is all.

(On the purpose of including start-ups in the economic mission)

As you have noted, there are currently many start-ups in Japan that have been born one after another, actively tackling various social issues. In light of our relationship with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar, I feel that there are high hopes for start-ups that take on various new challenges, such as the production of e-fuel (synthetic fuel) in the energy sector. This is just one example, and there are many other challenges in the Gulf countries, such as new clean energy, beyond conventional efforts in the energy sector. I feel that there are high expectations in this region for start-ups that take on such new challenges. That is how, as I partially participated in a session today to exchange views with other participants, I felt that expectations for start-ups are as high as those for larger companies. In this way, I recognize how meaningful it is to invite start-ups to join the economic mission.