The Yomiuri Shimbun
Reciprocal, sustainable long-term ties with Latin America important
The task of securing a stable supply of energy and food is an important matter of diplomatic concern for our nation. Given this, strengthening relations with resource-rich nations in Central and South America is extremely significant for Japan.
During his five-nation Latin American tour, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday held talks with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in which he confirmed Japan would offer technical assistance for deep-sea oil development off southeastern Brazil. Japanese corporations are aiming to win orders for projects to build a floating platform as a base for oil development operations.
The two leaders also decided to start talks aimed at improving the efficiency of grain transportation in Brazil. Bilateral talks will likely cover such issues as projects to build and improve road and railway networks extending to seaports from inland grain belts in that nation.
In a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, meanwhile, the prime minister agreed that Japan would cooperate in promoting oil and natural gas development programs in Mexico. The agreement will require our nation to extend technical and financial aid to Mexico.
All this constitutes an effort to facilitate natural resource-related cooperation with Latin American countries, a task essential for rectifying our nation’s heavy reliance on Middle Eastern nations for oil and other supplies and ensuring it has a diversity of suppliers. Doing so is significant for Japan’s energy security.
What is important in this endeavor is to respect efforts by Japan’s partner nations to facilitate resource development on their own while also establishing long-term relations under which to enjoy mutual benefits.
China has been no less active in increasing ties with Latin American countries, with a view to securing natural resources from them. This was evident, for example, in a visit to Brazil and some other nations in the region by Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, observers have said that China puts its own interests first, paying no attention to its partners’ wishes for development.
Japan should attach great importance to building reciprocal relationships with its Latin American partners, and emphasize its difference from China in dealing with these countries.
Path to Security Council
Abe’s latest tour included trips to Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia and Chile. He was the first prime minister to make a full-fledged tour of Central and South America in 10 years. The prime minister was accompanied by about 70 others, including corporate executives.
Latin America is home to about 600 million people. Many nations in that region feel affinity toward Japan. That part of the world has achieved significant economic growth in recent years, combined with an increase in the number of middle-class consumers with a strong motivation to spend money. The Japanese government and the private sector should join hands in encouraging domestic companies to do business in Latin American markets while also boosting two-way trade with these nations.
At Friday’s meeting, Abe and Rousseff agreed that Japan and Brazil, both of which aim to gain a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, would promote cooperation in this respect as the United Nations marks its 70th anniversary next year. The two leaders confirmed their governments would increase ties with Germany and India in what could be called a “Group of Four nations,” so progress could be made in reforming the most powerful U.N. organ.
Thirty-three Central and South American nations account for somewhat less than 20 percent of the U.N. member states. Japan’s bid to reform the Security Council will require support from these Latin American countries. Japan stands ready to run in an election to choose new nonpermanent members of the council in autumn next year. Abe’s latest tour was aimed, in part, at securing votes in favor of Japan at the U.N. election.
During his Latin American tour, Abe met top leaders from member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), an organization comprising 14 nations and one territory in the Caribbean Basin. The summit meeting was the first of its kind to be held between Japan and the CARICOM members.
Japan should obtain support from the Caribbean nations for its Security Council reform drive. This may be made possible through close cooperation with these countries in the field of disaster damage management, given that they are prone to natural calamities.