President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö and his spouse Mrs Jenni Haukio made an official visit to Japan from 8 to 11 March 2016. The visit began in Kyoto and continued in Tokyo, where also Minister of Agriculture and the Environment Kimmo Tiilikainen, and a delegation of Finnish business leaders, took part in the program.
On Thursday 10th March the presidential couple was received by Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace. Later on Thursday the visit culminated with the official talks between President Niinistö and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe.
Towards strategic partnership
In conclusion of the meeting President Niinistö and Prime Minister Abe issued a joint statement on a strategic partnership between the two countries, including closer cooperation in terms of political ties and in the areas of the economy, science and technology, as well as among the civil society. Japan is one of Finland's key economic partners outside the EU and a major investor in the country. There are more opportunities for cooperation in areas such as the forest industry, the energy sector and nuclear safety, as well as the various ICT sectors.
In addition, frequent direct air links between the two countries and increasing tourism and cultural ties are bringing them even closer together. During the meeting, the two national leaders also discussed closer cooperation over security policy.
New opportunities for companies
On Wednesday 9th March President Niinistö opened a seminar in the Japanese National Diet Building on economic relations between Finland and Japan, and the strategic partnership between the countries. In his speech, President Niinistö mentioned arctic co-operation as well as urbanization - in which Japan is a global pioneer - among possible areas of future cooperation. "Smart cities, public transport, clean energy, water and waste management, and social services are areas in which Finland and Japan have special expertise."
In addition to Japanese parlamentarians and members of the local business community, the partnership seminar was attended by Minister of Agriculture and the Environment Kimmo Tiilikainen, and a delegation of Finnish business leaders. The business delegation included representatives of eleven companies representing forest industry, energy, ICT, infrastructure and arctic expertise sectors.
The presidential programme included also a visit to the Japan National Press Club, where President Niinistö addressed local journalists on issues such as relations between Finland and Japan, the situation regarding asylum seekers in Europe, and equality. The reporters were also interested in Finnish security policy and Finland's relations with Russia, as well as the integration of immigrants.
The visit in Japan began in Kyoto, where, in addition to official meetings, the presidential couple familiarised themselves with the country's history and culture, including participating a traditional tea ceremony of the Urasenke school, led by great master Sen Genshitsu.
Five years since the Great East Japan earthquake – President expressed his condolences
11th March 2011 – five years ago – the Great East Japan earthquake, the following tsunami and the nuclear disaster occurred. As the Remembrance Day approached, president Niinistö expressed in his speeches both in the Parliament and the National Press Club his deepest condolences and sympathy to the Japanese people and the families affected for the loss of human lives and suffering. In addition, he also expressed his appreciation of the relentless efforts made by the Japanese Government, officials and volunteers to deal with the crisis.
Joint Statement on a Strategic Partnership between Japan and the Republic of Finland as Gateways in Asia and Europe
Press conference of President Niinistö at Japan National Press Club in Tokyo (youtube)
Japan-Finland summit meeting and Other events