Mr. Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, paid an official visit to Finland with his spouse Mrs. Akie Abe. Mr. Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland, with his spouse Mrs. Jenni Haukio received the visitors at the Presidential Palace on 10 July 2017.
The discussion between the President and the Prime Minister included bilateral relationships, Finland's chairmanship of the Arctic Council and international issues such as the situation in the Korean Peninsula. "The official visit of Prime Minister Abe is a great tribute to the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence", said President Niinistö at the beginning of the joint press conference.
President Niinistö referred to his official visit to Japan in March 2016 and noted that discussions have continued well between Finland and Japan. "We agreed a year ago on a strategic partnership and the relationship between Finland and Japan has been further strengthened. We face similar challenges such as aging society, slow economic growth and the changed security environment. On the other hand, we share the same strong values, to which we are both committed to promote in the world."
"Let women shine"
President Niinistö and Prime Minister Abe also discussed about improving gender equality. Both are part of the UN Women's HeForShe campaign, acting as prominent figures. "Prime Minister described our job better than what we have been able to say: Let women shine", said President Niinistö.
President and Prime Minister both noted during the discussion that relations between Japan and the European Union are still strengthening. The latest example of this, according to President Niinistö, is the negotiations of EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement which took place in Brussels last week.
Prime Minister said that Japan will enhance its cooperation with Finland, especially in the Arctic environment. President Niinistö pointed out after Prime Minister's visit that for the first time the economic interests and environmental requirements have to be weighed very carefully. "We have a lot of pressure to make use of the Arctic. On the other hand, we also know that the climate change is the fastest in the Arctic region with the most devastating consequences."
Café workshop activities
Mrs. Haukio and Mrs. Abe visited "IPI Kulmakuppila" in Kallio, Helsinki. The cafe is run by "Lyhty" association and employees with intellectual disabilities supported by their mentors.
Prime Minister traveled with a high-level delegation and his official visit ended with a luncheon, attended by a large number of Finnish experts from different fields of society.
On his official visit to Japan in March 2016, President Niinistö had the opportunity of meeting Prime Minister Abe. The previous state visit from Japan at this level took place in autumn 2006, when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Finland. Emperor Akihito came to Finland on a state visit in May 2000.
This is the first time Mr. Abe will visit the Nordic countries in his role as Prime Minister. Mr. Abe has visited Finland once before in 1985 when he was serving as a personal assistant to his father, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shintaro Abe.
Video: Press meeting of President Niinistö and Prime Minister Abe