Prime Minister Abe Stresses Importance of Japan-U.S. Parliamentary Exchanges [2020/03/06]
A U.S. congressional delegation, led by Congresswoman Diana DeGette (front row, third from left), pays a courtesy call on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (front row, center) at his official residence in Tokyo on February 18, 2020, accompanied by the author (front row, far right).
The visit was organized by the Congressional Study Group on Japan (CSGJ) in cooperation with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA and Sasakawa Peace Foundation in Tokyo.
I accompanied a visiting U.S. congressional delegation when it paid a courtesy call on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his official residence on February 18.
The mission, comprising nine members of the bipartisan Congressional Study Group on Japan (CSGJ), was on a week-long visit to Japan, organized in cooperation with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA and Sasakawa Peace Foundation in Tokyo, of which I am honorary chairman.
Prime Minister Abe noted that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, stating: “The Japan-U.S. alliance now plays a significant role in maintaining peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region and the world as an alliance of hope.
“Mutual exchanges between parliamentarians of the two countries like this are, I believe, a great pillar that support our alliance,” he said, expressing his hope for “continued bipartisan support toward further enhancing the Japan-U.S. alliance.”
Mission leader and CSGJ Co-Chair Diana DeGette thanked the prime minister for receiving the delegation, taking time out of his busy schedule dealing with the spread of the novel coronavirus in Japan. In particular, she expressed her gratitude to the Japanese government for assisting with the evacuation of more than 400 Americans and their families from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been docked off the port city of Yokohama, south of Tokyo, since February 3.
The congresswoman, a Democrat from Colorado, also raised the issue of North Korea and other challenges in the region, but added that the United States is always with Japan.
Earlier in the day, I received a courtesy visit from the delegation at The Nippon Foundation. We exchanged views on not only strengthening bilateral relations and ocean issues, but also my lifelong mission to fight against leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, as WHO (World Health Organization) Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, and my activities as Special Envoy of the Japanese Government for National Reconciliation in Myanmar.
While in Japan, the group also met with Defense Minister Taro Kono and toured the ancient capital of Kyoto.
This was the seventh annual mission sent to Japan by CSGJ, which was established in 1993 in recognition of the need for American legislators to better understand the security alliance, trade partnerships and other issues relating to Japan.
I sincerely hope that their visit, which provided opportunities to network with Japanese political and business leaders, and Japanese people, will have helped the delegation members not only in their role serving as a bridge between Japan and the United States but also by building bipartisan trust and cooperation to further strengthen the alliance between the two countries back on the Capitol Hill.
I received a courtesy visit from the delegation at The Nippon Foundation.