Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe will visit Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as well as Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia starting late next week. The visits mark the first ever to these countries by any Japanese prime minister, news portal Japan Today reported. The visit will start in Estonia on Friday, after which Abe will move on to Latvia and Lithuania.
News agency LETA reported that Abe will visit Latvia on Saturday, meeting with Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis. Kučinskis and Abe will discuss bilateral relations, economic cooperation and relations between Japan and the EU, as well as regional issues.
According to information available to the Baltic News Service, in Lithuania Abe will meet with the country's top officials on Saturday and Sunday and also pay tribute to the memory of wartime Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, who rescued Jews in Kaunas during the early days of World War II.
In 1939 and 1940, Sugihara and Dutch Consul Jan Zvartendijk issued visas that allowed at least 6,000 Jews to leave the area and escape to safety.
Abe will leave Japan on Jan. 12, to return on Jan. 17. He will reportedly start his visit in Estonia.
A bilateral cyber security cooperation agreement is to be signed during the Japanese prime minister's visit to Estonia, sources told Japan's Kyodo news agency in mid-December.
Japan and the European Union at the beginning of December concluded talks on a free trade agreement, with which one of the largest free trade regions will be established.
This is the first time for a Japanese government leader to visit Estonia. Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko paid a visit to Estonia in May 2007. Japanese ministers and deputy ministers have visited Estonia on several occasions.
"I will widen the frontier of Japanese diplomacy while confirming our close coordination on the North Korea issue and other pressing matters facing the international community," Abe said at a meeting of the government and the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the smaller Komeito party.
Abe had planned to visit Estonia during a tour of Europe in July last year, but instead returned to Japan early to deal with the aftermath of torrential rains on the southwestern main island of Kyushu.
Editor: Dario Cavegn