TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and visiting French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday described the Tokyo Games as “a powerful symbol of global unity.”
In a joint statement, the two leaders welcomed the holding of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games as “a powerful symbol of global unity to defeat the novel coronavirus.”
Suga met with Macron at the Akasaka Palace state guesthouse in Tokyo the day after the Tokyo Olympics officially began on Friday.
The two leaders agreed that their nations continue to have close dialogue ahead of the 2024 Games to be held in Paris.
In the meeting, Suga expressed his gratitude to Macron, who was one of the first global leaders to show support for the holding of the Tokyo Games despite the pandemic.
Macron replied that the Olympic opening ceremony was great and that he is confident that the Tokyo Games will be successful.
On security issues, Suga welcomed progress in bilateral cooperation to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific region, including joint military drills between the Self-Defense Forces and the French military. Macron replied that France hopes to keep working with Japan in the field.
Also, the two discussed regional issues including China and shared deep concerns over human rights situations in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uighur region.
Meanwhile, the leaders exchanged opinions on the topic of parental child abductions. The joint statement confirmed the two countries’ commitment to enhancing dialogue on the matter, giving the highest priority to the interests of children.
France gives parents joint child custody, allowing separated or divorced parents to see their children, while sole child custody is common in Japan.
Due to the difference, there have been many disputes over child custody between Japan and Western nations including France.
The 95-minute meeting between Suga and Macron, including lunch, was their second in-person summit since Suga took office in September last year. The previous session took place on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in Britain in June.
Earlier on Saturday, Suga had talks separately with six other leaders including Polish President Andrzej Duda and Armenian President Armen Sarkissian.
Suga has met with top leaders from 12 countries and international organizations in the Olympic diplomacy since Thursday. The number is low because many leaders around the world chose not to visit Japan for the Olympics as the novel coronavirus is raging in many parts of the world.