Québec's Minister of International Relations is the first foreign dignitary to meet with Japan's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

Tokyo, September 30, 2009 – During his official visit to Japan, Pierre Arcand, Québec's Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie, met with Koichi Takemasa, Japan's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. This was Mr. Takemasa's first meeting with a foreign dignitary since Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's new government was elected on August 30.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Mr. Arcand said: “Québec and Japan are on the same page in the fight against climate change. In this regard, the leadership and initiatives undertaken by Québec and Japan are opening the door to further cooperation opportunities.” Mr. Arcand also invited senior Japanese officials to pay an official visit to Québec in conjunction with the next G20 summit, which will be held in Muskoka, Ontario, in June 2010.
In the economic arena, Mr. Arcand met with senior executives from 10 Japanese companies with a view to reassuring them about the economic situation and guaranteeing the viability of their Québec operations. “These meetings were greatly appreciated by these Japanese business leaders,” said the Minister, who described the discussions as “reassuring”.
The roughly 50 Japanese companies with operations in Québec provide employment for more than 6,500 people. Mr. Arcand also expressed support for the efforts of the dozen or so Québec companies participating in the Tokyo Game Show. His talks with senior officials from the Digital Content Association of Japan were aimed at reinforcing the cooperation agreement entered into in 2003.
“There is enormous potential for cooperation with Japan in the area of new technology research and development. In each of the sectors in which Québec has gained distinction for its state-of-the-art expertise, Japan has complementary skills that we would do well to draw on”, said Mr. Arcand.
After taking part in a variety of forums, the Minister noted that Québec's leadership in the areas of sustainable development and climate change and the message it has promoted are always of interest to Japan's political, university and business communities. Québec has extensive know-how in a number of scientific sectors, including water, forest and biomass management. “Like Québec, Japan has won praise for its exceptional innovation capacity and its large-scale research investments. We thus have a mutual interest in fostering exchanges between our respective research institutions,” he added.
Showing a keen interest in Japan's technological innovations in the non-polluting vehicle sector, Mr. Arcand received a briefing on the latest developments showcased by Mitsubishi, which has developed the Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle (MIEV). The MIEV will be one of the first mass-production EV models and is already available on the Japanese market.
In the cultural arena, Mr. Arcand's visit provided an opportunity to further strengthen Québec's solid ties with Japan. In addition to opening a Québec cinema festival and inaugurating a residence for Québec artists in Tokyo, the Minister visited the Hamamatsu International Mosaiculture exhibition, the largest horticultural competition of its kind. Taking part in the event are more than 80 cities from 30 countries, including Montreal, which is presenting a spectacular floral display inspired by Frédéric Back's film “L'Homme qui plantait des arbres” (“The Man Who Planted Trees”).

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