The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s International Bureau has launched a new initiative, the regular Rikken International Café (RIC). The RIC plans to welcome representatives from embassies of various countries for a series of awareness-raising discussions. Its first meeting was held on May 17th, featuring Ambassador Patricia Flor from the Delegation of the European Union to Japan as its guest.

Akiko Kamei, Director-General of the International Bureau, opened the meeting with introductory remarks, expressing her desire for a discussion of Japan-EU relations in a changing world, including economic exchange between Japan and the EU following the enactment of EPA/SPA, as well as the impact that the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU (Brexit) would have within the region.

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Ambassador Flor touched on a wide range of topics including the following points:

- Promotion of cooperative ties between Japan and the EU in sectors such as environmental conservation (including measures to combat climate change and marine plastic pollution) and cyber security.

- Expanding economic coordination between Japan and the EU, as through the EPA/SPA, to the broader Indo-Pacific region.

- The necessity of Japan and the EU to be actively involved in the creation of rules for the global economy, including WTO reform.

- The EU’s hope for Japan to consider ratification of the basic ILO agreement that provides for social security and labor protections at a high level.

- The extremely regrettable withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU. In order to enable the 27 countries remaining after the United Kingdom leaves to function as the EU, civil and business activities should be safeguarded and strong relations should be maintained with the United Kingdom. The Ambassador also stated her wish for the EU to continue in the future to emphasize and place importance on the values it established in the post-World War II era, including fairness, the rule of law and equality, amongst others.

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Moving forward, the RIC will be held on a regular basis, aiming for the following outcomes:

1. Deepening friendly relations with embassies of various countries and creating relationships that facilitate smooth exchanges of information.

2. Increasing knowledge of other countries’ policies, and obtaining hints for Japan’s own policies.

3. Touching on global trends, and providing food for thought regarding Japan’s      position as a member of the international community.