Hungarian president meets Kono

Foreign Minister Yohei Kono and visiting Hungarian President Arpad Goncz reaffirmed Monday that their respective countries will enhance ties in a range of fields in a partnership important to both Europe and Asia, a Foreign Ministry official said.

During talks in Tokyo, Kono praised Hungary’s efforts to promote human rights and democracy since the country’s democratization process began 10 years ago, the official said.

Kono told Goncz that Hungary has now become an important European ally for Japan and a major destination for Japanese investment, the official said.

While offering gratitude for Japan’s assistance to date, Goncz expressed hope that more Japanese firms would expand into Hungary, the official said.

said. Hungary has been seeking full EU membership since March 1998.

Goncz arrived in Japan on Saturday on a week’s visit to enhance Japanese-Hungarian ties. He met with the Emperor and Empress earlier Monday and is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori today.

Royal banquet held

The Emperor and Empress hosted a state banquet Monday evening for Hungarian President Arpad Goncz and his wife Zsuzsanna at the Imperial Palace.

Present at the banquet were the Crown Prince and Crown Princess as well as Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.

In a speech at the banquet, the Emperor said: “When I see your country as it is today, progressing under the benefits of democracy and freedom, I remember well the unremitting endeavors of your excellency and so many of your indomitable people.

“It is my heartfelt hope that your excellency’s current visit to Japan will serve to further deepen mutual understanding and trust between our two countries, as well as continue to develop friendly bilateral relations.” , which have been founded through cultural exchanges over more than a century.”

Earlier in the day, the Hungarian president said at a luncheon meeting with Japanese business leaders, that Hungary has worked to further deepen ties with Japan after taking its first steps toward democratization.

“Also, in the process of becoming a member of the EU, we rely on Japan’s experience in such forms as advice, trust and professional knowledge,” the president said in a speech before the gathering. He also mentioned that economic ties between the two countries are steadily increasing, as seen in the fact that about 80 Japanese companies have moved into the Hungarian market.

Although Suzuki Motor Corp. is known as the forerunner among Japanese companies investing in the country, the president said other firms at the forefront of technology are also entering the market there.

He also noted that the bilateral relationship is expanding into such areas as the exchange of human resources and education.

Prior to Goncz’s speech, Minoru Murofushi, chairman of the Japan Foreign Trade Council Inc. and Itochu Corp., stressed the importance of Hungary, given its prime location between Western and Eastern Europe as well as its human resources and technological advances.

About 100 government officials and business leaders from both countries took part in the luncheon, which was jointly hosted by seven Japanese business organizations at a Tokyo hotel.