Mori, Goncz stress commitment to ties

Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and visiting Hungarian President Arpad Goncz reaffirmed their commitment Tuesday to intensifying bilateral cooperation in various areas, a Foreign Ministry official said.

During talks Tuesday evening at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Tokyo, Mori praised Goncz’s pioneering efforts over the past 10 years to carry out democratic reforms in a former communist-ruled country, the official said.

Goncz explained Hungary’s policy to integrate into western European political and economic structures, such as NATO and the European Union, since his democratic government replaced the country’s communist rule in 1990.

Hungary joined NATO in March 1999 and has been seeking full EU membership since the country launched accession talks in March 1998. It wants to conclude the talks as early as 2002.

Mori said Japan intends to further build upon its relations with Hungary as an important European ally, saying he is impressed by Hungary’s achievements in recent years, the official said.

In addition to diplomatic ties, Japan and Hungary have recently been strengthening economic ties. Some Japanese companies see Hungary as a production center for the entire European market, while Budapest wants to attract foreign investment — especially from Tokyo.

Leading Japanese companies that have expanded their business into Hungary include Suzuki Motor Corp., Sony Corp. and TDK Corp.

Regarding organizational reforms in the United Nations, Goncz told Mori that Hungary fully supports Japan’s entry into the U.N. Security Council as a permanent member, the official said.

Goncz also told Mori that he wants to invite the Imperial Couple and Mori to his country in the future. Mori expressed his gratitude in response, the official said.

Goncz arrived in Japan Saturday for a weeklong visit, and is the first state official to visit from Hungary. He is scheduled to leave for Osaka today to exchange views with the business community there.