Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto expressed hope Tuesday that Asia and Latin America can take their relationship onto a higher plane befitting the economic strengths of the two regions.

In an address before the Fifth Symposium on Latin America and the Caribbean, Hashimoto lauded the nations of Latin America for structural reforms over the past decade that have reduced inflation and brought stability.

“I am certain that Latin America holds the key to the growth of the global community in the 21st century,” the prime minister said at a Tokyo hotel hosting the symposium. While the dependency between the countries of Asia and Latin American is growing, gatherings such as the symposium can help forge even deeper ties, he said.

He added that he is fully aware that boosting Japan’s domestic economy is very important to the well-being of the rest of the global economy, including Latin America.

The symposium, aimed at enhancing economic links between Japan and the region, was also attended by Alberto Fujimori, president of Peru, and Julio Maria Sanguinetti, president of Uruguay, as well as ministers and senior government officials of other Latin American nations.

Enrique Iglesias, president of the Inter-American Development Bank, stressed in his address that the region was open to investment, trade and the transfer of technology, and he called on Japanese firms to take further interest in the area.

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