Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met at the Akasaka Palace with Carlos Saul Menem, president of the Argentine Republic, who was in Japan on a state visit. The main purpose of the state visit, the first by a president of Argentina in 12 years, was to attend a ceremony celebrating the centenary of friendship between Japan and Argentina.
Prime Minister met with Guntis Ulmanis, president of the Republic of Latvia, at the prime minister's official residence. This was the first visit to Japan of a president of Latvia since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. In Japan until December 15, President Ulmanis also met Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress and held talks with Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura and other cabinet members to exchange views on strengthening economic and other bilateral relations.
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met with Benjamin William Mkapa, president of the United Republic of Tanzania, at the prime minister's official residence. The prime minister pledged Japan's cooperation in training human resources for tourism projects and encouraging investment by Japanese companies.Afterward Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura and Zakia Meghji, Tanzania's minister for natural resources and tourism, exchanged notes on a maximum of 2.3 billion yen in grants-in-aid to Tanzania.
The Financial Reconstruction Commission, an independent administrative body of the Prime Minister's Office charged with rebuilding the financial system, which faces sweeping structural reform, was officially inaugurated. Hakuo Yanagisawa, state minister in charge of financial reconstruction, was appointed the first chairman. That afternoon the other four commission members, together with the five members of the commission's Stock Price Evaluation Committee, in charge of assessing the value of shares of nationalized banks, received their appointments from the prime minister. At its first meeting the commission decided to hold regular weekly meetings and to publish summaries of proceedings one month later and the minutes of proceedings three years later.
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, who arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam, on December 15, the first day of the Sixth ASEAN summit, attended the Summit Meeting of ASEAN plus Japan (ASEAN + 1) and the Summit Meeting of ASEAN plus Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea (ASEAN + 3), where views on ways of dealing with the economic crisis and other problems facing Asia and on cooperation between Japan and ASEAN countries in the twenty-first century were exchanged.
That morning, before these meetings, the prime minister delivered a policy speech outlining an Asian vision for the twenty-first century, "Toward the Creation of a Bright Future for Asia," at the Institute for International Relations. He declared, "I believe the twenty-first century for Asia should be 'a century of peace and prosperity built on human dignity,'" and proposed measures to help overcome the Asian economic crisis.
At the ASEAN + 1 and ASEAN + 3 meetings the prime minister explained the assistance measures outlined in his policy speech, which were welcomed by the ASEAN representatives. Agreement was also reached on cooperation in financial and structural economic reforms to deal with Asia's economic problems.
Upon the conclusion of the Summit Meeting of ASEAN plus Japan, in Hanoi, Prime Minister Obuchi began an official visit to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, he expressed Japan's support for Vietnam's doi moi (reform) policy and invited Prime Minister Khai to make an official visit to Japan. Prime Minister Obuchi also visited Ho Chi Minh City, the first such visit by a Japanese prime minister since Vietnam was unified in 1975, where he toured the Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone and the Cho Ray Hospital.
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met Kamal Kharrazi, minister for foreign affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran following Foreign Minister Kharrazi's meeting the previous day with Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura, who had invited Foreign Minister Kharrazi to visit Japan. The prime minister and Foreign Minister Kharrazi discussed various aspects of bilateral relations and affirmed advances in political, economic, cultural, and other relations.
The Economic Strategy Council, an advisory body to Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi chaired by Hirotaro Higuchi, chairman of Asahi Breweries, Ltd., submitted its interim report to the prime minister. The report, "Strategies for Reviving the Japanese Economy," outlined five basic strategies: (1) scenarios for economic recovery and a road map for sustainable government balances, (2) "a competitive society with soundness and creativity" and preparation of safety nets, (3) complete settlement of the bubble economy and the establishment of a financial system for the twenty-first century, (4) frameworks for industrial revitalization, and (5) strategic infrastructure for the twenty-first century.