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Jordan ‘strategic partner’ to Japan — ambassador

By Mohammad Ghazal - Dec 10,2018 - Last updated at Dec 10,2018

Japanese Ambassador to Jordan Hidenao Yanagi

AMMAN — Japan will continue to support Jordan, who has always been a friend and one of Japan’s most important strategic partners, said Japanese Ambassador in Amman Hidenao Yanagi.

During a recent interview with The Jordan Times on the occasion of Japan’s national day, the ambassador highlighted Their Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania’s recent visit to Japan, as well as the current state of relations between the two countries and areas of cooperation. 

The ambassador said that the King’s recent visit was especially important since, “the emperor will abdicate in April of next year".

The abdication of emperor Akihito at the end of April will be the first abdication by a Japanese monarch in about two centuries.

During the visit, King Abdullah visited the Japanese Self Defence Force’s Camp Narashino.

"His Majesty King Abdullah was the second foreign leader to visit Camp Narashino. The first person was former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who visited in January of this year," said the ambassador.

Yanagi also stressed the importance of the Japan-Jordan Investment Agreement, which was signed during the King's visit.

The agreement is meant to protect and promote investments between Jordan and Japan, and support economic relations between the two countries.

There are currently 20 Japanese companies operating in Jordan. The companies work in the fields of energy, tobacco and fertilisers, among others, according to the ambassador.

Yanagi also said there was a possibility the Japanese companies would participate in an investment conference to support Jordan in February.

The UK-hosted conference will be held with the participation of Group of Seven representatives, as well as leading international institutions in the fields of finance and investment. 

The aim of the London conference is to rally international support to help put Jordan on a sustainable growth path and transition to an export-led economy.

"We understand the current situation due to the burden of hosting a large number of refugees, and the lost trade opportunities with Syria and Iraq. We hope Jordan will overcome these challenges and we understand the financial difficulties," said Yanagi.

In 2017, Jordan's imports from Japan reached $572 million, while exports to Japan stood at $26 million. Japanese imports to the Kingdom include transportation equipment and machines, while Jordanian exports to Japan include potash fertiliser and phosphate ore.

Yanagi also said Japan stands with Jordan in supporting the two-state solution.

He added that Japan supports UNRWA's activities and was mobilising donors and countries in east Asia and elsewhere to support the agency.

In order to encourage the economic self-reliance of Palestine, Japan established the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative. Jericho Agro-Industrial Park, which now hosts 12 Palestinian companies, is the flagship project of the initiative. 

Another Japanese initiative “Conference on the Cooperation among East Asian countries for Palestinian Development”, invited ASEAN countries to economically support Palestine.

Japan has contributed $45 million to UNRWA this year. 

During the UN General Assembly in September, Japan, along with Jordan, Turkey, Sweden, Germany and the EU, co-hosted the ministerial meeting for supporting UNRWA.

"We will commit ourselves to further support vulnerable people, including refugees in Jordan and host communities," the ambassador said.

Japan’s bilateral assistance after the Syrian crisis reached over $1.3 billion and Japan’s multilateral assistance during same period reached over $200 million. 

Yanagi also noted that even though southwest Syria was stable, conditions for the return of Syrian refugees were not yet suitable.

"We appreciate Jordan's stance calling for the voluntary return of Syrian refugees, and that is why we will continue our support to Jordan in this regard," added the diplomat.

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