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Japan’s PM Kishida Forges Stronger Ties with Gulf Countries During a Visit to the Middle East

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida embarked on a momentous diplomatic journey to the Gulf countries in the Middle East, marking a significant milestone in Japan’s commitment to strengthening ties with the region. The visit, which took place from July 16–18, 2023, aimed to foster closer cooperation in various sectors, ranging from energy and infrastructure to culture and education. The GCC and Japan’s collaboration in a number of areas is also expected to be strengthened by Kishida’s tour of the Gulf, which includes Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The GCC provides oil to Asian countries. The UAE was the largest provider, with almost 33 million barrels, or 43.4 percent of Japan’s total oil imports, in May 2023.

Saudi Arabia: A Strategic Partnership for Green Energy and Sustainable Development

Prime Minister Kishida’s tour commenced in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he engaged in high-level talks with Saudi leaders, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The discussions revolved around mutual interests, with a focus on sustainable development and green energy initiatives. Both nations reaffirmed their commitment to combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions.

Japan, a global leader in technology and innovation, pledged support for Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan. The plan aims to diversify the Saudi economy and reduce its reliance on oil revenues, emphasizing the development of renewable energy sources. In this context, Japan vowed to share expertise and technical know-how to facilitate the Kingdom’s transition to clean energy.

United Arab Emirates (UAE): A Partnership for Economic Growth and Cultural Exchange

Continuing his journey, Prime Minister Kishida arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he met with UAE leaders, including Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The focus of discussions centered on expanding economic collaboration and cultural exchange.

The UAE has been a crucial partner for Japan in the Gulf region, with both nations sharing a vision of economic diversification and innovation. Japan’s expertise in various sectors, including infrastructure, healthcare, and technology, aligns perfectly with the UAE’s ambitious goals. According to the state-run Emirates News Agency, 23 agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed on the sidelines of the UAE-Japan Business Forum, which was held on Monday during Kishida’s visit. The UAE is home to the largest population of Japanese expatriates in the Middle East and North Africa, with 4,500 people. The bilateral agreements seek to increase economic trade and investment in the energy sector as well as in areas such as cutting-edge technology, artificial intelligence, space exploration, and environmental protection. According to the International Energy Agency, Japan is a major global supplier of renewable energy goods and services. Additionally, the nation supports the UAE’s strategic objective of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, and the UAE will host the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai in November.

Furthermore, cultural exchange was also highlighted during the talks, with both nations expressing a desire to strengthen people-to-people connections. Promoting cultural understanding and educational exchanges will further deepen the bond between Japan and the UAE.

Qatar: Celebrating Decades of Fruitful Partnership

Prime Minister Kishida’s itinerary also included a visit to Qatar, where he was warmly received by Qatari leaders. This visit celebrated the longstanding partnership and constructive relations that have flourished between Japan and Qatar over the years. Both nations have enjoyed strong economic ties, with Japan being one of the largest importers of Qatari liquefied natural gas (LNG). The energy cooperation between the two countries has been a cornerstone of their relationship, contributing significantly to Japan’s energy security and Qatar’s economic growth.

Beyond energy, Japan and Qatar have collaborated in various fields, including infrastructure development and sports. The two nations’ shared passion for sports was evident when Qatar hosted the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with Japanese businesses playing a vital role in infrastructure projects related to the prestigious event.

 Prime Minister Kishida’s visit to the Gulf countries in the Middle East has undoubtedly strengthened Japan’s strategic ties in the region. The commitments made during the tour hold the promise of increased cooperation in green energy, economic diversification, infrastructure development, and cultural exchange. As Japan reinforces its presence in the Gulf region, these partnerships are expected to yield mutual benefits and contribute to regional stability and prosperity. The shared vision of sustainable development and innovative solutions underscores the potential for a promising future between Japan and the Gulf countries.