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UAE, UAE, ABU DHABI - Diplomacy

Fumio Kishida

Prime Minister , Japan

Bio

Fumio Kishida is Prime Minister of Japan.

"Japan believes that it is important to promote realistic energy transitions and to achieve both emissions reductions and economic growth simultaneously, while ensuring energy security."

In this exclusive contribution for The Business Year, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida congratulates the UAE on its new leadership, emphasizes the importance of the strategic partnership between Japan and the UAE, and expresses commitment to strengthening bilateral relations in various fields, including energy, trade, education, space cooperation, and support for COP28.

I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations on the inauguration of His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan as Deputy Rulers of Abu Dhabi, and His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the Vice President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.

Japan attaches great importance to its relationship with the UAE as a strategic partner, and we look forward to cooperating in various fields, including for the success of COP28, which will be hosted by the UAE this year.

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the UAE, and major events took place in this regard, such as the visit to Japan by His Highness Sheikh Khaled (Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office at that time), the signing of the Joint Statement on the Implementation of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Initiative (CSPI) between our two countries, and the accord in principle on the Agreement concerning the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology.

In particular, the launch of the full visa exemption arrangement for UAE nationals was received very well, and I am delighted that many UAE citizens have visited Japan for business and tourism since the waiver was implemented in November last year.

This year marks the first year of the next 50 years of cooperation between Japan and the UAE. Under the CSPI, we intend to further develop the solid relationship between our two countries.

For over half a century, Japan and the UAE have cultivated strong mutual trust, which developed with the energy sector at the core. Japan’s economic growth has been supported by the stable supply of oil and gas from the UAE for many years. In addition, Japanese companies have contributed to the construction and management of key infrastructure in the UAE, such as the ongoing excavation of oil fields in Abu Dhabi since the 1960s as well as the construction of the Dubai Metro and desalination facilities that commenced in the 1990s. Last September, the UAE was the largest source of crude oil imports for Japan (45% of all imports). We intend to further strengthen our relationship with the UAE, one of the world’s major energy producing countries and a member of OPEC.

In terms of trade, in 2021 imports from the UAE to Japan amounted to USD27 billion and exports from Japan to the UAE totaled USD7 billion, while the volume of trade between the two countries returned to almost the same level as before the COVID-19 pandemic. The UAE is also an important gateway to the Middle East and Africa.

I am also pleased that progress has been made in bilateral cooperation in the fields of renewable energy, hydrogen and ammonia in recent years. In addition, there is the Japan-UAE Coordination Scheme for Advanced Technology (JU-CAT), which was established in January this year to encourage collaboration between Japanese advanced technology start-ups and investors from the UAE in the areas of space, renewable energy, medicine, food and agriculture. I hope that this scheme will contribute to decarbonization, industrial development and human resource development in the UAE.

I believe that there is still great potential for collaboration between Japan and the UAE. Looking ahead to the next 50 years, I am determined to work with President Sheikh Mohamed to make our relationship even stronger.

In this regard, as Japan-UAE relations aim to reach greater heights during the next half century, I strongly support exchanges between our young people, who will forge the future of our countries and assist the development of human resources in the UAE. I would like to work with stakeholders in the UAE in promoting scholarships for undergraduate and graduate school students in the UAE who are looking to study in Japan. I also aim to promote exchanges between high school students from our two countries as well as internships at Japanese companies aimed towards human resource development in the UAE. I believe that such educational exchanges and support for human resource development will serve as the foundation for the further evolution of bilateral relations in the future, including in the economic and business fields.

Through various events held in both countries last year on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, we realized once again how much interest people in the UAE have in Japan. In addition to Japanese traditional culture such as martial arts, tea ceremony, and “ikebana”, or the Japanese art of flower arrangement, young people in the UAE have shown strong interest in Japan through manga and anime. We would like to continue and expand our support for Japanese language education in the UAE, and also to promote mutual exchanges in the content industry, including in e-sports and the creative industry.

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) opened its MENA headquarters office in Dubai in 2021 and we hope that, encouraged by the full visa exemption for UAE citizens that I referred to earlier, more UAE citizens will visit Japan and discover how attractive it is through experiencing elements such as its delicious cuisine, the delights of the different seasons and the excitement of travelling on its renowned high-speed trains.

Our bilateral relationship is also expanding in the field of space cooperation. Japan has contributed to the UAE’s space policy for many years. The multipurpose Earth observation satellite KhalifaSat and the Mars Exploration Hope Probe were launched on Japanese rockets in 2018 and in 2020, respectively. In February last year, the Light-1 satellite, jointly developed by the UAE and Bahrain, was released from the International Space Station’s Japan Experiment Module “Kibo,” with the cooperation of JAXA, and successfully put into Earth orbit.

The launch of the UAE’s lunar probe Rashid Rover this April, which was operated in collaboration with Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) and a Japanese space start-up ispace, was a significant step forward as the world’s first attempt by a private company to land a spacecraft on the Moon, even though it was not able to produce the expected results. I am confident that the ongoing efforts in this regard will lead to success in the near future. I will continue to support these start-ups as they tirelessly take on the challenge of venturing into space.

Meanwhile, COP28 will be held in the UAE in December this year. Japan hopes to support the successful convening of COP28 in close cooperation with the UAE, which holds this year’s presidency. COP28 also provides the opportune timing for Japan and the UAE to launch cooperation projects related to such areas as decarbonization, low carbon, and Green Transformation (GX).

Japan believes that it is important to promote realistic energy transitions and to achieve both emissions reductions and economic growth simultaneously, while ensuring energy security. We intend to promote collaboration on decarbonization technology through the aforementioned JU-CAT scheme.

Finally, I congratulate the UAE on the successful convening of Expo 2021 Dubai. For our part, the Osaka-Kansai Expo will be held in 2025 in Osaka, the same city that hosted the Abu Dhabi Pavilion at the Osaka Expo 1970. We look forward to welcoming our friends from the UAE again on this occasion.

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