50th anniversary of Japan-UAE ties inspires to explore new frontiers: Tokyo’s envoy
By Binsal Abdulkader
ABU DHABI, 14th February, 2022 – As Japan and the UAE are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations, the new Japanese envoy in Abu Dhabi is looking for new frontiers in the ties.
“It is an important milestone that enables us to explore new frontiers in bilateral cooperation based on solid foundation of the past 50 years of relations,” Akio Isomata, the Japanese Ambassador to the UAE, told the Emirates News Agency (WAM) in an exclusive interview.
Priorities as envoy
Isomata, who took charge as the ambassador in late November, elaborated on his priorities.
“One of the objectives I would like to pursue is an official launching of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Initiative [CSPI] between the two countries.
Under the umbrella of the CSPI, we will enter a new phase to expand and deepen the political, economic and cultural relations.
Japan and the UAE had announced their commitment to draft a joint cooperation strategy and vision, under the framework of the CSPI, in a joint statement issued in Abu Dhabi on 30th April, 2018, after a meeting between the then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, during Abe’s official visit to the UAE.
The envoy said, “My second ambition is to diversify the economic relations into a variety of new areas of cooperation.
New domains in economic relations
About such new areas, he cited the recent collaboration in aerospace projects such as the UAE’s Hope Probe – launched in Japan by a Japanese rocket – and the moon exploration project, supported by a Japanese company.
Cooperation in healthcare and food security can be further explored, he added.
The two countries have a longstanding cooperation in the field of oil exploration, production and trade, the ambassador pointed out.
“More than 30 percent of the imported crude oil of Japan is from the UAE.
Major export items from Japan to the UAE are automobiles and machineries in which Japan boasts strong competitive advantage.
In recent years, the ties have been expanding to new areas such as infrastructure, renewable energy, outer space, defence industries, agriculture and food, medical and healthcare, retail business, tourism, content and creative industries and sports, he explained.
Japanese companies are involved in power generation, desalination and railway projects, the envoy added.
The UAE hosts around 4300 Japanese expats 350 Japanese companies.
UAE an important hub in MENA
“I believe potentials for the development of our bilateral relations are infinitely huge, considering the accumulation of our cooperative efforts .
,” Isomata emphasised.
“The UAE’s social stability, quality business environment as well as concept of tolerance provides good investment opportunities for the private sector.
The UAE is an important business hub for the Japanese companies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the diplomat stressed.
“Especially Dubai, it is an ideal business hub with its free zones, quality infrastructure, and openness to foreign companies.
Recently, many Japanese companies have established their regional headquarters in Dubai, which is an important hub gateway to the MENA region.
Students, Japanese language build bridges
Isomata believes Japan and the UAE have a huge potential for cooperation in the cultural arena.
“The two countries are also working together in education and human resources development, which I believe is extremely important for shaping both nations’ future together.
The ambassador cherishes his meeting in Tokyo with a group of Japanese high school students, graduates of the Japanese School in Abu Dhabi, who are currently studying in Tokyo.
“I was very much inspired, greatly encouraged as well, to see them living in a totally different cultural context and studying with high spirits in Japan, each with a dream of doing higher studies in mechanical engineering, political science, etc.
, in the future.
The recent introduction of Japanese language at three public schools in Dubai and Sharjah is a very important step, Isomata said.
The courses had started in November 2021 and December 2021 in both emirates respectively with native Japanese teachers.
Japanese martial arts such as Judo, Karate and Aikido are also popular in the UAE.
“In 2022, we will organise a series of cultural and sporting events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Japan-UAE diplomatic ties.
I hope many people would join the events and feel Japan even closer to them.
Expo 2020 Dubai
“The success of the Dubai Expo in attracting many visitors clearly shows that even a global pandemic cannot deter us from forging ahead with wisdom and determination.
I would like to congratulate the UAE for successfully hosting of this Expo,” the envoy commented when asked about the UAE’s hosting of Expo 2020.
The theme of the Japanese Pavilion is “Where ideas meet” and through an interactive approach, it provides visitors with opportunities to feel and understand a variety of ideas that can be a good foundation for a better future, he explained.
The Dubai Expo has a special importance for Japan, since it will host Expo 2025 in Osaka, Kansai.
“Its theme is ‘Designing Future Society for Our Lives.
‘ Building upon the legacy of Dubai Expo, we intend to provide a venue to discuss ways of happy life for each individual and the future socio-economic system to support it.
International cooperation, climate action
The UAE has an important position in international arena, and it will continue to play that role as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2022-2023, the Japanese ambassador believes.
“I would like to pay tribute to the Emirati leadership who are determined to lead the international community in many fields.
I hope Japan would play an even more active role together with the UAE towards peace and stability in the region,” he said.
Japan and the UAE have announced their intention to achieve net zero carbon emission by 2050.
Japan-UAE efforts for decarbonisation will further develop with cooperation in solar energy, blue ammonia, and hydrogen, which have huge potential, Isomata pointed out.
“We certainly welcome the UAE’s hosting of COP28 in 2023.
Together with the UAE, Japan will work closely with the international community to tackle climate change issues.
WAM/ Ibrahim Shukralla