Japan, Qatar strengthen bilateral co-operation

Japanese firms are in talks with Qatar for “specific purchases”

Japanese ambassador Satoshi Maeda has highlighted significant advancements across multiple sectors on the progress of bilateral co-operation between Qatar and Japan, echoing the commitments made during Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to Doha in July last year.
“As a follow-up to the visit, especially on the security field, Japan and Qatar had the first military-to-military dialogue between the two countries in October 2023,” he said.

'Qatar a reliable LNG exporter'

Japanese firms are in talks with Qatar for “specific purchases”, expecting the scope of transactions to expand beyond liquefied natural gas (LNG) to include condensate and helium, Japanese ambassador Satoshi Maeda has said.
“From the perspective of energy security, we recognise the importance of purchasing a certain amount of LNG from Qatar, a reliable LNG exporter, and maintaining good relations with Qatar,” the envoy said.
Addressing a recent press briefing, Maeda noted that the visit of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to Qatar in July last year underscored the commitment of both nations to bolster energy ties and economic co-operation.
He said that Japan aims to enhance relations with Qatar in promising investment areas such as semiconductors and batteries.
In line with Japan’s goal to double inward foreign direct investment stocks by 2030, the envoy outlined priority areas for co-operation, including digital transformation, green transformation, and bio/healthcare.
Regarding collaborative initiatives to enhance economic ties, Maeda cited the Japan pavilion at Expo 2023 Doha, which attracted more than 100,000 visitors.
He underlined Japan’s efforts to promote its culture and increase tourism, aiming to strengthen economic relations between the two nations.
“The pavilion features Ikebana fresh flower arrangement that rotates on a weekly basis, and its outdoor Japanese garden where you can enjoy a Zen atmosphere,” Maeda said. “We also collaborated with Katara – the Cultural Village and held cultural events such as the kimono parade and Japanese movies night as part of the activities during the Asian Cup.”
He stressed that cultural exchange initiatives remain a cornerstone of bilateral relations, with Japan actively promoting its culture in Qatar through various events and collaborations.
The ambassador underscored the importance of projects funded by the Qatar Friendship Fund, established to support areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Projects ranging from children’s education to fisheries have contributed to the recovery and rebuilding efforts, symbolising the enduring friendship between Qatar and Japan.
According to Maeda, initiatives such as Japanese government scholarships for Qatari students and academic partnerships between universities further strengthen ties between the two nations.
On renewable energy co-operation, Maeda said that Japan’s technological expertise in waste management and energy efficiency presents opportunities for collaboration with Qatar as it ventures into the renewable energy market.
Projects like the Al Kharsaa power plant highlight the potential for mutual benefit and advancement in clean energy initiatives.
“Additionally, the Mitsubishi Research Institute is conducting a study with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to help achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Maeda said.
“Japan has excellent technology in waste management and energy efficiency & conservation, and could contribute to Qatar’s goals,” he added.

“We exchanged views on regional situations, defence co-operation and exchanges, etc,” Maeda said. “This dialogue will certainly be a great step for Japan to further promote defence co-operation and exchanges with our strategic partner Qatar.”
He was speaking to reporters at a recent press briefing at his residence in Doha on the occasion of Japan’s National Day celebration in Qatar, scheduled to take place today.
The envoy also announced that Japan Airlines is gearing up to launch daily direct flights between Tokyo and Doha, starting March 31, aimed at further strengthening economic ties and cultural exchanges between the two countries.
Maeda noted that this move marks the first direct flight route to the Middle East region operated by a Japanese airline.
It is expected to stimulate tourism, foster economic growth, and deepen cultural interactions between Qatar and Japan.
The envoy cited other initiatives that to promote people-to-people exchanges, such as the visa waiver agreement for Qatar’s ordinary passport holders signed last year.
In addition, the Japan National Tourism Organisation's unveiling of the “Japan Travel House” in Qatar in October last year aims to catalyse inbound tourism from Qatar to Japan, further enriching bilateral ties.
In the area of investments, Maeda said that Japanese companies have expressed keen interest in Qatar’s New IWPP project, focusing on the construction of thermal power generation and desalination facilities.
About the transition towards carbon-free energy, the envoy said that Japan has been actively investing in initiatives aimed at achieving carbon neutrality, noting that Japanese companies are intensifying efforts in hydrogen and ammonia as carbon-free energy alternatives.
He pointed out that in the Middle East, collaborative endeavours, including demonstration tests for transportation, are underway to reduce hydrogen supply costs.
“I understand that efforts are underway in Qatar to expand exports of Direct Reduced Iron, which can reduce *CO2 emissions by up to 40% during steel manufacturing,” he said.
While acknowledging concerns regarding regional geopolitical tensions, particularly in light of Japan’s energy dependency on the Middle East, Maeda said that both countries remain committed to enhancing co-operation across political, economic, and security fields.
He said that Prime Minister Kishida’s recent meeting with His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at COP28 underscored a shared commitment to strengthening bilateral ties and collaborating on humanitarian and regional stability issues, including Qatar's mediation efforts concerning the Gaza Strip.
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