02 September 2016
RIYADH: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held wide-ranging talks with Japanese Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Thursday.
The two leaders decided to step up engagement in different fields. Seven MoUs (memorandums of understanding) were signed by the Kingdom and Japan in the areas of energy, industry, economy, investment, culture and sports.
Prince Mohammed and Abe also witnessed the signing of the pacts, which will go a long way in boosting links between the two nations.
During the prince's talks with high-ranking Japanese officials, subjects of mutual interest were discussed. Abe and Prince Mohammed reaffirmed their resolve "to work together to achieve planned reforms of the Saudi economy with the potential to deliver significant benefits to the two countries." Prince Mohammed said: "The bilateral relations are important, and that exchanges in various areas between the two countries are essential. It is also important for Saudi Arabia and Japan to work together for the stability of the Middle East and for peace and security across the world." He conveyed the greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif to the Japanese emperor and Abe.
Abe also hosted a dinner banquet in honor of the prince and his accompanying delegation. Abe said: "Saudi Arabia is important to Japan not only as a source of energy supplies, but also for the major business opportunities it provides and in terms of the stability of the Middle East. The world is seeing how the deputy crown prince will exercise his leadership to drastically change the Kingdom's economy and society." The two leaders also agreed to jointly launch a ministerial-level Vision 2030 working group to discuss ways to help Saudi achieve economic reforms.
The first ministerial conference will be held in Saudi Arabia next month. The Japanese side was of the view that Saudi Vision 2030 can offer Japanese firms a chance to advance into the Kingdom's economy as it privatizes state-owned entities.
In their roughly 45-minute talks, Prince Mohammed and Abe discussed the ways and means Japan can contribute to the realization of the growth strategy, through which the Kingdom aims to diversify its heavily oil-dependent economy.
Japan imports around 30 percent of its oil from the Kingdom. But energy is not the only sector in which the two countries can forge ties.
In fact, Japan wants to contribute to the strategy in a variety of fields, including manufacturing, small and medium-size enterprises, human resources, culture and sports.
Commenting on the royal, visit, Ohmori Setsuo, charge d'affaires at the Japanese Embassy, said: "I am very glad to know that the deputy crown prince was welcomed in an exceptionally cordial manner by Emperor Akihito, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and ministers, and people of Japan. I also sincerely wish that Prince Mohammed enjoys his stay in Japan and finds fruitful outcomes for further cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Japan." Setsuo pointed out that Prince Mohammed would hold several meetings with top Japanese officials on Friday. The prince will hold talks with Japan's Chief Cabinet Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday morning before meeting with Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito; Yuriko Koike, governor of Tokyo Metropolitan Government; and Tomomi Inada, defense minister.
Prince Mohammed's arrival to Tokyo is part of a wider Asia trip that saw him visit Pakistan and Beijing earlier and will next see him return to China for the Sept. 4-5 G20 Hangzhou 2016 summit.
© Arab News 2016