Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida plans to visit Panama during Golden Week, with the government eyeing the Panama Canal as a key corridor to facilitate the future import of shale gas from the U.S.
Kishida’s visit to Panama between late April and early May, the first by a foreign minister, is aimed at strengthening strategic cooperation with the country, a government source said Thursday.
From the viewpoint of Japan’s energy security, “the importance of the Panama Canal will increase exponentially,” a government official said separately.
Kishida is expected to meet with Panamanian Foreign Minister Fernando Nunez Fabrega on May 2, according to the source.
While work continues to expand the canal for larger vessels, passage fees are on the rise, partly to generate funds for the work. During the ministerial meeting, Kishida is expected to ask for a curb on these fees because of their impact on transport costs.