One-hundred and fifty-five years ago, the second Japanese mission to Europe, the Ikeda Mission, visited Egypt on the way to France. This first contact between Egypt and Japan has developed into a partnership focused on commerce, academia and culture.
“Egypt’s population of almost 100 million is at the crossroads of three continents,” explained Japanese Ambassador to Egypt H.E. Masaki Noke. “Strategically positioned between the Middle East, Europe and Africa, the country is an important partner for Japan in terms of ensuring security across the region and as an economic partner.”
Getting down to business
Following political, social and economic challenges in recent years, today, Egypt is on the right track.
“The dedicated efforts of the Egyptian government to reorganize the business and investment environment and update the business legal framework and tax system in Egypt is well known,” said Eng. Ibrahim El-Araby, chairman of the Egypt-Japan Business Council (EJBC).
“Since 1999, the EJBC has adopted the structure of a public-private partnership to work together on promoting cooperation between Egypt and Japan in all sectors of the economy, including trade, industry and services, and we encourage Japanese investment, as well as social and culture relations.”
Japan’s contribution to the Egyptian economy is increasing, noted Takashi Tsunemi, managing director of the Japan External Trade Organization office in Cairo.
“Japan appreciates Egypt’s current investment climate and many Japanese executives are doing business in the country. Excellent products and technologies from Japan are being used to facilitate economic growth in Egypt,” Tsunemi said.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is committed to Egypt and has provided grant aid for the Cairo Opera House (which celebrated its 30 anniversary last year), the Suez Canal Peace Bridge and many other projects.
“Technology and knowledge transfers are becoming increasingly important as we strengthen our bilateral ties,” said JICA Egypt Office Senior Representative Mizuki Matsuzaki. “Through our official development assistance efforts, the Egyptian economy is moving in the right direction and the country is becoming more attractive to foreign investors as a place to do business.”
Education for the nation
Egypt and Japan are working hand in hand in the academic field.
“The impact quality education has on a society is of paramount importance to a country’s development,” said Noke. “Egypt and Japan are working closely together on educational partnerships such as the Egypt-Japan Education Partnership, which encompasses early childhood, basic, technical and higher education.”
From ancient Egypt to 2019
The three largest and best-preserved pyramids at Giza include the Great Pyramid built for the pharaoh Khufu. Near the site, JICA is financing the construction of one of the world’s largest museums: the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM). Designed to exhibit more than 50,000 artifacts, including all of King Tut’s treasures, even the golden mask, GEM is scheduled to open in 2020.
“With a civilization dating back 7,000 years, Egypt is an exciting country,” concluded Noke. “The relationship between our two countries will continue to develop as we look to the future.”