Bridges: Japan and Romania celebrated 100 years of diplomatic ties in 2021. How would you describe the current bilateral relationship?

Ovidiu Dranga, Ambassador of Romania to Japan | © EMBASSY OF ROMANIA
Ovidiu Dranga, Ambassador of Romania to Japan | © EMBASSY OF ROMANIA

Ambassador Dranga: Like all anniversaries, this centennial is an opportunity to take stock of what we have succeeded to build in the past, while looking forward and planning for the future. We have done well so far but we aim for much more. Romania and Japan have a solid friendship, based on mutual respect, shared values and principles and on the common approach of global challenges.

Our economic ties are steadily growing and we are currently working on intensifying and diversifying Japanese investments in Romania. At this point we are very close to signing a strategic partnership between our countries, with focus on research and innovation, security and defense, reflecting our like-mindedness and the shared set of geopolitical sensitivities and strategic imperatives.

What is the embassy doing to strengthen ties between the two countries?

One of our priorities is to enhance Romania’s visibility here in Japan as a reliable European partner and as a tourist and study destination for the Japanese people, with a special focus on younger generations. Though the pandemic is still a hindrance, we are nevertheless working on several high-level official visits, as well as on facilitating business contacts and intensifying people-to-people exchanges.

I assumed my duties in Japan rather recently, in September 2021, but I have already traveled in several prefectures. I am confident that strengthening ties with the local authorities and businesses and creating connections with their counterparts in Romania will provide us with renewed energy and inspiring ideas, beneficial for the growth of Romania’s relations with Japan.

Our aim is to associate Romania, an active and resourceful member of NATO and the European Union, with advanced technology, information technology and economic progress in the eyes of the Japanese public, who could therefore appreciate our history and traditions as much as our propensity for creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

With the challenges we are all facing following the pandemic, what are your hopes for the Romania-Japan relationship in 2022?

Beyond the difficulty of the pandemic, we need to make the best out of this situation that has taught us how to work better together and be more cohesive, highlighting the importance of resilience — of our medical systems and of our supply chains.  This will be part of our focus in the development of our relations, which,  as I mentioned, will be elevated next year to the strategic partnership level.

Our expectations are high because the potential for intensified cooperation has been underexplored. Although 9,000 kilometers apart, Romania and Japan share common concerns regarding economic security, since they are called on to manage complexity and interdependence as responsible members of the values-based Western community.

What message do you have for our readers regarding the next 100 years in terms of trade and cultural ties between Japan and Romania?

I am certain that our friendship and partnership will endure at least 100 more years. In my short time here, I have already met many Japanese officials, businesspeople and regular people interested and passionate about Romania, giving me confidence in the future of our bilateral relations.

The embassy will continue to build on this foundation, enhance dialogue, diversify fields of cooperation and provide support wherever and whenever necessary. We aim at creating new emotional bridges between large Romanian and Japanese communities, inviting them to discover each other through culture and academic exchanges, through cross-examination and mutual understanding of their history and traditions.

Read the full interview at Bridges: www.sms-bridges.com