Stressing Israel’s status in high-technology manufacturing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on August 25 called on Japanese firms to take part in joint-venture projects.

In a 30-minute meeting with Shoichiro Toyoda, chairman of the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren), in Tokyo, Netanyahu said that Japan and Israel can be “unique and powerful” partners if Japan’s strong productivity and Israel’s high technology are “married,” according to Keidanren officials.

Netanyahu said that as Israel begins to transfer its military technology to the private sector it has become the No. 2 high-tech manufacturer behind the United States, boasting more than 1,000 high-tech firms. Toyoda reportedly told Netanyahu that many Japanese firms are interested in business and investment opportunities in Israel, and that the current visit to Japan will help foster closer economic ties between the countries.

Later in the day, Netanyahu spoke at the Japan National Press Club and then at Keidanren. “The benefits of Israeli technology and their importance to worldwide competitiveness are understood by many countries and many firms,” he said. “And I would like Japan to join other countries, European countries and the United States and others who recognize the potential value of cooperation with Israel.”

He said that he is not merely inviting investment from Japan, but trying to conduct joint projects with Japanese companies targeted at markets in third countries. “The main point is how we approach the third markets,” he said, referring to Europe and the United States.

He also spoke about a potential water crisis in the Middle East. Water availability, he said, is a major problem that Israel has to tackle, and demand for water will increase as the populations of Israel and its neighboring countries grow.

He said that he had asked Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto for Japan’s assistance in a series of Israel-Jordan water purification projects and similar ones that Israel “will have to undertake with Palestinians, and I hope, with Syrians. Once we solve territorial problems, unless we solve the water problems, they will come back and create new conflicts,” he said. “The only way to resolve the water issue is with a multinational solution.”

He also said that Israel is planning to build high-speed trains. “We expect Japanese companies to look into the railway construction project,” he said.

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