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Alberta is committed to sharing its experiences in successful fiscal and government restructuring with Japan, one of its priority markets, according to provincial Premier Ralph Klein.Speaking at a news conference and at a Tokyo luncheon Oct. 9 sponsored jointly by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan and the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce, Klein said there is no magic to fiscal reform and that Alberta’s relationship with Japan is vital for trade and growth in the future.Although Alberta’s restructuring program initially met with resistance, the four-year campaign has been so successful the provincial government will be able to pay off its debts in two years, Klein said. One key to the success has been the political will to proceed in the face of public protests, said Klein, adding that an integral element in gaining the public’s confidence was for senior provincial officials to take salary cuts as well as eliminating the pension plan for elected officials.”The real key to our success was that we didn’t stray from the course,” he said. “We never strayed or wavered from our commitment to bring spending under control.” The province scaled back many programs during its restructuring, including overseas offices. But during this time, Alberta’s Japan office expanded, Klein said. Japan is Alberta’s largest offshore trading partner and the number of Japanese visitors to Alberta has nearly doubled to around 160,000 annually in the last five years, Klein said.

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