New Chilean Ambassador Oscar Fuentes said Monday his country wants to consolidate its ties with Japan in trade and other areas and promote multilateral cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

Chile therefore will endeavor to promote better understanding by increasing personnel contacts and the direct flow of information with Japan, Fuentes told The Japan Times.

Returning to Tokyo after 15 years, Fuentes has found Japan and its people vastly changed as the nation has shed its old image of a closed market. As a world power, it now has few import barriers and is playing a central role in the development of other Asian countries, he said.

Chile intends to strengthen its cooperation with Pacific Basin countries in such areas as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, he said. The ambassador has personally followed APEC’s growth since his days in Tokyo as a counselor at the embassy from 1978 to 1983.

Discussing Chile’s domestic development, Fuentes said his government puts emphasis on eliminating economic imbalance in certain areas and improving education. The government spends more than 65 percent of its budget for social development, he added.

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