It was a surprise contact from the Croatian Foreign Minister in October that led the 62-year-old Drogo Buvac, formerly a journalist specializing in economics and international relations, to bethe new Croatian Ambassador to Japan.

Drogo Buvac

To strengthen the ties between JapanBuvacand the 11-year-old republic, the award-winning journalist, who worked as the Tokyo correspondent for a former Yugoslav news agency between 1977 and 1981, was appointed ambassador in March.

“It is a pleasure for me as an ambassador and journalist to come to Japan again in an era of dynamic change,” said Buvac during his visit to The Japan Times on Tuesday.

“Even now that our people know about the new problems of the Japanese economy, they still look to Japan as an interesting model.”

For the ambassador, who has written several books on the world economy, including “Japan — The Anatomy of Economic Success,” an ongoing task is to attract Japanese investment and tourists by dispelling the country’s war-devastated image.

“The view of Balkan nations among Japanese is the same for all, but politically, Croatia is very stable and you can no longer see any (remnants of) war destruction,” Buvac said. “Facing the Adrian Sea, the country traditionally has an advantage as a tourism country.”

The ambassador also said some 14,000 Japanese tourists visited Croatia last year.

Although the two countries have the potential for better economic cooperation, Buvac said that closer economic ties can already be seen.

“Ninety percent of tuna caught in Croatia is now exported to Japan,” he said. “You can now see Japanese specialists at Croatian ports teaching how to cut tunas for the Japanese market.”

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