• Kyodo


Economy ministers of Japan and Saudi Arabia agreed Tuesday to accelerate efforts to implement joint economic projects in the Middle Eastern country, including ones intended to improve business and investment environments there.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko and Adel Fakeih, Saudi Arabia’s minister of economy and planning, confirmed the efforts at their meeting in Tokyo one day after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visiting Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud agreed to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation in announcing what was billed the “Saudi-Japan Vision 2030.”

“Many Japanese take Saudi Arabia’s commitment to its reforms seriously. The relationship of the two countries has now progressed to a strategic partner,” Seko said at his meeting with Fakeih, which involved around 70 officials from both sides.

“From today, we will move from the stage of planning to the stage of implementation of the vision, whose contents are remarkable,” Seko said.

In his opening remarks, Fakeih said Riyadh and Tokyo should “prepare as one team for the implementation of the vision.” The portion of the meeting was open to the media.

Under the 2030 vision, the two countries will explore setting up special economic zones to invite more investment by Japanese companies into the Mideast country, which is undergoing transformation from an oil-dependent economy amid falls in oil prices.

Japan, meanwhile, sees resource-rich Saudi Arabia as an attractive market for its infrastructure exports.

Also on Tuesday, around 20 Japanese companies, including Toyota Motor Corp., exchanged memorandums of understanding with Saudi Arabian companies and its government to strengthen ties.

Among them, Japan Exchange Group and the Saudi Stock Exchange signed a pact for broad cooperation in areas such as the cross-listing of shares and development of financial products.

Their agreement comes after Abe and the king agreed to promote talks for a possible listing of Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil giant, on the Tokyo Stock Exchange as part of its partial privatization.

Japan’s Mizuho Bank, meanwhile, agreed with National Housing Company in Saudi Arabia to help Japanese companies invest in urban development projects in the kingdom, which has a housing shortage due to a sharp rise in population.

Mizuho, along with its mega-bank peers, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., also exchanged memorandums of understanding with the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority to help Japanese customers do business in Saudi Arabia through exchange of market reports and seminars.

Earlier Tuesday, Emperor Akihito received the Saudi king for lunch at the Imperial Palace.

Salman greeted and shook hands with the emperor and told him that he was happy to be visiting Japan.

The Saudi king has been visiting Japan since Sunday, marking the first trip to the country by a Saudi king in 46 years. The 81-year-old king was accompanied by a massive delegation including royal family members and ministers.

Approximately 10 aircraft were used to transport the huge delegation to Japan, a local government official said, while over 1,000 rooms at high-end hotels in Tokyo have been reserved and some 500 limousines mobilized for the delegation, a Saudi government source said.

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