Following the announcement last week of a free trade deal between Japan and the European Union, Harold Forsyth, Peruvian Ambassador to Japan, vowed Wednesday to strengthen trade ties between Japan and Peru.
“The challenge will be to promote much more diverse and intense Japanese investment in Peru, (and the) role of the Japanese private sector in the country,” Forsyth told The Japan Times during a courtesy visit to the newspaper’s head office.
Forsyth, who assumed his new post in April, said he hopes to invite investment in the infrastructure sector.
“Latin America needs private-sector (investment) from different parts of the world,” he said.
Forsyth said he was hoping to speed up projects aimed at expanding the metro system and increasing the capacity of commuter trains in Peru.
“If Japan participates in that process, that will open the window for much more Japanese investment in Peru,” he said.
The ambassador added that he was hoping to connect Japan with Peru through a direct flight, and to promote the country’s tourism and cuisine.
Traditionally, Japan has maintained a strong presence in Peru, but the country needs more investment, he said, adding that he is hoping to double Japanese investment in the near future.
Long-term bilateral diplomatic relations began in 1873, when Peru became the first Latin American country to sign the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Commerce and Navigation with Japan, which is still in force, Forsyth said.
He is confident of the stable economic and political situation in the country, and noted that Peru is currently deemed a middle-income country by the World Bank.
“I cannot deny that politics in Peru has always been a complicated matter,” said Forsyth, who in the 1990s was among diplomats protesting the authoritarian regime of former President Alberto Fujimori — now serving a 25-year prison term for human rights abuses during his 1990-2000 strongman reign.
The former congressman said, however, that the political situation has significantly improved in recent years. This has prompted many Peruvians, including those of Japanese descent who previously left the country for Japan, to return to Peru.
When asked about a possible pardon for Fujimori, who turns 79 on July 28, Forsyth said the decision would depend on medical assessments but “we have to respect legality, we have to respect the Constitution and we have to respect our law.”
Fujimori filed a request for a pardon a year ago, citing his deteriorating health, and was taken to a hospital Friday after showing signs of hypertension and an irregular heartbeat.
An author, journalist and TV personality, Forsyth has previously served as ambassador to countries including China and the United States, where he served between 2011 to 2015.
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