• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi pledged in a meeting with his Panamanian counterpart Erika Mouynes on Sunday that Tokyo will provide support for the development of quality infrastructure in the Central American country.

Noting that Japan has been one of the main users of the Panama Canal, which links the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, Motegi expressed willingness to “contribute to the sustainable growth of Panama” through infrastructure projects, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

To boost bilateral economic ties, the two ministers agreed to hold a business dialogue at an early date, with Mouynes saying Panama will dispatch a public-private mission to Japan next year.

Panama expects Japan’s cooperation in the fields of investment and finance to help in the recovery of its economy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, the ministry said.

The two ministers also shared the importance of establishing a rule-based international order, with Motegi introducing Japan’s efforts to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific region, where China has been increasing its clout.

In 2017, Panama cut ties with Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with China. Communist China and democratic Taiwan have been separately governed since they split in 1949 as a result of a civil war and Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

On Saturday, Motegi met with Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo. Both the president and Mouynes expressed support for Japan’s holding of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics amid the pandemic, according to the ministry.

Motegi is currently on a tour to Central American and Caribbean nations through Wednesday. The first stop was Guatemala and he will visit Jamaica after Panama.

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