Qatar – Japan strong bilateral relations highlighted
February 18 2020 10:29 PM
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Japanese ambassador Kazuo Sunaga addressing the media. PICTURE: Jayan Orma.
Japanese ambassador Kazuo Sunaga addressing the media. PICTURE: Jayan Orma.

*Japan embassy marks Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s birthday and the National Day of Japan on Wednesday in Doha


The Japanese embassy in Doha aims to further strengthen not only the economic and commercial ties between Qatar and Japan but also in several areas of co-operation, ambassador Kazuo Sunaga has said.

“In December 2019, Japan was the top destination for Qatar's exports, accounting for 21.1% of the total, followed by China with 14.7%,” the envoy told a recent press briefing.

He was highlighting the strong and deep-rooted bilateral relations between the two countries as the embassy marks Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s birthday this month and the National Day of Japan on Wednesday at Ritz Carlton Doha.

According to the embassy, Japan’s oil imports and share from Qatar is about 8% and liquefied natural gas (LNG) is about 12% (both rank 3rd in the world) while the amount of exports from Japan to Qatar is QR387mn last year.

Trade volume between the two countries reached $16bn in 2018, an increase of 23% compared to 2017 figure ($13.1bn).

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Number of visitors from Qatar to Japan on rise 

By Joey Aguilar

As the number of visitors from Qatar to Japan has been increasing annually, Japanese ambassador Kazuo Sunaga sees a huge potential and opportunity to develop the educational and cultural exchanges between the two countries. 

Speaking at a recent press briefing in Doha, the envoy said he wants the Japanese public to know Qatar better while also hoping that more Qataris would be interested on Japanese culture and tradition.

 “I heard that many Qatari people want to visit Japan and we are hoping that many will come in the years to come,” said Sunaga, reiterating his desire to further deepen the tourism, education, and culture and sports co-operation between Qatar and Japan. He stressed that the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the Summer Olympics this year, as well as the time before these prestigious tournaments take place, serve as a golden opportunity and occasion to promote these kinds of exchanges. 

According to the embassy, it issued visas to 3,101 visitors from Qatar in 2017; a total of 3,675 in 2018; and around 5,000 in 2019. Sunaga noted that 2020 is a special year for Japan as it will host the Olympics and Paralympics this summer in Tokyo while Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup in 2022 in Doha – two major sporting events that require close co-operation to ensure their success. 

As compared to “our very strong economic and commercial relations”, Sunaga said there is still room and potential to develop educational and cultural exchanges between Qatar and Japan. 

A few weeks ago, Sunaga said, a delegation from Waseda University, one of the most famous and prestigious private universities in Japan, came to Doha and met with their counterparts at Qatar University to discuss some collaboration. 

The envoy said he wants to encourage more Japanese universities and educational institutions and other universities in Qatar to have more collaboration in the future.

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“In terms of Qatar’s exports, Japan is by far the number one partner that means our economic relations with Qatar is always excellent,” Sunaga said.

In 2019, he stressed that the relations between the two countries reached new heights when His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani came to Japan twice: an official visit in January where several agreements have been signed, and His Highness’ second visit during the enthronement of the new Emperor. “That was a great honour for the Japanese government and Japanese people as well.”

The envoy noted that Japan is also contributing to the Qatar’s infrastructure development such as the Hamad International Airport and the Doha Metro, as well as other big projects.

The envoy noted there is a long history of co-operation by Japan companies in the LNG facilities in Qatar as many of them are interested in the expansion of Ras Laffan. He hopes that Japanese companies can also participate in these expansion projects.

“The mega solar power project, which is being implemented by Marubeni and Total, will be a very good case because now Qatar, in addition to fossil energy such as gas and oil, is putting more emphasis on renewable energy such as solar,” Sunaga said. “I am very happy to see that Japanese companies can take part in these new challenges, which Qatar is now doing for the future.”

“Next year, 2021, marks the 50th anniversary of our bilateral relations so in the last half century, Qatar and Japan build up this co-operation and friendship, and we would like to deepen and diversify these relations not only in energy and commercial but we also want to strengthen our exchanges in education, science and technology, and culture and sports,” Sunaga said.

He also lauded Qatar’s unprecedented developments in many sectors saying that, besides being a world leader in various fields, “the level of education, and science and technology, are very high.”

Last updated: February 19 2020 12:28 PM


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