Friday, 28 June 2019 12:40

Ambassador of Japan: Oil is the most sought-after field for investments

- How would you characterize the bilateral relations between Japan and Azerbaijan?

Teruyuki Katori, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Azerbaijan: TheAzerbaijani-Japanese relations have been established for 27 years now. Over these years the relationship developed in a friendly manner and at a high level. Throughout this period Japan has been very helpful to Azerbaijan and implemented lots of projects. Most of the Azerbaijani citizens have a keen interest in Japan and are well disposed to this country. Despite the fact that oil factor underlies our economic relationship, our cooperation prospers in other fields as well.

Reiwa era (current period of the Japanese calendar) has begun in Japan after a new emperor of Japan Naruhito assumed the throne. And I do really hope that the Japanese-Azerbaijani relations will be further developed in Reiwa period.

-Which field of economy of Azerbaijan is the most attractive for Japanese investments?

Teruyuki Katori:  Theoilindustrystill remains the most sought-after field for investments. Investments issues are planned to be considered at the forth-coming session of the Azerbaijani-Japanese intergovernmental economic commission to be held in autumn. Besides, one of the goals is to have the cooperation developed not only in the energy sector, but also in the non-oil sector, especially in agriculture, tourism, information technologies, etc. Within the framework of the commission the parties will consider possibilities of expansion of the cooperation and increase of investments. Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan Muhtar Babayev is expected to attend this meeting as he is a co-chairman of the intergovernmental commission from the Azerbaijani side.


 - What is the volume of bilateral turnover and investments?

Teruyuki Katori: Given the projects of the “official support to development” program launched by Japan, the volume of investments in Azerbaijan would probably be counted in billions. To be exact, Japan invested 7 billion into Azerbaijan’s economy from 1995 to 2018. Investments were made mainly into the energy sector.

As far as the bilateral goods turnover is concerned, export-import operations make $100 million per year. Japan exports equipment, technology and spare parts for transport facilities to Azerbaijan, and imports wine, non-ferrous metals, etc.


- Which topical events are on the bilateral agenda?

Teruyuki Katori:  ForeignMinister of Japan Tarō Kōno visited Azerbaijan last year. It was the second visit of the Japanese Foreign Minister to Baku.

In October Japan will host a special reception on the occasion of a new emperor Naruhito’s accession to the throne. An official delegation from Azerbaijan is expected to attend this event. It will be a perfect opportunity for Azerbaijan’s representative to address this ceremony.

The session of the Azerbaijani-Japanese intergovernmental commission scheduled for November in Tokyo is also noteworthy as a landmark event. The Azerbaijani delegation will also join the session of the commission.

In the meantime, Tokyo will host Summer Olympic Games in coming year and we certainly expect a big sports delegation to come from Azerbaijan, which will do both practice-training session and participate in the games. Thus, we expect a high number of guests from Azerbaijan starting from the second half of this year and during 2020.


- What could you tell about the development of relations in the field of tourism? Is there a growth of tourist flow?

 Teruyuki Katori: Due to thenomination of Baku for hosting the World Expo 2025, Japan’s interest in Azerbaijan has broadly increased. It is possible that the flow of tourists from Japan to Azerbaijan will grow this year. The other day, Baku hosted the session of the UNWTO’s executive council. Within the framework of this session, the representatives of the Japanese Tourism Agency held numerous discussions about possibilities of increasing the flow of Japanese tourists to Azerbaijan. Apart from this, possibilities of making changes into the relevant infrastructure of tourism have been considered, including the change in operation of travel agencies. Such discussions are underway now. The number of Japanese tourists is planned to be increased.


  - What work is underway to simplify the visa procedures between Azerbaijan and Japan?

 Teruyuki Katori:  Therules for visa-free entry into Japan with a diplomatic passport of Azerbaijan have been developed since the last year. Of course there is work carried out in this direction to simplify mutual visa regime between Japan and Azerbaijan. Today, the Japanese passport is one of the strongest ones in the world and the Japanese citizens visit many countries without visas. It is expected that the citizens of Japan will be able to also come to Azerbaijan without a visa in future. The discussions to facilitate visa procedures are underway now.

Given the simplification of the visa reception procedure since the last year, the number of people who visited Japan from Azerbaijan increased by over 20%. Azerbaijani citizens receive visas in a simplified manner and the work of the consular service of the embassy increased due to the increase of tourists. Thus, we are witnessing the progress in the field of visa procedures.

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