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B'dos and Japan aim to strengthen relationship

Japanese Ambassador, Yoshimasa Tezuka (left) shares pictures of his country’s earthquake recovery efforts with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, during a courtesy call today.

The need to forge stronger trade and cultural ties was emphasised today, when Japan’s Ambassador to CARICOM, Yoshimasa Tezuka, met with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean.

A range of topics which signalled the desire for increased collaboration between the two countries was discussed, with McClean expressing the hope that the existing relationship would be strengthened through future endeavours.

Tezuka revealed that the year 2014 would be observed as Japan/CARICOM Friendship Year, and also extended an invitation to McClean to attend a Ministers of Foreign Affairs meeting to be hosted by Tokyo.

Noting that “the people [of both countries] have a good impression of each other, but do not know enough about each other”, the Japanese ambassador intimated that this could be aided through a mission, which would feature musicians from his homeland. McClean concurred, adding that a musical exchange, with artists from each country visiting the other, could also facilitate greater cultural understanding.

Tezuka also indicated that investment opportunities, namely in the renewable energy sector, could augur well for both parties. The Foreign Affairs minister noted that “Government is committed to retrofitting buildings … so it would be useful for companies to explore these opportunities”, adding that partnership with local businesses could support this pursuit.

The Trinidad-based Japanese ambassador reported on the recovery of his country, following the devastating earthquake last April. McClean lauded Japan’s efforts and remarked that she “will communicate to Cabinet the swift response you were able to effect… as [it] demonstrates your people’s capacity to stay focused on rehabilitation”.

Tezuka said his country would be willing to share its knowledge on disaster response, an offer which was welcomed by the McClean, who acknowledged the quick time frame of their recovery was “symbolic of the strength of the Japanese”.

Barbados and Japan established diplomatic ties in 1967.

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