ABU DHABI, 28th April, 2018 (WAM) — The United Arab Emirates and Japan are bound by time – honoured, deeply-rooted relations that have been in a steady growth over the past 46 years thanks to the determination of both countries’ leadership to sustain cooperation across all domains.
The visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the UAE on April 29-30 comes to provide more momentum to these privileged ties which date back to well ahead of the establishment of the UAE Union through the businesses foothold Japanese companies maintained in the Arabian Gulf region during that period.
Japan, in addition, was among the first world countries to cultivate diplomatic relations with the UAE, immediately following the declaration of the Union in 1971 when the UAE embassy opened in Tokyo in December 1971, with Japan following suit, and establishing its embassy in the UAE capital in April 1974.
Since then, the two countries’ officials engaged in a flurry of visit exchanges that was initiated by late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who paid a three-day visit to Japan in May 1990, during which he met Japan’s Emperor Akihito.
In 2007, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces paid a three-day visit to Tokyo, during which he met the Japanese Emperor and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who in return reciprocated the visit in the same year.
In 2014, Sheikh Mohamed again met with the Japanese Emperor in Tokyo and discussed with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ways of promoting bilateral relations to a higher level in addition to reviewing an array of regional and international issues of common concern. During the two-day visit, Sheikh Mohamed saw the signing of a number of agreements and MoUs to the betterment of cooperation between the two friendly countries.
Over the past few years, relations between the two countries gained further momentum, with Japan now turning to be the country’s top trade partner and bilateral non-oil merchandise surging to around AED53.5 billion, while Japanese investments in the UAE amounted to an equivalent of AED14.3 billion.
In addition, the UAE has considerably benefited from Japan’s state-of-the-art technology and know-how in areas of advanced technology, renewable energy, transportation, and healthcare, with more than 100 Japanese firms now operating in the country in addition to around 200 agencies and 10,000 registered Japanese trademarks.
In the meantime, the UAE is among Japan’s 5 top oil exporters, coming first on the list of countries exporting LNG, and second largest crude oil exporter in addition to being its 8th largest trade partner and the 7th largest market receiving Japan’s transport technology.
Over the past few years, the UAE exports to Japan have been diversified to include aluminium and copper, while the imports cover vehicles, machinery, industrial equipment and electronics.
On the cultural level, the two countries have been a long way in establishing distinguished cultural relations which materialised as the Tokyo University signed a MoU in 2013 with the Petroleum Institute, on conducting and accelerating cultural and scientific research.
The number of UAE nationals learning in Japanese is set to increase to 500 female and male students by the end of the current year, according to statistics released recently by the Abu Dhabi-based Japanese Educational Development Office. They are pursuing BA, MA and PhD studies across multiple majors, notably, engineering and InfoTech.
Space cooperation features prominently high in the relations between the two countries, with the UAE Space Agency and Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre having signed a MoU and contract with Japan to launch the “Hope Probe” to the outer space as part of the growing cooperation between the two sides in this growingly important field.
Over and above, tourism is providing immense impetus to bilateral relations, with the year 2014 seeing the number of Japanese tourists in the UAE increasing to over 10,000, while the number of Japan-bound Emiratis started to rise following the prior-visa waiver granted to UAE nationals on July 1, 2017.