Deepening the Relations Between Israel and Japan

Deepening the Relations Between Israel and Japan

Maariv, Israel, January 30

The relationship between Israel and Japan has been flourishing in an unprecedented way, as the political and economic cooperation between the two nations in the fields of innovation, health, and tourism continues to intensify. I began my mission as Israel’s ambassador to Japan in October 2021 and within a few months, I was exposed to the depth of the relationship and the tremendous potential it holds. I continuously hear from everyone I speak to – in the Japanese government, the private sector, civil society, and the worlds of culture, science, and academia – about the next leap forward in relations, which will take place this year. In 2014, Japanese companies invested about $200 million in the Israeli economy. Today, the total Japanese investment in Israel is about $13 billion. This year alone, total investments of approximately $3 billion have been recorded, compared with $1.1 billion in 2020 – an increase of 190%. Over 90 Japanese companies have opened research and development offices or innovation centers in Israel, and many companies are interested in Israeli technology and start-up companies. Israel and Japan are in fact complementary economies, contributing to each other in many aspects. For me, it is a national mission to bring more and more Japanese companies to Israel, to expose Israel to Japan and vice versa, and to remove barriers to tourism and trade. Israel has quite a bit to offer in the areas of cyber, security, innovation, space, health, science, and more. Israel can learn from the third-largest economy in the world what discipline and diligence are, activating tremendous production capacity, accuracy, product perfection, robotics, and more. To this end, we as governments must use the tools at our disposal to increase trade and mutual investments, increase tourism, and facilitate business on both sides. One of the ways we’ve done so is by launching a nonstop flight from Israel to Japan. During the short time I have been here I have traveled extensively throughout Japan for work purposes. I met amazing people. In the process, I learned about the history of Japan and was exposed to its beauty, culture, religion, culinary world, and more. Japan, for its part, appreciates Israel, which reached out to help earthquake victims in 2011. Israel became the first country to send a medical aid delegation to the region. To this day, the Israeli Embassy in Japan continues to work jointly with the Tohoku region (where Fukushima is located) to promote connections in a variety of fields and maintains several projects in the fields of innovation, welfare, economics, and academia. I visited the town of Watari about a month ago and was thrilled to hear the wonderful children singing Hanukkah songs. Japan supports the Palestinian economy, including through the Jericho Agricultural Industrial Park, and has won Israel’s blessing on the issue. The Abraham Accords are a wonderful opportunity to cultivate relations between Japan, Israel, and the Gulf states. This month, the first triple conference was held, with the participation of the economy ministers of Japan, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates. This year, Israel and Japan are celebrating 70 years of diplomatic relations. Two ancient histories with glorious legacies, celebrating a young relationship. Japan is an amazing opportunity for us and Israel, which shares Japan’s values of democracy, freedom, human rights, can become an asset for Japan. –Gilad Cohen, Israel’s ambassador to Japan (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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