This year started with the remarkable visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Saudi Arabia as the first foreign leader in the Kingdom’s G20 presidency year. The warm and traditional hospitality in AlUla shown by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is good testimony to the close relationship and mutual trust that our two leaders have built.
Three years have passed since the succession of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, deputy prime minister and minister of defense, to the position of crown prince of Saudi Arabia in 2017. Nobody denies that the changes that he introduced have created many milestones, turning Saudi Arabia into a nation as open, lively, prosperous, culturally rich and hospitable as its people.
This change would not have been possible without Saudi Vision 2030. It is the honest articulation of the crown prince’s concept not only for a new Saudi Arabia but also representing the identity and expectation of the Saudi people, in particular, its young generation. We value this so much.
Japan, for its part, is a strong supporter of Saudi Vision 2030. To support this vision, Japan is committed to steadily implementing various projects under the framework of Japan-Saudi Vision 2030, which is a bilateral win-win initiative aiming for greater synergy from the growth strategies of both economies.
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The Japan-Saudi Vision 2030 was born in 2016 when Prince Mohammed visited Japan officially as the deputy crown prince, and had a very fruitful meeting with Prime Minster Abe. Since then, both leaders have discussed how the two countries can best develop this common vision. The number of projects has increased to 69 from 31, and the number of ministries’ and institutions’ participating has increased to 65 from 41.
Now we are fighting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which has already claimed a lot of lives worldwide. Although a recent rise in new infections in Saudi Arabia should be a matter of concern, I am confident that the Saudi authorities and society can continue to keep the situation under control by curbing the spread of COVID-19 and containing fatality rates.
Despite the difficulties, it is admirable that the Saudi government has demonstrated its leadership in addressing the COVID-19 crisis and other global issues. In March, it held the extraordinary summit of the G20 leaders, and this month, it committed $500 million for combating COVID-19 and another $500 million for supporting the UN humanitarian response in Yemen. It is also worth mentioning that the Saudi government has been trying to stabilize the oil market affected by the current crisis. I have no doubt that the Kingdom will lead the international community in the coming G20 leaders’ meeting in November with outcomes to guide the world into the days post-pandemic, where we will surely witness a drastic “paradigm shift” for the better future of mankind.
On this happy occasion, I would like to renew my best wishes to thestodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud; Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; the Saudi government, and its people. I would also like to thank, at this juncture in particular, all those who devote themselves to combatting COVID-19 so as to keep the community safe. Let me conclude my words with the quote: “After a storm does a calm come.” I indeed hope to see a more beautiful calm than ever before!
- Uemura Tsukasa is the Japanese ambassador to Saudi Arabia