Developing the friendly relations between Saudi Arabia and Japan
On the joyous occasion of the 92nd Saudi National Day, I am pleased to extend my heartfelt congratulations to King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi people. I am sure that this occasion is a proud moment for every citizen and resident and a chance to pay tribute to those who have made great contributions to the transformation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as we see it today.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I deeply feel that the socioeconomic reforms based on Vision 2030 have become even more active in the Kingdom. During my visits to various regions of the country, I have come to realize that the faces of the people, wherever they may be, are quite vibrant and enthusiastic that they will become the foundation of the country for a better future.
Following the unification of the current Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by King Abdulaziz, Japan and the Kingdom established diplomatic relations in 1955. Since then, the two countries have developed strong ties, mainly in the field of the economy. Despite the various difficulties and crises around the world, the Kingdom has ensured a stable supply of oil to Japan, which supported the country’s economic development. On the other hand, Japan has been one of the most important trading partners for the Kingdom through its export of high-quality products.
Later, these bilateral relations evolved into a mutually beneficial relationship with the development of the Saudi petrochemical industry. In the 1980s, Japan made large-scale investments in the Kingdom’s first petrochemical companies, Ar Razi Saudi Methanol and Sharq, the Eastern Petrochemical Company, as national projects of Japan. In addition, in the early 2000s, the Rabigh project, one of the world’s largest petrochemical plants, began its operations. Japan has underpinned the Kingdom’s efforts for industrial diversification through these projects.
As one of the pillars of the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 — which was launched in 2017 to strongly support the realization of socioeconomic transformation through Vision 2030 — is innovation, the two countries in 2021 succeeded in delivering the world’s first export of blue ammonia, from the Kingdom to Japan. This will contribute to the Kingdom’s carbon circular economy initiative, as advocated by Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman. Moreover, more than 100 Japanese companies currently operate in the Kingdom and are engaged in a number of projects, such as cutting-edge metal materials, seawater desalination plants and metro construction, to further contribute to the economy and the quality of life in the country.
I appreciate the variety of nature, historical heritage, culture and food from one region to another.
I am excited, as the ambassador of Japan, to see that many cultural and entertainment events are held across the country, with Japanese culture often featured. For instance, Anime Village opened during Jeddah Season, which was held from May to June this year, while Japamura (a Japanese village) was set up at Gamers8, which was held in the capital Riyadh from July to August. In addition, an exhibition match of the World Cosplay Summit was held at the Gamers8 venue this month, when the Boulevard Riyadh City was filled with the excitement of Saudi cosplay fans.
Japanese pop culture is extremely popular among the Saudi youth and I am pleased that more Saudi people are enjoying various kinds of Japanese culture through such events, assuming that it will lead to the further promotion of mutual understanding among the people of our two friendly countries.
Having visited 12 regions in the Kingdom, I appreciate the variety of nature, historical heritage, culture and food from one region to another and thus am convinced of the diversity of the Kingdom’s potential tourism resources. It is without any doubt that the Kingdom will become, one day, a country that attracts people from all over the world.
On the other hand, tourism is also an important growth field for Japan and various efforts have been made in cooperation with the public and private sectors. In this connection, with the relaxation of border measures due to COVID-19 in Japan, visits by government officials and businesspersons between the two countries have gradually resumed. By exchanging mutual experiences through actual visits between our two countries, I believe that tourism in both countries will be further promoted.
To pay tribute to the leadership of King Salman and the crown prince, the Japan-Saudi relationship is now entering into a new level of mutual engagement. I hope that efforts to realize the Japan-Saudi Vision 2030 will never cease and that mutually beneficial and friendly relationships between the two countries will further develop.
Once again, congratulations and happy National Day.
• Iwai Fumio is the Japanese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.