Oman, Japan relations pick up momentum

Haider Al Lawati – haiderdawood@hotmail.com – The Omani-Japanese diplomatic relations were established more than four decades ago, while some sources suggest the history of relations between the two countries dates back to more than 400 years. In the past 40 years, these relations have witnessed great momentum in all fields, including diplomacy, economy, investment, trade, culture, sports, arts and others.
Just recently, Taro Kono, the Japanese Foreign Minister, made an official visit to the Sultanate as part of his tour of several Middle Eastern countries. The Japanese foreign minister’s visit comes 27 years after the visit of his predecessor to the country.
Both Muscat and Tokyo have witnessed the arrival of many officials at the government and civil society levels, as these diverse visits also included student, youth and culture visits.
The visit of the former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2014 received great attention from the two sides, especially as it culminated in a meeting with His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, who awarded the Second Class Civil Order of Oman to the Japanese official.
During the recent visit of the Japanese Foreign Minister, the two sides discussed bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries in various fields and ways of enhancing and developing them.
Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, held a press conference with Japan’s Foreign Minister in which they addressed those aspects to emphasise the depth of historical relations between the Sultanate and Japan.
Opinions and views were exchanged on a number of issues of mutual interest along with regional and international issues, ways to support sustainability and consolidation of regional security and global stability and enhancing efforts aimed at achieving the goals of sustainable economic development for all and in the interest of both friendly nations.
While relations between the two countries are getting stronger by the day, the Japanese Foreign Minister recently noted that cooperation with the Sultanate was covering various disciplines, including investments of Japanese companies in the field of Omani energy supply by 70 per cent and the water sector by 30 per cent.
The Japanese believe these aspects can be strengthened through the signing of further agreements to promote investment and other aspects of mutual interest, which will contribute to the strengthening of relations between Japanese and Omani institutions and partnership with the private sector.
The Japanese also hope Oman is able to diversify its national economy and utilise its economic components to attract more foreign investments, including Japanese investments, under these friendly relations between both countries. They hope that the investment agreement between both nations enters into force to contribute to the strengthening of this cooperation, especially since there are many existing fields of cooperation between the Sultanate and Japan in the form of projects to protect marine environment, fish, tourism, culture and others.
The recent Japanese delegation has expressed its aspiration to participate in economic projects undertaken by the Sultanate, especially in the Special Economic Zone at Duqm which has over the past few years attracted numerous local and foreign investments.
This requires expediting the signing of agreements between the two countries to ensure greater cooperation and participation in many of the economic projects that the Sultanate plans to establish in the next phase.
In addition, the Omani-Japanese cooperation is not limited to these areas but extends to several sectors of technology and utilises advanced Japanese technology in line with the two countries’ agreement on the need to support peace and stability initiatives in the region and across the world.