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Japanese envoy hails close ties with Kuwait

By Faten Omar

KUWAIT: Japanese Ambassador to Kuwait Morino Yasunari stressed the depth of Japanese-Kuwaiti historic relations through six decades of excellent and pioneering diplomatic relations built on solid foundations of friendship, trust and mutual respect, pointing to the development of bilateral relations between the two countries at all levels and in various fields of cooperation.

In an exclusive interview with Kuwait Times, Ambassador Yasunari said Japan and Kuwait enjoy a long tradition of friendship, including friendly relations between the Japanese imperial family and the Kuwaiti ruling family. “Japan supported Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Japan appreciated the enormous support Kuwait extended when a major earthquake hit Japan in 2011,” he said.

Yasunari noted that last year marked the 60th anniversary since the two countries established diplomatic relations. The two countries agreed to launch a comprehensive partnership in 2013 when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Kuwait. Oil trade is the foundation of the relationship between the two countries and its beginning dates back to 1958, even before Kuwait’s independence, when Arab Oil Company was granted a concession by Kuwait. AOC cooperated with the Kuwaiti government to establish the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR).

The ambassador confirmed that Japan and Kuwait share important values, such as democracy and rule of law. “I congratulate the leadership on the commencement of the new session of the National Assembly,” Yasunari said. He affirmed that both countries support international laws and are important donor countries in dealing with humanitarian problems, eradication of poverty, distribution of vaccines and more. The two countries also have a similar position regarding the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea. Yasunari added that Japan and Kuwait cooperated in distributing COVID-19 vaccines, as both countries share values and work together.

Bilateral cooperation

Concerning the significant fields of bilateral cooperation, the ambassador said Japan and Kuwait have strong cooperation in critical areas such as electricity and water. Japanese companies contribute to the electricity sector in Kuwait, including through participating in the Al-Zour North project. “Japan Center for Cooperation in the Middle East (JCCME) extended technical cooperation to the Ministry of Public Works and Ministry of Electricity and Water for an efficient water and sewage system. I would like to expand such cooperation into new areas, such as medicine, IT and environment,” he said.

Regarding tourism and human exchanges, Yasunari said: “People-to-people exchange is an important element for friendship between the two countries. I am pleased to see many Kuwaiti people like Japanese traditional culture, such as Japanese tea, Japanese temples, Japanese martial arts like karate and Japanese popular culture like anime and manga.” He noted that the Japanese Embassy will organize a beach cleaning event titled Operation Turtle next month and a Japanese speech contest in December.

Ambassador Yasunari affirmed that visas take a few days to be issued, revealing that 200 visas were issued in the past two weeks. “Japan is now open to foreign tourists after lifting most of the restrictions introduced during the pandemic. The embassy is now ready to issue tourist visas. Please visit Japan to enjoy beautiful natural landscapes, such as fall foliage in autumn and serene snowy landscapes. There are well-developed cities in Japan, such as Sapporo, Sendai and Kanazawa in the north, Nagoya and Osaka in the center, and Hakata and Okinawa in the south, to name a few,” he said.

“You can enjoy unique cultures and shopping in all cities, using a well-developed public transportation system. Of course, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are well-known because they were reconstructed after the devastation by nuclear bombs. Japan is also a country of gourmet cuisine, from sushi and shrimp tempura to soul food like okonomiyaki and ramen. Hospitality, which we say “omotenashi” in Japanese, is one of the Japanese people’s virtues, like Arab people always warmly welcome guests with Arabic coffee and dates,” Yasunari told Kuwait Times.

A student visa can be issued as soon as a student is accepted by a university in Japan. “I would like to see more Kuwaiti students studying in universities in Japan. Japanese universities are strong in science and technology. We are prepared to supply those who would like to study in Japan with information on studying in Japan. Kuwait University offers Japanese language courses, so I encourage you to have fun by studying Japanese. I would like to promote human exchanges in education, science and technology in collaboration with relevant Japanese and Kuwaiti organizations, including universities,” Yasunari said.

Exploring Kuwait

Yasunari expressed his interest in exploring Kuwait more. “Kuwait is a country of hidden treasures. It needs to be explored. It has hidden gems like its narrow streets, small shops in Mubarakiya and interesting and friendly talks in diwaniyas,” he said. “I’m impressed with Kuwaitis’ openness and knowledge about foreign countries, especially Japan. Kuwait is not well known to foreign people. I tried to prepare myself for Kuwait, but there was not much information about the country in Japan. After my arrival, I found out what kind of country Kuwait is,” he added.

The Japanese ambassador called on Kuwaitis to visit Japan to educate people about their country. “Kuwaiti people are open, well-educated and aspirational in many fields. I think it would be very good for Kuwaiti people to visit Japan and show others what they have. We will host the World Expo 2025 in Osaka. I would like to see Kuwaitis explaining Kuwait’s achievements and aspirations to the Japanese people,” he concluded.

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