Japan's Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko arrives for the 3rd Inter-sessional Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam May 22, 2017.
(photo credit: KHAM / REUTERS)
Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko will lead Tokyo’s largest and most senior business delegation to Israel to date, as he arrives this week for a three-day visit to boost bilateral economic ties.
Some 150 representatives of 90 major Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi, Toshiba and Hitachi, will accompany Seko on his visit to participate in meetings of the Japan Israel Innovation Network (JIIN), established in May 2017 to advance and strengthen economic cooperation between the countries.
During the visit, Seko will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the delegation will be introduced to leading Israeli companies in the fields of cyber, life-sciences, artificial intelligence and virtual reality. On Wednesday, Seko and his Israeli counterpart, Economy Minister Eli Cohen, will head a Japan-Israel business forum together.
“This is the third time that I will meet with my friend Seko, the Japanese minister of economy,” said Cohen ahead of the delegation’s arrival.
“This visit and its results constitute a further milestone in strengthening economic relations between Israel and one of the most significant economies in the world. Such cooperation will lead the Israeli economy forward for many years.”
Recent years have witnessed the rapid strengthening of Israeli-Japanese ties, including prime ministerial meetings in May 2014 and May 2018; the signing of a first research and cooperation agreement in July 2014; cabinet approval of a road map to strengthen economic links with Japan in January 2015; the launch of a multinational corporations program focusing on research and development in 2016; and the establishment of the JIIN framework in May 2017.
During the upcoming visit, the two economy ministers are expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of digital health and advance bilateral cooperation in cyber and the automotive industry.
“This delegation is the result of prolonged activity to promote economic relations between Israel and Japan by the Israeli and Japanese economic ministries, and we are pleased to see these efforts bearing fruit,” said Noa Asher, the Foreign Trade Administration’s economic attaché in Japan.
“Japanese companies are increasingly identifying Israeli companies as optimal partners for advanced research, development and investments.”
In the last five years alone, Japanese investment in Israeli companies and technology has stood at approximately $3.5 billion, including the acquisition of Israeli drug maker NeuroDerm by Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma for $1.1b. and Sony’s $200 million acquisition of chip manufacturer Altair.
Heading in the opposite direction, Israeli exports to Japan in the first three fiscal quarters of 2018 stood at $870m., a 46% increase compared to the same period in 2017. Israeli imports from Japan were valued at $1.51b. during that time, a 7% increase since 2017.
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