In Tokyo, PM to push for direct flights

Olmert will also urge Tokyo to cut trade ties and support sanctions against Teheran over its nuclear program.

ehud olmert 88 (photo credit: )
ehud olmert 88
(photo credit: )
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert left for Tokyo on Sunday afternoon for a four-day trip to Japan, where he will hold a series of meetings to boost trade and push for direct flights between the two countries. Olmert is scheduled to meet with Japanese government and business leaders and attend a seminar for 300 top Japanese businessmen, the Prime Minister's Office said. He also planned to seek Japanese support for Israeli-Palestinian economic cooperation and urge Tokyo to cut trade ties and support sanctions against Teheran over its nuclear program. The Islamic Republic News Agency quoted the Japanese Foreign Ministry as reporting that trade between Iran and Japan went up to $14 billion in 2007. On the first official visit by an Israeli premier to Japan in 10 years, Olmert is being accompanied by his wife, Aliza, and a 25-member business delegation headed by Manufacturers Association President Shraga Brosh. Brosh said the Israeli business executives travelling to Japan, from the hi-tech, biotech and venture capital sectors, would be aiming to increase bilateral trade, which already stands at $2.5b. a year. "I'm sure the seminar and the one-on-one meetings being planned with our Japanese counterparts, will provide a big boost for bilateral trade," Brosh told The Jerusalem Post. Israel and Japan have been negotiating for more than a decade to enable direct flights by El Al and Japan Airlines. Other issues on the agenda are the establishment of a free-trade zone with Japan and promoting the production of an electric car. Shai Agassi, an American-Israeli entrepreneur who runs Project Better Place and is working with Renault and Nissan to create a viable battery-powered car, is one of the executives accompanying Olmert to Japan. News agencies contributed to this report.