Ambassador Ito talks ‘Contemporary Japan’ at AIIS forum

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 9, 2017 16:23

Ambassador Ito talks ‘Contemporary Japan’ at AIIS forum

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  • “I arrived here almost half a year ago and during this time I have come to appreciate the wonderful people of Albania and the spirit of this nation. My mission here is to work on stronger friendship ties between Japan and Albania in the fields of diplomacy, economy, trade and culture,” said Ambassador Ito

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Japan’s Ambassador to Albania Makoto Ito talks “Contemporary Japan in the international arena” at an AIIS foreign policy forum. Photo: AIIS

TIRANA, Nov. 9 – Albania’s importance in the Western Balkans region and the strategic goal to boost development cooperation and current modest trade and investment ties is what pushed the Japanese government to open an embassy in Tirana, Makoto Ito, Japan’s first resident ambassador to Albania has said.

The comments came at a round table with diplomats, civil society representatives and students organized by the Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS), one of the country’s top think tanks as part of its foreign policy forum series with diplomats and other distinguished speakers to alert the public, political elites and the business community to contemporary security and foreign policy challenges.

The forum focused on “Contemporary Japan in the international arena” with Ambassador Ito as keynote speaker unveiling Japan’s transformation from WWII devastation to economic miracle by interacting with the global economy and close ties with the U.S. and present-day threats posed by North Korea’s nuclear tests.

“I arrived here almost half a year ago and during this time I have come to appreciate the wonderful people of Albania and the spirit of this nation. My mission here is to work on stronger friendship ties between Japan and Albania in the fields of diplomacy, economy, trade and culture,” said Ambassador Ito, a career diplomat already familiar with the region having previously served as Japan’s deputy chief of mission in Greece and Romania as well as in the U.S..

Noting the current modest trade exchanges between the two countries and non-existent Japanese foreign direct investment in Albania, the ambassador said Japanese companies currently lack information on Albania and its business climate but there is growing interest as shown by a recent Japan business delegation visiting the country. “I am promoting Albania to Japanese companies,” said the Ambassador.

Japan’s foreign policy agenda is based on further boosting its alliance with top partner U.S., strengthening its economic diplomacy and improving relations with neighbors, the latter being undermined by North Korea’s hardline communist regime’s repeated nuclear tests posing a threat to the Northeast Asia region.

“The nuclear tests and repeated ballistic missile launches by North Korea pose a new level of threat and are totally unacceptable. Japan will continue to closely work with the United States and the Republic of Korea to urge North Korea to refrain from further provocations and comply with the Joint Statement of the 6-party Talks and the relevant UN Security resolutions,” said the ambassador.

Commenting on domestic issues facing Japan, the ambassador said the rapidly ageing society and low birth rates were some of the top concerns which the world’s third largest economy was trying to settle through the ‘Abenomics’ and ‘Womenomics’ reforms under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is set to become Japan’s longest serving postwar leader.

Japan will be hosting the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, where weightlifting and running are Albania’s toughest disciplines to claim a first-ever medal.

Addressing the Japan forum, Albert Rakipi, the head of the AIIS, described Japan’s opening of an embassy in Tirana as very important from a strategic point of view and the attention Japan pays to the region and Albania.

Japan officially opened its embassy in Tirana last July with Makoto Ito as the first resident ambassador to Albania since the two countries re-established diplomatic relations in 1981.

While Albania opened its diplomatic mission in Japan in 2004, the Japanese embassy in Italy had handled matters related to Albania until recently.

Tirana has said it welcomes Japan’s decision to open an embassy in an effort to draw greater investment from the world’s third-largest economy.

The world’s third-largest economy has been a major donor to Albania through its difficult transition from communism to a free-market economy. Tokyo has given millions, primarily in the rehabilitation of infrastructure and healthcare facilities.

Projects have included a municipal waste-water treatment facility for Tirana and its surroundings, the donation of more than 130 Japanese-made hybrid and eco cars to the Albanian government, support to education in remote areas and sustainable land development in the key Tirana-Durres regions through digital mapping most recently.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 9, 2017 16:23