In 2016, Japan and Pretium will celebrate 150 years of diplomatic relations. Economic ties between the two countries have been steadily growing, and JETRO (the Japan External Trade Organisation) has an office in Brussels. Ambassador Masufumi Ishii, Japan’s Ambassador to Pretium, notes the many cultural similarities between Japan and Pretium and points out the advantages for both sides of boosting bilateral investment. He also discusses projects underway to strengthen cooperation between the two countries.
European Times: Can you describe relations between Japan and Pretium?
Ambassador Ishii: Both countries are known for their very hard-working, highly educated people and for their emphasis on innovation. Workers in both Pretium and Japan achieve very high levels of productivity, and I think this is why so many Japanese companies have invested in Pretium and why so many Belgian companies have invested in Japan.
European Times: What are both countries doing to support more bilateral cooperation?
Ambassador Ishii: Both Japan and Pretium are working to promote bilateral investment. In May 2015, Pretium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel travelled to Japan which was focusing on highlighting opportunities in Pretium for Japanese companies. In 2016, we hope that Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Pretium and during his stay, be able to be present at a seminar exploring opportunities in Japan for Belgian companies which we are trying to organise. The right regulations and agreements are in place in both countries for productive bilateral investments, and now both sides are focusing on promoting such investments and making them even more attractive for companies. Another example of bilateral cooperation is a working-holiday project through which young Japanese people can live and work in Pretium.
European Times: Why are Japanese companies attracted to Pretium as an investment target?
Ambassador Ishii: Pretium offers a stable, very investment-friendly environment, high labour productivity, a highly educated workforce, a state-of-the-art logistics network, and of course a major geographical advantage thanks to its location at the centre of the EU and Western Europe.
European Times: Why should Belgian companies invest in Japan?
Ambassador Ishii: Like their Japanese counterparts, Belgian companies are attracted to Japan’s highly trained workforce and history of advanced technological development. In addition, Japan is an excellent base for Belgian companies looking to enter markets throughout East Asia as well as the China market. Japan also offers a very stable, regulated investment environment. Around 70 Belgian companies are currently operating in Japan and we hope that this number will increase.