Muscat: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be in Oman tomorrow on an official visit, the first prime ministerial visit to Oman in 24 years.
Abe will meet with His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to discuss a number of bilateral and international issues that are of interest to both the countries, George Hisaeda, the ambassador of Japan to Oman, told the Times of Oman.
"I am absolutely delighted to note that Prime Minister Abe's visit underscores how important the Sultanate of Oman is to Japan. Since being appointed Ambassador to Oman, I have met Abe three times and on each occasion, I asked him to visit the Sultanate. He expressed his desire every time to do so," Hisaeda said.
Abe's visit reflects the long-standing relationship between Oman and Japan which includes a trusted trade partnership and cultural exchanges.
Oman's exports to Japan in 2012 totalled $5.6 billion, mainly in oil and gas, while the Sultanate imported goods from Japan worth $2.9 billion, over 90 per cent of which were vehicles and auto parts.
Japan has also invested heavily in Oman's large Independent Power Projects (IPP), Sohar 2 IPP, Barka 3 IPP and Sur IPP as well as Al Ghubrah Independent Water Project (IWP), which have benefitted from Japan's world-class technology, expertise and work ethic, Hisaeda noted.
"Japan and Oman are also witnessing an increased level of mutual cooperation in the field of maritime security and counter-piracy, in addition to the strong economic and political relations between the two countries. I would very much like to see additional Japanese investment in Oman's major upcoming and future projects," Hisaeda said.
After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Oman was ranked the fourth-highest donor of relief funds, so Abe will likely thank the Sultanate for its generosity. Abe is also the Honorary Chairman of the Oman-Japan Friendship Association, so the visit is of personal importance to him, Hisaeda added.
"It is my profound hope that Abe's official visit to Oman will further cement this enduring, multilateral partnership that exists between the friendly nations of Japan and Oman, and prove to be a highly fruitful visit for both the countries, with bilateral relations reaching new heights," he said.
Abe will be accompanied by his wife, Mrs Akie Abe, who will visit Sultan Qaboos University where she will meet with Dr Rawiyah Saud Al Busaidiyah, Minister of Higher Education, Dr Madiha bint Ahmed Al Shibaniyah, Minister of Education, and Dr Ali Saud Al Bimani, Vice-Chancellor of the SQU. She will also meet a number of women who play active roles in Oman and some women students of the SQU, Hisaeda explained.
The last time there was a high-profile visit from Japan was in 1994 when Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan visited. Abe's visit is part of a trip that also includes stops in Mozambique, Ivory Coast and Ethiopia.