Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met this morning, in Maximos Mansion, with a delegation of the national Japanese federation of companies KEIDANREN and high-ranking executives of leading Japanese companies who pay a visit to our country.
During their meeting, the Prime Minister had the opportunity to present to his interlocutors the significant progress that has been reported in the last years in terms of creating a friendly investment environment in Greece, as well as the investment opportunities presented to Japanese companies.
The Japanese delegation, on its part, expressed interest in exploring the potential for investments in the fields of energy and transports.
The two sides also discussed further ways to attract investments in our country, increase the number of tourists from Japan and promote cooperation in our wider region, focusing on the Western Balkans.
On behalf of the Greek side, the meeting was attended by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, Kostas Fragogiannis, the Director of the Prime Minister’s Diplomatic Office, Ambassador Anna-Maria Boura, the Chief Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister Alexis Paterlis and the Embassy Advisor, in the Directory of Asia and Oceania Dimitrios Michalopoulos.
On behalf of the Japanese delegation, the meeting was attended by the Ambassador of Japan to Greece, Yasunori Nakayama, the Vice Chair of KEIDANREN, Chair of the Committee on Europe of KEIDANREN and Executive Chairman, Representative Executive Officer of Hitachi, Ltd., Toshiaki Higashihara, the Chair of the Committee on Europe of KEIDANREN and Senior Corporate Advisor of Sumitomo Life Insurance Company, Yoshio Sato, the Chair of the Planning & Coordinating Sub-Committee of the Committee on Europe of KEIDANREN and Executive Adviser of Hitachi, Ltd., Akira Shimizu, as well as high-ranking executives of the Japanese companies Japan Airlines Co. Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., Hitachi Europe GmbH, Nomura Holdings Inc., Sumitomo Deutschland GmbH, ANA Holdings Inc., Mitsubishi Electric Europe B.V. and Sumitomo Life Insurance Company.
At the beginning of the meeting, they had the following dialogue:
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: It is a real pleasure to welcome you to Athens. We are very happy that a delegation of important Japanese companies takes an interest in what is happening in Greece. I have always been a firm proponent of strengthening relationships between Greece and Japan. And I think indeed your visit comes at a very appropriate time to discuss further economic ties between our two countries.
As you know, the Greek economy has been doing rather well over the past three years. We’re outperforming the eurozone in terms of growth. We have the fastest reduction of debt as a percentage of GDP in the eurozone area and we have succeeded in turning Greece into an attractive destination for foreign direct investment, leveraging our comparative advantages but also our important regional position.
So I think this is really the time to discuss in more detail about the possibility to foster stronger economic ties, in terms of direct investments taking place by Japanese companies in Greece, not just targeting the Greek market but also the broader region. Of course, to explore also the potential for more Greek exports into Japan and to leverage the fact that we have traditional economic ties, especially in the maritime sector where many Greek ship owners have chosen and continued to choose Japan to build their ships. We also have areas of common interest when it comes to foreign policy and a shared understanding about the importance of International Law, in terms of resolving maritime disputes. We have common problems when it comes to these issues and common challenges.
And of course, we can also discuss the strengthening of our ties when it comes to tourism. We’ve had a record year this year in terms of tourism and we would like to see more Greeks traveling to Japan and more Japanese traveling to Greece.
And of course we’re also planning, as you probably know, an official visit by myself, hopefully with also a substantial business delegation to Japan at some point in early 2023 and take into consideration that you also have the presidency of the G7, I think this would be an appropriate time for us to visit Japan. So let me stop here. I welcome you again to Greece and thank you for your interest in our country.
Yoshio Sato: Thank you very much, your Excellency, Prime Minister Mitsotakis. Thank you very much for sparing time for the KEIDANREN delegation, despite your busy schedule.
My name is Yoshio Sato, Chair of KEIDANREN Committee on Europe. I’m leading this delegation with Mr. Toshiaki Higashihara who co-chairs the Committee with me.
Japan and Greece are both maritime nations and have been developing bilateral relationships, sharing common values such as freedom, democracy and rule of law. In terms of economy, Greece is on a steady recovery after emerging from the economic crisis.
Trade between Japan and Greece has been steadily expanding under the Japan EU – Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). So we are visiting your country as a high level group of major Japanese companies.
In the meanwhile, the global community is facing severe situations. Last year’s aggression against Ukraine totally violates the principle of International Law and can never be justified nor tolerated. We must respond in unity by boosting our solidarity among countries that share common values in order to prevent the unilateral change of the status quo by force. As geopolitical tensions aggravate, decreasing dependence on the last years is our mutual concern.
During our stay in Athens, we are keen to learn about your strategy for diversifying supply chains, since both Japan and Greece import a considerable amount of energy resources. From last year, also, we look forward to exchange views as to how we can realize a free and open international economy to order in the face of such difficult geographic political situation.
Furthermore, we would also like to learn the perspective of the relationship with China as your country has established close economic ties with China through the “One Belt One Road Initiative”. Last but not least, KEIDANREN looks forward to contributing towards further development of Japan Greece bilateral relationships through private sector diplomacy. Thank you very much.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Thank you.