The second stop of the Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida’s Gulf visit, which aims to secure energy supplies and promote Japanese green technologies, was the United Arab Emirates on Monday.
After arriving in Abu Dhabi, Kishida met with Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, according to state news agency WAM. The two leaders also spoke on a comprehensive strategic alliance between the UAE and Japan. According to WAM, they struck a number of agreements relating to various industries.
Kishida is expected to attend a UAE-Japan business forum later before travelling to major gas-producer Qatar on Tuesday, officials said.
Japan is actively developing greener and renewable energy technologies and aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. Kishida will also try to promote Japanese know-how as energy-producing countries have also pledged to achieve a net zero transition, especially ahead of the COP28 climate summit to be held in Dubai in November.
His UAE visit follows a stop in Saudi Arabia on Sunday in which Riyadh said it remained committed to securing oil supplies for Japan and would continue cooperating with Tokyo on clean hydrogen, ammonia and recycled carbon fuels.
Kishida and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, agreed to launch “Manar” initiative, which will help countries around the world achieving their net zero transitions, Saudi state news agency SPA reported on Monday.
Tokyo and Riyadh are also set to start a new strategic dialogue at the foreign minister level – a move both leaders welcomed in their summit meeting, according to a statement released by the Japanese foreign ministry on Monday.
“Both leaders agreed to further energise exchanges, which cover politics, diplomacy, and security, between the two countries,” the statement said.
Japan and the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will in 2024 resume talks on a free trade agreement, said Hikariko Ono, press secretary for Japan’s foreign ministry. The GCC is a six-nation regional union that comprises Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.
“We don’t really have any target year to complete a negotiation,” she said on Monday, adding that previous trade talks with the GCC were suspended in 2009.
State oil giant Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has previously said that Japan imports approximately 25% of its crude oil from the UAE, making it ADNOC’s largest international importer of oil and gas products.
“The secure energy supply from the UAE has supported Japan’s economic growth for many years,” Kishida wrote in an piece published by UAE state news agency WAM on Sunday.
A senior official at Japan’s foreign ministry told reporters this week that Kishida planned to discuss energy markets during his trip, while also aiming to offer Japanese technologies for net zero transition.