Oman - A Nation on the Move - - Diplomat Viewpoint -

On the aus­pi­cious oc­ca­sion of the 48th Na­tional Day of the Sul­tanate of Oman, I would like to ex­tend my heart­felt con­grat­u­la­tions to His Majesty Sul­tan Qaboos bin Said and the Gov­ern­ment and peo­ple of the Sul­tanate of Oman on be­half of the Gov­ern­ment of Ja­pan. As the Am­bas­sador of Ja­pan to Oman ap­pointed just re­cently, I am de­lighted to have this op­por­tu­nity to com­ment on the many ex­cel­lent re­la­tion­ships be­tween Ja­pan and Oman.

The strong bi­lat­eral re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries have al­ways been based on the warm, long-stand­ing ties be­tween the Im­pe­rial Fam­ily of Ja­pan and the Royal Fam­ily of the Sul­tanate of Oman. In re­cent years, start­ing from the visit of their Im­pe­rial High­nesses, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Ja­pan to Oman in Novem­ber 1994, sev­eral vis­its have been made in­clud­ing the visit to Ja­pan by HH Sayyid Fahd bin Mah­mood al Said, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter for the Coun­cil of Min­is­ters in 1997, and HH Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq al Said, Min­is­ter of Her­itage and Cul­ture in 2008. His­tor­i­cal ties can be traced back more than 400 years.

The cul­tural and aca­demic ties be­tween Omani and Ja­panese peo­ple are the foun­da­tions of our strong bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship. The Ja­panese Gov­ern­ment of­fers schol­ar­ships ev­ery year to Omani na­tion­als for their post grad­u­ate stud­ies. This year, we were proud and de­lighted to hear the news that one of our schol­ar­ship stu­dents, Ms. Muna Al Habsi, con­tributed to Dr. Ta­suku Honjo’s No­bel Prize-win­ning med­i­cal re­search as part of his team. Among other no­tice­able pro­grammes is the Ship for World Youth Pro­gramme or­gan­ised by the Cabi­net Of­fice of Ja­pan. This unique pro­gramme in­vites in­ter­na­tional youth to Ja­pan for 10 days’

homes­tay, fol­lowed by the on- board pro­gramme vis­it­ing dif­fer­ent coun­tries. So far, more than 120 Omani youth have par­tic­i­pated in the pro­gramme. The most re­cent one held in Jan­uary to March 2018 saw 12 Omani youth par­tic­i­pat­ing, be­com­ing the 10th batch from Oman.

Many Omani peo­ple may al­ready be fa­mil­iar with some of var­ied as­pects of Ja­panese cul­ture both tra­di­tional and mod­ern, in­clud­ing pop cul­ture, and we are keen to con­tinue shar­ing more of what Ja­pan has to of­fer with an ever wilder au­di­ence in this coun­try. No­tably, the Tokyo Bal­let per­formed at the Royal Opera House Mus­cat in the mid­dle of last month, and the Ja­panese lan­guage course at both Sul­tan Qaboos Univer­sity and Oman Ja­pan Friend­ship As­so­ci­a­tion (OJFA) have been wel­com­ing new groups of stu­dents ev­ery year.

It is not only cul­tural and aca­demic ties which bind us to­gether; our eco­nomic ties are also very strong. For ex­am­ple, Ja­panese com­pa­nies pur­chase a large amount of Omani nat­u­ral re­sources; roughly 10 per cent of the Sul­tanate’s pro­duc­tion of crude oil, and rougly 30 per cent of the Sul­tanate’s pro­duc­tion of LNG. On the other hand, con­sor­tiums led by Ja­panese com­pa­nies gen­er­ate about 60 per cent of Oman’s elec­tric­ity through IPP schemes, and also pro­duce 20 per cent of Oman’s drink­able wa­ter through IWP schemes.

Fur­ther­more, the vol­ume of ex­ports to Ja­pan from Oman in 2017 was ap­prox­i­mately $2 bil­lion. Ja­pan im­ports not only nat­u­ral re­sources but also agri­cul­tural and fish­ery prod­ucts such as kid­ney beans. In win­ter, ap­prox­i­mately 90 per cent of fresh kid­ney beans mar­keted in Ja­pan are from Oman. On the other hand, the vol­ume of im­ports from Ja­pan to Oman in 2017 was ap­prox­i­mately $2.5 bil­lion. More than 90 per cent of im­ports from Ja­pan are con­sumer prod­ucts such as au­to­mo­biles, ma­chin­ery, and elec­tric ap­pli­ances. It is worth men­tion­ing that ap­prox­i­mately 70 per cent of cars in Oman are Ja­panese mar­ques.

The strong bonds be­tween our two coun­tries are ex­pected to grow fur­ther, based on the re­cent high-level vis­its be­tween Ja­pan and Oman. Dur­ing the his­toric visit of Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe to Oman in Jan­uary 2014, he met His Majesty Sul­tan Qaboos bin Said, and both agreed on strength­en­ing the com­pre­hen­sive part­ner­ship to­wards sta­bil­ity and prosperity be­tween Ja­pan and Oman. To de­velop the part­ner­ship fur­ther, Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs Taro Kono vis­ited Mus­cat in De­cem­ber 2017, where he ex­plained Ja­pan’s “Free and Open Indo-pa­cific Strat­egy,” which was wel­comed by the Omani side. To fol­low up the visit, the Prime Min­is­ter Abe dis­patched his spe­cial ad­vi­sor Ken­taro Sonoura, who was ac­com­pa­nied by of­fi­cials from var­i­ous min­istries and agen­cies to Oman in Septem­ber 2018, where both sides ex­plored the pos­si­ble co­op­er­a­tion in var­i­ous areas, from de­fense and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion to stronger eco­nomic re­la­tions in­clud­ing in the tourism sec­tor, and they also vis­ited the Duqm Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zone.

As the newly ap­pointed Am­bas­sador of Ja­pan to Oman, I in­tend to spare no ef­fort in en­sur­ing that our two coun­tries de­velop ever closer and friend­lier re­la­tions, based on the prin­ci­ples of co­op­er­a­tion and trust reaf­firmed at the fruit­ful meet­ings of the re­cent high- level vis­its.

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