President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Monday met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a summit meeting held in Tokyo.
President Solih is currently undertaking an official six-day state trip to Japan.
The two leaders deliberated methods to further improve bilateral relations between Maldives and Japan by building on a history of constructive engagement between the two countries.
Discussions centred around how future bilateral engagements could complement President Solih’s domestic goals by utilizing Japanese technical assistance and entrepreneurship in sectors such as governance, infrastructural development and fiscal policy. Further, the leaders discussed facilitating better air travel between the two countries and enhancing cooperation in multilateral fora to increase the number of Japanese tourists visiting Maldives.
President Solih also conveyed congratulations to Emperor Naruhito for his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne and expressed condolences for victims of Typhoon Hagibis which devastated the Kanto region of Japan last week.
Furthermore, the president extended heartfelt gratitude to Japan’s government and people for their contributions to Maldives' socio-economic development over the years.
Concluding the meeting, the president invited Prime Minister Abe to undertake a visit to Maldives.
During the trip, President Solih is also scheduled to meet with the President of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as well as CEOs and senior figures representing Japanese businesses. These discussions aim to secure Japanese investments in a range of areas including budgetary support for infrastructural development and institutional strengthening.
In order to encourage cultural engagement, increase people-to-people contact and pay respects to Japan’s cultural achievements, President Solih will visit significant areas such as Kyoto City, Hiroshima and Osaka. Additionally, he is to meet with the community in Odawara, whose residents raised funds of their own accord and donated it to Maldives to support recovery efforts in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Furthermore, President Solih will join visiting delegations from across the world in attending the official enthronement of the Japanese Emperor Naruhito, who ascended to the Chrysanthemum throne earlier this year following the abdication of Emperor Akihito. The President and First Lady will also attend a multilateral networking function along with several heads of states and governments.
Japan has served as the single largest aid donor to the Maldives, aiding progress in infrastructure development and numerous socio-economic spheres including health, education, climate-resilience and environmental conservation. The sea-wall surrounding the capital city of Male’, which was built with Japanese aid, was instrumental in protecting the city from devastation during the 2004 tsunami.
Japan’s aid and investment, mostly funnelled through JICA, greatly complemented Maldives’ national development efforts and helped the country graduate from Least Development Country (LDC) to Middle-Income Countries (MICs) status in 2011.
The President's Office commended Japan's economic and industrial process, highlighting that the country was still designated as the world’s third-largest economy. It added that Maldives could derive widespread benefits from learning from Japan’s experiences and ongoing projects as well as technical expertise in several fields.
The six-day bilateral trip is expected to boost diplomatic relations between Maldives and Japan, opening several multilateral benefits to the country.