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Slovenian and Japanese foreign ministers discuss economic partnership and joint initiatives in the Western Balkans

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Minister Miro Cerar today hosted his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono. This is the first official visit of a Japanese Foreign Minister in the history of independent Slovenia. Minister Kono also met with President Pahor.

Minister za zunanje zadeve dr. Miro Cerar in japonski zunanji minister Taro Kono | Author Foto: STA

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During their first meeting, on the sidelines of this year's Munich Security Conference, the two foreign ministers had agreed to strengthen bilateral relations and economic partnership. Sharing common values of the rule of law and respect for human rights, Slovenia and Japan champion the respect for the rule of law and for arbitral awards, both in the South China Sea and in the Adriatic.

A special token of friendship between the two countries are the 300 cherry trees that blossom every spring in front of the Department of Biology of the University of Ljubljana. They were given to Slovenia in 1999 and planted during Princess Sayako’s visit to the country.

In recent years, economic cooperation between the two countries has seen an upward trend, with a growing number of Japanese investments in Slovenia. Slovenian exports to Japan amount to EUR 119 million, while imports total EUR 86 million.

“Minister Kono and I agreed that the opportunities for increased trade improved considerably with the entering into force of the EU and Japan’s Economic Partnership Agreement, although missed opportunities for cooperation still appear,” said Minister Cerar.

Opportunities for cooperation between Slovenian and Japanese enterprises and institutions currently exist in smart networks (ELES/NEDO), proton cancer therapy (Cosylab) and electric mobility (BTC), while examples of excellent cooperation can be found between the Jožef Stefan Institute and the Japanese KEK in particle physics (the Belle II experiment). Yesterday, representatives from the Soča University Rehabilitation Institute, Toyota Motor Corporation and Fujita Health University signed a cooperation agreement on the development of robotic therapy devices.

With its economic development and advanced technology, Japan may be seen as an example for many countries. “I am delighted that during my term as Prime Minister we were able to open a pathway for Yaskawa and Sumitomo investments in Slovenia. In the field of advanced 21st century technology, the Kočevje centre will play an important role in the development of new industrial robots,” Dr Cerar added. The Yaskawa Corporation, which is considered the world’s largest industrial robots manufacturer, opened its first European robotic production facility in Kočevje this April. The ministers are to visit the Kočevje plant in the afternoon.

The ministers also discussed enhanced cooperation in the Western Balkans. The Slovenian minister thanked his Japanese counterpart for his country’s traditional support to ITF Enhancing Human Security since its foundation.

They also touched on the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Slovenia will be represented by the Slovenian House, headed by its ambassador Miroslav Cerar Sr., an Olympic gold medallist in artistic gymnastics at the 1964 Tokyo games.

The ministers also exchanged views on the situation in Asia, especially regarding the tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the trade dispute between the US and China, and also on the situation in the Western Balkans.