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First visit of Foreign Minister of Japan Mr. Taro Kono to Georgia

By Gvantsa Turmanidze
Friday, September 7
At the meeting with Georgian media, Ms. Mitsuko Shino – Deputy Press Secretary of Foreign Minister of Japan summarized Mr. Taro Kono’s visit to Georgia. “Even though we have 26 years of diplomatic relations between our countries, it is the first time that Japanese Foreign Minister visited Georgia. It took a long time, but this is a good moment to speed up our relationship”, said Ms. Shino.

Mr. Taro Kono was impressed with Georgian history and rich cultural traditions by visiting Georgia’s historic places, such as Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, said Ms. Shino.

She then listed the important meetings that the Foreign Minister of Japan Mr. Taro Kono held with the Georgian officials, such as Foreign Minister of Georgia David Zalkaliani, the President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and the members of the Georgian parliament from the ruling party as well as the opposition. Ms. Mitsuko Shino underlined the fact of signing the Loan Agreement on the East-West Express Highway Project (Phase Two), the document according to which the Government of Japan will allocate preferential loan of USD 343 million to Georgia, through Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Having had these intensive meetings and discussions with the Georgian side, the Foreign Minister of Japan was more than happy to find out that Georgia is the country who shares the common values of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and freedom.

This official visit of Japanese side in Georgia resulted in the launching of the document - Japan-Caucasus initiative. The document is based on the following basic principles:

- Caucasus Region is the center of the corridor running through Eurasia continent, and the gateway connecting Asia and Europe;

- Japan supports self-sustained developments of Caucasus Region and raises awareness of the issues which can be common interest across the region (water, disaster reduction, etc.)

Self-sustained development of Caucasus Region is divided into two pillars. Therefore, the first pillar involves the assistance for the development of architects for state building, described in easy language, the assistance for the human resources development. “We would like to assist your country or the Caucasus region in developing the human resources and human resources in the areas of the rule of law, environmental disaster reduction, economic, social and industrial infrastructure and so on”, said Ms. Shino.

According to the initiative document, the two pillars are the following:

First Pillar: Assistance for development of architects for state building

1. The Rule of law

- Inviting young lawyers to Japan (MOFA’s invitation program, etc.)

- Providing opportunity of training in Japan

2. Environment and Disaster Reduction

- JICA Training Program: nature conservation, rescue techniques, water related disaster management, soil and water disaster, disaster management on infrastructure, disaster risk reduction, irrigation water management, management of land and water resources (operating 4 programs in 2018)

3. Economic and social infrastructures

- JICA training program: transportation, natural resources and energy, economic policy, private sector development, agricultural/rural development, urban/regional development, governance, health, social security (operating 16 programs in 2018)

4. Introduction of Japanese Cultures and Assistance for Japanese Language Education

Language education assistance in cooperation with Japan Foundation, continuous provision of contents for broadcasting.

Second Pillar: Assistance for Paving the Way to “Appealing Caucasus”

(Infrastructure development and business environment improvement support)

- Introduction of Multiple Visas – from 1st October

- Investment treaty and ISDS Seminar (Dispatch of experts to all of Caucasus Countries)

- Connectivity and Transportation Infrastructures: the East-West Highway Improvement Project (Phase 2) 38.735 billion yen – singing of exchange of notes

- Reusable Energy: Provision of hybrid cars and electric cars (96 vehicles in total) to Ministry of Internal Affairs, installation of solar panels at Tbilisi International Airport and Ilia State University

- Bilateral Investment Treaty: Announcement of Agreement in Principle

The Deputy Press Secretary of the Foreign Minister of Japan confirmed that “the Caucasus region is quite an important juncture geographically, and it is for Japan kind of a gateway or the bridge between Asia and Europe and furthermore to the Middle East. So for our country, the stability of Caucasus is not only the interest of this region but overall stability of the international society, so we would like to support this stability in Caucasus region, and that’s the reason why we have launched this initiative. The concrete measures for appealing the Caucasus is that we are introducing multiple visas, which is starting on the 1st of October, we will give the multiple visas for the short term visitors in Japan that will encourage people from Georgia to visit Japan and from Japan to visit Georgia”.

“Investment treaty will be a certain agreement, which will facilitate the promotion of the investment of Japanese companies in Georgia. The implementation of the project East-West Highway will make the logistic easier and will make Georgia and Caucasus region more attractive for the Japanese companies because it will expand the market for the companies which are going to invest in the region”, was Ms. Shino’s explanation.

The same sort of initiatives are going to be launched in all three countries of Caucasus region (Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan) sort of by multiplying the effect over the region.

Concerning the international issues, the variety of themes have been discussed during the visit of the Japanese delegation, they have addressed Tskhinvali and Abkhazia region, and the two sides exchanged the views on finding the peaceful solutions, based on UN Resolution and Human Rights Council. Japanese side underlines the importance of international solidarity and the international community to keep the commitment or to keep the sanctions and resolutions of UN Security Councils and Georgian Government is fully supportive of the Japanese policy.

Ms. Mitsuko Shino has mentioned the number of activities/events that are planned to be held in Japan, where Georgia is welcome to participate or is already taking part in some of them, such as Food Expo, IT Week, Tourist Expo, World Rugby Cup in 2019 and so on.

Japanese Embassy in Georgia also plans to hold the exhibition of the ancient Japanese paintings at the National Museum of Georgia, Japanese classical and contemporary musicians are going to perform at the Music Festivals in Georgia. Japanese language courses are held from time to time for the beginners; it is also possible to get involved in the exchange programs for the university students. The information is accessible on the Embassy’s official website:

Last info the Deputy Press Secretary shared was concerned with a large traditional ceremony to welcome the new Emperor in Japan, where they invite the heads of all the states in the world, which is a great chance to visit Japan and report directly from Japan and get closer to Japanese culture and society. “We are both rich in history, and it is important to preserve our traditions while accommodating or adjusting to the modern world. These requirements are common for both of our countries”, added Ms. Mitsuko Shino.