THE relationship between Laos and Japan continues to grow and be fruitful, especially under the strategic partnership which has boosted political, economic, and socio-cultural cooperation.
This success was highlighted during a five-day visit to Japan last week by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Sonexay Siphandone.
The Deputy PM met with the Chief Cabinet Secretary to the Japanese government, Mr Yoshihide Suga, while in Tokyo.
The two sides expressed appreciation of the friendly ties and cooperation between the two countries, which have existed for more than 50 years – since Laos and Japan established diplomatic relations on March 5, 1955.
Mutual visits made by leaders and heads of governments have been a highlight of these good relations and cooperation.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an official visit to Laos in September last year to attend the 28th and the 29th Asean Summits in Vientiane. And Laos’ Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith visited Japan in May last year for the 42nd G7 Summit in Mie prefecture.
Japan is among the top eight countries with investments in Laos. The Japanese are implementing 89 development projects with investment totalling US$438 million.
Japan is also among the main countries providing Official Development Assistance. Laos received 13.8 billion yen (about US$122 million) from Japan last year to implement five projects.
During their talks in Tokyo, the two sides expressed pleasure over the plan to begin direct flights between the two countries.
Dr Sonexay and Mr Suga also discussed bilateral and multilateral cooperation frameworks, plus regional and international issues of mutual interest.
The Lao deputy prime minister represented the Lao government and people in thanking the Japanese government and people for Japan’s support for Laos when it chaired Asean last year, which was very successful.
Dr Sonexay also met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Fumio Kishida and Parliamentary Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Kiyoshi Odawara.
He delivered a lecture at a seminar on investment, trade and tourism promotion in Laos, organised by the Asean-Japan Centre and JETRO with support from the Japanese ministry.
He received courtesy visits from the President of Kansai Electric Power Company, the vice president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the president of the Japanese-Lao Friendship Association, the president of Narita International Airport Corp, the vice president of Japan Airlines, the president of All Nippon Airways, the president of Tokyo Electric Power Company, and the President of Prozza, which manufactures electric trikes that are being piloted in Luang Prabang and Champassak provinces.
Dr Sonexay also visited the Lao Embassy in Tokyo, and met with Lao students and other Lao people living in Japan.
The deputy PM and his delegation then visited Okinawa province and Fukuoka prefecture to learn about the operation of small and medium-sized businesses, which play an important role in Japan’s economy and are part of a successful story in the tourism industry.