There were wide-ranging discussions when Japan???s new Ambassador to Barbados, Mitsuhiko Okaba, recently paid a courtesy call on Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Steve Blackett, at Culloden Road, St. Michael.

Mr. Okaba spoke of the upcoming opening of the Japanese Embassy in Barbados, and informed the Minister that it would be opened in February 2016 with Mr. Nobuhiro Matsuoka as Charg?? d???Affaires initially.

He also thanked Mr. Blackett for all of the support he has received so far from Barbadian officials as his team worked to get the Embassy operational.

Mr. Blackett pledged the continued assistance of the Government and noted that the Japanese Embassy was welcomed in Barbados. He also informed the Ambassador of the Cultural Industries Act and indicated that culture was an area which should be explored between Barbados and Japan for possible cooperation.

The Ambassador was receptive to this proposal, noting that in February 2016 a group of Japanese drummers would visit Barbados and it was his hope that Barbadians would participate in the event.

Ambassador Okaba noted that thus far, 26 Barbadians had participated in the Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme, which sees these persons teaching English in Japanese schools. And, he expressed the hope that this cooperation would continue.

Other areas discussed and identified for continued cooperation were education, renewable energy, disaster preparedness and climate change. With regard to trade and investment, Ambassador Okaba recommended that consideration be given to arranging a business/trade fair which would educate Japanese business persons about products and investment opportunities which Barbados has to offer.

While he noted that Barbados was a great distance from Japan, the Ambassador acknowledged that the Japanese were prolific travellers, and tourism could be another area for cooperation. He further pointed out that cruises were becoming more popular among Japanese.

Mr. Blackett, in welcoming this news, noted that an increasing number of vessels were choosing to homeport in Barbados.

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