The establishment of a Japanese diplomatic presence in Barbados is a strong signal of both the friendship which the two countries enjoy and their shared desire to enhance bilateral relations.

This opinion was expressed yesterday by Barbados??? Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, at the official opening of the Embassy of Japan in Barbados, which was held at the Hilton Barbados, Needhams Point, St. Michael.

Pointing out that diplomacy was important to a small developing state like Barbados in the pursuit of its development objectives, the Minister noted that since the establishment of diplomatic relations on August 29, 1967, mutual respect and cooperation served as the foundation of the interaction between the two countries which shared similar values such as respect for human rights and democracy.

???Barbados and Japan face some common challenges. These include vulnerability to the effects of climate change and devastating natural disasters. We have worked tirelessly together in international organisations such as the United Nations to call attention to the special vulnerabilities facing Small Island Developing States. Our collaboration on international issues has contributed to the strong relationship we share,??? she added.

Senator McClean also said that the Barbados-Japan bilateral relationship had been enhanced by technical cooperation, scholarships and training, as well as high-level visits.

???Japan has afforded Barbadian officials the opportunity over the years, to be trained in the areas of Disaster Risk Reduction, Capacity Building for ICT Project Planning and the Management of Sustainable Recycling Business. Barbados is encouraged at the potential for economic and cultural cooperation in areas such as renewable energy, sustainable development, the arts, technology and agriculture,??? Minister McClean said.

Japanese Ambassador Mitsuhiko Okada reiterated the fact that the establishment of an Embassy here would mark a new era of elevated relations between Japan and Barbados, as well as the rest of the Caribbean.

He pointed out that Japan???s policy in this region centered on maintaining its proactive participation in international fora, in collaboration with CARICOM member states, while seeking to address the vulnerabilities particular to small island states.

???Japan will also utilise its technologies and expertise to enhance support in areas such as adaptation and mitigation of climate change, disaster risk reduction, and renewable energy,??? Ambassador Okada stressed.

He also expressed the hope that the establishment of a mission here would usher in new opportunities for trade and investment, as well as boost the number of Japanese visitors to this country.

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